Susan Fennema helps businesses kill the chaos and kick the clutter so that they can return to running as efficiently as they can be. She takes her job so seriously that she calls herself the Chaos Eradicating Officer at Beyond the Chaos, a company she founded that empowers businesses to do exactly that.
If you’re a small business owner and you’re feeling overwhelmed from running your business, you might need Susan Fennema and her chaos-eradicating skills. Beyond the Chaos will help your business get back on track “through process development, organization, and structuring business operations and projects.” Her tasks go deep in making sure you take out chaos in your business life. From eliminating paper, creating a suitable work-from-home environment, to coaching project managers, the company will take away the burden from your shoulders and help you become more effective and efficient, so you can make the most out of your working day.
Susan Fennema has worked with several companies in different industries. However, she and her company excel in facilitating “rapid and scalable growth for software development companies, advertising and/or marketing, and boutique accounting firms.”
At Beyond the Chaos, Susan Fennema employs a hands-on approach that fills their clients’ unique needs, in terms of being competitive and overcoming challenges. They have delivered “quick wins and transformative results” on a regular basis to the clients they have worked with in the past.
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Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Susan Fennema: Beyond the Chaos focuses on a group of people who don’t get much attention. We serve small business owners — and I mean small! We work with clients who have 25 or fewer employees, but most of the time, our clients have fewer than 10. These owners don’t get much attention. They aren’t shown much love or care. And, they don’t understand — most of the time — that there is help out there to prevent their overwhelm.
We are more than “just” project managers and our values reflect that. We are client-committed and technology savvy. We believe in chaos- and drama-free environments. We create lifestyle-oriented work. We embrace a service-minded belief system. And, we impact US society exponentially.
One of my first clients came to me because he was suffering under the weight of success. He literally had too many clients, too much work, and no life. We were able to put a structure around his day, set him up with software (Basecamp), and a system to use it, and help him prevent client tasks from falling through the cracks. We have a saying, “manage like you mean it.” This client was so grateful to put this into practice with new skills to help him manage his company, his team, his clients, and his projects.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Susan Fennema: Take care of yourself first. If you aren’t healthy and balanced, your team and clients won’t be either. Calendar your time. And put time with your God, your health (exercise, eating right, etc.), and your family/friends in the calendar FIRST. Your son’s soccer game should be on the calendar as soon as you know when it is. WORK flows around LIFE. You always make more work, and there is always more work to do. You will never look back and think, “If only I had written one more blog….” No, you’ll wish you’d gone to that soccer game!
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Susan Fennema: Gosh… so many! All my previous bosses certainly had an impact on my success. And, I’m surrounded by entrepreneurs in my life. My dad has run successful manufacturing businesses for years. My sister and her husband run restaurants, a catering company, and an event center. My best friend and her husband run an allergy practice. By the time I started my business, they all said, “it’s about time!” Certainly there have been colleagues who have referred me and talked me up in different communities — that’s been a huge help. Coaches, mastermind members with great input, listening to my team… it all has a huge impact.
But, if I have to go with one, I think I will go with Dad. He taught me that you are nothing without integrity. You aren’t just responsible for making a profitable company, but you are responsible for your employees… and their families. His attention-to-detail and ability to systemize are definitely things I picked up on. And in the end, he taught me the best lesson — something I’m still striving for. “You know you’ve made it when you don’t DO anything. Your team DOES. You set the tone.” GREAT lesson!
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Susan Fennema: Here’s the main reason a business owner needs to learn to delegate effectively. You cannot grow if you’re doing it all yourself! If you can’t delegate, it means that you have to do all the things you are good at, as well as all the things that you are horrible at, AND the things that anyone could help you with if you’d just let them. Additionally, if everything about running your business is just in your head, then your business isn’t worth much if you ever get ready to sell it. The new owner would need you to run it. If you don’t delegate effectively, you’re an employee of your business — not the owner! Plus, it means that you don’t have any systems developed. You don’t repeat the same steps over and over consistently, which essentially means you can’t scale.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Susan Fennema: Sure. The first one is control. Without question.
The second big reason is “I can do it faster than I can explain it.”
A third is that it is difficult to manage people. And that can be a big sticking point.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
To “give up” control: The fear of “If I delegate, they won’t do it as great as I would” needs to be vanquished. There might be SOME truth in that, but more likely you need to give more clear direction and set better expectations. And, even if they don’t do the delegated task exactly like you would have done it, but everyone is happy, no profit is lost, and the task is complete, it should be considered successful.
To get past “I can do it faster”: Well, of COURSE you can. That goes without saying. But, you aren’t just doing it once. You have to do it over and over again. So, it might faster that one time, but you’ve made no progress for the next, and the one after that, and the one after that. Systemize it once.
To overcome the challenge of managing people: If you can learn to systemize, it gives you an added tool to manage people. Stop blaming them when something goes wrong. Start blaming the system. So, for example, you say, “Jack, this task didn’t turn out as I expected. I think something isn’t clear in the system. This is what I wanted, but that is what you gave me. Can you please help me figure out where the gaps are in the process so we can be more accurate the next time we need to do this?” Not only is it a non-confrontational discussion, but you also fix the process on top of explaining the mistake and what you needed. Jack doesn’t feel attacked. You get your need satisfied. And, the process is updated for the next person. Great tool you gain simply by systemizing for those you are delegating to.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Susan Fennema: I like to believe that I have done that in a way. By helping small business owners reduce their overwhelm, we make a major impact on them and all of the people they interact with during the day. Our goals are to help build and support strong, honest American small businesses and to create chaos-free lives in the best country on earth. To that end, we work primarily with American clients and team members. Not only should we affect our team members and their families positively, but we should do it exponentially. Every client, each of their team members, all of our clients’ clients, and all vendors associated with each of those people should experience less chaos and drama in their professional — and by extension personal — lives. The end goal is to improve family life (however that be defined) for everyone, affecting our society positively.
If the question goes beyond that, as an adopted child, I’d love to start a movement where pregnant women are encouraged and supported to put babies up for adoption rather than abort them. There are many organizations that already help in those areas. But unfortunately, they are not as well promoted as the easier way out. Plus, who could we have already lost? The next Curie, Einstein, or MLK could have been one of those babies. The effects on the world could be astronomical if the word just got out that there are so many organizations ready to help.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Susan Fennema: You can find me on:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
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