EP 251: Teaching Customers How To Use Your Product One At A Time With Tyme Iron Creator Jacynda Smith

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Tyme founder Jacynda Smith manages 100-200 individual consultations with new customers each week
  • Why these personalized consultations help Tyme delight 90% of frustrated customers
  • How virtual styling sessions create a feedback loop that helps Tyme get better & better
  • What Tyme is doing to leverage the success they’ve had with personalized virtual styling sessions

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“Do things that don’t scale.”

That’s the advice that Paul Graham, co-founder at startup accelerator Y Combinator, commonly gives to founders.

“Do things that don’t scale” just happens to sound like the opposite of what many digital small business owners fret about when they exclaim, “but that doesn’t scale!”

Here’s the thing: if we spend all our time worrying about what does and doesn’t scale, we don’t take the very necessary steps to get to the place where scaling is even an option.

Today, we’re examining customer service that might not scale but has helped the company create massive growth.

Before we get there, let’s take a closer look at this idea of doing things that don’t scale.

In Graham’s article on the concept, he outlines how a number of today’s huge companies did things that didn’t scale to build their footprint.

First, companies like Stripe, Airbnb, and even Facebook recruited new customers by hand. The Stripe founders personally set up new users and installed the software on their websites. The Airbnb founders literally went door to door. Facebook famously went from campus to campus signing up new users.

Second, founders make deliberate choices to take small actions that build the foundation for their ability to scale up. Graham writes, “the right things often seem both laborious and inconsequential at the time.” The “right things” were actions like the Airbnb founders taking professional photographs of early home listings or Steve Jobs prioritizing the quality of execution of his product from fonts to packaging.

Finally, Graham talks about how many successful companies have been built by “over-engaging” with a small group of core users in the beginning. The founders reach out, have one-on-one conversations, and find out how the product is meeting (or not meeting) the user’s needs. It creates a feedback loop that helps the product get better and the company better understand the customer.

And that leads us to today’s conversation with Jacynda Smith, the creator of the Tyme Iron.

The Tyme Iron is a unique hairstyling tool that’s meant to replace both your flat iron and your curling iron so you can create a variety of styles for medium-length to long hair.

When you look at it, you get it.

But when you use it? Well, that can be a different story.

Faced with questions and even some frustration from new users, Jacynda made an interesting choice. She decided to FaceTime her customers, one at a time, and walk them through the process of creating the style they wanted to create with their new Tyme Iron.

In other words, Jacynda made the choice to do something that doesn’t scale.

But instead of abandoning that choice as the company grew, she doubled down.

As you’ll hear, the company now employs 5 full-time virtual stylists whose job it is to sit down with new customers, one on one, and help them style their hair with their new Tyme Iron.

I had to know how this process is managed, plus I wanted to know how investing in this premium customer experience has benefitted the company overall.

And that’s what this interview is all about.

One last thing though before I introduce Jacynda.

Doing things that don’t scale works for any size business.

That means it can absolutely work for yours.

Now when I bring up doing things that don’t scale, most often I hear “but I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t afford to do that!”

And that’s understandable. Many of the big companies I mentioned earlier are willing to take a hit to do things that don’t scale at the beginning. The truth is that taking that hit might work for you, too.

But more likely, if you don’t have the time or money to do things that don’t scale, there’s something out of whack with your business model and pricing. So before you give yourself an out and tell yourself that doing things that don’t scale is good for someone like Jacynda but not good for you, take a good long look at the way your business is actually functioning.

Now, let’s find out what works for Jacynda Smith!

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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