Candid conversations with small business owners about what’s working to run & grow their businesses

“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:

Behind The Scenes Of The Awkward Marketing Video Series With Rachael Kay Albers

by Tara McMullin | What Works

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EP 254: Transforming Your Business Model With Growth & Impact Strategist Toi Smith

Today’s guest is Toi Smith—a growth & impact strategist who has wrestled with this same question.

Toi and I talk about how her identity and business model has shifted from virtual assistant to online business manager to strategist and why each pivot was necessary. We also talk about the ups and downs of making these changes and the impact each shift has had on her rates, working hours, and client load.

Pay close attention to how Toi talks about her mindset shift away from thinking of her work as labor and into thinking of it as thought partnership and leadership.

She’s had to dismantle and reassemble the way she thinks about how she and her business creates value in order to realize the full potential of her own entrepreneurship.

EP 253: Discovering The Joy of Missing Out With Inkwell Press Founder Tonya Dalton

Our self-talk keeps us on the edge, always wondering if we’re good enough, smart enough, or tough enough.

Tonya Dalton would like us to know there’s another way. In fact, Tonya has worked hard to rewrite her own stories, clean up her own self-talk, and embrace the joy of missing out.

Tonya Dalton is the author of The Joy of Missing Out and the founder of Inkwell Press. She’s also the host of the hit podcast, The Productivity Paradox.

I wanted to talk with Tonya about how embracing the joy of missing out has transformed her own self-talk as an entrepreneur. We chat about the glorification of busy in today’s culture, the litmus tests we subject ourselves to, how we can rewrite stories that aren’t serving us, and how Tonya actively chooses what she wants to miss out on so she can embrace more of what she really wants out of life and business.

EP 252: Making New Clients Feel At Home With SmartStart Founder Linda Lopeke

For our final episode on our series on designing exceptional customer experiences, I spoke with Linda Lopeke, the founder of SmartStart.

Linda knows that customer service starts long before the first purchase is ever made.

She’s designed her entire client on-boarding system to set clear expectations, ensure fit, and make new clients feel at ease. Instead of crossing her fingers and hoping she doesn’t run into customer service problems, Linda has crafted a process elevates her client experience.

I talked with Linda about the lengthy application process she uses, why she interviews every prospect before they can work with her, and how she brings on a new client step-by-step.

Play close attention to all the opportunities Linda has to set expectations throughout the process and reduce the friction of doing the work.

EP 251: Teaching Customers How To Use Your Product One At A Time With Tyme Iron Creator Jacynda Smith

Today, we’re examining customer service that might not scale but has helped the company create massive growth.

The Tyme Iron, created by today’s guest Jacynda Smith, is a unique hairstyling tool that’s meant to replace both your flat iron and your curling iron so you can create a variety of styles for medium-length to long hair.

When you look at it, you get it.

But when you use it? Well, that can be a different story.

Faced with questions and even some frustration from new users, Jacynda made an interesting choice. She decided to FaceTime her customers, one at a time, and walk them through the process of creating the style they wanted to create with their new Tyme Iron.

In other words, Jacynda made the choice to do something that doesn’t scale.

But instead of abandoning that choice as the company grew, she doubled down.

As you’ll hear, the company now employs 5 full-time virtual stylists whose job it is to sit down with new customers, one on one, and help them style their hair with their new Tyme Iron.

I had to know how this process is managed, plus I wanted to know how investing in this premium customer experience has benefitted the company overall.

EP 250: Creating Wildly Fun Client Experiences With Allie LeFevere

Allie LeFevere is the co-founder of Obedient Agency—a full-service humor marketing agency.

Truly, the first time I landed on their website, I can describe my experience as nothing less than surprised and delighted. It’s not funny for funny’s sake—it’s humorous for clarity’s sake. Every piece of it serves to define who they are, what they do, and who they do it for in the most unique ways possible.

I had to know how this brilliant branding & positioning functioned on the inside. Had they designed equally surprising & delighting client experiences?

Yes, of course they have.

Allie and I talk about how that website got built—which is a great look at the brainstorming process they use throughout the agency. We also chat about how they infuse humor into every touchpoint they have with a client, how they manage each client touchpoint, and why client fit is such an important piece of the puzzle.

EP 249: Standing Out With Exceptional Customer Experiences With Project Army Founder Viktor Nagornyy

Viktor Nagorynyy is the founder of Project Army. What started as an SEO and digital marketing consultancy has blossomed into a full-service website support & hosting company that prioritizes customer service and experience.

Viktor shares how doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing has led to big results, why customer service is so important to him, how prioritizing customer service has helped the company grow, and how he utilizes social media to offer help to anyone—even if they’re not a customer.

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!

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Meet Tara McMullin

Tara McMullin is the founder & host of What Works. She’s been connecting small business owners through mastermind groups and online community for over a decade. Whether on the podcast or in the online network, her goal is to facilitate the free flow of ideas, information, and inspiration between entrepreneurs.

She believes that no one person has the answer to “what works” in small business–but that, together, we can create living, breathing knowledge-base of real-world solutions to all of our small business challenges.