Episode #84: Systems & Support in Business (At Any Stage) with Willemijn Maas

Today I’m chatting with Business Strategist and Certified Online Business Manager for online entrepreneurs, Willemijn Maas. We talk about all things systems, with a real emphasis on looking after your own wellbeing as a business owner. And this is a conversation I know a lot of you will need to hear.

Listen to the Episode:

Ruth Poundwhite 0:06
You’re listening to creatively human with honest conversations about what matters to us and how it really feels to build an online business, put our work out into the world, make an impact in our own unique way And importantly, to get well paid for it. I’m your host Ruth Poundwhite business mentor to quietly ambitious humans.

Hi, and welcome back to another interview on the creativity human podcast. Today I am chatting with business strategist and certified online business manager for online entrepreneurs. Villa main mass, we are talking all things systems and outsourcing and hiring. With a real emphasis on looking after your own well being as a business owner, which I just think is such an important part of this conversation. In 2016, romaine had to step down from her medical career after she crashed into severe burnout and lost her job. Due to long term long term illness. Her recovery took two years, and she is now dedicated to help prevent burnout for entrepreneurs, because health is pivotal for business success, amen. Today, venomized supports women entrepreneurs in growing their business team and projects so that they have more time and energy for the things that are important to them. She focuses on strategy, planning the right support and mindset and teaches ways to create and maintain a successful business in a sustainable way, even when experiencing energy or health issues. Now, if what we’re talking about today resonates with you, make sure you go and check out her free Facebook group, which is called here to last and go grab her free sustainable success Guide, which is all about growing your business without the overwhelm and the overwork. And I’m gonna link to that guide in the show notes. I think that this conversation you’re about to hear is one that a lot of you probably need to hear, I know that there are a lot of feelings around either making your first hire, bringing on your first team member or scaling that and working on systems. I know it can feel like a lot. But ultimately, it comes down to you being supported and being taken care of taking care of yourself running a business that works even when you can’t, and making the impact that you want to have in the world. So yeah, I hope you enjoy it. Okay, so let’s start with this question. What does the word system mean to you?

Willemijn Maas 2:38
That’s a great one, um, system, to me means something that you can repeat. And that you can set up to make your life easier, basically. So I know that a lot of people think about systems as software tools or

systems within their software tools even. But it’s actually something else, it’s something more broad. So a system can also be recurring process over a workflow that has multiple steps in it and uses multiple software tools, for example. And that, so that immediately says that it’s not about one tool. But it’s about a process that you can repeat time and time again, every recurring task, in a business or in a household, or even your like, morning routine, basically, is a system.

Unknown Speaker 3:36

Ruth Poundwhite 3:37
I love that simple way of putting it. So let’s dig into more of, I don’t know, what do you think are some of the most important systems would tell me if I’m jumping the gun here, and we need to talk more about what systems are. But what do you think some of the most important systems are, that business owners can implement to just make their lives easier, no matter what size their business is?

Willemijn Maas 4:03
Yeah, I think that is something you know, you need to you need to know your systems from the start. And some of them you will develop over time. So it’s every business needs some kind of bookkeeping system, because you need to do your taxes and you need to, you know, register your invoices and payments, etc. So that would be one of the first systems to start with. Even though you have only one client or sold one course, you still need to keep track of that in some way. So that would be a system that you can set up for yourself. And then when your business grows, you will serve more clients. So then one of the things that I recommend having is a scheduling system, which often translate into a scheduling tool, where you can schedule appointments with clients and reschedule etc. But you will you will notice really quickly that you have a preferred way of setting up an appointment and that is Your system, and you can then automate the system or decide to keep doing it manually. But it is a system how to schedule your appointment if you do it. If you do it on Monday, you do this way. And on Tuesday, you do it another way. And on Wednesday you do you do it again another way, you will never get the hang of it really quickly. So normally, like, automatically, we will make systems for ourselves because we’re like wired that way, it’s easier to have the same routine, every single day when you wake up or go to bed if you change it up. So this is actually interesting, because I’m just going on a site like sidetrack immediately. Yesterday, I was talking to someone about like, we’re in lockdown, the measures are changing. And like every two to three weeks, it’s different. And I was complaining to my friend about how our homeschooling routine was messed up every single week, because the teachers thought of something new. Or then they, they could go to school to make some tests, and then they could end and so it changed every every other week, which makes it very difficult to create any routine in your life, which makes it feel way more draining and way more hard. So that is why we need systems in our business to to make things easier. So that was I thought I talked about the bookkeeping one, and the scheduling one. And then the next one would be onboarding. So you have a client, you signed a client, and then you don’t want to waste like three days for every single client to figure out how to onboard them what to send them. You know, do they need a contract or not? And what contracts should it be? And how you know, when are you going to follow up on them. So it’s really important to make that very clear for yourself like, Okay, I’m gonna send these documents to them. And then I will follow up in three to five days, and then I will record it in the system in the software to in my, you know, CRM system. And that is a way of creating simplicity in your business, which really, really helps with running everything else behind the scenes, but also with your own energy management. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Ruth Poundwhite 7:15
And it got me thinking about, I remember a time when my business was growing, I was getting more clients. And I just found that I was spending more and more time setting stuff up behind the scenes, like doing the admin. And it didn’t feel good to me. And I feel like I was basically I was that business owner that just like, let it grow and let it happen. But I didn’t, I wasn’t con, I clearly had some systems because I had certain ways of doing things. But I wasn’t conscious about it. And it, I just I remember what a difference it made when I started to consciously literally even just like in a text document, write it down what I was doing, is that how you would advise people to start thinking about this stuff? Or do you have any, like, any more snazzy ways of going about it?

Willemijn Maas 8:10
Yeah, I think the awareness phase that you just described, that is where it always starts. So you have to be aware that you actually have a system in place. And then you can document the steps. And you can find ways to make those steps easier, or to improve them or to make the flow better, or something like that. But I would always start with writing out the actual steps, because that is what I can see happening for a lot of entrepreneurs that they actually don’t really know what they’re doing in terms of steps that they’re taking. And when you start writing them down. And and I’m, I literally mean like, for example, when a client contacts you, it’s like a potential client contacts you, you will have a couple of things that you do for yourself, maybe you register that name in your in a Google Sheet, for example. So that would be step number one is registered name and Google Sheet. And then you would maybe send them your scheduling link to book a call with you. So that could be the next step. And then they would get an email confirmation like this is when we have the call, which is the third step. So it’s really about writing down all the steps that are taken in that process to create a workflow that actually works and doesn’t break somewhere. Because you want to go to the to the end point which is the client booking you for something or you know, working with you. So, there are going there are many steps going into their workflow that process and if you skip one of them, or if you mix two steps up like you know you switch them Then it wouldn’t work. So for example, if you would send someone contacts you, and you start sending them your contract without having, you know, having talked to them, that wouldn’t make sense. So you need to talk to them first. And then, you know, send them your proposal and they say yes, and then you send them to a contract. And so those are the steps, if you switch them up, the system is not working. So this is what I often start with is just literally describing every single step that goes into a workflow. And then, you know, do it on post it notes, so you can switch them, you know, hang them on your roll your door, and you can switch them around, and you can you can easily see where your system is actually not working, and you can improve it, which is also fun to do to just, you know, map it out for you just do it like every single like six months or 12 months, map out your system, map out your process. And, and you will see where the gaps are. And you will see where things fall through the cracks. And then you can you can come up with a solution for that gap, and you can make it flow more. That’s really helpful.

Ruth Poundwhite 11:13
Yeah, and

for anyone listening may or may not know each other very well through our mastermind group. And I always remember something that you shared with us about outsourcing because if there’s one thing when you’re creating your own systems and writing down your own workflows, there’s another thing when you’ve already got, say, a va working for you, and they’re doing, they’re implementing those systems, and you’re kind of like you, you kind of know what they’re doing. But they they know the ins and outs of what they’re doing. And one thing that you said to me that definitely stuck with me is have your VA document, everything that they’re doing. Otherwise, there comes a problem when you know, the VA has to leave, or you you know, whatever. And I just I, I’ve always remembered that and like, do you have anything else to say about that? Because I know it’s really, really important for anyone listening?

Willemijn Maas 12:06
Yes, it’s really important. So first, I think the most important thing here is that you are already aware of that you have a VA working for you who is doing things in a specific order, or in a software tool that you’re using. And you have no idea what how or what or when, or they’re just doing their job. And it’s so that is actually again, the first step is awareness that there is a system, but it’s done by someone else. And you need to know, not literally no, you don’t have to take over per se, it needs to be documented somewhere what that person is doing. So if you have a good VA, they know that they should do this. And if they don’t know you teach them as the entrepreneur, because you’re the CEO, you’re the boss, you are the person who is in charge of operations. And, you know, front end back end operations being the back end. And until you have someone else responsible for the back end, you are responsible for the back end as a CEO. So it’s super important to tell people that they need to document what they’re doing. Because when they are leaving, get ill, you know, have an accident, just you know, never show up again, you have a great like you have this major hole in your process, and you have no idea how they were doing it. So the awareness of someone else is doing tasks in my business, and I need them to write them down. That’s one. And then secondly, telling them to do that. And to also check like every three to six months whether the system has changed. Because what I often see is that people start documenting and they feel really chuffed about themselves. Like who I did, my VA did my documenting, and I did my document documents as well. And you know I did, we call them standard operating procedures. And it’s really good to have them, but you need to check on them as well. because things change, the software can change, the steps can change, there could be something else that they need to do as well, when they are contacting a client or doing customer service or, you know, setting up your payments or whatever they’re doing for you. So it’s super important to keep checking whether the process is still what it needs to be. And it it takes literally 10 minutes of reading through the document. And the person doing the task will immediately see, hey, this step is missing. I need to insert this step because I’m doing this since a month or two. And that’s how you keep them up to date.


Ruth Poundwhite 14:44
I think I need to add a recurring task. Because I added something that I haven’t thought about, you know, having a recurring like point where she check in with the systems and just make sure that the documentation and they’re all up to date.

Willemijn Maas 14:57
Yeah. So what I actually do and I think This could help a lot of entrepreneurs, when you’re using a project management tool like Asana, or clickup, or Trello. Even, you can set up recurring task for the first of each quarter or the last, if each quarter doesn’t really matter where today’s, but like every quarter, let’s just just set up a, for every single standard operating procedure you have in your business, you set up a recurring task to review it. And it literally takes you five to 10 minutes per sob and then it’s done.

Ruth Poundwhite 15:33
Yeah, yeah, that’s really useful. Thank you. And something you said there about, like being the CEO, you are responsible for the backend until you have something so

Willemijn Maas 15:44
big, right.

Ruth Poundwhite 15:49
But that aside, yeah, it’s like, it’s, I mean, this to me, I’m so passionate about spending time working on the business, not just in the business. And for me, that often means, you know, the big picture vision and the mission and the feelings. But it also means this, it also means making sure it’s running smoothly in the background that kind of like cogs are all turning and you’re, you’re setting it up. I see it as a benefit not only to yourself, but also to your customers. And I mean, as an OBM, what are the kinds of problems that you’ve seen people running into when they’re not keeping on top of this stuff, then they’re kind of putting out fires, but they’re not looking at the bigger picture of how things are actually running behind the scenes, I

Willemijn Maas 16:38
think the most important thing I run into when I, you know, when I start working with a client, and they asked me to run the operations, is that I’m just gonna say it, it’s the, you know, the enormous mess behind the scenes of folders, files, nothing is centralised, it’s stored in like a million different ways. There are no naming strategies or tagging strategies, there are, there’s no virtual office in place. So what I mean by virtual office is that when you work for a company, you, you have a key to the door, or you have maybe have a badge or something. And you you get into the door, you have your own office space with your desk, and your chair. And all your colleagues have the same thing. They also have a desk and a chair. And there is a main computer, and there’s a main server, and if you need anything related to that business, you go into the server, and you find it in one place, and everyone has access. And we need to set that up for our own businesses from the start. So no storing files on your personal g drive, no storing files on your personal computer. Because if you have a team, or you hire a VA, or you know any future situation, you they don’t have access to all of those files. So you need to give people a key to the door, you need to give them a virtual chair and a virtual space to work, which is the Google workspace mostly for most people. And you need to give them access to the to the main server where everything is stored, which is a shared Google Drive. If you have those things in place, people can find their stuff. And they you know, they can store store files they create for you. Because one of the biggest liabilities is having team members who store your files that are that belong to your business, on their devices, or on their Google Drive. And then they share it with you, you know, you can share it, you can share the files through Google. But when they leave you and they delete the file, it’s lost, you will never be able to recover it because it’s not owned by your company. So every single asset that belongs to your company needs to be owned, you know, by by the business itself and by you. And that is I think the most important problem I’ve run into. And the second one, I think there are three so the second one is a lack of documented systems that we just discussed. So team members, they just run their own mini company business within your business they have you know, they don’t share how they do it and when they leave then nobody knows. And the third thing is that is hiring too late. So doing too many things yourself for a very long time. And being hesitant to to hire a VA or another like another support professional and That often leads to being so overwhelmed with all the things in your business working, you know, in the front end, and in the back end serving your clients and the operations and doing the bookkeeping. And, and and there’s so many things. And then then I can see, when I speak to entrepreneurship very first time, they are often in tears, because they’re so overwhelmed. And they have no idea where they can find any time for themselves for their family, to even, you know, sleep, sometimes, they’re just working all the time. And if you want to hire you just you need, you need some space to be able to do that you need space to train someone you need space to, you know, create those documents and those procedures to make sure that someone you know, hits the ground running for your business. And if you wait too long, there’s no space and you’re sort of trapped into overwhelm. And then there’s no way you can easily hire someone, because there’s just no space anymore to train them.

Ruth Poundwhite 21:01
Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely been my experience, when I’ve hired in my business that at first, it creates more work for me before then takes the work off my plate. So what you said about hiring before you get to that place is really, really important. I mean, I mean, when is the right time to start hiring,

Willemijn Maas 21:21
I would say so. When you’re at like 80% capacity. So you have 20%, left to train to one. That would be the best thing, the best time to judge that. Mostly by you know, if you know I have a certain amount of client spaces available in a week, amount of client hours, for example, and you’re at 80% of that capacity, then you should think about hiring, because you can set when you serve more clients, you will have less time for marketing activities. And that’s mostly the first thing that people outsource is marketing activities like social media scheduling, sending newsletters, those kinds of things. Yeah, yeah.

Ruth Poundwhite 22:07
And that, to me also goes back to what you were saying before about like, or what we were talking about. Having that system in the first place, like even knowing how many clients you can take on requires you having a system for like regularly checking in with your calendar, and making sure that the number of clients your work you’re working with is critical, but also feels good. And you know, constantly having time to actually check in with yourself instead of like letting the business just run away from you.

Willemijn Maas 22:36
Yes, absolutely. That’s super important.

Ruth Poundwhite 22:39
So apart from the kind of overwhelm that you spoke of, and the lack of time, like people working all hours, are there any other like concrete issues that have that you’ve seen as an IBM when this stuff is all going wrong behind the scenes, like how, like tangible effects that it might have on their business.

Willemijn Maas 23:03
Mostly, mostly, it’s just, you know, things not in place. So it takes a lot of time for people to reach out to each other to find certain documents or files. And especially when a business is, is growing really fast, or there is like a time sensitive project going on, for example, launch, then you do not want people to just run around frantically looking for some stuff. It needs to be in place, it needs to be well prepared, it needs to be all prepared way before the actual event. And that is not possible when it’s not a shared virtual space. So I can launch this can fail because of the mess behind the scenes because of things not being documented VA leaving and there’s nothing on paper or any file. Those kinds of things really happen.

Ruth Poundwhite 24:04
So it really cost the business money.

Willemijn Maas 24:07
Absolutely. Yeah.

Ruth Poundwhite 24:08
Yes. Okay, so I wanted to ask you a little bit about, like, people listening to this, actually, let’s start with the people listening to this who don’t have any sort of team at all. I do speak to some mostly sensitive entrepreneurs who don’t like the idea of managing other people. They don’t like the idea of having other people work for them. What would you say to these people, they want to grow their business, but they want to keep it just themselves.

Willemijn Maas 24:41
I would say you still have some systems that you can document and repeat for yourself. So either even you know, for example, when it’s bookkeeping, it saves you time. If you have a system in place where you know, Okay, first I’m going to check my accounts. Then I’m going to check My transactions, and this is the way I do it. And these are the steps I take, it helps you save time, because next time, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And time is really the most important resource we have. So if in time time is, maybe maybe your time is $1,000 per hour, for example. So if you can save one hour, it will save you a lot. And you can serve in that hour, you can serve someone else. So that would be because I know that most solopreneurs think, you know, I don’t need to document all my stuff, because I’m just the only one and I know everything and it’s in my head. Well, first of all, it’s okay, if you think that way. But it will save you time if you don’t. And, and I also want to address that when you are a solopreneur. And your entire business is in your head if something happens to your head, and I mean, quite literally, there’s no business. So for example, if you get sick, or burned out, or, you know for you, you know, you run into a car, and you have a concussion and you can work for six weeks, then there’s no way that your business is going to survive. So and it’s that sounds really harsh, but it’s the truth. Yeah. So it’s when people are hesitant to hire support. I think it has to do with, you know, not wanting to be responsible for someone else. Or, you know, not wanting them to see behind the scenes. And it’s okay, you know, I come into businesses of six figure business owners, multiple six figure business owners, it’s still a mess, don’t be ashamed about your mess. Because it’s not your it’s probably not your zone of genius. It’s my zone of genius, but it’s probably not your zone of genius to be super structured and super organised. And it’s okay because you have other talents and skills, which are serving your clients in the best possible way. But what if you could team up with someone, and it can be a virtual assistant who can organise your business for you, or bookkeeper who can do that for you. But what if you team up with people and do not feel like they’re working for me or I’m responsible for these people, they are responsible for their own business, then you can work together with them to make your business shine even more. And that is something that we tend to forget that we you know, we can support each other and in use each other. So if genius.

Ruth Poundwhite 27:53
I think that that’s so important and what you said about if something happens to your head, it is important to say it really is because if you’re just like doing your business on the side, you’ve got you know, other family income coming in then fine, maybe that’s okay. And maybe you can keep it that level. But if your business is responsible for taking care of yourself, your family, then you need to think about that. And I just want to say I hope that anyone listening who got a bit of a tingle hearing that thinking okay, maybe I do need to hire someone, I hope that that will have been a bit of a pep talk for me. And also I just wanted to share my experience. I never started when I started as a copywriter. I never thought I would scale it. I never thought I would hire other people. Then I ended up going travelling. And I was like I got a minute. I could hire other people to help me with this. And I could spend more time travelling. And that’s how it started. And it started really small. I think when I first started hiring someone else, I probably spent like 200 US dollars a month, really small amounts of work. And I just scaled it and grew it and grew it and eventually I was spending like 1000s a month. But it doesn’t happen overnight. And it gives you time to like, figure out how it works and what you said about you know, there’s a difference between hiring employees and hiring subcontractors Who are they are self employed, they run their own business, they’re not your staff. I think there’s a difference there as well. So, yeah, I think that’s really useful. Thank you for sharing all of that. And I hope that because it when I when I come across people saying this, sometimes it’s a genuine, it’s aligned, and it’s the way they want to live their life and it’s the way they’re able to live their life and that’s fine. But sometimes I do think it’s coming from a place of fear of responsibility, like you said, and also fear of judgement. I certainly felt that way before I hired an accountant. I was so afraid of hiring an accountant because of the mess that I had created. had a massive tax bill do I thought I was doing wrong. And when she came in she, you know, legitimately reduced my tax bill, change my my business from sole trader to limited company and it just, I feel so supported. And I suppose if there’s anything yeah, that’s the thing I want to add as well like feeling supported, is huge. I think when you’re holding so much space for all the things in your business, especially when you’re working with clients directly. Feeling supported is just massive for me. And I’m guessing that’s a feeling that you, you help all the people that you work with feel massively supported. And that probably makes a huge difference to them mentally.

Willemijn Maas 30:40
Yes, I think, you know, feeling supported is one of the, I would say maybe basic needs of every human being. And if you can have someone help you in any way, whether it’s a cleaner in your house, or you know, someone in your business, it, it makes you feel seen, and, and heard. And I think that will, that alone frees up space and energy to go out again, and serve. When when we feel alone and abandoned, maybe in some way that it just eats you up. It’s not good. So it’s the support is really important. And especially when to when you want to grow your business, you need you need that support, you need other people to help you because in, in any business, there are like 15 different roles. And when you’re a solopreneur, you are wearing those 15 hats. And you know, one day maybe you’re, you’re more wearing the marketing hat and in the day or maybe wearing the bookkeeping hat, but you’re still wearing 15 hats, and switching between all those hats is very tiring, tiring. And it’s if you can just give a couple of hats away to someone else who loves to do those things. Whose zone of genius it is, and who, who’s just super, super well equipped to do those tasks. It will save you so much time and energy. And that is it is so important for your sanity for your health. And to just to feel generally more happy. Yeah,

Ruth Poundwhite 32:29
yeah. And I was just thinking, add the other hats into the mix, like, you know, spouse, parent,

Willemijn Maas 32:35

Ruth Poundwhite 32:36
Yeah. Teacher, yeah, homeschool, like, whatever it’s like, it’s a lot. It’s, and I’ve definitely found since I’ve had a child, I just have so much less mental capacity for everything that the support is so necessary. And I’ve definitely spent a lot of, you know, I’ve invested in support a lot earlier in this business than I did in my first business. And it’s, it’s so necessary, so necessary for me. Yeah. So I just also wanted to ask you, for anyone listening who potentially does have a VA or they’re on that kind of, they’re at that kind of stage in their business, what’s the difference between a VA and an IBM and when do you know you’re ready to hire an IBM?

Willemijn Maas 33:17
Okay, that’s a great one. There’s certainly my jam. So a VA is someone it’s a virtual assistant. And it is someone who can assist you in your business, but you will be the one setting up the strategy and managing the VA.


And OBM, online business manager it’s in, it’s already in the name in your title. It’s it’s a manager. So the IBM manages other team members, and doesn’t do the implementation of the task so much. Sometimes I do for example, I do tech setup for a client, but then the VA takes over and uses the software to for the business tasks. But the OBM does more like the managing piece and a lot of strategy. So I do quarterly planning with my with my clients and then we know what we would we are going to do in the business. And what is needed for that which you know, new software we need or maybe there’s another team member we need to hire. So I didn’t take care of the operations behind the scenes, which is finance, HR, operations, operational management, like the slps and documentation of the processes. And the VA is the person who implements the things that we come up with who writes the newsletters or who schedules the blog posts or you know, make sure that this the social media posts are going out. That’s what the VA job mostly. And so my job is more is higher level management and strategy. So when you you, so you won’t start with hiring an OPM, because there’s no team to manage. And there’s mostly they’re like, fewer projects to manage. So if you have a couple of team members already working for you, that could be, for example, the VA, a website designer, a graphic designer and video editor, copywriter, those kinds of roles, if you have outsourced a couple of your hats already to other people, then it is time to hire an OPM because you will find that when you grow your team, you will step more into the CEO role. And that role demands of you that you manage that team, so that you manage your projects and you you tell your team what you need and how in what it should be ready, and and how it should be done. And then it will take that will take a lot of your time. And then you will find yourself in a place where you start thinking like I want someone who managed my team for me, who manages my projects, my launches for me, and then it would be time to hire an OBM. And then the next step would be a Director of Operations who is responsible solely for the operational side. Okay.

Ruth Poundwhite 36:20
So what’s the difference, though, between the director of operations and the IBM

Willemijn Maas 36:24
and IBM is also you have the front end and the back end of the business. And the back end is the operational side and front end is serving the clients marketing and sales. And an OBM, usually manages the both sides. But when the business grows even more, you will have people working on a front end and people working in operations, and then you would need a Director of Operations who is solely responsible for the back end of the business. And then we’re talking several seven figure business level.

Ruth Poundwhite 36:57
Yes, yeah. Okay. That was a really clear explanation. Thank you. Hopefully goals for a lot of people listening to this. And something that I often think about, you know, when when the big business owners say, you don’t need to work more than make more money, you actually need to work less. This is it, I think it is, you’ve outsourced everything that’s not in your zone of genius, and you work within your zone of genius, so often that looks like, you know, reading the certain amount, certain content, not all the content, but you’re kind of key more content, connecting with people, that kind of thing. Yeah, it’s, I just think it’s an incredible goal for us all to be working towards.

Willemijn Maas 37:42
Yes. And so it is something that we hear a lot in the online space, like, do what you love, focus on your zone of genius, but you need also, it needs to also be completed with and outsource everything else. And that is something that we you know, it’s skipped a lot. That sentence is skipped a lot. So it’s mostly like you do what you love. And that’s it. But you cannot focus on so you have these 15 hats in your business. So if you don’t like bookkeeping, you can’t say I’m just not going to do it, because I don’t love it. Yeah. That’s not how it works. It’s okay to not love it, it’s okay to not do it. But then someone else needs to do it. And it can be your husband, or your wife, or your sister, or whatever, or bookkeeper. But if you decide that you’re not going to do it, you need to outsource it.

Ruth Poundwhite 38:39
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s such an important point. And, and I just want to change the subject slightly, and talk a bit about self care in general, especially for entrepreneurs. And I know that you’ve had quite a journey with burnout and health issues and coming back for that and constantly evaluating how you take care of yourself. So yeah, I mean, it’s a very broad question, but is there anything that you want to share with the listeners about your journey with that?

Willemijn Maas 39:12
Yeah, I think, um, so we just talked about like when something happens to you, as an entrepreneur. Yeah. And I do think that I’m so passionate about this subject because this actually happened to me and I was not an entrepreneur I was doing in corporate I worked as a medical doctor in the in the donor medicine. But I, in 2016, I crashed into severe burnout and I didn’t see it coming at all. So like, one day, I was doing okay, I thought and the next day, I wasn’t able to do anything and it lasted for two and a half years. Which I didn’t know because if I would have known I don’t know if I was still here. Because if you know that you will be you know, not able to take care of your kids. Not earn any money, you know, not work, not take care of yourself, don’t go out of the house, if you know that, you know, upfront, it would be really, really hard. But in the end, and it took two and a half years to recover, and it is still an ongoing journey. So energy management is still something that I need to be aware of every single day. And I wish it was different, but it’s not. So what I found was when I started as an entrepreneur, after I recovered, was that I thought this cannot happen again to me ever again. Because now I have a business. And, you know, there’s no safety net. There’s no social social security, I live in the Netherlands, we have a social security net. But that’s not there, when you’re when I’m an entrepreneur, so I can have this happen again, I need to take care of myself first, always. And I also realised that so many entrepreneurs are at risk of burning out because of doing all the things and working day and night weekends and never taking a break in when you have a business, it’s always in your mind, it’s not that, you know, it’s not that it stops at five a 5pm. When you stop working, when you’re in bed, it’s still in your mind. So, and I know the dangers of that I know the dangers of working 24 seven and being on call 24. Seven. And if you have that in your business, and being at risk to burn out, I know what can happen and how much how much you can lose. So this is why I’m so passionate about this subject. And this is why I tell entrepreneurs like okay, you need to have support, you need to document everything that’s going on in your business, because when you burn out, it literally something happens to your brain, it just doesn’t function anymore. So if you have everything in your mind, in your head, and in everything you’re driving your business from inside of your head, that is it’s a liability. And you need to need to make sure it’s you get as much stuff out of your head as possible. To avoid your brain just being fried, it’s super important to make space on a daily basis to, you know, brain dump everything and make sure it’s not living there. And if you do that, and you hire the right support, at the right time, it’s okay, you’re going to be okay. And you’re going to grow your business and it’s going to be successful. But I do tell them about the risks. And I and and I so for example, when we’re launching something when I’m launching a course with someone or a coaching programme, because I work mostly with with online coaches and course creators. So when we’re in a launch, and I see the overwhelm in their eyes, we always take a break. Even when it’s in the middle of a launch, it’s just you know, take a break, just take a day off, we will take care of everything that’s going on right now, you need to take a break, and we always plan a week of recovery time, at least. So the launch is over, there’s no way we’re going to deliver the next week, there is always a break, because you need to recover from a launch because it’s such a high energy event. And I think those things, those things make me different than than other OEMs. Probably because I you know, make sure I don’t manage launches, and projects in the team. But I also manage the energy of the of the business owner and the team. Yeah.

Ruth Poundwhite 43:46
So important. Thank you for sharing that. And I think it’s a really nice way to end this conversation, because it’s such an important thing for us all to remember. And I agree with you that I think there is a risk of burnout or most entrepreneurs, I certainly you know, when you love what you do, and when it’s pretty addictive, what you do, you know, it’s easy just to work full time. And like I said earlier, when you’re working with clients and taking on their energy, wearing all the hats, it’s a lot. So yeah, thank you for sharing that. And we were talking about when we were before we recorded this interview talking about what we might talk about you You asked me a question about how I started hiring and what were my first experiences and I think I shared that earlier.

Unknown Speaker 44:30

Ruth Poundwhite 44:33
I just want to reiterate for anyone listening I started very small. I hired based on recommendation that was the easiest way for me to find someone that I trusted at first and have a bit more of an intuition for it now I think but back then it was mainly you know, referrals recommendations, and just started small and built it up and it gave me a massive kick up the bum to get my own systems written down and streamlined. And it was really good. And I didn’t look back. And yes, I had to let some people go, I had to have difficult conversations with people. It caused me stress sometimes, but overall it caused my it was enabled me to scale my business massively. It enabled me to work a lot less. And the good outweigh the bad. So I just wanted to share that for anyone who is curious. Okay, so we’ve got one final question before we wrap up

from my

deck of random questions. So that is, if you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your teenage self?

Willemijn Maas 45:37
Yay, that’s, I think,

when I was

a teenager, and I had to choose, like, what I what I was going to be the rest of my life. I chose medicine. And that was mostly because, you know, people around me said, if you are, if you become a doctor, you will never be out of work. We all know the mantra, right? Since we’re in a pandemic, that is probably true. But I also know that it is way more important to do to choose something that you love, and that suits you. And it didn’t suit me. So in the end, it’s not really strange, and I burned out because it’s something that I am not really good at. But I think what I would tell my teenage self is that it is totally okay to change course at any given time. So some something doesn’t feel right, or it doesn’t light you up, it’s okay to make a decision to stop and do something else. It’s and that is still something I’m learning. Because I think we’re all conditioned to sort of, you know, achieve the goal we set for ourselves. But if it’s not feeling right, it’s okay to just stop and it’s not giving up. It’s something else to be giving up or to make a conscious decision to change course. And I think that is what I would tell myself.

Ruth Poundwhite 47:10
No, right answer. Thank you. And thank you so much for this chat. I think it’s going to be very helpful to a lot of people listening.

Willemijn Maas 47:17
I hope so and I loved it. So thanks so much for having me.

Ruth Poundwhite 47:22
And if you want to find out more about Villa main then you can find her website at Villa main mass.com that is spelled w i double l emijnmas.com. You can find her free Facebook group here to last and you can find her on Instagram at Villa main mass dot OBM. She’s also got a free sustainable success guide which is a link to in the show notes. Thank you so much for listening to another episode of creatively human. If you have a moment I’d be so grateful if you could rate and review the podcast, it really does make a difference. And if you’d like to carry on the conversation or ask a question for a future q&a episode, there are three ways to connect with me on the Facebook group on Instagram at Ruth Poundwhite or my personal favourite, my behind the scenes newsletter. Just go to Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash newsletter to subscribe and keep doing what you’re doing because your work really does matter.


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Show Notes

In 2016 Willemijn had to step down from her medical career after she crashed into severe burnout and lost her job due to long term illness. Her recovery took two years, and she is now dedicated to help prevent burnout for entrepreneurs, because health is pivotal for business success. Today, she supports women entrepreneurs in growing their business, team and projects, so that they have more time and energy for the things that are important to them. She focuses on strategy, planning, the right support and mindset, and teaches ways to create and maintain a successful business in a sustainable way, even when experiencing energy or health issues.

Willemijn knows how to work less and earn more and has plenty of time to spend with her husband Paul and two daughters. You can often find her in her vegetable garden, picking flowers and herbs, and talking to her chickens. She also has a love for sock knitting and eyeing-not-buying pretty yarns.

If what we’re talking about today resonates with you, make sure to check out her free FB group Here to Last, and grab her free sustainable success guide which is all about growing your business without the overwhelm and overwork.

“So many entrepreneurs are at risk of burning out” – Willemijn Maas

Some of the things we talked about:

  • What systems are and 3 systems every business needs
  • How to create your own systems
  • How, why & when to start working with team members like a VA or OBM
  • The problem with trying to do everything yourself Advice to those who don’t want to build a team
  • Willemijn’s story of burnout, and why self-care means everything

Links from this episode:

Other episodes you might like:

“Feeling supported is one of the basic needs of every human being – Willemijn Maas

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Thanks so much for listening!

When you subscribe to updates you get access to 3 bonus episodes of the podcast – exclusively for email subscribers – that dive behind the scenes of my business (I talk about failures, money, community & more!)