EP 239: Expanding Your Capacity Beyond The Classroom With Design Dance Founder Debra Giunta

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Debra Giunta’s vision for Design Dance led her to make specific hiring decisions as the company grew in scale
  • Why she waited 6 years to hire herself on full-time
  • How her dance program and curriculum adapts depending on the school she’s partnering with
  • What she looks for in the people she hires—and how that’s evolved over time

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I’m pretty sure I took myself to Starbucks for an iced latte with the first 10 bucks I made with my business.

From there, everything I earned went into the family kitty.

I started my business with a vision of paying myself… and not much else.

Many years later, this is the #1 thing I regret from those early business years. Had I spent more time considering where I was going and how I could reinvest in my business to get there faster, I think I’d be in a very different place right now.

That said, I don’t beat myself up about it. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.

Today, I do things very differently.

I invest in my team. I invest in professional tools. I invest in our growth. And, as I’m starting a second company, I’m reexamining how I do those things with a fresh mind.

By the way, if you missed the 411 on my new company, Yellow House Media, you can catch up by listening to Episode 232.

A huge part of what we do here at What Works—and inside The What Works Network—is purposefully expose you to business owners who have taken a different path. I want to equip you with more information, options, and experiences than I had all those years ago.

That’s what this whole Scaling Up series has been about.

Today’s conversation is the last in our series on Scaling Up. We’ve covered a lot of territory —everything from starting with scale in mind, to intentionally not scaling, to leveraging your special sauce, to building certification programs, and more.

But today’s conversation gives us a crash course in how all these things can fit together and it tackles another common dilemma business owners with scale on the brain face.

Is your first priority paying yourself? Or is your top priority paying someone else?

My guest is Debra Giunta, the founder of Design Dance, a community dance education company that’s reaching over 1500 K-12 students with arts education and social-emotional learning every year.

I talk with Debra about her vision for Design Dance and how it led her to making important choices about when she started hiring help. We also talk about how Design Dance has expanded from its original school partner into 50 different sites, how she hires teachers to manage all those programs, and the nitty-gritty of how the business runs on the inside.

We’ll find out What Works for Debra Giunta in just a minute—but first, I have a favor to ask you.

If you enjoy this kind of outside the online business box content, I’d love for you to leave us a rating & review on Apple Podcasts. Your reviews help us reach more small business owners with this kind of content—and they make me smile, because, yes, I check our reviews every gosh darn day.

Just last week, a reviewer gave us 5 stars and said: “This podcast is so refreshing in a sea of ‘do more’ and ‘grow faster.’ I love listening, and the monthly themes make it easy to stay engaged and not get bored. Thanks for truly making a difference in my business and life, Tara!”

To leave us a review, open up your Apple Podcasts app or click here.

Now, let’s find out what works for Debra Giunta!

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Cover of What Works book by Tara McMullin

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

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

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

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