Today’s Guest is Cathy Sexton CEO of The Productivity Experts. Cathy is a CPA by trade and recovering workaholic. When the stress of over working herself in the corporate world became to much and started impacting her health, Cathy knew she need to make a change. That’s when Cathy went out on her own and began helping clients improve their processes and productivity. In this episode Cathy give entrepreneurs a few tips on how to improve your productivity. She also gave advice on what you should do when you don’t feel like you can get everything done in a week.
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Cathy Sexton: [00:00:00] Um, on myself, just working harder and harder coming in earlier and earlier, just so I could, you know, be on top of things working later and later, um, it even got to the point where my daughter had gone off to college and, you know, I’d found myself going home, fixing dinner for my husband and going back to work.
And now how sick is that? Right?
Craig Staley: [00:00:24] Hello and welcome to the small business school. My name is Craig Staley, 20 year retail veteran e-commerce practitioner and entrepreneur. Each week I will interview a new small business owner that we can learn from to take our businesses to the next level. Now let’s go.
Sexton is a productivity and profit specialist. She’s a speaker, author and business coach. She helps entrepreneurs and organizations increase their productivity and profit. Today. We really focused on the productivity piece of her expertise. In our conversation, Kathy gave three of her best tips for increasing productivity.
She also gives some advice on what small business owners can do when they feel like they can’t get everything done in a day. Really great conversation. So let’s get right to it without further ado. Cathy Sexton.
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link. All right. I’d like to welcome my next guest. Her name is Kathy Sexton. She’s the owner and operator of the productivity experts. Welcome, Kathy.
Cathy Sexton: [00:03:05] Well, thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Craig Staley: [00:03:08] I appreciate you coming on.
Can you give us the listeners a little bit of your personal background?
Cathy Sexton: [00:03:13] Sure. Um, my personal background is basically. 30 plus years in accounting, anywhere from the bookkeeper up to, you know, assistant controller and, you know, spent most of my life, you know, was working with numbers.
Craig Staley: [00:03:29] So, you know, your business, you know, while it does have, you know, involves numbers, it’s not specifically accounting, give us a little background on your business and what motivated you to start the productivity experts?
Cathy Sexton: [00:03:42] Sure. Well, uh, my last job in basically the accounting is that I was working for a corporation basically. And. I was in the accounting position, but I was getting ill. I started having, um, different health issues and then eventually, um, it got to the point where I was diagnosed with a life threatening disease, which I still have, but it’s under control.
So that’s a good thing, but it basically is brought on and induced by stress. So it’s something that I had to relook at, you know, what am I doing? How am I working all that kind of information. And then when I realized what I was doing, I realized it was time to go. You get out of the corporate world, the fact that it was having on me.
And so I decided to start my own at that point, a bookkeeping business, you know, since my background is bookkeeping, that’s how I started. And then when I. Realize that small business owners need, you did so much more than just bookkeeping. You know, they had no systems and processes in place. They know what they know they’re good at what they do.
They’re technicians, they’re, you know, they know their industry, but the majority of them have no clue on how to run administrative or bookkeeping or the accounting side of their business. So kind of went into that. And then I was in that. For a few years and then took on a partner and that did not work out.
And then when I had to regroup everything, I realized what I enjoyed most was coaching small business owners and coaching because I could see the difference. I can see the difference I making in people’s lives and in their business. And so then that’s when the productivity experts were kind of, it was kind of warmth through through that and helping individuals and business owners.
Seven systems and processes and kind of. Find a better way to work.
Craig Staley: [00:05:46] That’s all awesome. You know, I know you mentioned that you were dealing with stress and that’s kind of what led you to, you know, starting your own thing, your own book, keeping business. But I, you know, I think I, I read that, you know, it was maybe as bad as workaholism.
So can you tell us a little bit. About what you were doing that really caused that stress.
Cathy Sexton: [00:06:06] Yeah, definitely. I’m definitely, I call myself a reforming workaholic, you know, at the point I, at the point that I was in the corporate world and I, you know, and I’ve been doing this for years, so it wasn’t just something that happened over, you know, it happened over time, but, you know, I was very loyal, dedicated to what I was doing.
I found myself in a situation where this company that I went to work for was growing and, you know, found myself just working harder and harder coming in earlier and earlier, just so I could, you know, be on top of things, working later and later, um, it even got to the point where my daughter had gone off to college and, you know, I’d found myself going home, fixing dinner for my husband and going back to work now, how sick is that?
Right. And I finally, you know, and then when I. You know, started getting different, small, different illnesses. But then when I really, it was really because I was just not. I was working well, not working smarter. Like, you know, people say I was on that hamster wheel, just constantly trying to say, keep my head above water and doing it with, you know, dedication and purpose and all that.
But it really took a toll on my, on my life.
Craig Staley: [00:07:18] I’m glad you got that turned around for sure. Yes. So, you know, you’re helping other business owners with their, their productivity and being more organized. Can you give the listeners maybe two, three tips that. That you think could help small business owners become more organized,
Cathy Sexton: [00:07:35] right.
So I would say, you know, there’s kind of three to four main things that I always want people to look at, and that is number one, planning, you know, we can, you know, we as. The old saying goes, we can plan for success, but we don’t plan to fail. Right. But we have to, if we really want to get where we want to go or no matter what it is that you’re trying to do, if we don’t plan out.
Now the key to that is being flexible and being able to go with the curves in the road, right? Yeah. But having a plan, so we know where, what direction we’re going. So we know kind of what that end goal, which is never, ever an end goal, but where, where the. You know, the direction that we’re trying to do. So that’s number or one, I think it’s the biggest key, no matter what you do doing a, what you’re trying to do for small business owners.
I think another thing is profit is making sure that you’re really looking at a business from the profit side of things. I mean, we go into business thinking we’re going to make money and thinking of, but it’s not. And that way we don’t really think about revenue and we think about expenses. We’re not really thinking about.
How am I going to pay myself and how am I making enough profit? So I kind of make that, you know, help small business owner put a system in place. So it’s just automatic. So the profit is just automatic part of it. So which you know, is processes and everything. I think. That small business owners, if they want to do anything successful, they have to have systems and processes in place to make sure that they can turn things over to them.
There are people so that they are really doing all of this stuff and wearing all the hats that they need to do. And then I think a partnership. And what I mean by a partnership is having someone, because we, as small business owners, we don’t do a lot of things because we don’t want anybody to hold us accountable to them.
Or we can say you are going to do them and not do them because we can say, Oh, I don’t want to do that. So having, building a partnership with somebody, if it’s a mentor, if it’s, you know, a mastermind group, A coach having someone that we’re accountable to that will hold our feet to the fire and not just someone who will okay.
That’s okay. Cause we can come up with all excuses in the world we want, well, I got too busy last week. I can’t do that, but really ask the hard questions. So it’s not as. As much as just finding somebody that, Oh, you’re holding me accountable and they say, yeah, I will. But don’t, it’s really finding somebody and creating that partnership where you can help them, they can help you.
And I think that’s one of the big key in running a small business.
Craig Staley: [00:10:17] That’s really good advice. What advice would you give to small business owners who just feel like they’re overwhelmed and don’t think they can get everything done in a day or a week or a month?
Cathy Sexton: [00:10:28] Yeah. So I think the biggest key is that we think we have to do all, all these things.
You know, we can come up with a list of so many different things to do, but really what are the things that you as a business owner. Are the only ones that can do or that need to be doing, you know, I used to, on my monitor, I used to have this thing, are you doing, is this making me money? You know, it’s kind of like, what I’m doing is it it’s making me money because we can get so caught up in and part of it, I call it creative avoidance, you know, doing other things.
So we don’t have to do what we need to do. And if it’s. Cold calling, or if it’s just marketing or something we’re not comfortable with and really making sure that we’re not doing the things we shouldn’t, you know, we have talents and we have skills and that’s where our time and effort should be because small business owners don’t value their time.
They don’t really look at it as. A dollar amount and they should, you know, so that’s one of the missing pieces. And when you really look at your time and what it’s worth, should you really be going to the office supply store and pick up a thing, a paper, you know, I mean, it really is really looking at it.
So thinking about how you can outsource how you can barter, how you can maybe get a virtual assistant to help you and how it really can make. You more money in the long run. And we as small business owners think, Oh, I can’t afford to do that. And that’s a mindset change that we really need to look
Craig Staley: [00:12:05] at.
Yeah. You got to save your time for the high level, the decision making the strategy, the planning, and some of that type of effort,
Cathy Sexton: [00:12:13] right? Yeah. Because that’s, what’s going to make you the money.
Craig Staley: [00:12:17] So, you know, obviously you’re, you’re focused on organization and productivity. What tools have you found that are, might be particularly helpful for small business owners?
Cathy Sexton: [00:12:28] So I think, you know, definitely using something like either Google suite or outlook that has everything incorporated. It. And try to eliminate having somebody, any different softwares, having something, even though it might not give you everything you want, but being able to have your calendar, have your tasks, everything kind of built into something that’s really all working together.
So that you get, I think that’s really a very effective thing to do. I think one of the things tools that I have found this works so well for me to help me stay focused because we do have a lot chatter in our head. We have a lot of thoughts, Oh, I need to do this. Need to do that. Is I use a program called focus at will.
And so it is a, it’s a, you know, Classical, not classical, but background music that can be anywhere from, for people who have ADHD. It’s really loud and, you know, Harding music to really soft music, depending on what you you need, but I can turn that on. And when I do, I can say in the zone and say, focus so much easier.
So having something and really understanding what works for you, because that’s the big key is knowing. What our styles are. So just for example, on that one thing, I want to talk about music. And I remember being in a car and the guy the facilitator said, well, let’s do this exercise. I’ll turn on some music.
Well, the gallon who has since then became a very good friend, but at the time I didn’t really know her, but. It was like, he took one on some classical and that was great for me because I can’t work on something like that. If everybody’s talking and things are gone, but that classical mood just let me focus.
And she about drove her nuts. I thought she was going to go crazy. I can’t say this, you know? So, you know, knowing what works for you knowing. What your styles are knowing. I call it natural productivity style. So not just the music, but knowing what works for you. Do you make decisions really fast? Do you, do you need to think and process things, you know, are you an introvert, you know, are your process that’s person, are you off to the next shiny thing, knowing who you are, you are and the way you work and the way you think will Creeley can make it’s a huge difference in your productivity and your focus.
Craig Staley: [00:15:00] That makes a lot of sense. Who would you consider a mentor in your life? And what would you say is maybe the most important lesson that they’ve taught you?
Cathy Sexton: [00:15:08] So I have two mentors that have been in, you know, since I really started my business, um, shortly after, uh, one came into my life. Just after a couple of years in this business and she has become, you know, my go to person basically.
Right. But I think what mentors two, and then I have another, uh, another gentleman, but, you know, number one, they’ve probably been there, done that. Right. So they can actually be able to help you guide you and get you, keep you on track. But I think one of the biggest things I learned from them. Is that they believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
And I think that that’s one of our downfalls is that because we’ve not gone here before and done that before we start guessing ourselves, you know, I used to guess myself, why would anybody pay me to, for do do this? Because it came natural to me. So I, you know, it’s easy for me, but why would, and you know, doubt yourself.
And they really would able to believe in me and help me to believe in myself. I have to say that’s probably the biggest, most helpful thing that they gave me.
Craig Staley: [00:16:18] That’s really good advice. I find myself falling into that same trap, you know, I, I know a fair amount about websites and design and merchandising and some of those things, but it’s common knowledge to me.
It’s my background. So I assume like, okay, everybody knows that that’s just where your mind goes is I’m, you know, you could teach me a lot about bookkeeping, you know, I have, I have a tiny knowledge on bookkeeping, so yeah, that’s, that’s definitely good advice. What would you say is maybe the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome it?
Cathy Sexton: [00:16:52] So I think it kind of goes back to a little bit of what I just said, and that’s believing in myself, but it’s wrong. My mindset, number one, even though I was an accountant. When I first started my business, I was not profitable. I was not paying myself. I wasn’t doing what I was teaching. There are people to do, and plus I’d never run a business before.
So it was more before I did accounting. So I did the processing, but I didn’t take it from a level. So I think that, you know, that was a really big talent for me, even though it was my industry that I. Whereas working for ESSA is totally different me and you’re the business owner. So that was one of the biggest things that I had to have a mindset change around.
And the other one was my value. Is really valuing what I had to offer and believing in myself. And, you know, as I said, the mentors, they believed in me, but me to change that mindset around and are doing that. And then, which kind of all those together, you know, is really. He’s staying focused, you know, and it’s so hard as a small business owner because you’re wearing so many hats, you’re going in so many different directions.
You have so many things pulling at you and trying to get your attention to stay focused. And I think those are some of the hardest things and I don’t think I’m alone and probably those challenges.
Craig Staley: [00:18:21] Yeah. No, that makes, makes a lot of sense. What would you on a positive note, what would you say is the, has been the best moment in your business’s history?
Cathy Sexton: [00:18:29] The best moment in my history is when I started, you know, I guess there’s three, three things when I started making money and actually making money and moving forward too, is when I actually people started finding me. And reaching out to me versus me always feeling like I’m trying, trying to find
Craig Staley: [00:18:55] the next client,
Cathy Sexton: [00:18:56] find the next site and knowing that, you know, I’m either getting referred or that people are finding me without even.
You know, they heard a podcast or they heard me somewhere else, so they heard me speak and, and reached out to me. So I think the last thing that I have to say is two years ago, I kind of too, a little bit longer than that. I knew I wanted to go more, more virtual. So about two years ago, I started working on online courses and I’m actually, I’m finally I’m in the last year.
A couple of weeks been able to launch this. So kind of like Burke. Yeah. It’s like birthing a baby, kind of like, you know, you, it’s a concept and now it’s actually coming, you know, real and during this time is a perfect time to be launching online courses. Right.
Craig Staley: [00:19:42] That’s perfect. Yeah. I mean, a baby only takes nine months though, so it’s probably even more satisfying than a baby.
So we’ll go to a question that I ask everybody that joins me. If you could hop into a time machine and go back to the day that you launched your business, what advice would you give your past self?
Cathy Sexton: [00:20:00] Hmm. I guess kind of kind into some more things that we’ve talked about, but believable, believe in yourself.
You know, you’re doing this for a reason. I think I would also tell myself to really look at my why. Because it took me, it took me a while to realize, okay, well, why did I start my own business? Well, it was because I didn’t want to be a workaholic any longer. And okay. This fell into my lap. When I really looked at why was I doing what I was doing now, if for me it was coming and realizing I did not want other people to go down the same road as I went.
And so in the beginning, that was not my why, but when I really began and that that’s the whole thing is if I could have learned that a little bit sooner, but really understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and, and what my purpose is and what do I do. No, and what I want to,
Craig Staley: [00:20:58] and I’m sure, you know, how, how much more motivating does it become when it’s more than just you, you know, you’re, you’re helping all these people,
Cathy Sexton: [00:21:06] right.
It makes a big difference. And, you know, and, and when you’re working from what you’re passionate about and what you loved it, you know, about versus it being a job or a mode to make men money, basically, it’s a whole different ball game.
Craig Staley: [00:21:21] That’s a great way to look at it. Well, where can our listeners find out more about your business online?
Cathy Sexton: [00:21:26] So my website is the productivity experts.com. I do have a Facebook page, the productivity experts, also Kathy Sexton. You can find me on LinkedIn. I’m also have a webpage there, but most of the social media is either Catholic Sexton or their productivity experts.
Craig Staley: [00:21:47] Well, perfect. Well, we really appreciate you coming on with us today and a lot of great advice for us and I’m, I’m sure we could have you on another three times and you could fill a half hour, so,
Cathy Sexton: [00:21:57] Oh, definitely.
I think, I think we may do
Craig Staley: [00:21:59] that 10 times. All right, Kathy. Thanks so much for being with me today.
Cathy Sexton: [00:22:05] You’re welcome.
Craig Staley: [00:22:10] What an interesting conversation with Kathy, she was really thrust into finding something new. After some medical issues that were highlighted by stress at work, you talked about having to build up that confidence that she was on the right path. Think mentors that really saw in her, what she didn’t see in herself was so helpful.
She’s an expert in bookkeeping, accounting. We all have an expertise at something. And many times we take that for granted. If you want to start a service based business first, look at what you’re good at. Is it something you love doing? Is it something that others don’t know how to do or don’t like doing when those three things intersect?
It’s probably a good place to start looking.
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