In this week’s episode, we are joined by Amanda HarNess. Amanda is the Founder and Executive Operations Strategist of her company, Business Excelerated. She works as her client’s Fractional COO who focuses on operational efficiencies as well as people’s performance. Her 11-year experience in leadership and people management in the health care industry allowed her to experience both ends.
She said that having a support system is integral for your business. Surrounding yourself with a group of people who always have your back is a huge help. With an accountability partner, for example, you have someone who will make sure you are doing what you are supposed to do.
Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of effort but it doesn’t have to s*ck.
Tune in to learn more on how to scale your business the fun way!
Visit Amanda’s website: https://businessexcelerated.com/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley, and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors, and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain marketing. My guest today is Amanda harness, she is the owner of business accelerated and as a business growth strategist and fractional CEO. I know we’re gonna have a great conversation today about how you can really grow your business how you can get it to that next step. Because I know, as entrepreneurs, we go into becoming an entrepreneur, we’d start our own business, because it’s something that we’re passionate about, how do you scale it? How do you get it to that next level? And that’s what Amanda is going to share with us today. So Amanda, thank you so much for joining us on Rocky Mountain marketing today.
Amanda HarNess 0:57
Well, I’m really excited to be here. Thank you, Katie for having me.
Katie Brinkley 0:59
So tell us just a little bit more about what business accelerated is and what exactly a Business Business Growth strategist does.
Amanda HarNess 1:08
Yeah, so I’m a Business Growth strategist. Some people also refer to me as some as a fractional CEO. So really, what that means is that I focus on operational efficiencies and people performance for a business so that we can make sure that they’re positioned to grow in the direction that they want, and with more success. So a lot of what I do, people don’t really consider sexy. I’m looking at charts and data, I’m looking at the people, and how can we restructure things and operations in and of itself isn’t always that exciting for everybody, but it is for me, but I like to challenge that with, okay, if you don’t think what I’m doing is sexy, I bet that you think that things like less stress and more time on your calendar and having energy for date night with a partner, being able to go on vacation and come back to smooth business, those things are pretty sexy to most people. So what an owner needs to worry about is the outcomes that I’m going to give them versus what I’m going to be doing for them to get them there. So I really come in and look at three key areas to help their business grow at an accelerated pace. So we look at that overall strategy and help them really decide what they want, right? They think they have an idea, but let’s really define it and then make the roadmap of how we’re going to get there and when and who’s going to help us and all of that. And then looking at those two things. I mentioned the operational side and the people side so that their foundation is solid and able to support that strategy we’ve created over the long term is sustainable is scalable. So I really just want to help business owners like get where they want to go, right, like you said, like you make a commitment to owning a business because you’re passionate about it. Let’s get you out of the weeds and get you to the place you really want it when that you imagined when you first started it.
Katie Brinkley 3:01
So how exactly did you get to where you are today becoming that fractional CEO, that business growth strategist? Can you take us through your career journey?
Amanda HarNess 3:10
Yeah. So to get to the end first, I really got here because it’s just what I love and what I’m good at. So
Katie Brinkley 3:17
entrepreneur right there.
Amanda HarNess 3:20
So I’m just a typical entrepreneur. But if we were to go back, I actually in a past life was an occupational therapist. So I worked in healthcare, it is what I got my degree in. And I did that for 10 years. And at the 10 year mark, I experienced burnout that a lot of people in health care experience, I took a small step away from direct patient care, I got into medical equipment, which was one that I thought it would be really cool. I always thought the science behind equipment was really neat, I would still get to work with therapists and patients just not directly. Still wasn’t what I wanted. So here we are now in 2020. And I was also experiencing what a lot of people did at that time, which was, am I happy doing what I’m doing? And if I’m not what am I gonna do about it? So I was in that same boat with a lot of people. I’m of the 11 years that I was in the health care world, including that equipment time, I also was in leadership and management positions focused on initiatives, operational inefficiencies, looking at burnout programs, people performance, and I was at looking at things either department specific across the hospitals or completely facility wide. So I’ve been doing all of this throughout my career. I was just also a therapist. And so that’s where the whole I’m really good at it and I just am passionate about it thing comes into play because I decided that that’s what would make me happy is to start my own business. Do this thing that I love and I’m naturally good at and it was kind of one of those ideas I had always thought about that was just a good idea which Just a dream, and a porch, a good friend, a pandemic and a bottle of wine before you decide that, like it’s possible. So I just decided that’s what I was doing. I’m one of those people that once I decide something, and that’s what’s happening. So I recently said to someone else at home, that’s called stubborn at work, that’s called Grit. So I just buckled down, got some grit and started my business and have not looked back. It’s been amazing. For me, it’s been great working with the clients they’ve seen, it does exactly what I want it to, I get to see them get where they want to go. Well,
Katie Brinkley 5:37
I mean, like what one of the things you said there was, you know, pandemic and a bottle of wine, you decided to take the leap. And I think that’s one of the hardest parts. When you’re an entrepreneur, and you have that steady nine to five, you have that steady comfort zone of corporate life. So if someone who isn’t listening right now in there, as an aspiring business owner, or their new business owner, what is the single biggest piece of advice that you’d want to give him or her as the journey starts, honestly,
Amanda HarNess 6:03
a support system in whatever form that makes sense for you, that was integral to me, feeling like I could take that leap, right, I needed to have competence, I needed to be brave. But it helped me maintain those feelings by having people around me, who also saw me as brave and confident and capable. And they, these people are still in my life still support me in my business. And they are the people who I trust to help me think outside the box. Because I’m so close to my business, I need other people to see things for me, which is what I do for other people, but I needed to, there are people who will hold me accountable, who will challenge me a little bit, if I’m maybe trying to lean into something that just feels easier versus like, it’s a little bit tough, but we’ve got to do it. They’re the people that I can just have a bad day to as well I can bend, I can tell them what I’m struggling with, so that I can pass it. So I would say the having the right people, whether it’s just a couple or a bunch and wherever they come from family, friends, just business partner, whatever it is, have some kind of
Katie Brinkley 7:12
support. You know, it’s so true, Amanda, and I’ve found a lot of support with people online. So one of my accountability partners business besties is Kendra and she and I do a couple episodes throughout the year together about having those that support system having those accountability partners, we call the those episodes, the business bestie episodes, because I think it does make a huge difference. If you have somebody that’s kind of in the same situation that you’re in, they’re going down that same path. And they can say, well, actually, when I did it, I did it this way. Or I think that’s a great idea. Or if you’re an I 100% I’m guilty of this. But there’s a lot of times where I am my own biggest critic, my own biggest hurdle, my own biggest obstacle. And if you have other people that are in your support system, saying like, Oh, just back up a second here, let’s just slow things down and look at it from a different perspective. And if you have those people in your world, it makes being an entrepreneur, that much easier. And that much more fun.
Amanda HarNess 8:15
Absolutely the fun for sure. The some of the the ladies that are my support system, we own our own businesses, but we’re in the same co working space. So we get to have some of the social aspect of the mastermind acid aspect, as well as just the people that get it right, like you’re saying, and we play a little game, I guess you can call it a game called Real or not real. And if someone says something, you can call him out like hey, not real, not real. Or I can go up to someone and say, Is this real or not real? And just have them check me and it’s just so it’s just really quick. And you know, it’s just such good feedback as you’re going through these things. You know, as an entrepreneur, once you decide to own a business you don’t magically overnight, like Leno every think that you are supposed to or something supposed to is ridiculous? Of course not. Of course you don’t. And so you’re learning and exploring every day all day. That’s part of what I love about it, and why people choose to do it. And so you got to have people around you to help check in.
Katie Brinkley 9:15
Yeah, make sure it’s all good. Well, and Amanda, I think that that’s a really good point. You know, when you become an entrepreneur, you don’t suddenly know all the things and it can be kind of intimidating as an entrepreneur because you’re put in that leadership role. You’re the one in charge, you’re supposed to have all the answers. So how do you help a lot of your clients grow into that leadership position?
Amanda HarNess 9:38
Yeah, I think I start off by redefining leader because just there those concepts of, you’re supposed to know everything just because you’re a leader means that you have to rule them all. redefining what leader means I think is really helpful for the owners in these new leadership positions. Because we’re basically trying to recognize what limiting beliefs might be coming up when they imagine, what does it mean for me to be a leader, and then maybe just repurposing some of that energy or honing in on the skills that support that and adjusting the ones that don’t serve them. I think you mentioned getting in your own way. And I think if people imagine a leader has to be this like Ren Poobah of everything, then they’re getting in their own way, being a good leader knows when to ask for help, when to be vulnerable, when to say I’m not sure. But I will find out when to solicit advice from someone outside the business or from their team. It’s like the just leading by example, I think is is a great, simple definition a lot of people know. So we start with that, and then address those skills. I personally, it’s part of what the work I do is looking at leadership and their management style, or their leader styles and their methods of communication, as well as the team and how they engage and receive that information. Because it’s you can have the best machine in the world as your business. But if you’ve got people and yourself not operating it well, then it doesn’t work out. So you got to have both things structured?
Katie Brinkley 11:07
Well, in one of my past podcasts, guests, Ryan Bramwell, when he came on, he was talking about that, what it takes to be a good leader. And sometimes it’s exactly like what you said, it’s saying, I don’t have the answer for that. And being vulnerable sharing that you might not know all the answers, but that’s why you built the team that you have is because everyone brings something different to the table. And that’s what I think, personally, being a good leader is is being a good listener and being willing to hear from other perspectives on your team, even though they might not be the one writing the checks, they still have a lot to offer within that what their specialty is, that’s what helped me grow my business so much was delegation and hiring people that did certain aspects of the job that needed to be done better than me.
Amanda HarNess 11:54
Right? Well, I think you bring up a good point here that some people can feel like when they’re asking for help, or they’re soliciting advice, or I like to call it collective intelligence, that they’re like, releasing some control. And a lot of people don’t like that. We can talk a whole other podcast regarding the idea of like, what you should control or what you know, whatever control can be its own conversation. But outside of that, you still make the decisions, right? You’re just getting opinions and thoughts and feedback and advice, you still decide, right? You’re not giving up that part of the business. So you’re still the owner, you still decide in the end what action to take or what function to do it. I think that’s something to remember. But that you’re actually almost maintaining more control by doing that, because you’re not stopping the ball at you, you’re not limiting the capacity or possibilities for your business. And so you’re controlling, by letting go a little bit. If that makes any sense, I get I get a whole separate conversation about it. But
Katie Brinkley 13:01
oh, yeah, and I think it makes perfect sense. Because that’s where again, when you’re delegating, and you’re listening, you’re proving yourself to be a good leader. But also those are different steps that can help take you to that next step with your business that can help your business grow, because you’re not trying to do all the things and you’re able to actually get past and achieve new goals. Talk to us a little bit about creating action towards getting new those goals accomplished.
Amanda HarNess 13:28
Yeah, slightly touched on this at the beginning, that a lot of people are good at what, and that’s where business owners are great visionaries, right, they can see all the possibilities and these big ideas, but sometimes those ideas stay that just ideas. And so we need to take those and turn them into that action. And so it’s not stopping at what but then also deciding why because that’s something you’re going to return to every time you hit a roadblock or speed bump, you’re going to need to return to the why which helps you maintain motivation through all those harsh times, it also redefines the what a little bit like it checks you and make sure that there this is really valuable and purposeful, and that it’s a good idea. So you have to move into what but you then you start laying out the structure of getting there, which is how, who and when. So you really need to have other people around you. This is one of the things that I helped with this is integrating these this idea into action. So laying out all the steps creating a roadmap, priorities list, a quarter by quarter if not week by week action plan. And then who is helping with those parts? Because again, we’ve been saying you as the owner can’t do all of it. Even if you’re solopreneur there’s got to be there’s some part maybe a bookkeeper at least right there’s something that you’re not doing in your business. And so who is helping with what parts will make sense from a from a skill standpoint, a confidence standpoint, a capacity on their calendar standpoint, a baby invested in that part. standpoint. And then when right that’s the accountability. Part two is, if you don’t define when each little piece needs to happen, then the big pieces aren’t going to either because we get sucked into the world when the whirlwind, the day to day happens, and it’s very easy to say, I’ll get to it tomorrow. And then suddenly, three years from now, it’s still tomorrow. So having when is crucial to like, tightening up a little bow on
Katie Brinkley 15:26
it all? Well, no. And that’s so true. I mean, like, This podcast is a perfect example of it. I had been wanting to start a podcast forever. Because I come from radio, I used to be a radio journalist. And I was like, oh, doing a podcast would be so cool. Like it actually, like, get back into my radio roots. And it was always something I wanted to do someday. And I mean, it was, it was just like, off this, it’s up here somewhere, someday I’ll have a podcast. But it wasn’t until April of 2020, that, you know, when when all of us were given the gift of time that I actually started it, and it sometimes it takes just that something to happen, I guess, to really say, Well, why not? Now, how do you help people make that decision? Like when they say, why not now have it be now?
Amanda HarNess 16:12
I don’t necessarily, I guess I don’t? I don’t know, I was gonna say I don’t help them make the decision, I just ask the right questions so that they can make the decision? Yeah, I guess it does feel right. If I were to make the decision for them, it would feel exciting at first and then a month or so into our work together, it would suddenly feel not right. And then they wouldn’t get what they want. It’d be difficult for everybody. So I need the person I’m working with to decide that this is what they want. And so I just ask the right questions. Or maybe when we’re sort of in that discovery phase challenge a few of the things they might say, and just really help them see, is this a priority right now? And if it’s not a priority, right now, what would make it a priority? Or why isn’t it a priority? And we just have this discussion to really figure out what the heck do you actually want? You know, do you actually want to start the podcast? Or is it just sound nice? Because something fun? You used to do? You know? Yeah, no, I actually want to start a podcast. Okay. Well, let’s dive in. You know, I think I just asked enough, enough questions and the right questions, and then they end up deciding that it’s the right thing.
Katie Brinkley 17:19
So for anyone that’s listening right now, and they’re saying, Okay, well, that is one of the biggest struggles that I have is just completing those goals. And I need to really get serious buckle down, do you recommend that they write down a list and give themselves like a timeline for things so that it’s actually written down? And now it’s for real? It’s not just a a wish? Yeah, it’s an actionable item?
Amanda HarNess 17:43
Yeah. Well, have you heard of SMART goals? A lot of people have heard that term, a SMART goal.
Katie Brinkley 17:48
Yeah, I’ve heard about let’s talk about them a little bit. For the listeners that might not be aware. Sure. Yeah. So
Amanda HarNess 17:53
smart goals is really just taking I like to say it’s taking it to do list and making it an action plan. And so instead of just saying, Pay Bills, it’s pay bill A, B, and C, from my debit account on February 25. And so it’s just you’re able to, did I do that? Yes or no? Right? You can measure it. I’m not gonna say that is smart in the right order, I bet. And then your is something attainable, right? You’re not reaching for the stars. And it’s something that has a time set to it. Because again, it’s very easy to see tomorrow. Gosh, S and R are evading me right now. I do I do without being too shameful. I do have a resource on my website that just it’s in the resources section that talks about smart goals. So pull it up right now.
Katie Brinkley 18:44
The S is specific and measurable. A is attainable. R is relevant. Relevant. T is time based.
Amanda HarNess 18:51
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. See, we need to help each other out here. So that’s the general concept that you can work from. I also have a resource on there that talks about those five things I said the what, why, how who when. So that’s like another one pager that just can remind you of those those big five. But you’re right there is something about taking time and making it tangible, right that the idea of someday I’ll start a podcast feels elusive, and maybe almost too big. And by stopping and writing out this roadmap for yourself, makes it more tangible. And you can actually see an action plan and your it’s a little bite sized pieces instead of a huge chunk. And so it’s it’s taking those littler steps that’s going to make it feel more impossible. There’s also one other thing that people can do is doing like a whole strategy session spend like a half day with go beyond just making like this writing it out smart writing out those big five like, do a mastermind with the people around you bring in people that you trust and go through those five things are the SMART goal or whatever. restructure works for you and have them come in and like mastermind with you this whole plan. I mean, that’s something that I do with my clients, because they’re teaching me about what they want five years from now, seven years from now. And then we work backwards three years from now, one year, every quarter, because they’re teaching me what it is they really want. And then I’m just showing them how they can go about doing it. And so it’s that multiple brains in the room that can really create the whole strategy behind getting there.
Katie Brinkley 20:30
Yeah, and I am a huge fan of masterminds peer advisory groups. And it’s true like that, having those people that are along the same path, you know, just maybe doing different things, it makes a world of difference. Now, one of the biggest reasons that a lot of people go into the world of entrepreneurship is to build a business around the lifestyle that they want. Now, I recently had a guest on the podcast, and she said, Well, that’s actually kind of backwards, because I don’t think that you’ll ever work harder. When you are an entrepreneur, what what’s your thoughts on building that dream lifestyle as an entrepreneur,
Amanda HarNess 21:11
I guess I approach it slightly differently than that person, I think whether you’re an employee, or an employer or an entrepreneur, you’re going to work hard. And I can’t think of a job where you don’t work hard. And it’s just which version of that are you choosing, if you’re choosing the one that best fits you, it feels less hard, and just more like a lot of effort. So being an entrepreneur takes a crap ton of effort, especially when you’re starting up, and you haven’t outsourced or delegated a lot, and you are taking on 90% of the work, it’s a lot of effort. And it does lead in, you know, to the personal time that you’re trying to have. And having that symbiosis of your personal and professional life. Or I try to avoid balance, I like integration better. The word balance makes you feel like you have to have this or that. But let’s just have this and that, which is why you choose to be an entrepreneur, you want to have a cake, and I want to eat it. And so I think it just depends on your perspective, or how you approach the work that you’re doing. I’m choosing to be an entrepreneur, because I can very easily go get a job. So that means that I’m choosing to take on the amount of effort that it takes to do these other things I never had to do when I was an employee. So it makes it never makes it feel easy. It just makes it feel less hard. Maybe that’s another way to just approach it from a perspective mindset perspective that maybe turns into working smarter, not harder, right? You’re just kind of deciding what do I like to do? What do I not like to do? What am I good at? What am I not good at? And stick over in the light to do and good at area of the business and either outsource or delegate? I’m not so good at or I don’t like press the business?
Katie Brinkley 22:55
What do you think that was one of the biggest mistakes that business owners makes, when they’re just getting started or trying to grow their businesses.
Amanda HarNess 23:03
Maybe just throwing spaghetti at the wall, I think instinctively we want to see really quick returns and really quick changes. And we think that if we we see this thing that we’ve created, it’s valuable. And if we just put it in the world, everyone else will as well. And they’ll be coming chasing after it. And in certain cases, maybe that’s the case, but oftentimes that is the 1%. And so I think maybe it’s the idea of I’m gonna try a little bit of this, that’s not working, I’m gonna try that it’s not working. I’m gonna try that it’s not working. But did you give it enough time to work? Because it’s not going to be overnight. So I think it’s throwing spaghetti at the wall and not maybe investing enough time into seeing a particular method or function. work its way through. Maybe it isn’t right. But you need to give it enough time to really figure that out. Because maybe it is and you just abandon something that would have been great.
Katie Brinkley 23:56
Yeah. And I think that, you know, throwing spaghetti at the wall and time. That’s one of the hardest parts of entrepreneurship. It’s you want it to be successful, so bad. But you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So absolutely love that piece of advice. What is one of the best pieces of advice that you’ve ever received? And how has that played out with your career journey?
Amanda HarNess 24:16
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received, I think it’s to not see one thing as bigger than it is to not put too much attachment on one thing. So it’s very easy to when the pipeline’s light and you feel like I need this next client and being in that place of need or fear or scarcity that is very natural happens to most of us. I’ve been there recently even you know it’s fine. But if you can recognize when you’re doing that and not put too much attachment to any one client any one action you might be taking any one thing that you’re doing that trial and error with because you’re trying not to throw spaghetti at the wall like just have to have fun with it a little bit. to know and be in a space of, I don’t know how my next client is coming. I don’t know how I’m going to get the 1000 followers, I want to add to my newsletter. But I know that I’m going to do XYZ part. And it will happen that’s a little less tangible. And it’s bordering the line of logic and intuition. But that’s a little bit of the work I do. And I think it’s really important to recognize that if you put too much attachment on one thing, all you’re going to see is when things don’t XYZ versus just have all these things in motion, and they’re just come, they’re going to happen. Even if it’s not this one. It’s going to be that one.
Katie Brinkley 25:40
Yes. Well, man that this has been such a great conversation, is there anything that I didn’t ask about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share?
Amanda HarNess 25:48
I like to say that work doesn’t have to suck, and that we can do serious work without being too serious. So I like to be kind of silly, yet professional. And one of those things is I have these three rules that I live life by, and they are applicable in most any situation, but I try to bring into my business to enroll number one is don’t panic, right? pause, reflect, don’t panic. Rule number two is Be tenacious, right, keep moving forward. Have your minute when you need to have your minute, but then get right back in it and be tenacious push. And the third one is party. You know, make sure you celebrate the things that you had to put a lot of effort into getting celebrate the things that came easily, but just party and have fun with all of it. And those three rules can happen in any order. But those are the three roles. I think it’s something I like to share with a lot
Katie Brinkley 26:35
of people. I love it. Well, Amanda, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Where can people learn more about you? And where can they connect with you online?
Amanda HarNess 26:44
Yeah, the best place is LinkedIn. I’m on there pretty often. So you can just find me under my name Amanda harness connect with me there, I’m happy to just you can just see all my content or we can connect and have a chat. But then I also my website, business accelerated calm and accelerated is spelt e x c e ll er at ed. So like excellence. There’s just a bunch of more information about me or resources and how to
Katie Brinkley 27:10
contact me there as well. Absolutely. And yeah, definitely connect with Amanda on LinkedIn, because she has a lot of very, very valuable posts. And she’s always showing up. So I always enjoy seeing your LinkedIn posts. But thanks, Amanda, thank you again so much for coming on the show today.
Amanda HarNess 27:26
Thank you, Katie. This is really fun way to end my week.
Katie Brinkley 27:29
Huge shout out to Amanda for coming on the show today. And I loved what she said about just slowing down. I know that it can be really hard to want to see results. And in a world of social media, especially everyone is talking about how can I go viral? How can I get more views? How can I get more followers and I know it sounds cliche, but I mean it. It’s so true. Don’t worry about going viral your video views how many followers you have, because people can buy followers, but it doesn’t mean that they’re going to buy from you those purchase followers focus on building a community focus on building your biggest fans by showing up and I think that when you are growing your business, it can be hard to not want to see instant results and not get discouraged but show up consistently. Show up at with a plan show up with a with value and show up intentionally so that you can grow your business, your social media, and your bank account, all with a consistent online strategy. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.