EP 332: Maybe Simplicity Is Just A Dream…

EP 332: Maybe Simplicity Is Just A Dream…

I’m convinced that every entrepreneur has a fantasy business that they daydream about.

It’s free from all of the baggage and assumptions that we’ve built up around our existing businesses.

And I’m also convinced that that fantasy business—as pie-in-the-sky as it may be—has something to teach us about our existing businesses.

They can show us how we’d market differently, set policies differently, and protect our time differently. They show us the kinds of relationships we’d prefer to have with clients or the type of work we’d rather be doing.

And, maybe more than anything, they show us just how simple a business can be.

With a few exceptions, I don’t think most of us daydream about convoluted, complicated businesses. We dream up simple businesses—ones that thrive with minimal BS.

Today, I’m sharing 3 ways that I built my fantasy business—the one I’d been dreaming about for years—and how it’s different from What Works.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

– Why making changes to an existing business is less like steering a big ship and more like dragging the anchor behind you

– How focusing on process & systems helped us create a simple business model

– What we did to create an offer that was an obvious “yes” for the right people and an obvious “no” for the wrong people

– And how we’ve gotten away with almost zero marketing since we got started almost 2 years ago

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EP 331: Embracing Simplicity With Brigitte Lyons & Sophy Dale

EP 331: Embracing Simplicity With Brigitte Lyons & Sophy Dale

Doing more and inevitably making things more complex is the main tool we’ve been trained to use.

This leads to all sorts of predictable challenges, though—challenges like the ones I talked about last week with Brigitte Lyons & Sophy Dale—things like scope creep, lack of traction, unsustainable working hours, and less revenue.

It can also lead to leaky boundaries, resentment, anxiety, relationship troubles, and, yes, burnout.

If you identified with their stories and the consequences of Brigitte & Sophy’s more complex businesses, keep listening. This week, we’re talking about what they did to simplify and the incredible results they’ve created.

And if you’re wondering whether this could be the problem you’re experiencing… that you might have made things harder and more complex than they needed to be… but you’re not quite sure yet…

I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say, “Yep, that’s probably true.”

Today’s conversation should give you hope.

Alright, let’s dive into how Brigitte & Sophy actually restructured things, how doing business is different today, and what the results have been—hint: they’re both making more money.

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EP 330: Letting Go Of Complication With Brigitte Lyons & Sophy Dale

EP 330: Letting Go Of Complication With Brigitte Lyons & Sophy Dale

Today, we’re kicking off both a series on simplifying and a set of two episodes with businesses owners who have direct experience with dramatically simplifying their businesses—and in turn, creating immense growth.

Brigitte Lyons is the founder of Podcast Ally, a PR agency specializing in getting experts and idea people booked on podcasts.

Sophy Dale is a copywriting mentor, messaging coach, and brand storyteller who helps coaches, designers, and course-creators write compelling copy.

Both Brigitte and Sophy know what it’s like to run complicated, bloated businesses.

And both of them figured out what the real problem was they wanted to solve. For Brigitte, it was scope creep that caused her to always be reinventing systems and getting involved in projects she shouldn’t have. For Sophy, it was a lack of traction due to the fact that she was actually running three businesses so no one quite knew what she was offering when!

In this episode, we’re going to get into how they ended up with complex businesses in the first place, how they identified the need to simplify, and what the process of actually letting go of that complication looked like.

In next week’s episode, we’ll dive into how they actually restructured things, how doing business is different today, and what the results have been—hint: they’re both making more money.

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EP 328: Navigating The Crossroads With Business Coach  Justine Clay

EP 328: Navigating The Crossroads With Business Coach Justine Clay

This week, my guest is Justine Clay, a business coach for creatives. Justine is one of the most thoughtful decision-makers I know. And her story proves that taking the time to really weigh your options doesn’t mean you’ll never take a big step in a new direction.

In fact, during this conversation, you’re going to hear about a number of really big opportunities that Justine made—including moving to the US with her rebound boyfriend, taking a job she had no experience with, starting her own business, and then making a big pivot in the midst of the Great Recession.

Justine shares how she processes her opportunities and, ultimately, how she makes the choices she makes.

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EP 327: Building A Financially Sustainable Business Model With Systems Saved Me Founder Jordan Gill

EP 327: Building A Financially Sustainable Business Model With Systems Saved Me Founder Jordan Gill

Can you navigate a financially sustainable way to moving from 1:1 client services to more flexible, leveraged offers?

Yes, of course. And here’s how I would do it.

Instead of figuring out what stack of offers is going to supposedly add up to the revenue you’re generating from client services, put your effort into figuring out what 1 offer is going to be able to eventually grow into a revenue stream that can replace what you’re generating now.

Don’t figure out how to generate $10,000 at a time with multiple offers. Experiment with ideas that you can imagine growing to $100k of revenue or more. You’ll still have to try some things out–and it’s likely that the journey will be a little windy and involve some backtracking. But you’ll have a much longer-term view of your business’s financial sustainability in the end–and that is going to feel oh-so-good.

Now, this kind of thinking still applies no matter the field you’re in or the business model you’ve built til now. If you want the opportunity to grow your business, you need to think about long-term financial sustainability–not just what’s working right now.

To take this point home, I want to revisit a conversation I had with Jordan Gill, founder of Systems Saved Me, in 2019. Jordan found herself in a position that’s familiar to many service providers; she was trading dollars for hours and the path to growth just wasn’t clear.

So she started to pay close attention to how her clients were actually using her services and considered how she could bring them an experience that would actually create better, longer-lasting results.

After considering the possibilities, Jordan found her opportunity. She shifted her business model away from hourly client services to results-oriented VIP days. She created a more financially sustainable business by finding a way to make the numbers add up without adding MORE to her workload or burden the business’s operational sustainability.

You’ll hear all about that—plus how she decided on pricing and how this shift has impacted her personal sustainability in this conversation.

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

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.

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EP 325: When Opportunity Meets Sustainability With Tara McMullin

EP 325: When Opportunity Meets Sustainability With Tara McMullin

“The Squeeze” occurs when you’ve run out of capacity in your business.

You simply don’t have the time, energy, or mental bandwidth to do more, and so you can’t really see a way for the business to grow. Still, The Squeeze convinces you that if you just rearranged the pieces or tried a little harder, you could force some fresh growth.

But alas, you just end up squeezed into a different arrangement of the same pieces.

In other words, you use what’s familiar to try to work your way out of the Squeeze… and so you can’t quite escape because “what’s familiar” is what got you into the Squeeze in the first place.

To actually alleviate the Squeeze, you have to take a completely different perspective and see things in a new way. And that’s how talking things out with others and learning how they see things differently really helps inspire opportunity.

Now, I know it’s challenging to have those conversations or connect with people who see things in different ways. That’s one of the reasons I started this podcast 5 years ago; I desperately wanted to bring wildly different perspectives to small business owners like you who were feeling The Squeeze. It’s also why I bring business owners together through community and events, as well.

I don’t have a new conversation for you today, though. Instead, I want to share my own observations—sort of a grand total of what I’ve added up over the years of my own business-building, my interviews, my personal conversations, and my coaching & community-building.

This is a look at what I see when I look at a business and what I hear when I talk to a business owner.

It’s the overlap of opportunity and sustainability that drives the work I do with small business owners.

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

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.

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

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.

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Host of What Works

Tara is a podcaster, small business community leader, strategist, and speaker. She’s been helping small business owners build stronger businesses for over a decade.  

Tara McMullin, What Works Weekly Newsletter

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