What Works

What Works

Tara McMullin
May 21, 2020 24 min

EP 281: Business Support Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

Leading a business can be lonely. I noticed just how disconnected business owners are when I started my very first website way back in 2009. That website was a blog about makers and artists in Pennsylvania. I wrote about their stories and shared products that caught my eye. The blog was relatively popular but the real magic of it wasn’t in what I was writing about. The magic was in how it connected people who didn’t know anyone else who was trying to make a go of turning their ideas into a business. They connected on my website, they connected in an early iteration of what Facebook groups have become, and they even connected in person. Even though I haven’t written for that blog in a decade, I know there are still people from that community who support each other as business owners. They are less lonely because of the connections they made through that simple website. After I handed that blog off to other people and started down the path of business coaching and education, I noticed that not only were small business owners a lonely bunch, I noticed that our isolation often led to missing information, confirmation bias, and unhelpful assumptions. And that’s what’s really led to how I’ve structured my business from there on out. I have been creating the structure to connect small business owners to each other for the last 10 years. I build containers, see what works, and then evolve. From Kick Start Labs to Quiet Power Strategy to What Works, I’ve endeavored to help entrepreneurs find the support they need–the support they crave. I’ve seen first hand how, yes, the emotional support of the right people can make all the difference in whether you press on or whether you quit. But even beyond the huge help of emotional support, I’ve seen how the right people can open your eyes to new ideas, how it can help you check your assumptions and self-limiting beliefs. I’ve seen how support can help you set new goals and find your focus. I believe we all need to find our support as small business owners… and I believe that support comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s the people we hire to work for us. Other times it’s our families. Sometimes it’s the professionals we engage with. Other times it’s the colleagues who call us on our own bullshit. All this month, we’ve looked at the challenges–and opportunities–that small business owners face in getting the support they need to feel confident and prepared. We’ve looked at mental health support, we’ve examined peer support, and we dug into coaching. This week, we asked 4 of our community members to share times when they’ve experienced a profound sense of support and I’m thrilled with how each of them shared a different form of support. Rebel Therapist founder Annie Schuessler shared how being honest & vulnerable with her peers has made a huge impact on her and her business. Business coach Justine Clay shared how a year-long program and accountability partner helped her get a new business off the ground. Voice coach and the SpeakEasy Cooperative founder Michelle Markwart Deveaux shared how her team supports her–and has helped her see herself and her role in a new way. And coach Leigh Johnson brings it all home by sharing how important different types o...
May 19, 2020 39 min

EP 280: Thriving With High Functioning Anxiety With The Happier Approach Host Nancy Smith

In This Episode: How licensed professional counselor & therapeutic coach Nancy Jane Smith learned to navigate high-functioning anxiety while building her business How high-functioning anxiety differs from our usual concept of what anxiety “looks like” The strategies Nancy uses to help herself (and her clients) deal with HFA Which of the 3 voices in her head Nancy uses to guide her action and keep moving forward Can we talk about anxiety? Even if you don’t think of yourself as having anxiety or dealing with anxiety, there’s a good chance you’ve felt pretty anxious over the last 2 months. I’ve been calling it ambient anxiety. It’s just in the air. Everything is in flux. Nothing is in our control. Everyone is on edge. It’s just really hard to get a solid handle on what’s going on a day to day or even hour by hour basis. Your response to all of this ambient anxiety might be to slow down—even shut down. You might feel numb or a bit panicked. You might have trouble concentrating or find yourself caught up in worry. That’s a very normal, very understandable response. But it’s not the only way that anxiety can manifest. The other way anxiety makes itself known doesn’t even look much like what we think of when we think anxiety. And that’s how I initially responded to the anxiety of our present moment. This month on the show, we’ve been talking about finding support as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavor and the mental health challenges that many of us face don’t make it any easier to feel like you’re not alone. Which leads me back to how I found myself quote-unquote coping with my anxiety a few weeks ago… Instead of shutting down, I turned on. I worked long, hyper-productive days. I created new things. I hosted live events. I checked in with friends and supported our members and clients. My anxiety led me to over-functioning. My subconscious was trying to work my way through the stress and uncertainty. I was trying to control the uncontrollable. That burst of anxious over-functioning led to a complete collapse. I’m now trying to get back into a more manageable and gentle groove but I’m feeling pretty rotten. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have been living a similar story. Which really isn’t that surprising to me because in the before times, I was having a lot of conversations that started with: “Can I tell you about high-functioning anxiety?!” You see, I started learning about high-functioning anxiety from our guest today, Nancy Jane Smith. The way Nancy described anxiety was nothing like what I thought of anxiety to be… but was everything about my experience of the world. I’ve shared on the podcast before that only recently did I realize I was living with chronic anxiety. I had always identified as dealing with chronic depression and didn’t recognize my normal-for-me mental state was one of high anxiety. But the more I’ve learned from Nancy, the more I’ve learned about my own brand of anxiety. Nancy is an expert in High Functioning Anxiety. Nancy is trained as a licensed professional counselor and therapeutic coach.
May 12, 2020 1 hr 30 min

EP 279: Leveraging Masterminds For Support With Startup Pregnant Founder Sarah Peck

In This Episode: Why Startup Pregnant founder Sarah K. Peck started organizing mastermind groups & experiences before she was even a business owner How Sarah facilitates conversation among group members for maximum results Why mastermind groups are less about getting answers and more about getting in touch with your own inner knowing The role that mastermind experiences play in her business today and how her business model is structured (including pricing) Why structure is such an important part of creating highly effective mastermind groups What would we do without the internet? I mean, really. I have access to a global library of information and ideas in my pocket at all times. If I have a question, I can typically find an answer in less than 60 seconds. And how about online learning? If I want to learn a new skill, there’s probably a YouTube video or a CreativeLive class or an ebook that will teach me what I need to know. It’s probably impossible to quantify the amount of new skills I’ve picked up thanks to the internet. And how about the people that the internet brings together? You know I love online communities, social networks, and just finding random connections between humans you would have otherwise never met. The internet gives me access to people all over the world. Information, ideas, learning new skills, meeting new people and connecting with old friends… the internet, with all its faults and foibles, can be an incredible place for support. But at some point, learning new information, acquiring new skills, and even meeting new people starts to come up short. At some point, as my guest today says, you realize that their aren’t external answers to internal questions. You realize that beyond access to the world’s information and citizens… you need access to yourself: your own inner knowing. One way I’ve gotten access to myself—my own inner knowing and decision-making—is through mastermind groups. Last year, at an in-person gathering of one of the masterminds that we run at What Works, one participant told me that they didn’t really need anyone to tell them what to do with their business. They knew exactly what they should be doing. Instead, they said they needed people to ask why they weren’t doing it. That’s why they were in the mastermind group. To me, that’s the perfect illustration of how a mastermind group can support business owners who are committed to—not just learning a new marketing skill or figuring out how to launch a new product—but to becoming a more whole entrepreneur and building a business that works exceptionally well. I’ve been running mastermind groups of one sort or another for about 5 years and I have a lot to say on the subject. But I didn’t want you to just get my thoughts… So I invited someone equally as passionate about masterminding as I am, Sarah K. Peck, the founder of Startup Pregnant. Sarah was on the show before talking about how the Startup Pregnant podcast got started—but the whole business and community of Startup Pregnant has evolved and grown a ton since then. <a href="https://explorewhatworks.
May 05, 2020 50 min

EP 278: Prioritizing Your Mental Health With Chris Brogan

In This Episode: Bestselling author & business consultant Chris Brogan shares how depression and anxiety impact his experience as an entrepreneur Why he always knows what he can “drop” when things get rough and what he isn’t willing to let slide Why he has been transparent about his mental health challenges on social media and how he’s helping to reduce the stigma for others How he approaches his conversations with others to be as supportive as he can, while also creating his own support network I have received an outpouring of gratitude in the last 6 weeks. Telling you that makes me quite uncomfortable and feels self-serving, but I promise there’s a point. The messages I’ve received have thanked me for being a leader and for sharing how I’m personally processing both our public health crisis and our economic pause. Many of these messages have also ended with something along the lines of: I hope there’s someone supporting you right now. And that’s why I’m sharing this with you. Because, sure, I know that sharing how I feel, what I’m doing to navigate planning or marketing, and how I’m coping is helpful. But what I think is really helpful about what I’ve been sharing? It’s showing people that they’re not alone. I think that’s what they’re really saying to me when they say “I hope there’s something supporting you right now.” They’re saying “you’ve made me feel like I’m not alone and I hope you don’t feel alone either.” Because the truth is… Leaders get lonely. When everyone is looking to you for answers, for support, for guidance, you can feel like there’s no one to go to for your own support. And since all small business owners are leaders in one way or another, we all feel that loneliness sometimes—or maybe, we feel it quite often. This month, we’re tackling that feeling of loneliness and the different kinds of support we can lean on to feel grounded and whole. We’re going to tackle 2 sides of this conversation—mental health and business owner support—and we’ll acknowledge that this conversation really has many more sides than that. I’ll share what works for me and we’ll be asking our community members to share what works for them, too. You’ll hear from Nancy Jane Smith about living with and finding support for high-functioning anxiety which is something I certainly deal with, along with many other business owners I know. You’ll also hear a conversation between me and Startup Pregnant founder Sarah Peck about using & facilitating masterminds for support. And you’ll hear from Shirin Eskandani about finding support through coaching. Today, we’re kicking things off with Chris Brogan, an author, speaker, and consultant who has been incredibly forthcoming about his own experience with depression and anxiety. Chris helps business owners feel less lonely by vulnerably sharing what he’s going through on a regular basis and by regularly offering his support to those who are in the throws of mental health challenges. Post by post, conversation by conversation, Chris is doing his part of reduce the stigma of depression, anxiety, and even failure.
Apr 30, 2020 14 min

EP 277: 3 Tools These Small Business Owners Swoon Over

The tools I use to run my business have come a long way in the last decade. Back then, I had to do most things manually. Now, integrations and automations are a given. Back then, I had to learn code and poke through dense documentation to get what I wanted. Now, everything is drag & drop. Back then, digital small business owners were repurposing tools meant for other tasks to put our businesses together. Now, we use tools that are made just for us. But it’s not just the tools that have changed. It’s also how I use them. When I started my business, I was always just trying to get one step ahead and the tools I used were solving problems as they came up–no real rhyme or reason. I didn’t stop to think about what my technology or system needs might be even a few months in the future. Today, I look at my tools in terms of how they’ll help me grow. I ask myself how I can use them to build a foundation that makes my business easier to run months or years in the future. I don’t just solve problems with my tools–I create systems. We’ve covered a lot of territory with the tools we use to run our businesses over the last month. And we’re going to cover a little more today. But I think this mindset shift around how we use technology and develop systems has been a thread that has tied all of our episodes together. Whether it was my conversation with Sean, or Jessica, or Prerna, or Holly & Arryn, I hope you picked up on the strategy that these business owners use when it comes to picking and working with tools. That strategy isn’t just about what tools or systems they use. It’s really a bigger mindset around how they run their businesses. They expect to be running, building, and growing these businesses for years to come and so they choose tools, systems, and workflows that make that easier. Today, I want to share 3 more business owners and their favorite tools with you. You’ll hear from designer & illustrator Cynthia Oswald, operations manager Heidi Johnson, and software engineer Rachel Ober. Each one is sharing a tool that’s dramatically changed the way they do business–each in completely different ways. 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.
Apr 28, 2020 34 min

EP 276: Tools For Building An Online Personal Training Business With Holly Myers and Arryn Grogan From Lift With Holly & Arryn

In This Episode: How personal trainers Holly Myers and Arryn Grogan use systems and software to run a thriving online coaching business Why they invest in new training and certifications as tools to use in their business What coaching online has allowed them to accomplish What tools they use to communicate with clients, produce a library worth of content, and build programs for people to purchase My routine has been disrupted. It’s been six weeks since I’ve been to the gym and I’m quite certain my neighbors are very confused about what I’m doing with the kettlebells in the backyard. Like most gym-goers, I’ve been experimenting with working out from home and hoping that my gym family is well. Luckily, I also have an Instagram gym family—and they’ve been motivating, educating, and challenging me since long before this all started. It’s been so fun watch them re-learn how to do business overnight while, at the same time, providing an immense amount of leadership for the people they care about. Now, all that said, this episode sounds like a no-brainer—but I assure you, it was recorded weeks before every gym in America shut down. This week, we’re taking a look at the tools that personal trainers use to run their businesses online. And since I realize that you’re most likely not a personal trainer, I want assure you that this episode is still full of interesting ways to think about your business and the tools you use to run it. My guests today are Holly Myers and Arryn Grogan from Lift With Holly And Arryn. They were running an online personal training business before taking your personal training business online was corona-cool! I found Holly and Arryn through my Instagram gym family and fell in love with their joy, strength, and precision. Their content is incredibly useful and very fun and real at the same time. Because Holly and Arryn specialize in training other coaches on the techniques they’ve mastered, they realized that online coaching was a great fit for them early on. Instead of constraining their client base to their hometown, they’re able to coach people from all over—and coach while they’re on the road, as well. In this episode, we talk about the tools and systems they’ve used to build their online training business—including the equipment they prefer, the software they use for coaching, the system they use for putting together programs, and how they build content for Instagram. We also talk about some of their favorite tools for working on the road. Now, let’s find out What Works for Holly Myers and Arryn Grogan! 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.
Apr 21, 2020 44 min

EP 275: Tools For Building A Copywriting Agency With Content Bistro Founder Prerna Malik

In This Episode: The process Prerna Malik, founder of Content Bistro, uses to create effective copy for her clients Why she keeps her tools simple and isn’t quick to change them just because there are new options out there How Prerna uses experience, testing, and research to push the edge and try new things with the copy she writes What she did to translate her service processes into a program for other agency owners and service-based businesses Your process is your most valuable tool. By that, I mean that the way you do what you do, the system you use to create results, the pattern you follow time and time again is what all the value-generating activities of your business are based on. Now, when you’re just getting started with your business, your process probably feels pretty loose and undefinable. You might even call it magic. And so then it’s no wonder that you have trouble explaining it or documenting it—let alone putting a dollar value on it. But as your business matures, your process (should) become clearer and clearer. You can explain it. You can document it. You can see the financial value in it. Everything else in your business layers on top of your process to create clarity and efficiency. Your process provides the foundation for every other tool you introduce into the way you run your business. This month, we’re examining the tools we use to run our businesses. So far, we’ve talked through some of the tools that Sean and I use to work with clients in our podcast production agency. I talked with Jessica Stansberry about the tools she uses to run her content-driven digital products business. And this week, I’m talking with Prerna Malik about the tools she uses to run her copywriting agency, Content Bistro. Yes, Prerna and I get into the specific tools she uses—things like Google Drive, Notion, and CrazyEgg. But we also talk a lot about her process—how she does what she does. Like I said, process is the most valuable tool in your business and your process should determine the tools that you use. Prerna’s approach certainly demonstrates this. Her tools help her make her process work. They help her make her process more efficient. And ultimately, it’s her process that’s helped her build an incredible business. Now, let’s find out what works for Prerna Malik. Tools In This Episode: Google Drive – document collaboration and file storage Notion – project & process management CrazyEgg – heat maps, user recordings, and A/B testing Book Like A Boss – scheduling system 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 Y...
Apr 14, 2020 43 min

EP 274: The Tools That Power A Content-Driven Business With Grit Host Jessica Stansberry

In This Episode: What tools Jessica Stansberry uses to run her content-driven business How she knows when it’s time to switch tools and what criteria she uses to pick a new one What project management tool she’d make out with if she could How her systems and workflows help her get the most out the software she uses to run her business Most small businesses today create some form of content. Some are sporadically posting updates & photos on social media. Others take the time to create helpful articles, entertaining videos, or valuable podcast episodes. But there’s a whole category of small business that I would consider content-driven. In other words, these businesses rely on the steady production of content that keeps the existing audience happy while it also helps attract new audience members. These businesses might make money by selling advertising, leveraging affiliate marketing partnerships, or selling their own digital products. And often, it’s a combination of all three. These businesses—and the creators behind them—have a lot to teach us about the tools and workflows that can make the content we create easier to manage, more effective, and more profitable. We’re continuing our series on the tools we use to run our small businesses… …by taking a look at the tools a content-driven business uses to create, manage, and publish all that content—as well as how it actually drives revenue, too. I could think of no one better than my friend Jessica Stansberry to talk content & tools with. Jessica is a YouTuber, podcaster, and fellow lover of tools. She’s the host of Grit, a podcast about business and lifestyle design. She’s also produces videos on planning, productivity, business, and marketing for over 66,000 subscribers on YouTube. Jessica and I chat about the hardware, software, and systems she uses to manage it all—plus her criteria for selecting or switching tools! I also asked her about the tools she uses to manage her life outside of business. Now, let’s find out what works for Jessica Stansberry! Tools In This Episode: Clickup – project management software Canon D70 – camera for video Ring light – lighting for video ATR2100 – microphone Zoom H1n – portable audio recorder Premiere Pro – video editing MemberVault – learning management system for online courses GoodNotes – iPad app for notetaking Keywords Everywhere – SEO research Chrome extension 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:
Apr 07, 2020 1 hr 11 min

EP 273: The Tools We Use To Run a Podcast Production Agency with YellowHouse.Media Co-Founders Sean and Tara McMullin

In This Episode: Sean and Tara McMullin, co-founders of YellowHouse.Media share the tools they use to run their podcast production agency Sean shares the value of templates across a variety of tools Tara sheds light on some of the “magic” tools that help them make standout podcasts And they both share what’s working when it comes to tools for managing stress & anxiety right now When I started my business over 11 years ago, the only tool I worried about was WordPress. My business was my website and my website was my business. WordPress made it all work. And while I still use WordPress to this day, there are dozens of other tools I use to run both of my companies. There’s my email provider, my web host, our community platform, the graphic design tools I use, the communication software we chat on… each tool has it’s purpose and place within the larger business. This month, we’re going to take a deep dive into the tools that different businesses rely on to run. We’ll talk software, systems, and processes—plus how it all works together. We’ll talk about how things have changed, what’s stayed the same, and how to know when it’s time to switch up your tools. And, we’ll talk with business owners that run different kinds of businesses—digital products, 1:1 services, and agencies. Focusing on tools is especially relevant right now because many business owners are looking for ways to run more efficiently and more effectively so that they can boost profit or create new streams of revenue as the economy is changing. We’re also trying out new tools to cope with interruptions and stress. So in this kick off episode, I wanted to talk about both of those pieces of the puzzle with my podcasting partner-in-crime, my husband and the production coordinator for What Works, Sean McMullin. Together, Sean and I run YellowHouse.Media, a full-service podcast production agency that specializes in helping small business owners create standout podcasts that power their marketing and sales. We’ll get into the tools we use to run YellowHouse—including how we set up client dashboards, manage projects, edit audio, and consult on content strategy. But first, we wanted to share some of the tools we’re using to mange stress and anxiety right now. Let’s get into it! Tools Mentioned In This Episode: Headspace – meditation app Rode Procaster – Tara’s microphone Audio Technica ATR2100 – Sean’s microphone Google Drive – documents, spreadsheets, storage, and more Descript – transcripts and audio editing Headliner – app for creating audiograms Canva – graphic design tool Notion – project management and organization tool Squadcast – remote interview recording tool Some of the links above are affiliate links—meaning that we may earn a com...
Mar 31, 2020 43 min

EP 272: Making Your Brand Personal With Stasia’s Style School Creator Stasia Savasuk

My brand is more “me” than ever. Which is funny because, up until 2017, my brand was my name. That year, I made a conscious effort to move away from my personal brand and build out a company brand, something that could represent an idea that was much bigger than me. At that same time, I started to do some significant personal work. I drank less. I ate better. I started moving my body. Later, I did a heap ton of mindset work. I discovered the great outdoors. I started to feel like a new person… and at the same time, I started to feel more myself. More comfortable with myself. More confident, more whole. Along the way, the brand I was building evolved. It created a space where I could fully belong—as a leader, a businesswoman, and as a human. I wasn’t playing at who Tara Gentile was anymore. I wasn’t hoping to become something that I really wasn’t. I wasn’t putting on a nice dress and fancy makeup and hoping people would trust me. I could just be me. We’re closing out this month on branding by getting personal. We’re looking at how who we are informs what we create and how those brands evolve over time. Like I mentioned, my business brand is more “me” than it’s ever been. Just because my brand represents a company and a community doesn’t mean that it’s not extremely personal. So whether your business is represented by your name and your face or whether you’re building something separate from you, there’s a lot to dig into in this episode. Today, I’m joined by Stasia Savasuk, the creator of Stasia’s Style School. Stasia helps people find the courage, clarity, and congruency to rock their personal style. I wanted to showcase her story during this month as a way of helping you reexamine the stories and patterns that we inadvertently fall into because of what we believe it takes to fit in, to be professional enough, or to earn credibility. Stasia’s personal story—and how she’s turned her passion into a thriving business—will shed light on all the hangups you might have about your personal style and the way your personality plays into the brand you’re building. We chat about how Stasia realized she was fitting herself into imaginary boxes, how the birth of her first child changed how she approaches her own body & style, how she finds the guts to dress the way she wants, and how her personal style informs her personal brand. Now, let’s find out what works for Stasia Savasuk!
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