Management of an organization can be tricky. As a leader, you want your organizational processes to be smooth and seamless. But with too many things already on your plate, it can cause friction. At such times, seeking a strategic coach can not only help your company grow in the right direction but also give you a fresh perspective.
Led by Susanne Ekström, BeaSmarterLeader is a company helping organizations grow with its innovative and proven coaching program.
Featuring for The Enterprise World’s this issue of Most Successful Woman Business Leaders To Watch Out is the story of Susanne.
An Unmatched Leadership-
The book, “The E-Myth Revisited” (by Micheal Gerber), describes three different roles that Susanne uses to explain the setup for her company-BeaSmarterLeader;
- The Technician
- The Manager
- The Entrepreneur
When Susanne started the BeaSmarterLeader, she was pretty much doing the same things she had been doing as an employee. It’s easy to get stuck in just the Technician role, continue to do the same things as before, day in and day out, adding some Manager tasks to it, bookkeeping, etc. But as long as you have a solid client base and don’t have any employees, you’ll get by pretty easily.
The Entrepreneur is the proactive and visionary role. The role that dreams and sets the vision and goals for the future.
“I was unaware of the strength of that role.”
Susanne actually hadn’t met it within her before, when she was an employee, at least not in the same way as she did after starting her BeaSmarterLeader. This role is passionate and created the thought of “Bring inspiration and innovation to leaders in this world!”. It defined the new business model and set the vision, goals, and the main path to get there.
In the beginning, you wear all those three roles yourself. But as you grow your company, you need to start delegating to elevate. You must determine which roles best suit you and hire excellent people to take on the other roles. You can’t grow your business if you continue to play all three roles.
You won’t have the time to work ON your business; you will be stuck IN it. If you continue, for example, to be the Technician, you might end up micromanaging the people in your team and telling them what to do all the time. Your people will then feel frustrated and irritated and quit working for you.
If you’re the lead designer for your products and/or services then you can hire others to manage and lead the company-BeaSmarterLeader – because this is the role that fits you the best.
“As I see it, you can definitely be an entrepreneur without being the CEO, for example.”
A Journey that Shaped Susanne’s Entrepreneurship-
“I guess I started my entrepreneurial journey before I actually started my company.”
In 2001, Susanne was a manager and one of the owners responsible for over 100 (of nearly 400) employees in a Swedish dot.com. The company had to file for bankruptcy in the stock market crash. It was devastating for everyone involved.
This experience taught Susanne the importance of clear processes and communication. The company struggled with productivity problems, where the entire team would constantly put out organizational fires.
“In that crash, I realized that even if the company I work for can “sink,” I will still survive.”
This incident gave Susanne the impetus to work with clients with problems, issues, and ideas on working smarter, better, and more efficiently. Unlike most other companies, her strategies were completely different — asking questions, listening to their answers, and finding out which problem that’s the most important to fix…first.
This problem might not be the problem that the management sees. The most important problem is often something that the employees see. By helping the company to focus on the right problem, you get the buy-in from the culture and you train it to be a vital part of building the company’s better tomorrow.
Since then, Susanne has been working with clients of different sizes and in various industries to help them identify the cause of the problem/issue/bottleneck and frustration/irritation, then design a solution, implement and further improve it in the best suitable way.
“For me, the culture is the most crucial part of the company. You can have all the shiniest, best strategies and structures on the planet, but if your culture doesn’t buy into it, it’s worth nothing.”
This has been the vision and the read thread throughout Susanne’s journey since 2001. It is the one thing that has brought lots of joy, exciting assignments, and management roles within the companies that she worked for.
The Journey of BeaSmarterLeader-
Susanne founded the company in 2017 with the brand promise to
“Bring inspiration and innovation to leaders in this world!”
The team makes this happen by transforming and coaching leaders personally, sustainably, and effectively.
After working in the management consulting business for 20+ years and mastering operational excellence, Susanne developed her recipe for success: THE GAME CHANGER – Your Eye-Opening Profit Producing System.
As of now, the team has remodeled over 6000 smarter leaders. They help the CEOs of small and medium-sized companies (mainly 30-200 employees) build their company’s better tomorrow.
The company name is SEE Management Consulting AB, where Susanne also runs the SEE Management University with the brand BeaSmarterLeader and the website beasmarterleader.com
Field Goal and the Strategy-
You are probably wondering what basketball has to do with the journey of BeaSmarterLeader. Well, that is where the journey started!
When Susanne played basketball in high school, she wanted to play guard, but her coach would tell her to play center because of her height. The coach did not explain why she couldn’t play guard, which slowly started affecting her performance. It began to drop because she did not feel good enough.
What hindered her, even more, was her decreasing self-esteem, she started feeling anxious to go to practice and lost motivation in every way. One day, she just left the team and never went back.
“I have realized the importance of the fact that you need to ask questions both to employees and to customers as a leader.”
Do not tell them what to do or buy – ask them for their opinion first!
And – that’s what Susanne’s basketball coach didn’t do. He didn’t ask for her opinion. Due to poor leadership, he let a motivated team player gradually become unmotivated and then leave the team, never playing basketball again.
“I often say that CULTURE EATS STRUCTURE for breakfast any day, and if you don’t listen to your team about their ideas and problems, you won’t win so many matches.”, adds Susanne.
The insights above are part of the core of the company’s strategy for leaders and their teams: THE GAME CHANGER – Your eye-opening Profit Producing System.
Challenges and Growth-
When she started her company, the first challenge was finding a client base that would help Susanne create the baseline for building the company’s digital real estate.
And also work-life-balance. As a single mom, it was hard to make everything work – both workwise and familywise. During this initial period, she also discovered that one of her sons has both ADHD and autism, bringing her parenthood to another level of complexity.
But hurdles are a part of the journey, and that is what Susanne’s platform of BeaSmarterLeader helps people achieve. Susanne’s dedication and wit to running the company have made it the successful phenomenon it is today!
“It was when I decided to “Go international” at the beginning of 2021, expanding from the Scandinavian market to be a global player in all English-speaking countries.”
Entrepreneurship needs a person of courage. If you wish to grow your company, you have to take risks. Nothing just comes to you; you need to invest, risk, and be bold to leap forward. Whether it is businesswise, or in your personal life. Otherwise, everything will often stay status quo.
“I’m very consistent and persistent. When I decide to do something, I do it – whole-hearted, even if it sometimes takes a long time to reach the goal.”, adds Susanne.
A Pippi Longstocking saying: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”
Susanne tries to live by this saying. On the one hand, it has helped her enormously to grow in her personal life and her professional life. But on the other hand, it led Susanne to experience imposter syndrome as well.
Last fiscal year (2021-2002), Susanne’s company was appointed “Nordic Growth Company”
SEE Management (the owner of the brand BeaSmarterLeader) is one of 5% of companies in Sweden that are classified as a growth company!
The Products and Services-
Target Audience: The team helps CEOs and owners of companies with more than 30 employees double their profit and cut their daily workload by 50 % in less than 4 weeks.
As an initial step for the client, they market and sell their tripwire product:
The CEO Profit System – an online bundle
The CEO Profit System Helps You Double Your Profitability By Focusing Your Time On
- Money-Making Activities
- Profitable Strategies
Getting You Excited About Your Business All Over Again!
The Core Program
THE GAME CHANGER – Your Eye-Opening Profit Producing System.
This Program consists of:
- Freeing up time for the CEO and his/her key players
- Design a schedule that has them working more ON the business than IN it
- Identifying improvement areas for greater profitability & productivity and designing & implementing solutions
- Designing a scalable business model to double or triple the clients’ business
The client improves its retention rate, its profitability will increase, and its people will better serve its clients…
Building an Efficient Team-
“Currently, my team spreads globally, in the US, Sweden, and the Philippines.”
When she started to expand the company, she drew up an org chart of what she wanted her company organization to look like. From the start, she was responsible for every box in the chart. She focused on which of the boxes gave her energy and which of them drained her energy.
The next strategy was to look for people who could help Susanne with the boxes that drained her energy or were better performed by someone else.
“I like to spend my time and energy on getting the company’s best outcome.”
And this is how Susanne continues to grow the company. As the company grows, there will be more boxes, and the team will fill them with interesting new people that can help serve their clients in the best possible way.
“I got inspiration from Dan Sullivan’s “Who, not How” book. When you want to accomplish something, stop asking, “How can I do this?” and ask, “Who can do this for me?”
But looking at the growth, it is also of utmost importance that you have processes in place.
“The org chart only tells us how we’re organized.”
The processes show how we work – together as a team and with the clients – in the best streamlined, efficient, and productive way.
The company’s core values are:
- Ask & listen
- Genuine personal interest
Susanne uses these core values when she looks for new people to work with and partner with.
“It’s much more vital for me that we share the same core values than to hire or partner with a person with the right skills. As I see it, skills you can gain, values you can’t.”