EP 134: Realizing Your Idea Is So Much Bigger Than You Imagined With Startup Pregnant Founder Sarah K Peck

The Nitty Gritty

  • What inspired Sarah to launch Startup Pregnant (and how that concept pivoted from book to podcast)
  • Sarah’s strategy for securing sponsors before launching a podcast (hint: it’s all about knowing your target audience and what their pain points are)
  • What new resource Sarah’s working on to meet the precise needs of her community

Sarah Peck is a writer and the host of Startup Pregnant, a weekly podcast where she explores and reimagines what parenting, entrepreneurship, work, and motherhood looks like. Listen to this episode of What Works to hear more about Sarah’s journey in launching Startup Pregnant, plus her vision for the podcast and her body of work.

We release new episodes of What Works every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

Securing podcast sponsors before launching

“If somebody’s going to put dollars for advertising somewhere, they’re going to spend it on Google ads and Facebook ads because they’re better. But I can happily lose that game because what we’re looking for in sponsors is people who believe in the value and the mission of what we’re doing. They think that providing services for new moms isn’t just a business opportunity — it’s also worth doing in the world.” — Sarah Peck

At a bare minimum, Sarah needed enough to cover the costs of running the podcast — and while that didn’t mean she paid herself (at least not yet), she didn’t want to pay out of pocket to launch Startup Pregnant.

Luckily she didn’t need to. She asked four people who were already a part of her blog community and they all said yes to sponsoring the podcast. So what did it take for them to say yes, especially because the podcast wasn’t even launched yet?

It was all about the intended audience of the podcast: women entrepreneurs who might also be mothers and what might help make their lives easier. Sarah says they value things that save them time, save them money and also help them with efficiency… so services like Acuity and MeetEdgar are two sponsors that meet those needs.

Creating a wildly valuable resource that your audience needs

“Here’s what I made. Steal it. I’ve just saved you 25 hours of time and here are the negotiation scripts. It solves a really specific problem for people — but I hope it can also change people’s lives.” — Sarah Peck

What happens when you need to go on maternity leave… but you aren’t sure what the policy should be? Sarah’s target audience are entrepreneurial and working moms — specifically new moms — and this was a question she heard all. the. time.

She decided to put together an entire resource, dedicated to not only answering this question — but also providing policy language and negotiation scripts. “Look, you’re pregnant so you’re really tired,” Sarah says, “and you have limited time. You’re trying to finish your job and you’re trying to do a good job. Doing research is not easy.”

Think for a moment about the struggles and pain points that your audience might face. How can you offer something as specific and resourceful as this?

Letting your vision lead you… even when you don’t know where it’s heading

“It’s not easy for me to do but I’m trying to remain as open as possible to the fact that I might not even know what this is becoming yet.” — Sarah Peck

The truth of entrepreneurship is that everything is an experiment. The path isn’t laid out for you. You have to forge through, learning more about your customers, your product or service, and yourself along the way.

That’s certainly the case for Sarah as she grows Startup Pregnant. As she holds conversations with women around what it means to be a woman, work, and have babies, she admits that it feels similar to working through a two-year MBA.

But those conversations are leading to new product ideas, like courses and masterminds, as well as how to further help her community in specific, meaningful ways. “I’m building a sustainable business that’s the platform to the next business,” she says.

Hear more from Sarah Peck on her exact strategy for securing sponsors, how she meets the needs of her community, and where she’s headed in the future.

By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

May 22, 2018

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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