The Nuts & Bolts Of Building A Stronger Small Business

“Tara is a master at bringing together knowledgable, generous business owners who have worked hard to build their businesses–and are willing to share it all.”
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About What Works

What Works is a free weekly show that takes the mystery out of how small businesses really work.

With each episode, Tara deep dives with a small business owner and asks about how they manage their marketing, money, operations, team-building, growth, or personal leadership. She asks the nosy questions you’ve always wanted to ask other business owners!

Why a podcast? 

We produce the What Works podcast because it makes learning on-the-go easy. You can take this free in-depth audio content wherever you go and listen whenever you have time using apps like Spotify, Castbox, Castro, and Apple Podcasts.

New to What Works? Try This Episode:

Creating A Focused Brand With Studebaker Metals Founder Alyssa Catalano

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Browse Our Episodes

EP 324: 4 Patterns That Make Relationship-Building A Challenge

All this month, we’ve been examining the relationships in our businesses and how we make them stronger. We looked at our relationship with our customers, our relationships to our team members, and our relationships to our community and internet neighbors. We even looked at our relationships to ourselves and our businesses.

This week, we’re going to step back and take a look at the patterns that often make nurturing our relationships difficult.

A couple of these patterns are overt–and a couple are more stealthy. As you listen, I encourage you to pay less attention to the specific patterns and stories we’re diving into today and pay more attention to your own curiosity at how your own relationship patterns are at play in your business. You may or may not see these exact patterns and stories as your own–but I know that your own patterns are influencing YOUR story.

You’re going to hear from 4 different business owners today and I’ll help you unpack the very common patterns that I see at play in each story. My goal isn’t to pathologize or armchair diagnose. I just want to help you hear what I hear in these stories and celebrate the ways these business owners have overcome their patterns made really great choices for them and their businesses!

Today, you’ll hear from coach Carla Reeves, real estate broker Page Huyette, coach & podcaster Shawn Fink, and attorney-turned-community-builder Ali Zucker.

EP 323: Get To Know Your Neighbors With Rebelle Founder Shannon Siriano Greenwood

In other words, we need to go beyond transactional online networking and get back to building real relationships—organic, friendly, neighborly ones.

There is no one I know who is better at this than Shannon Siriano Greenwood. I met Shannon through our mutual friend Racheal Cook, invited her on this podcast, spoke at her conference, and then started producing her new podcast.

Shannon is the founder of Rebelle, which up until last March hosted semiannual conferences and monthly networking events in Richmond, VA. Now, Shannon has taken the Rebelle community virtual and hosts virtual conferences and online gatherings for women who want to play by their own rules.

I have to admit—I was a bit skeptical of Shannon at first. All I knew about Rebelle was that they were celebrities… like real celebrities, not internet celebrities. And, my uninformed assumption was that people who knew celebrities and asked them to speak at their events probably were not super genuine or “real” people.

From the moment I started actually talking to Shannon, though, I realized how wrong I had been.

This woman is the real deal. She is warm, genuine, and completely herself. When I took Sean with me to the Rebelle conference I spoke at, he too was blown away by her ability to make you feel like you’re the most important person in the room.

Shannon—if you’re listening to this—we adore you and we’re so glad you’re our internet neighbor.

On this topic of networking and getting to know your internet neighbor, I could think of no one better to talk to than Shannon, and as luck would have it, I did talk with her in early 2019 about this very subject. I’m sharing this conversation again in hopes that it inspires you to get to know your internet neighbors and expand your network.

Keep in mind, Shannon talks a lot about networking and relationship-building in person. But these concepts apply to getting to know someone online, too.

EP 322: Building A Stronger Team With Productive Flourishing Founder Charlie Gilkey

This week, we’re examining how we nurture the relationships we have with the people who work with us.

I’ll be honest with you: there are so many different places I’d like to take this episode. There are so many of the lessons I’ve learned that I’d like to pass on. Luckily, the lessons I’ve learned have largely come through conversations I’ve had on this very podcast!

And there’s one conversation in particular that I come back to time & time again. It was my first interview with my friend and founder of Productive Flourishing, Charlie Gilkey.

Looking back on this conversation, I can see that there were already lessons that had started to come into focus about how I work with people and what it looks like to nurture relationships with team members. But what I can also see is how much this conversation actually helped to solidify those learnings into how my thinking & approach have changed since.

Charlie and I talk about the operational components of the mindset shift I just dug into. We talk about the art of management, whether for one or for many. We discuss what prompted him to bring his core team on as employees instead of as independent contractors. And how we keeps his team—and himself—from becoming over committed and overwhelmed, as well as how he structures his time to enhance his creativity.

EP 321: Designing A Remarkable Customer Experience

What I really love about customer experience design is that it can be so creative!

There truly is no one-size-fits-all process. Our different values, types of customers, ways of serving, skills, strengths, differentiators, points of view… they each contribute to making our customer experience uniquely our own.

During the course of this episode, we’re going to look at 4 ways you can make your customer experience remarkable and help build a more intentional relationship with the people who buy from you. I’ll share some things you can consider as you think about your own customer experience and you’ll hear examples from thoughtful business owners who made customer experience design a priority.

You’ll hear from OnlineDrea & Savvy Social School founder Andrea Jones (EP 212), financial behaviorist Jacquette Timmons (EP 141), attorney Autumn Witt Boyd (EP 296), and Bank Boost creator Sarah Von Bargen (EP 156).

EP 320: Making Your Business Your #1 Ally

In this episode of What Works, I’m exploring how getting into right relationship with yourself can help you get into right relationship with your business. In the process, we’ll examine learning to enjoy the process (instead of just the outcome), setting stronger boundaries, using boundaries to do business your way, and making your business your #1 ally.

You’ll hear from Shirin Eskandani, Nicole Lewis-Keeber, Mindy Totten, and Jennifer Armbrust.

EP 319: Why Our Plans Need More Margin

We’ve inherited a pattern of over-scheduling, over-planning, and over-committing, as well as technology that eliminate our margins and induce urgency—and, with it, anxiety. We’re taught to believe that more is better by cultural forces like rugged individualism and white supremacy, as well as our broken capitalist economic system.

We try to tackle too many things at once. We think we can do things faster than we really can. We forget to factor in preexisting commitments. We don’t take stock of our resources before we start doling them out—literally and figuratively.

It’s no wonder then that we so often feel “the crunch” when we’re trying to stick to our plans.

And when we’re feeling “the crunch” we’re much more likely to take action that causes harm to ourselves, to others, and to our communities.

Maybe we ignore our families or intimate relationships. Maybe we pull too many all-nighters. Maybe we resort to choices and tactics that damage the community or industry ecosystem we’re a part of. Maybe we start to believe the horrible things we say about ourselves: how slow we are, how unprepared we are, how unskilled we are—and my personal go, how lazy I am.

When we’re constantly executing our plans in a state of urgency, we’re exposing ourselves to all sorts of triggers and negative influences.

That’s not a helpful way to engage your work. It’s not the state of mind you need to do creative and critical thinking. What could leaving more space in your plans do for you? And what would it mean about the choices you need to make?

As you consider your answer, I’m thrilled to bring you the stories of 3 business owners who have recommitting to margin in their own ways. You’ll hear from photographer & podcaster Yvonne Marchese, business strategist Maiko Sakai, and mindset consultant Shulamit Ber Levtov. While the details of their stories might be different than yours, I know they’re going to feel familiar and could help you see your own experiences in a new way.

Are you a small business owner with an unconventional or highly thoughtful way of working?

Would you like to share the nitty-gritty of how you do things with the What Works audience?

We’re always looking for guests, especially from unusual industries, using creative business models, and from underrepresented communities.

Here’s how to be considered:

  • Let us know 2-3 processes or strategies you use in your business that are unconventional or incredibly thoughtful that might make a good angle for a 30-40 min deep dive interview, or…
  • Share a personal inflection point in your business–like a mindset shift you made and how it played out in your business
Once we have the potential story in mind, we can see how you might fit into our editorial calendar!

Guest Submission Form

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Tara McMullin, What Works Weekly Newsletter

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