CEOs, Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Suzi Dafnis, CEO of HerBusiness

June 26, 2019

Suzi Dafnis is the CEO of HerBusiness, a membership community that provides training, resources, mentoring and support for women who want to market and grow their business.

She has been featured in many national publications, including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times, MyBusiness Magazine, Voyeur (Virgin Blue’s in flight magazine), as well as on numerous radio and television programs.

Balance the Grind spoke to Suzi about her extensive entrepreneurial journey, her role as CEO of HerBusiness, working in New York, and more.

This conversation is brought to you by Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace.

1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?

Sure. For over 25 years I’ve run a community that helps women business owners go from being solopreneurs to growing and scaling a sustainable business.

Since I started my first business at age 26 from my spare room, I’ve started and sold online and offline businesses, product and service businesses, offices in Australia and in the US, with teams of 0 to teams of 40.

My main focus right now remains my passion, and that is the HerBusiness community which provides mentoring, training and a business network for women entrepreneurs.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

As the CEO of HerBusiness, my role is to stay in my lane and wear the CEO hat without veering off into other people’s roles.This is something business owners can have trouble doing when there is so much to focus on.

Finding (and doing) what is the best and highest use of OUR time, as business owners, in our business – takes discipline.

It also takes discipline to empower and training your team to do THEIR roles and to implement the systems and technology to take care of all aspects of the business without the owner having to be involved.

My main focus each day is creating content (we’ve been at the forefront of online marketing for many years) in the form of podcasts, blog posts, Facebook LIVES, online courses and training for our community of 30,000 followers across a number of platforms.

As the spokesperson and primary face of the business, I’m also very much responsible for the voice of the organisation and its public-facing communications.

I love connecting with our clients and offering business coaching and support in personal conversations across our social networks, on our regular webinars and through our emails.

3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Right now I’m on a 10 week extended stay in New York while my team of 10 is dispersed across Manila, Sydney and Arizona. The systems and structures and clarity of roles is what allows us to work efficiently as a dispersed team.

What this change in my location and timezone means (I am usually in Sydney) means that my days for until mid-August start later and finish a little later than usual.

I’m actually loving this new pace – the mornings to myself to take a walk to Central Park and to grab a coffee, then some time to write and create content and plan, before heading to the gym and then grabbing lunch.

The early afternoon on replying to emails, posting on social, and catch up on communications until Sydney comes online when we have our daily team huddle (across all time zones the team attends) to refocus what our priorities are.

I try to get offline by about 10 pm local time to then read and get to bed by midnight.

At home I’m an early riser and early to bed, so this schedule is different, but two weeks in I’ve gotten used to it and like it.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?

We are big on planning. We have our campaigns, events and promotional schedule planned out at least 12 months in advance. That allows us to get momentum from one project to another.

We also have just a few strategic objectives as a team and a key focus.

For example, we spent a couple of years designing our product line so that we have the right products and services, at the right prices, with the right inclusions for the different types of clients that we serve.

Before that we spent a good chunk of time focused on identifying and getting to know our ideal customer. Right now we have a keen focus on building our audience.

The entire team knows what the focus is – so we don’t get distracted by bright shiny objects that don’t serve our strategic objectives.

When new opportunities or ideas come up – we measure their relevance to what we are trying to achieve as a business… and this means we can funnel our precious time and energy to the right things.

5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

I don’t really believe in balance as an idea. I think that we go in waves and seasons. When we are gearing up to the launch of a new program, it’s all systems go and there are late nights and early mornings, and weekends when the team and I are ‘flat out’ working.

In between big projects we have time to tidy up, do post-mortems on projects and get a ‘breather’ in before we ramp up again,

For me, personally, self care and balance means going to the gym (I’ve done Crossfit for over 14 years) even in the busiest of times, maintaining a good diet and getting sleep.

Sleep is probably the first thing that goes out the window when I get busy. I’m getting better at recognising that good sleep has me have a much better outlook on life when I’m super busy.

I travel for work and play a few times a year and this fuels me too.

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

I love trying new restaurants. And so, at least once a week I’m out for dinner with my partner PJ and usually with friends.

And while I have a stop-start relationship with running, it is something I keep going back to because it helps me clear my head.

I also love reading and usually have 2-3 books on the go. Reading just before bed gets me off my electronic devices and into the best state for a restful sleep.

7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

I love this question.

Because it’s what we do all the time that determines who we are and what we achieve, not the things we do now and then.

Strategic planning is one of our company habits. We strategise, plan and then implement.

I know it sounds boring, but it’s actually very exciting when you see your plans and visions become a reality.

A natural ‘new ideas’ person, I love to start things.

Becoming disciplined about planning my time and resources and that of our teams was a game changer.

It’s something we teach our business owner clients which empowers them to get things over the finish line time after time, rather than having a whole lot of balls in the air and nothing landing.

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

I wouldn’t read a book about work-life balance. I’m not interested in that so much as I am in doing what I love, every day.

I love to work. I love to play. I don’t see myself as having a work life and a home life.

It’s one life and I want to live it to the fullest and to serve as many people as possible.

9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Stopping. Getting present. Checking a big picture of what I want to feel that I have accomplished at the end of the day.

Some might call it mindfulness. To me, it’s prioritising what my attention and time will be spent on.

I’d love to say I do this every day, but I don’t. I do it on the days that work out the best!

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