EP 240: Leveraging Commitment To Find What Works With Tara McMullin And Big Dreams Bold Moves Host Malia Russell

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How What Works founder Tara McMullin realized that business had gone off track
  • Why she chose to pivot to a building community-oriented business support network instead of offering coaching or online courses
  • What mistakes she made along the way and how she changed course to correct them
  • Why “steadfast commitment” is her barometer right now

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I turned 37 last month.

I certainly don’t get worked up about getting older nor am I one for big birthday celebrations or rituals.

But this year, it really hit me just how much growing up I’d done in the last 12 months. I’ve done a lot of work on myself. And that’s led to a lot of very practical work being done to the business, too.

I’ve examined old stories that were still controlling my thoughts and actions. I’ve looked at the shadow side of my strengths. I’ve questioned myself, my motivations, and my goals to make sure I’m blazing my own trail and not chasing someone else’s idea of success.

And, like I said, this wasn’t just personal work—if there’s any “just” about that.

All of the personal work I’ve done has led to some very real changes in how I run my business and how I operate as a leader.

Over the last year, I’ve worked to slow down and loop my team into ideas I have or changes I want to make. I’ve integrated my work into the systems that our team uses. I’ve gone deep into the way our core product is built and delivered to question why we do what we do and how our product could serve our customers better.

I’ve worked to make this podcast best in class.

Looking back on all the work I’ve done over the last year, I have to admit…

I am pretty damn proud of myself.

So I asked myself what exactly I learned through all that work—and how I could leverage it to keep the momentum going.

I looked at all the ways the work I did over the last year left me feeling more fulfilled, more fully realized—and I realized that it all had one thing in common.

When I committed—truly, fully committed—I not only got satisfying results, I felt freaking great about the process of getting those results.

When I did something just because I could—or I thought I should—I might succeed but it didn’t make me feel awesome. I ended up feeling more anxious, self-conscious, or just plain bored.

Okay, commitment. I can do that.

And yes, again—this applies to both my personal life and my business life. It applies to my mindset and to the practical, hands-on work I do on a daily basis.

So on my birthday, I decided that the question that would shape this next year in my life would be:

“What am I willing to make a steadfast commitment to?”

And to answer that question, I would ask myself what does steadfast commitment actually look like? What does steadfast commitment to a race look like? What does steadfast commitment to an offer look like? What does steadfast commitment to this podcast look like? What does steadfast commitment to my relationship look like?

Truthfully, these questions didn’t appear out of thin air. It’s actually something that’s been percolating for quite some time.

So much of my life and business to this point has been guided by impulse. It’s not that I haven’t done or created meaningful things… but I haven’t had that sense of steadfast commitment that’s required to create something truly great.

Three years ago, that changed.

I pivoted my business to create more inclusive, community-oriented small business support.

I made it my commitment to shine a light on all the different ways people were making their businesses work. I dedicated our resources to building a platform where people shared their own learning and talked about their own challenges.

Today—three years later—I am more committed to this vision and mission than ever before.

But that’s not to say that this journey has been an easy one.

It’s been really, really hard.

And without my steadfast commitment, I would have given up a long time ago.

That brings us to today’s interview and this month’s theme.

This month, we’re examining resilience in its many forms.

We’re looking at what it takes to stick with an idea, a project, a business, a commitment—and all the stuff that threatens to get in our way while we do it.

Over the course of this month, you’ll hear from Charlie Gilkey on how to start finishing the things you start. You’ll hear from Alethea Fitzpatrick on finding the right business to pursue—and how natural growth followed when she did.

You’ll also hear from Tommy Griffith who left his incredible job at AirBnB to turn his side hustle into a full-time gig and ended up being stolen from in Bali. Jo Casey will share how her journey through anxiety and other mental health challenges has helped her create the business she has today. Cynthia Morris will share how she’s worked through the ups and downs of over 20 years in business. And, you’ll hear from Rebecca Ching who has made learning and growing from her mistakes one of her top goals.

Today, you’re going to hear from me.

A few months back, I got an email from Malia Russell, the founder & host of Big Dreams. Bold Moves., which helps expat families deal with the challenges—and opportunities!—of living and working abroad. Malia wanted to know if I’d do an episode on what works for What Works.

So I invited her to interview me and pick my brain about how things have evolved at What Works, why we’ve landed on running things the way we do, the mistakes I’ve made along the way, and what goes on behind-the-scenes.

By the end of this interview, I think you’ll have a better idea of why I’m steadfastly committed to What Works and the philosophy that powers it. Plus, you’ll learn more about what’s working for us right now.

Keep listening to find out what works for me—and What Works!

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What Works Is Brought To You By

Mighty Networks powers brands and businesses – like yours! – that bring people together.
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.

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