I switched my business workspace manager to ClickUp last fall, and it was a big decision. A lot went into the switch, but ultimately, it was the best thing for my business. Now, everything is organized in ClickUp. I was also able to cancel so many different subscriptions, saving me over $150 per month. I absolutely love it! ClickUp has been incredibly helpful for my virtual team (with multiple offers), and I could not be happier that I worked with Courtney Lazar, the CEO, and founder of SystemsUp, to set up ClickUp for our podcast. Courtney is an expert in systems solutions and has helped many six and seven-figure online business owners transform their systems. I’m thrilled to have her on the podcast today!
In our conversation, we discussed:
- Managing shiny object syndrome with project managers
- Choosing the right tools for your business (including ClickUp, Asana, and Notion)
- How to better automate your systems
- How ClickUp differs from tools like Dubsado and HoneyBook
- Our favorite ClickUp tools
- Ways to create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for your business
- Keeping your end goal in mind when implementing systems
I also want you to know - while this episode focuses on ClickUp, there's plenty of valuable content for everyone, even if you're not currently using (or interested in) ClickUp. Courtney and I have been friends online for many years, and she has always been a supportive mom and business owner. I've had the pleasure of being a guest on her podcast multiple times. It's amazing to see how her business has evolved over the years, including a name change. I truly admire her, and I know you will too!
Before we dive in - are you in the Breakthrough Brand All Access Facebook Group yet? It’s free to join, and it’s where we take conversations like the one I had with Courtney today further. I even share a little BTS into how I use ClickUp in my own business! Pop in and ask questions, share insights, and get the inside scoop into what I’m trying lately. I’d love to see you inside!
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
Who is Courtney Lazar of Systems Up?
You can hear more about her story if you tune in, and you should know that I (Elizabeth) absolutely love Courtney. She started as a website designer but quickly pivoted to offering OBM services for fellow business owners. Once she realized her zone of genius truly revolves around systems, she started offering DFY system builds to fellow online business owners and hasn’t looked back. Here’s her official introduction:
Hey, I'm Courtney Lazar. I'm Founder & CEO of SystemsUp, an agency of systems solution champions and educators on a mission to elevate the way online businesses owners think about their backend tech by proving that, with the right approach, their systems and automations can work like a bonus brain in their business as brilliant as they are. Because small businesses on the brink of BIG can’t afford to slow down, they need custom-fit tech specifically tailored to their teams, working tempo, and the way they think.
From managing corporate projects to organizing my closet, I’ve seen first hand how creating systems makes the day run smoother. As a Systems Expert, I’m thrilled to work with 6 and 7-figure online business owners who have been featured in Forbes, Cosmo, CNBC, Elite Daily, and Business Insider.
From speaking at the ClickUp LevelUp Conference to building out ClickUp Setups for 6 and 7 figure businesses, ClickUp is my expertise. I've helped businesses from online coaches and designers to brick and mortar salon businesses and staging companies.
I see the CEO that needs a break, a hug, and a vacation on the white sands of Bora Bora. And I am a firm believer that your business should make your life better, not busier. My team and I work hard to give you the leanest systems, courses, and resources you need to scale your biz and get you back your hard-earned, well-deserved time.
I’m thrilled to have her on our show today to talk about all things ClickUp!
What is ClickUp, and How is it Different From Other Tools?
While it started as project management software (similar to tools like Asana, Basecamp, Monday.com, Notion, or Trello), it has expanded to become more than just that. If you visit their website, it still refers to ClickUp as project management software, but the truth is it offers much more than traditional project management tools. It’s more of a workspace management tool. In addition to managing projects, ClickUp allows you to create databases, directories, tables, spreadsheets, and even living documents similar to Google Docs. These documents are searchable, collaborative, and shareable outside of your workspace.
Do You Think Every Business Needs a Project Management Tool?
It really depends. Growing up, I was a big fan of paper planners and loved writing down my to-do list. Even now, I still do that, although I also use ClickUp. Sometimes, it's just easier for me to write down my daily to-dos so I can check them off and keep track. We have clients who manage their businesses using Google Excel spreadsheets, and it works for them.
The key question to ask is: what are your business goals?
If you're managing just a few clients on your own, it might not be necessary to use a project management tool, but it could still make your life easier. You also need to consider the quality of work you're producing for your clients. When information is scattered across different documents, spreadsheets, or tabs, it's easy to lose track of important details, which will ultimately lead to lower-quality work. Having everything organized in a project management tool can help you quickly find what you need.
If your goal is growth, scalability, hiring team members, or acquiring more clients, I would recommend using a project management software. Ultimately, it will simplify delegation, make it easier to keep track of everything, and prevent you from getting stuck in a cycle of client work without being able to focus on your overall business and systems.
We often have clients come to us who didn't plan on rapid growth or didn't anticipate how quickly it would happen. They end up overwhelmed by client demands and don’t have time to invest in their systems or project management.
If you're new to your business, I highly recommend getting started with a project management tool as early as possible to avoid future overwhelm and setbacks.
As a Systems Expert, What Made You Decide to Go “All In” on Clickup?
Before using ClickUp, we primarily used Asana as our go-to project management tool. However, we explored other options like monday.com, Basecamp, and Trello for different clients. The reason we ultimately switched to ClickUp was its ability to be customized. We knew that remote businesses have diverse needs, and ClickUp allowed us to tailor our approach accordingly. Unlike Asana (at the time, anyway), where we felt constrained to fit our business into a predetermined structure, ClickUp gave us the flexibility to adapt the platform to our specific requirements. In other words, ClickUp molds around our business, giving us the freedom to run it efficiently.
What Are Your Favorite Features in ClickUp?
One of my favorite features that I really love is custom fields. It's a basic and simple feature to use, but it has a significant impact on how you structure your setup. Custom fields provide the flexibility and freedom to build exactly what you want.
My other favorite feature is the native automations within ClickUp. While there are other options like Zapier are available, ClickUp's built-in automations are so convenient.
Do You Think It’s Possible to Over-Automate Your Business?
Yeah so you can definitely over automate, and that's one big thing we discuss with clients too. Our goal is to create a lean system for your business. The more tech and gadgets you use, the harder it is to manage and then onboard your team. It's important to have an efficient system, but keep in mind that technology can break. Not everything will work perfectly all the time. Over-automating can lead to issues like glitches or automations not firing when they should. Troubleshooting becomes time-consuming. There's a fine line between over automating and automating just enough. Also, don’t forget about the importance of the human touch in your client experience. Yes, automation is important and can lead to a higher ROI, but clients still want to interact with a person, not a robot.
What Advice Would You Give to Business Owners Who Want to Incorporate More Automation Into Their Business?
Start simply. When it comes to systems and automation, begin with survival, not success. What are the essential tasks that keep your business running day to day? Focus on the minimum requirements to get you moving forward. This applies to automation as well. Start with the bare minimum and build from there.
If Someone Knows They Need To Improve Their Systems, Do You Recommend an Overhaul or Improving One Piece at a Time?
Yeah, it depends on how much time you have to dedicate to it. If you've got a lot of things that need a facelift, an overhaul would benefit you. However, as business owners with personal lives, we need to be realistic about the time we have to invest. Taking it one step at a time is more realistic for many of us. Again, start with survival, not success, to determine priorities. Systems are ever-evolving. They require maintenance, management, and review. You should be thinking about whether or not certain systems are still working for you instead of trying to set up things perfectly to be “one and done”.
When refreshing or reviewing your systems, focus on three areas (in this order):
- Client fulfillment (providing a great customer experience is the MOST important thing)
- Day-to-day operations (example// checking Slack everyday)
- Growth targets (example// your marketing plan)
If We Don’t Have SOP’s for Our Business, How Should We Get Started With That?
Yeah, I would actually recommend following the same roadmap for the categories to focus on. Oftentimes, the goal is to hire a VA to work on tasks that will move the needle in your business and generate ROI. So, starting with client fulfillment is a good idea. Delegating client work frees up more time to take on more clients and generate more revenue. Day-to-day operations come next. You can visualize it in a chart with two categories: customer fulfillment and tasks to delegate. Focus on tasks to delegate first and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for them. It's also important to have SOPs for tasks you still do too, in case you want to delegate them in the future or need someone to step in while you're away.
Any Advice On How We Should Make Our SOPs? Do You Use Loom? Should They Be Written?
We do both in order to cater to people's learning styles. In a remote setting, visual aids are especially helpful to guide you through processes. Our default for SOPs is a loom video, which we then transcribe into a written SOP using a template we have. For instance, while some team members prefer loom videos, others prefer a checklist format. If you haven't heard of it, there's a cool tool called Scribe that automatically creates bullet points and visual aids from your video, which you can edit later. It's perfect for creating a written version of an SOP. I highly recommend checking it out if you're interested.
How Do We Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome With Our Tools?
Yeah, that's a good question. I think everyone struggles with this, including myself. Personally, I just love tech, systems, and software in general. If something new comes out, I want to explore it, you know? And that's totally fine. I would suggest avoiding making a big overhaul and committing to a platform without doing your research.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
- Do feature comparisons. Make sure that you can still do everything with the new software that you could with the old one, as that's the end goal, right?
- Perform a cost analysis. Is it financially a smarter decision for you at the moment?
- Think about your end goal and business scalability. Which tool will support growth and scaling better?
- Build your system based on your growth plan, so you can avoid having to switch platforms during a major growth period.
Lastly, don't get too caught up in what others are doing on social media. Focus on your own business and stay in your own lane. I know it’s hard and we can get FOMO, but in the end, we evaluate based on data. We're analytical and focused on the bottom dollar. We make smart business decisions, not just following the crowd. Sometimes, the boring decision is the better long-term choice.
What Are Some Hidden Gem Features of ClickUp We As Business Owners Aren’t Using Yet?
Automations. Although the button to create an automation may not be easily noticeable, it has the potential to greatly impact your day-to-day manual tasks. Automations can streamline and optimize your workflow effectively.
The second feature is forms. Many people don't realize that ClickUp has forms like Typeform, Jotform or, Google Forms. ClickUp can create forms too and we recommend them because they seamlessly integrate with your system. No need for third-party tools like Zapier to connect it. Now as ClickUp 3.0 is being rolled out, they are adding conditional logic to the forms which is one of the features I’m personally most excited about.
EM: Yes - agree with all of these. I would also add, I love how seamlessly ClickUp integrates with my digital calendar. I live and breathe my calendar and I love having my podcast schedule, team vacations, all the things in one place.
How Is Something Like ClickUp Different From Client Relationship Management Tools Like Dubsado and Honeybook?
Yes, there is definitely room for both a project management tool AND a CRM in your business. We personally use ClickUp and HoneyBook. While they have some overlapping features such as task management and client association, ClickUp excels in managing tasks, especially recurring ones, compared to a CRM.
In our workflow, HoneyBook is used solely for client communication up until the lead becomes the client. We use it for inquiries, sending proposals, invoices, and contracts.
Once a client signs a contract and pays their deposit, they are automatically moved to our ClickUp dashboard. We create dashboards for each client in ClickUp and handle all communication there. We have a button that links to their contract and HoneyBook portal for reference.
Rapid Fire Questions with Courtney Lazar of SystemsUp
What is an unpopular opinion you have about systems?
I'd say it's kind of two-fold. Firstly, we strongly advocate for lean systems. Unlike those who suggest you need multiple tools, we believe in creating efficiency and simplicity. Systems shouldn’t feel like chaos. Second, we don’t believe in “one size fits all”. We customize and tailor systems to fit your business's unique needs and future trajectory. We don't just focus on the present but also on where you want to be in six months, a year, or two years. While we may make adjustments along the way, this approach sets us apart from those who offer one-size-fits-all solutions.
What's something we can do as business owners to get more time back in our businesses and lives?
Focus on ROI - what actually brings return to your business. Many people feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing: podcasts, blogs, YouTube, TikTok. But honestly, who has time for all that? It takes a lot of energy and effort. Instead, let's utilize data and track metrics to see what's working and what's not. For example, if you spend one hour engaging with people on Instagram and get 10 leads, but spend four hours in a Facebook group and only get one lead, it's clear where to focus your time. Let's prioritize what works for you and eliminate the rest. We started our businesses to simplify, not to complicate and do busy work.
Want More From Courtney with SystemsUp?
Check out our website or say hi over on Instagram @wearesystemsup. We offer a free circle community where we chat about all things systems and inside the community, you'll find templates and courses to help you out. We also offer our VIP ClickUp setup, where we do a complete overhaul of your business from A to Z for your ClickUp setup. It's a collaborative process that spans over about 45 days. This is our big custom project that we do with our clients (like Elizabeth!).
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August 8, 2023