EP 234: Choosing Not To Scale With Oki Doki Co-Founder Marie Poulin

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • Why a cocktail party conversation prompted Marie Poulin to confront the assumption that scaling your business is the ultimate goal
  • How Oki Doki’s hybrid business model works—and why it’s the perfect approach for Marie and her partner, Ben
  • How Marie’s personal priorities and ideal lifestyle are helping to shape her business decisions
  • Why she’s looking for a sense of equilibrium between the energy she puts into the business and the energy she receives from it

To scale or not to scale—that’s really not the question.

At least, it’s not the first question you need to ask about the direction you want to take your business.

As we mentioned in Episode 232, Sean and I are choosing to prepare our new company for scale is because it will help us live the lifestyle we want to live and do the kinds of work we want to do.

Callie Willows mentioned in our last episode that one of the reasons the Member Site Academy works so well for The Membership Guys is that it supports the lifestyle her and her partner want. Coaching and consulting just wouldn’t.

She also talked about how building a membership site has allowed her to thrive as an introvert.

So maybe the real questions are:

What kind of life do you want to lead? What kind of work lights you up, allows you to thrive?

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype or anti-hype around scaling and miss those questions.

Today, my guest is Marie Poulin—our first 3 time guest here on the pod!

Marie is not someone to miss the important questions. Her and her husband Ben are building Oki Doki with the life and work they want to lead top of mind. That choice has brought them face to face with some scrutiny from people with a scale-or-die mindset.

Marie recently wrote a lengthy article about her choice not to scale—or, not to scale in any conventional way—so, of course, I wanted to bring her on the show while we’re covering scale to talk about it!

Marie and I chat about the hybrid business model Oki Doki has developed, the cocktail party conversation that shook her up, how she approaches finding a equilibrium with her energy, and how her focus on profitability has paid off.

Now, let’s find out what works for Marie Poulin!

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By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

Sep 10, 2019

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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