Entrepreneurship for humans

Featured Essays & Articles

Refund Policies: What’s Fair and What’s Not For Online Businesses

“If you don’t see results, you didn’t want it bad enough.” That’s become the prevailing narrative of the online business refund policy. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee results. And there are reasons to remind customers and clients that, no matter what...

Overdelivering Doesn’t Help Anyone (And Is Probably Causing Harm)

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash “Underpromise and overdeliver.” I'm sure you've heard that maxim before. But most of the time I spend money, I don't expect anyone to overdeliver. I expect to get what I paid for. That's really all I ever want. Sure, a little...

Why We Just Keep Squeezing More In

Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash Sometimes it feels like I just can't slow down. I rush all day while I work—and then I rush to fit in a walk, make dinner, fold the laundry, run to the store. My internal pace is frenetic—but so is my external pace. I'm speeding...

EP 378: How much time do you work? with Anne Ditmeyer (Time & Money 7)

A lot of the work we do today doesn’t much look like “work.” The divide between work-life and life-life is flexible and porous. So what does that mean for the way we spend our time? Or how we earn a living? In this episode, I share designer, coach, and consultant Anne Ditmeyer’s story of rethinking how she works thanks to a big move to Paris. And, I argue that perhaps we need a radically different way of thinking about what work is—instead of a better “work-life balance.”

The Eggbeater Effect: How Time-Saving Technology Just Makes For More Work

Before there were egg beaters, there were women with whisks and spoons beating eggs. As a woman who bakes and also owns a KitchenAid Pro stand mixer, the thought of doing everything my mixer does with my own two hands is a bit horrifying. I can combine my flour, milk,...

Emotional Labor, Entrepreneurship, and My Breakdown

My mom was a seamstress while I was growing up. She started working at her sewing machine in the wee hours of the morning, paused to help my brother and me get ready for school, and then welcomed a steady stream of customers into the house for fittings and pickups....

I Quit! How The Ethos Of The Great Resignation Is Fueling The Great Pivot

"This did not feel like real life, exactly, but nowadays what did?" Patricia Lockwood I first saw the Fisher-Price My Home Office playset cross my Twitter feed on Saturday. I thought, surely, this must be a joke! This dystopian image was an attempt at cutting cultural...

Thinking Systems? Here’s What Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know

“I need to create some systems for my business.” It’s one of the key needs we hear from small business owners. Recognizing that they have something that works on some level, they’re looking to make it work better. Systems seem to be the way to do it. But then a...

The Tourist, The Artist, and The Archeologist: How Changing The Way You Think About Business Changes What You See

The way we think about business shapes what we can do and build with our businesses. Two different perspectives will lead to two different choices about the same circumstances.  Different ways of thinking lead us...

How Your Personal Priorities Shape The Way You Design Your Business

Our feeds are full of people trying to sell us goals. More money. Passive income. Working far fewer hours. Building a community. Working 1-to-many. Charging more. Writing a book. Building a team. These are all solid goals. But are they your goals? Marketers sell us...

Featured Podcast Episodes

EP 380: When does overdelivering become overcompensating? with Allison Davis

I’m sure you’ve heard it before: underpromise and overdeliver. But is that really the best way to do business? Or does it just give us a permission slip for self-exploitation? When does overdelivering become overcompensating? And when does being generous just morph into entrepreneurial martyrdom? I sat down with sales coach Allison Davis to talk about overdelivering, generosity, and when it all gets to be too much. We talk pricing and scope of work—but we also talk about familiar relationship patterns and how they play out in our expectations for ourselves or others.

EP 364: The Abundant Value of Virtual Assistants with Janice Plado Dalager

Consultant and virtual assistant Janice Plado Dalager joins Tara for a conversation about the unique skill set that virtual assistants and other support professionals bring to small businesses. How VAs end up mistreated by entrepreneurs—and the gendered and racialized components of these relationships that make mistreatment more likely. Why emotional labor is an undervalued skill for support pros, as well as why it should be a key part of how this work is compensated. How small business owners can check their own behavior to make these working relationships more humane

EP 363: Making The Hard Call With 90-Day Business Launch Founder Michelle Ward

I’ve known When I Grow Up Coach Michelle Ward almost as long as I’ve been working for myself. So when she emailed me a couple of weeks ago to ask if she could come on the pod to talk about how she’d retired the When I Grow Up Coach brand and gone all-in on her 90-Day Business Launch program, I said: hell yeah!

This is a story about wrestling with long-term success and the decision to go a different way. It’s also a story about recognizing that, any time you make a big move, things like money and marketing won’t magically stay the same. And finally, it’s a story about recognizing abundant long-term opportunity over short-term consistency.

Now, let’s find out What Works for Michelle Ward!

EP 357: Building A Business Based On What Matters With Coach Mara Glatzel

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much we take existing systems and ways of working for granted—and then find ways to operate within those conventions that make us feel like we’re honoring our values. Instead of getting clear on what actually honoring our values looks like and then deciding whether we can participate in existing systems and ways of working—or whether we need to create something new.

And that’s where today’s conversation with coach, podcaster, and writer Mara Glatzel begins. Mara is the host of Needy, the creator of Tend, and the kind of person I naturally think of when I think about operationalizing values. But what you’ll hear Mara tell me first is that, a while back, she realized that the kind of life and work she wanted for her clients wasn’t the kind of life and work she had structured for herself.

That’s easy to understand since Mara’s values and the values her business is built on run counter to the values of capitalism and workism.

What I’d love for you to think about as you listen to this important conversation is what you take for granted as you build your business. What assumptions do you bring with you? What shoulds and supposed-tos get in the way of fully realizing—and operationalizing—your business’s values?

Mara and I unpack how she did that for herself and what’s come out of the process—and I think you’ll find the conversation a creative jumpstart for considering how you could do things differently too.

Now, let’s find out What Works for Mara Glatzel.

EP 341: Taking Better Care Of Each Other with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

What can you do with your business if you look beyond your individual needs and your individual success?

That’s a really exciting question to me.

What kind of impact on the collective could this business have? How I can I use this business to meet others’ needs, too?

These questions don’t have many easy answers. But they’re fertile ground for imagining different ways of doing business.

It’s with this in mind that I want to share my conversation with Kate Strathmann. Kate and I share many similar concerns about the state of online business and the even the broader small business, freelance, and gig economies.

As always with my conversations with Kate, this might be confronting at times. You might be nodding along, digging on what we’re saying, and then all of a sudden feel a twinge of recognition that isn’t as nice.

But none of this is aimed at your personal responsibility for where we’ve gotten as a market or even the things you’ve done in your business.

Our goal is to explore some big, hard questions about how we do business and how we can better take care of each other.

Stay tuned to hear us talk about the messages we consume that make it hard to imagine things a different way, why focusing on individual success causes us to devalue the care work that goes into making our businesses work, and why small business owners feel trapped between the worker class and the owner class.

Plus, Kate offers some powerful questions for reframing the potential of your business and gets super pragmatic about the choices we can make without becoming a martyr for the sake of positive change.

EP 336: Marketing Without Scale With Brand Strategist Felicia Sullivan

Today, I’m talking with Felicia Sullivan, a brand strategist who has built a thriving business on marketing activities that don’t scale. Felicia works with startup founders and small businesses doing $10-20m in annual revenue—folks who aren’t looking for business help on Instagram.

So Felicia spends her business development time on 3 things: coffee dates, writing long-form articles geared directly to her prospective clients, and referrals.

This episode answers some of the questions I’m most frequently asked about when it comes to marketing businesses that aren’t built on online courses (which, you know, is most of them).

Get ready to take some notes.

EP 335: Finding The Right Strategy To Market Your Business with Savvy Social Podcast Host Andréa Jones

Social media celebrity is not a requisite for success—no matter how many attractive business influencers give you the impression that it is.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

This week, I’m talking with Andréa Jones, the founder of OnlineDrea, a social media marketing agency, and the creator of Savvy Social School, a training community all about social media marketing.

After all I just shared about building an audience, this might seem like a strange segue. Why talk to a social media marketing expert when it seems like you might not have to do this whole social media thing the way you have been?

Well, it’s because Andréa understands that finding customers is different from building an audience. She understands it because she helps people do both while also being acutely aware that the growth of her agency isn’t driven by building an audience.

This conversation gets into the relationship between building an audience and finding clients—both as they relate to Andréa’s business and as they relate to her clients’ and members’ businesses.

I love this conversation because there’s a bunch about what Andréa actually does with social media in her own business, there’s a bunch of insightful observation about what’s happening out there in the marketing world, and there are some really actionable ideas you can use, too.

EP 326: Creating Sustainable Structures & Systems With Superscript Marketing Founder Anna Wolf

Our core competency gives us a big leg up on creating operational sustainability, financial sustainability, as well as personal & social sustainability.

And that’s the thing about investing in your core competency. It’s not just an opportunity to make an aspect of the business work better—it’s an opportunity to make the whole business more sustainable.

This week, as we continue our series on opportunity, keep this idea in mind because my guest has fantastic example of this at work.

Anna Wolf is the founder of SuperScript Marketing, a content marketing agency serving financial brands and professionals. Anna’s story can be told through a series identifying core competencies as opportunities.

First, she identified as personal core competency and pursued that. Then, she identified a new capability—and core competency—the agency could use to make their work more impactful. And then finally, Anna focused on an overarching core competency that’s empowered her to make her company much, much stronger across the board.

Anna and I talk about how she got into content marketing for the financial sector in the first place and how freelancing turned into an agency that, eventually, focused on productized services. We also talk about how getting obsessed with systems & processes helped her to clarify the agency’s key core competency—and the operational shifts that have come with it.

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.