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Running a business takes a lot of time and energy. Between content creation, business strategy, client delivery, sales conversations, relationship building, and the eight million other things to do… it’s no wonder we’re tired. Luckily, this is the exact problem Mike Michaowicz set out to solve when he wrote Clockwork, Revised + Expanded: Design Your Business to Run Itself.

It’s not unusual to find business owners grinding away, day in and day out, even after they’re able to hire a team to support. 

We see this ALL the time with content, in particular, but it impacts all parts of your business.

Meme of the words: "Doctor: Are you getting enough rest?" "Me: [IMAGE OF A VERY TIRED CAT STARING AT THE CAMERA]"
Hell, we’ve been there ourselves.
  • We’ve had those 3am-wake-up-in-a-sweat moments worrying about something that fell through the business’ cracks. 
  • We also worried about hiring a team, anxious that they would have no idea what to do if we weren’t directing them. 
  • Our expertise is something we just have. We had no belief that it even could be outsourced.
  • The idea of taking time off? LAUGHABLE. We tried a 2-week vacation together in Europe once, and it was super fun… until we came back to plummeting sales, a grinding halt to client delivery, and the catch-up scramble. As Marie’s dad always says, “No good vacation ever goes unpunished.”

Recognize yourself in us? 

Our clients often hire us because they realize that they’ve become a bottleneck in their business. They know they need to outsource content creation (among other things), but they’ve struggled to do so in a way that feels strategic and authentic.

So they stay stuck, creating their own content and doing everything else that’s needed to keep their business afloat. They wear all the hats, from tech support to customer service to marketing director to salesperson.

There’s something deeply frustrating about stepping away from the grind of capitalistic corporate life only to build your own entrepreneurial cage.

Jessi + Marie in front of the Eiffel Tower, smiling at the camera. Carefree... for now.

We had no idea how much work and despair was waiting for us on the other end of this trip.

What if your business could truly allow you to step away from the hustle and grind?

It was a distant dream for us… this idea that our business could continue to thrive – even if we disappeared.

But we also believed that our business should allow us to:

  • Wake up and go to sleep excited and relaxed.
  • Build a team of initiative-takers, who can make decisions that benefit the business without constantly consulting you.
  • Train others to step in and take over for you without hassle.
  • Take time off without worrying about what balls are going to get dropped.

Outsourcing and optimizing content is certainly a piece of that (which we can help support with), but the bigger picture goes beyond content. It touches EVERY part of your company.

It touched every part of ours.

And to truly step out of the constant DO-ing of our business, we needed to look at all the different pieces.

GIF image of Miss Piggy breaking out of a jail cell by bending the bars back.

We found ourselves at a crossroads.

North Star had grown, and the “Marie + Jessi show” was no longer sustainable. We were working long hours, and while we were making more money than ever, we were exhausted. 

At the same time, our work felt fundamentally impossible to hand off to a team. We’d been capturing the brand voice of our clients for years, and we’d spent just as long refining our copywriting skills.

Spoiler Alert: All of those areas of expertise were absolutely teachable to new team members; we just needed a system.

Luckily, our business coach at the time, Adrienne Dorison, was in the process of collaborating with a bestselling author around this exact topic. She introduced us to his work, and suddenly we had the roadmap we’d been looking for.

Meet Mike Michalowicz, the author behind Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself

Mike is the New York Times bestselling author of titles like Profit First, Clockwork, Fix this Next, and Get Different.

He’s on a mission to end entrepreneurial poverty, and his books have quite literally changed our business for the better.

None has been more impactful for us than Clockwork, which helps entrepreneurs build businesses that run themselves.

For us, Clockwork could not have come at a better time. We were buried in work, struggling with constant feast-or-famine cycles, and trying to break through the 6-figure barrier without exhausting ourselves.

The cover of Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz: A light blue cover with white words. The letters 'O' in the word 'Clockwork' are designed to look like gears.

We read the book and joined the Clockwork-focused consultancy, Run Like Clockwork, where we received personalized support around how to:

  • Identify the single most important function of our business, and make sure everything else was designed to protect it.
  • Hire new team members with confidence, knowing they were an excellent cultural fit.
  • Give our team the tools they needed to take ownership of the business and make decisions without checking in with us first.
  • Teach our brand voice methodology to team members, so we weren’t stuck with the “Jessi + Marie show” forever.
  • Take four weeks completely unplugged from the business, without worrying about whether we were setting ourselves up for disaster!

The lessons we learned from Clockwork became foundational to our business, allowing us to soar past the 6-figure mark, build a team of absolutely incredible humans, and step back into the role of business visionaries.

So, when Mike asked if he could feature North Star in the new revised + expanded edition of the book, we were thrilled!

He interviewed us about our experience implementing the Clockwork framework, and our story is featured in Clockwork, Revised + Expanded: Design Your Business to Run Itself, which releases on August 30th.

You can grab your copy of this business-changing book here.

We recently turned the tables on Mike and interviewed him about Clockwork, Revised + Expanded.

Rather than talk through why we found Clockwork helpful, why not hear from Mike himself? We had the pleasure of sitting down to interview him about the new edition.

Watch the Interview:

Prefer to read? Here’s an excerpt, featuring the highlights from our conversation:

Why did you decide to write Clockwork, Revised + Expanded?

Mike: We’ve surpassed our thousandth student in Run Like Clockwork, and we got great feedback on where people were getting stuck in the book. So Clockwork is a full rewrite, meaning 60% brand new content, 40% restructured. It’s simpler, faster, better.

Was there anything unexpected that you discovered during that process of researching and writing?

Mike: One common theme I heard was, “I want to do Clockwork, but I’m afraid to reveal it to my employees. We’re depending on the employees, but it’s all about me getting this vacation. It’s about me leaving the business. They’re going to feel I’m putting a burden on them. And so I read the book, but I can’t give it to them.” That was never the intent. It’s actually an empowerment of our employees. We’ve restructured the book so that every single chapter has a section exclusively for the employee. So they get the perspective of what the owner’s transition is, from doing work to designing outcomes, but also how the employee can help navigate through that and how they can elevate to higher levels within the business.

Should the business owner read it, or can a team member drive adoption?

Mike: When it comes to small businesses, if you have 10 employees or less, the owner is so integrated into the business that, if they have a sourpuss face about something, no matter how enthusiastic an employee is, it’s going to be tough to get past that. So the owner needs to be engaged.

The job of an entrepreneur is not to do the job. It’s to be the creator of jobs. Do you know, only 14% of the global population ever starts a business, and only 20% of them are successful? Meaning 3% of the population ever starts companies that are healthy enough to sustain. 97% of the population is looking to work for good, healthy companies. So, our new job is not to keep doing work, but to design the business, to be of service to our employees.

What was your biggest takeaway from writing and creating the book?

Mike: The necessity for employees to take a four-week vacation. Last year, I took a nine-week vacation, but the president of my company, Kelsey, came to me and said, “Mike, you’re doing these four-week vacations, and it’s empowering us, but we’re feeling the burden of running the business. And if one of us fails to show up, the business is now compromised. I think all of us should take a four-week vacation. Not at the same time, but at different times.”

So, we started that. It is a powerful mechanism for building redundancy in our organization. It’s a great recruiting mechanism. We put in our ads: Get a paid four-week vacation every year. And it’s a great way to strengthen the company.

If you have a small business, as small as one, I want you to know you still have a community around you. Your vendors, contractors, those people are all your team, your staff. And if you have employees, it’s absolutely for you, too.

Clockwork will help you see your business from a different perspective and start elevating your business for everyone involved.

Where can people get the book?

Mike: The best place to get it is your favorite bookstore; it’s globally distributed. And if you want to get more information before you pick it up, you can go to clockwork.life, and there are resources there.

Ready to design your business to run itself?

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