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I'm Elizabeth, and simply put, I design brands and websites. I mix in marketing strategy, personality galore, and tons of fun to create custom brands, custom websites, and website templates. These designs convert lookers into buyers and take the headache out of the design process. I believe your brand should be a knockout. I'll help you create a captivating + profitable online presence! Join me, won't you?!

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The One-Day Workweek: Building a Multiple 6-Figure/Year Business as a Stay-at-Home Mom with Courtney Lazar from SystemsUp

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to just work ONE day per week? And run a successful 6-figure business? Courtney Lazar (our go to systems expert in episode 226 - make sure to listen to that one if you haven’t yet!), is back on the podcast but this time she’s coming to us as a mom to a toddler with another baby boy on the way, sharing exactly how she built her business as an agency model that allows her to work just ONE day a week (and completely unplugs from work the other 6 days). She considers herself a stay at home mom on days when she’s not working!

Even though she works only one day a week (since 2021 - so this is not new to her!), she still scales her business with her team and maintains a great income that supports her and her family. We both started our businesses at around the same time and have gone through similar seasons of motherhood together so I knew I wanted to have her on the podcast to come and talk about it!

In this episode, we dive into:

  • How does she manage to grow her business while working just one day a week?
  • What does the business look like on the back end? 
  • What does her childcare look like? 
  • What's her exact work schedule? 
  • How did she scale her business with her team and truly step into that CEO role in her business? 

There are many valuable tips packed into this short and sweet episode. So even if you're not a mom or your children are adults now, don't worry! There's still so much here for you. As business owners, I think most of us aspire to work less and operate in a CEO capacity. This episode provides insights on scaling with a team and creating systems so you're not constantly caught up in the day-to-day operations. Doesn’t that sound good?

Courtney and I have known each other online for years, and we've become good friends online. I've had the pleasure of being a guest on her podcast, Backend Brain, multiple times and she was also one of my very first template customers when we first met. I've even worked with her as a client, setting up my own ClickUp system last fall. I love Courtney and I love that she just works one day per week!

Join breakthrough brand all access group

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. 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:

Listen & subscribe on your favorite platform:  Apple Podcasts  |  Stitcher  | Google Play  |  Spotify  | iHeartRadio

Search for episode 230!

Have you always been intentional about building your business to be “lifestyle-first”?

In our last episode, I talked about how I got started with my business. A lot of it came down to feeling unfulfilled in my day-to-day life and not wanting to be tied to a desk for eight hours a day, even when my work was done in three. When I started my business, it was because I wanted location independence and the freedom to travel and enjoy life. I also wanted to be my own boss and have control over my team (and my earnings!). 

Then, everything changed when I met and married my husband, bought a house, and had Luca (our two year old toddler!). My life completely changed. Now, the great thing about being a business owner was the ability to shape my business to fit my personal life. I was able to transition into a role that aligned better with my new responsibilities and desires. Looking back, I had no idea that the decisions I made years ago would set me up perfectly to be able to work from home and contribute financially to my family. It just happened to work out that way.

Courtney Lazar talks about how to work one day per week as a stay at home mom

You work one day per week… Can you tell us what that looks like? Is it literally just one day?

It's just one day per week, specifically Wednesdays, that serves as my dedicated work day. Meanwhile, my husband enjoys his day off and spends quality time with our son - they enjoy their “daddy-son days”. It's absolutely adorable. On my end, I work one day a week, except for during really busy seasons where our neighbor might watch Luca for a couple of hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings - which gives me a little extra flexibility when needed! But usually, it’s just Wednesdays that are my work days!

Read More: Juggling Too Much? 4 Keys To Maintaining Your Sanity As A Mom And Business Owner With Ashley Freehan

 

 

How do you manage your team working just one day per week? Are you available to your team on other days of the week?

Yeah, so there was a period of time when I would check into Slack once in a while throughout the week, if Luca was napping or when he'd gone down for bed. I would respond if I saw any questions. However, recently, especially because I am pregnant with our second little boy, I had to take a step back during my first trimester. You know how it is, the first trimester can be rough and even though it wasn't terrible, I still felt total exhaustion. I felt this pull to check Slack when what I really needed was to be present with my family. 

That's when I decided to send a voice message to Hannah, the ops manager on my team, expressing my concerns. I wanted to know if they were feeling like I wasn't responding quickly enough to their messages. Transparency and open communication are crucial within our team, so I wanted everyone to feel comfortable bringing up any issues, questions, comments, or concerns. What we ended up deciding is to shift Hannah into more of a leadership role as we prepare for the arrival of our second child (due in December). 

Now in our organizational chart, you'll find me at the top, with Hannah directly below me, and all other departments and team members falling underneath. Which basically means, if the team has any questions, they can go to Hannah. If Hannah has questions, she comes to me.

Hannah and I also have bi-weekly check-in meetings where she can bring up any issues or concerns. She created a project submission process in ClickUp, which is really cool. It helps me prioritize tasks and know what's most important and urgent, instead of me logging onto Slack once a week not knowing where to turn first. I can see everything the team needs from me, organized by due date and urgency. Each task is also tagged with an estimated time for completion. This allows me to manage my time effectively throughout the day. 

Read More: If Being A Mom And A Business Owner Feels Really Hard, Listen To This With Joy Michelle 

What do you do in an “emergency” situation?

We have a crisis management system in ClickUp. If X happens, we follow a specific process. For example, if our website goes down, certain actions need to take place and specific people need to be notified. Normally, our team doesn't share phone numbers or communicate through calls or texts to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, in certain crisis scenarios, using each other's phone numbers is allowed, which is all outlined in ClickUp.

What advice do you have for someone trying to manage their schedule and work less hours?

I've had to limit the number of meetings on my calendar. I need to have one day a month without any meetings. My calendar gets really full when I only have four days for calls. I have a podcast and do interviews, discovery or sales calls with clients, team meetings, and random pop-ups. When every Wednesday was filled with meetings, I noticed that I wasn't getting enough time for big picture thinking because my days were filled with meetings. 

So, we decided to cap the number of meetings on Wednesdays which ultimately forced us to find opportunities for team members to host certain meetings. For instance, today is the quarter wrap-up with team reviews. My calendar was packed with podcast interviews and all the team reviews and while discussing it with Hannah, we realized it would make sense for her to start hosting the team reviews for our ClickUp Setup Specialists and similar roles. Then, I will just be responsible for hosting Hannah's team review, which lessens the number of meetings I need to be involved in.

Thoughts on Team Meetings

There is something to be said for asynchronous communication. Nobody really likes being in meetings—at least, not that I'm aware of. So, on our team, we strive to have as much asynchronous communication as possible. This way, we can maximize the efficiency of our meetings and make the most of our time. When we do need to have a meeting, the agenda is prepared days in advance, and everyone submits the necessary items beforehand. This ensures that when we come together, we have a clear list of what needs to be covered and can make it as efficient as possible.

You’re a great example of someone who has truly stepped into the CEO role, and have moved away from building a personal brand. Would you agree with that?

100%. We just actually went through a huge rebrand back in March, specifically for that reason because I could not be the face of the business anymore. It can't be a personal brand. It needed to be an agency with me as the founder, and then there was a team of people doing the work.

working together as a team to work one day per week

How did you decide what roles and tasks only you can do?

That's a good question. It all started when I had my baby Luca in September 2021. My initial plan was to take an eight-week maternity leave and gradually get back to work behind the scenes before returning to client work. However, as my maternity leave was coming to an end, I realized that I was nowhere near ready to dive back into work. 

For context, my husband and I don't have any family nearby. His family is in Europe, and my family is in Missouri. We didn't have someone we could rely on to help with childcare. Transitioning my business became more of a necessity. I had two options: either close the business or find a way to make it work on a limited schedule. I made a list of tasks that I felt couldn't be delegated, although I now realize that it was more about my fear and comfort level rather than actual limitations. 

Obviously we are big systems people so we approached the problem systematically, and tried removing emotions and finding the solutions. One example was sales and discovery calls, which I knew I wanted to outsource or train a team member on. We created guides, scripts, and FAQs to equip my team with the necessary resources to handle these tasks effectively. 

Another area was client communication, where I struggled with letting someone else handle it as I did. So, we developed a client communication SOP that covered drafting messages, using positive language, organizing information, and setting clear expectations. The goal was to ensure that my team could provide the same level of care and understanding to our clients as I felt like I did. So that's how it all started - identifying what I could delegate and supporting Hannah and the team in taking over those tasks.

How many team members do you have right now? Do you bring on additional contractors for things like podcast editing?

I have four team members and they are all contractors right now. We try to keep as much “in house” as possible, and we typically do not bring in outside contractors. Someone one the team does all of our podcast editing!

Are you ever worried about someone on the team leaving?

Yeah, I mean, that's always a possibility, right? It's always possible for someone to leave. But that's why we have systems and processes in place. In case someone does leave, we have a video recorded for every step of the process. So, if Hannah, Haley, or anyone on the team were to leave, we would have everything ready to replace them. Now, that doesn't mean we might not have to pause the podcast for a couple of weeks or do some damage control. But we do have a well-established process in place that makes it easy for others to step in when necessary.

Do you feel like keeping everything in house is cutting costs for you?

I would say it's primarily about cutting costs. As an agency, we have to be mindful about profitability. With the type of projects we handle, project scope creep is always a possibility. We need to be cognizant of where we invest our time and resources and make sure we are focusing on moving the business forward. That's why we prefer to handle everything in-house. 

With that said, we do acknowledge that there are certain areas where specialization is beneficial. For instance, sales requires specific expertise. As for podcast editing, although it's a specialization, we were confident in our technical abilities. We had a podcast editor train our team based on the knowledge passed down from a podcast agency.

Read More: Navigating Conflict In Your Business With Confidence: Expert Tips For Handling Tough Team And Client Conversations With Jillian Dolberry

 

 

What are some mistakes you see entrepreneurs make when growing the team?

I think the first thing to avoid is hiring management roles too early. Instead, prioritize hiring implementers who can effectively execute tasks in your business. When I focused on building efficient systems, I found that the more streamlined my business became, the less I was needed in a managerial role (when I was an OBM). Using tools like ClickUp can provide an overview of what's happening in your business from a management perspective. While having an operations manager on my team now is crucial for my business's functioning, it's important to start with hiring individuals who can get things done and move the business forward. Once you have the capacity and see the need for a manager, then you can bring someone in to handle that role.

new business owner excitement

Why did you make the decision to work one day per week instead of hiring more child care?

I believe it comes down to personal preference. We reside in a small town with limited childcare options. The area we live in is touristy and wealthy near the beach, which impacts the prices of everything. Childcare prices here are exorbitant. We also just wanted to be there for Luca. I didn’t want to feel like I was missing out on anything. Ultimately, I would have chosen to give my business up if necessary.

Read More: Try These 5 Strategies To Get More Done With Your Limited Time In The 1st Year Of Motherhood And Business

 

If someone is listening thinking that they want to scale down their business and work less, or maybe even prepare for a new baby, where should they start?

This a good example. Thankfully, we had already done the prep work because I had Luca already, but now that I'm expecting a second baby, we're going back to the drawing board to make sure everything is covered. We actually have a freebie on our website that relates to being able to stop doing the stuff you hate and we even have a course about preparing to take an extended leave

Basically, we use ClickUp to build a transition timeline. We make a list of tasks and responsibilities, decide if I'm delegating, pausing, or automating them. Then I assign a team member for the ones I'm delegating. We set start dates for their training and the date they take over. I give some leeway so I can be present when they start. We create a takeover plan on ClickUp and execute it.

Are you doing anything different to prepare for this maternity leave than your last one?

I am planning to take a longer break this time. Last time, I would try to work when my child was napping, but it didn't work out and just made me overwhelmed. So this time, I’m going to extend my leave and have a better structure in place. Thankfully, I have some idea of what to expect when I come back, although having two kids instead of one might bring some changes. Fortunately, the team is used to working without me and can execute tasks even when I'm not around. So yeah, I am looking forward to this break with a clearer mind.

Rapid Fire Questions with Courtney Lazar

What’s your favorite ClickUp template in your shop?

Our lead and client management tracker is probably my favorite. We create a lead capture pipeline in ClickUp that can also convert to an active client pipeline. It's really good because I can see all our leads and where they are in the process. Once they become a client, I can easily track their progress. The lead and client tracker is definitely one of my favorites.

What have you become better at saying no to?

Everything. I feel like I have this natural mama bear instinct that makes it easier to set boundaries. If something doesn't have a positive impact on our personal life or family, or if I feel spread too thin, it's a clear indicator that it's a no. Meetings, for instance, have to be scheduled around my toddler's needs. I can't always be available, and that's just the way it is. Sometimes I have to say no, or someone on the team needs to step in if they can. 

What is a purchase of $100 or less that's positively impacted you in the last six months?

I actually bought a car organizer that hangs over the backseat of my driver's side chair where my son's car seat is. It's designed to keep his toys, books, snacks, and water bottle organized and prevent them from scattering all over the car floor. As a type A systems person, this probably makes sense. However, it has truly been a game changer as it helps to keep my car clean.

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. 

Before you go - do you want to discover the driving forces behind every purchase or new client you get?

Seriously - do you want to transform your marketing game with a fun exercise in crafting irresistible copy? I just created a brand new freebie featuring a marketing exercise and a 16-page printable workbook for you! This is the same exercise I've done for years in my business to help me in creatively marketing my services and products in a way that actually touches on the reasons people make buying decisions. Get instant access to your FREE copy right here.

Links Mentioned:

Watch this episode on Youtube

Tune into Episode #226 with Courtney

Try ClickUp

Grab My Marketing Guide With The Reasons People Buy

Connect with Elizabeth on Instagram

Connect with Courtney on Instagram

Check Out SystemsUp Website

Shop Elizabeth McCravy Templates

September 5, 2023

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I'm Elizabeth, and simply put, I design brands and websites. I mix in marketing strategy, personality galore, and tons of fun to create custom brands, custom websites, and website templates. These designs convert lookers into buyers and take the headache out of the design process. I believe your brand should be a knockout. I'll help you create a captivating + profitable online presence! Join me, won't you?!

Hey there!
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@ELIZABETHMCCRAVY

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