EP 281: Business Support Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

Leading a business can be lonely.

I noticed just how disconnected business owners are when I started my very first website way back in 2009.

That website was a blog about makers and artists in Pennsylvania. I wrote about their stories and shared products that caught my eye. The blog was relatively popular but the real magic of it wasn’t in what I was writing about.

The magic was in how it connected people who didn’t know anyone else who was trying to make a go of turning their ideas into a business. They connected on my website, they connected in an early iteration of what Facebook groups have become, and they even connected in person.

Even though I haven’t written for that blog in a decade, I know there are still people from that community who support each other as business owners. They are less lonely because of the connections they made through that simple website.

After I handed that blog off to other people and started down the path of business coaching and education, I noticed that not only were small business owners a lonely bunch, I noticed that our isolation often led to missing information, confirmation bias, and unhelpful assumptions.

And that’s what’s really led to how I’ve structured my business from there on out. I have been creating the structure to connect small business owners to each other for the last 10 years. I build containers, see what works, and then evolve. From Kick Start Labs to Quiet Power Strategy to What Works, I’ve endeavored to help entrepreneurs find the support they need–the support they crave.

I’ve seen first hand how, yes, the emotional support of the right people can make all the difference in whether you press on or whether you quit. But even beyond the huge help of emotional support, I’ve seen how the right people can open your eyes to new ideas, how it can help you check your assumptions and self-limiting beliefs. I’ve seen how support can help you set new goals and find your focus.

I believe we all need to find our support as small business owners… and I believe that support comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s the people we hire to work for us. Other times it’s our families. Sometimes it’s the professionals we engage with. Other times it’s the colleagues who call us on our own bullshit.

All this month, we’ve looked at the challenges–and opportunities–that small business owners face in getting the support they need to feel confident and prepared.

We’ve looked at mental health support, we’ve examined peer support, and we dug into coaching. This week, we asked 4 of our community members to share times when they’ve experienced a profound sense of support and I’m thrilled with how each of them shared a different form of support.

Rebel Therapist founder Annie Schuessler shared how being honest & vulnerable with her peers has made a huge impact on her and her business.

Business coach Justine Clay shared how a year-long program and accountability partner helped her get a new business off the ground.

Voice coach and the SpeakEasy Cooperative founder Michelle Markwart Deveaux shared how her team supports her–and has helped her see herself and her role in a new way.

And coach Leigh Johnson brings it all home by sharing how important different types of support and mindset about support was key to the growth and then exit from her last business.

As you listen, I encourage you to think about the support you already have available to you–because it’s probably more than you realize on a daily basis! And I also want you to think about what support you might need to call on more or find new structure for.

What Works Is Brought To You By

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With a Mighty Network, online business owners just like you can bring together in one place:

  • Your website
  • Your content
  • Your courses
  • Your community
  • Your events online and in real life
  • And charge for them…all while building YOUR brand.

Visit mightynetworks.com to see more examples of brands bringing people together and taking their businesses to the next level.

By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

May 21, 2020

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support