EP 235: What’s Working To Scale With Software With Scale Spark Founder Susan Boles

Sep 12, 2019 | Podcast, Software & Services

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How ScaleSpark founder Susan Boles uses software to solve capacity problems for her clients and help them scale up
  • Why she starts with a software audit before making any changes—and how you can too
  • What she looks for when considering what software options to go with
  • The first step to getting started with new software (it’s not what you’d expect!)

When I first got serious about building a team and documenting our business systems…

…I signed up for Asana.

If you’re not familiar, Asana is a project management system that tons of people were raving about at the time. They claimed how organized it made them. they said how wonderful it was to have a checklist of everything that needed done in front of them. They loved being able to assign deadlines and delegate tasks.

That all sounded marvelous.

But my experience of Asana was… not so great.

No matter how hard I tried to “be good”—check off all the boxes, stick to my deadlines, and process my tasks, I’d end up falling behind and ignoring the whole system.

My team could use Asana. But I couldn’t.

And I felt like a bad business owner. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t disciplined enough, like I just couldn’t hack it.

Dramatic? Maybe but it seemed like Asana was what worked for everyone I respected and I just couldn’t seem to get on board.

Late last year, Marie Poulin—who you just heard from in Episode 234—shared that she’d switched her project management (and practically everything else) over to an app called Notion.

It turned out that Notion (why yes, that’s our referral link) allowed for way more than checking things off a list and organizing tasks by project. It was purposefully non-linear, adaptable, and infinitely customizable.

I was intrigued.

We took a look… and we were hooked.

Now, it’s no surprise that my team can use Notion. They’re a bunch of a project management badasses. But the fact that I can use it? Well, that was a surprise.

What Notion has made me realize is that software doesn’t just work on its own.

It works with you—or it doesn’t work.

Asana is great. But it’s not great for me. It doesn’t help me scale my capacity. It doesn’t help me do my job.

Notion works with me. It let’s me think the way I want to think. It helps me do my job and increase my capacity for doing my best work.

Notion reminded me that I am organized, disciplined, and committed to growing my company.

And no piece of software can take that away from me again.

Now, my guest today is no stranger to the way software can either help or hurt a business.

Susan Boles is the founder of ScaleSpark, a consulting firm that helps companies break through growth ceilings by fixing back-end processes and creating systems designed to scale.

One way she does that is by addressing operational capacity problems through software. She helps business owners and their teams get more done by better utilizing the software they have—or the software they should be using.

In this conversation, I ask Susan what’s working for her clients—how she helps them identify their operational challenges, choose the best software, and adapt their processes to create additional capacity. We also talk about the challenging work of implementing new software—and how to make a change easier and more effective.

Plus, Susan’s own podcast just launched this week and I am her first guest! We talk about default decisions and how they can create the ceilings we bump up against on the path to growth. Click here to listen!

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