Growing a Business For Good with SheNative founder Devon Fiddler

Growing a Business For Good with SheNative founder Devon Fidler

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why Devon’s personal experience as an Indigenous woman, plus her political science background, moved her to start a fashion-focused brand with a social good mission.
  • How Devon bakes SheNative’s social good mission into everything from social media content to employee management to big business decisions.
  • Why and how Devon reached the media to cover SheNative’s story, including global news stations, NBC radio, Shaw TV, and local radio stations before she had a single product.
  • How Devon raised almost $23,000 on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to fund product development and SheNative’s first production run.

Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit, I chat with Devon Fiddler, the Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods, a brand of handbags and accessories that helps to empower and change perceptions of Indigenous women and girls.

We cover how she first got the idea for SheNative, how her company’s social impact mission affects both her strategic thinking and her daily activities, and why she chose fashion as a conduit for change making.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On baking a social mission into your brand

We feel that our designs and what we’re doing as a company are really a catalyst to transform public perceptions of indigenous women by sharing positive stories and conveying our cultural teachings embedded within our designs. It’s in everything we put out. It’s about empathy and accentuating hope for positive change to the public.

— Devon Fiddler

At SheNative, Devon’s approach is based on a social good mission: to empower Indigenous women and girls. That mission is baked into everything she does from posting content on social media, managing employees, and making important business decisions.

As Devon shares, one of those big decisions was closing her retail store. She struggled with the choice, knowing it would cut jobs, “but I knew that in the longer term that there will be more jobs later on,” she says. “I’ve had to just think about it in a big picture level — because the day to day stuff like that can really bog you down.”

What’s your business mission? Even if it’s not a social good one, your mission gives you direction no matter if you’re mapping out your content strategy for the month, reviewing potential partners, or hiring new employees.

Define your business mission — and see it through everything you do.

On launching a fashion brand without a fashion or business background

There’s a million ways I could have started a company that helped empower women, but I knew that I wanted to be in fashion. I had no design experience whatsoever when I first started. I just jumped into it. I hired out designers and creative people to work with and that’s where I’ve seen the connection as to how we can help Indigenous women: by working with them and by sourcing out all of the creatives that I can, as well as putting my vision and touch into it.

— Devon Fiddler

What I love about Devon’s story is that she believed in what she was doing, she jumped in, and she didn’t ask for permission. She didn’t wait for the perfect timing. She didn’t go to fashion school to prove she could do it. Instead, she worked with creative people who could do what she couldn’t.

Through that process, she also found that she didn’t need to be the maker: she could serve as the visionary and still add her personal touch while providing jobs to Indigenous women in her community.

If you’re a business owner without formal training in business, you probably resonate with the quote above. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to know everything because you can find people who compliment your strengths and weaknesses as Devon did.

On reaching out to the media

The first time I reached out the media, I had no idea what I was doing. I created a media list first, then I wrote a personal email about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I really focused on the why. I basically told them: you know what, I don’t even have product yet but please cover me because we really need your help in order to raise money so that I can start this project. That’s what really interested a lot of the media outlets that covered me.

— Devon Fiddler

Sometimes you don’t need to wait to perfect your pitch or learn how to write a press release. Sometimes you just do it. Armed with a social good focused business and a positive story, Devon reached out to the media in an honest and authentic way — and it worked for her.

If media outreach and coverage is a struggle for you — or if you haven’t even considered it yet — remember that your pitch doesn’t need to be perfect. Start with where you are, with your unique perspective, and just dive in. Like Devon showed, you don’t even need to have product yet. Instead, use your business’ mission and story strategically to get media coverage and build momentum around your cause.

Listen to the full episode with Devon Fiddler to hear more about how she bakes her social mission into everything she does, how she created SheNative around her personal experience and beliefs, and much more.

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Scaling a High-Touch Service-Based Business with Author Accelerator Founder Jennie Nash

Scaling a High-Touch Service-Based Business with Author Accelerator Founder Jennie Nash

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How Jennie scaled her high-touch, human-centered service business (and what mistakes she learned along the way.)
  • How she made a seemingly unreplicable service like book coaching… replicable.
  • What encouraged her to adjust the Author Accelerator’s initial pricing model from affordable and accessible to high-price and high-touch.
  • What Author Accelerator’s hiring process for book coaches looks like.
  • How Jennie moved from being a writer to a book coach and, now, an entrepreneur.
  • Why it’s 100% OK to say no to a creative idea (even if it’s a really good one.)

Today on Power. Profit. Pursuit., I jam with Jennie Nash, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Author Accelerator, a book coaching program that provides feedback, accountability, and support to writers so they can finish their books—and finish strong.

Jennie believes that people have a story to tell, whether or not they’re a writer. This belief is what transformed her career as a writer to book coach: to help people finally write that book. That excitement and passion eventually turned into a business. Despite being high-touch, human-centered work at its core, Jennie figured out how to scale the book coaching process and grow her team at Author Accelerator to over 25 employees.

Listen to this episode to hear exactly how Jennie scaled Author Accelerator, what mistakes she ran into, and her four requirements for all new employees.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On scaling a high-touch, human-centered service business

I really resisted it because I thought you can’t scale a high-touch, super human-centered system. Book coaching is so inefficient. It’s about the human touch. It’s about people’s hearts. It’s about their souls. I had this really deep aversion that the two things couldn’t connect. And he (Matt Sand, her business partner) kept insisting they could — and that I’d already done it.

Jennie Nash

It took years for Jennie to accept her now-business partner’s offer to scale her book coaching process into a full-scale business. Why so long? Because she didn’t see a way for someone else, like an employee, to learn her high-touch, human-centered process — and do it right.

But what Jennie found, once she said ‘yes’, was that it was possible: she could teach others her book coaching process. Scaling this business model wasn’t an instant success, as she uncovers, but more of a test-and-tweak-along-the-way to find the right model and pricing.

On how to hire, and retain, top-notch employees

This was the roadblock: I kept saying there is no way that we can get the level of talent that we need to scale this. We can’t get them at the price that will work. That’s what I thought.

Jennie Nash

Finding and hiring the right people was Jennie’s biggest roadblock to scale her book coaching business. But once she found a formula that worked, Jennie was able to grow her team to over 25 employees around the world. In the last 4 years, only 3 employees left Author Accelerator to start families, leave for their dream job, or start their own business.

So how do you craft a team that’s in it for the long run? Process. Process. Process.

Jennie determined what skills and personality type would thrive in the position — and she didn’t make exceptions. Everyone needed mechanical editing and narrative design skills as well as the ability to think strategically. They also needed to be nice and compassionate. This was a requirement. Even if someone had all the skills, if they weren’t kind, they didn’t make the cut.

This hiring process is so successful that Author Accelerator is launching a book coach certification program in 2018.

We’re really proud of the retention of our coaches and how we train them, the ongoing masterclasses, and oversight. In fact, we have become so sure of our process that in 2018 we’re going to launch a book coach certification program which is a whole other arm of our business. We had so many people who we didn’t hire ask how they could learn what they needed to know that we decided to do this.

Jennie Nash

On pricing a high-touch service

We made a lot of missteps, as every business does. We just completed year four and at the beginning of this year, we finally hit on the right combination of how to do it, how to price it, how to make it work, and we very quickly started to see a lot of growth. It was clear that this was the right way, the right system, strategy, and process. It was so exciting. Now we’re really starting to see that scaling happen.

Jennie Nash

Most business owners struggle with properly pricing their products and services. It’s not easy! After 4 years, Jennie found the right pricing for Author Accelerator — but it took many changes along the way. At first, Jennie wanted to offer an affordable program despite being a high-touch book coaching program. That pricing method didn’t work so they tried something else: high touch and high price and — it worked. Since then, they’ve seen a lot of growth.

If pricing comes as a struggle to you, consider this: sometimes it takes a few years to get it right. Focus on what you do well and how you do it — and don’t always look to competitors for your pricing inspiration.

Then, as Jennie says, ask yourself: “What is that I do that’s so different and special and good? And how can I take that and sell that?”

Listen to the full episode to hear even more from Jennie Nash, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Author Accelerator, on scaling a high-touch, high-price service.

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Taking On Technology Education for Women with Skillcrush Founder Adda Birnir

Taking On Technology Education for Women with Skillcrush Founder Adda Birnir

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why, after working 4 years in media, Adda taught herself to code — and founded Skillcrush shortly thereafter.
  • How customer interviews inspired Adda to repackage Skillcrush’s tutorial-style learning to classroom-based online learning with dedicated instructors.
  • How Adda approached customer research to take the guesswork out and really get inside her ideal customers’ head to create just what they needed.
  • Why the Skillcrush team is fully distributed and how a remote team forces you to deal with structural issues — quickly.  

Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit., I talk with Adda Birnir, founder of Skillcrush, an interactive learning community that teaches (mostly) women to code. Only a few years ago, Adda left her media job, learned how to code, and launched Skillcrush. Impressive!

She used her newfound coding skills to change her career path — and knew that other women could use those same skills to transform their lives, too. In this episode, we talk about how Adda uses customer research and feedback to design a service that her ideal customers love — and what the realities are of growing a business with a fully distributed team.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On customer research

When all else fails, just going out and taking the time to talk to your customers, it will always send you in the right direction. And I will also say, we’re almost always wrong about what we think going into it. Every time we want to skip that step, we’re always so glad that we did it.

Adda Birnir

Customer research is at the heart of everything Adda and the Skillcrush team does. When Skillcrush first launched with two tutorials, they followed up with customers. Were they interested in buying more? It turns out that most said no.

Adda wanted to understand the why behind their disinterest. So using advice from the book Running Lean by Ash Maurya, she scheduled in-person customer interviews to find out more. Not only did she call up everyone who fit her ideal customer — Adda also asked friends to introduce her to their friends who fit the bill.

By sitting down with her ideal customers, face-to-face, Adda gleaned information that transformed the way Skillcrush operates today.

On taking risks in business

There’s no way to guarantee success ahead of time. You just have to, at the end of the day, risk to the extent that you can. Then balance the risking it with the fact that when you launch something you’re going to learn a lot. Even if something flops, that’s good learning which is still excruciatingly painful for me every time.

— Adda Birnir

Having a new program campaign underperform, new platform messaging not resonate at all, or having zero people sign up for your new course. No one likes to see their idea fail — but, at the very least, you’ve learned something new about what works and what doesn’t.

Adda brings this very approach to everything she launches in Skillcrush — and, even years later, having an idea flop is not a good time, no matter how much she learns. Running — and growing — your business requires you to adapt, change, reiterate, and try, try again…

And when it comes to product development? “What you try not to do is do it based on what you like,” says Adda. “Just assume that you have no idea what you’re doing and operate from that place, because, in my experience, it’s the healthiest place to work from.”

On growing a distributed team

I think that problems that growing companies face (at least structurally) — you hit them earlier with a remote team. Or, let’s put it this way, there’s no way of getting around them.

– Adda Birnir

Wouldn’t it be nice to figure out organizational issues while your team is still small? That’s exactly what Adda thinks, too. From her experience, she’s found that having a small, yet distributed team helped her identify organizational issues that needed smoothing out before growing more.

Sometimes even hiring a single contractor highlights where tasks or project assignments fall through the cracks — but it’s a good way to test the structure of your business.

Listen to the full episode with Adda Birnir, founder of Skillcrush, to hear more about how to use customer research to repackage your offerings and how to take risks, even if they flop.

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A Fresh Take On Cosmetics With Mented Cosmetics Co-founders KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson

A Fresh Take On Cosmetics With Mented Cosmetics Co-founders KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How Amanda and KJ turned their passion for beauty — and their frustration with a lack of diverse color palettes — into a brand-new business in a saturated market.
  • Why they were part of the product formulation process every step of the way.
  • How they established Mented as a trusted brand — even before launching products — by building relationships with YouTube and Instagram influencers.
  • Why talking with customers pushed Amanda and KJ to not only offer Mented cosmetics online, but in person, too.
  • How Mented grows organically today by celebrating and prioritizing women of color.

Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit., I chat with Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller of Mented Cosmetics, an everyday beauty brand for women of color. What started it all? Searching for the perfect shade of nude lipstick. Disappointed by palette options, KJ and Amanda took matters into their own hands — mixing and pouring — in their own kitchen.

While KJ and Amanda no longer hand pour Mented lipsticks, they’re still a part of product development every step of the way. Hear how their journey started when the two attended Harvard Business School, where they’re at now, and where Mented is heading in 2018.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On standing out in a saturated market

We’re creating an everyday beauty brand for women of color. That truly is unique. If you look at some of our peers, so many of those brands are trend focused — the glitter, the unicorn, the galaxy. What was missing in the market — and what we would argue is still missing — is a brand that’s focused on the everyday, foundational, basic beauty needs of women of color. And that’s where we think Mented will continue to win.

— KJ Miller

The marketplace is crowded — so how do you stand out? Amanda and KJ decided, early on, that focusing exclusively on everyday beauty for women of color was how they’d claim their space in a crowded market.

Their own frustrations and disappointment with trying to find beauty products that worked for them started it all. For years, Amanda searched for a nude lip color — and she just couldn’t find the right shade. Her search uncovered an untapped market — and the pair decided to solve their own problem.

On product development

Once we found a great manufacturer who was willing to work with us on a smaller scale, the process began of creating the stable formula. We probably spent 3 or 4 full days in the lab, not only working to shade match but working to create a formula that both of us loved.

— KJ Miller

A clear mission leads the way to a powerful product. Although KJ and Amanda tested different colors in their own kitchen, they knew they needed to work with a manufacturer to create a stable product that they — and their customers — would love.

On word-of-mouth marketing

We’ve said from the very beginning that Mented is about prioritizing and celebrating women of color — and because that’s been our message from the very beginning, it’s resonated and women have felt celebrated and prioritized. As a result of that, they’ve been excited to share with their friends and family.

— KJ Miller

Working with YouTube and Instagram influencers naturally drummed up talk about Mented — and now, word-of-mouth marketing is a large aspect of Mented’s marketing success. But you can’t pay for word-of-mouth marketing — so how do you get people to share your product or service with their networks and communities?

For KJ and Amanda, it ties back to their mission of celebrating — and prioritizing — women of color. No other beauty brand has done that — until now. And that commitment shines through everything they do — from the way they communicate their brand values to how they treat their customers.

Listen to the full episode with Mented founders Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller to hear more about how to use your own dissatisfaction to start your own company, how to break into a saturated industry, and how to celebrate (and listen to) your customers to give them a product they want to share with others.

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7 Top Small Business Owners Share The Surprising Things They’ve Learned About Their Businesses

What is one thing you thought you knew about your business but later found out you were wrong about?

One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is Make Me Smart. It’s from the folks who produce public radio’s Marketplace. Their goal is to demystify the news, trends, and idiosyncrasies around business, the economy, and the financial markets. As they do this, they get to interview fascinating entrepreneurs, thinkers, politicians, analysts, and economists. Each week they ask one of these folks their “make me smart” question:

What is one thing you thought you knew but later found out you were wrong about?

The answers vary from quite personal to philosophical to professional. Some are quite focused, others wide reaching. Each answer has its own nugget of wisdom and an opportunity to apply it personally.

As we start to look toward the end of 2017, I thought it would be fun to ask former Profit. Power. Pursuit. guests to reflect on our own version of the question:

What’s one thing you thought you knew about your business but later found out you were wrong about?

We got back seven great answers. My guess? Each of these smart entrepreneurs will give you something to chew on as they reveal some of the surprising things they’ve learned about their business over the year. Keep listening and you’ll hear from Arianne Foulks, founder of Aeolidia, Anna Guest-Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga, Andrea Owen, author of How to Stop Feeling Like Shit, Parker Stevenson, co-founder of Evolved Finance, Joanna Penn, author of How to Make a Living With Your Writing, Rebecca Tracey, founder of The Uncaged Life, Sue B. Zimmerman, creator of Ready Set Gram, and Shawn Fink, founder of the Abundant Mama Project.

You’ll hear their surprising lessons on management, scaling a business, marketing and sales, product development, and more.

Once you’ve listened (or read the transcript below), I’d love to hear from you. What’s one thing you thought you knew about your business but later found out you were wrong about? Tag me on Twitter or Instagram. I’m @taragentile on both places and let me know. I’ll share my favorite answers on social media.

And now, the surprising things top entrepreneurs have learned about their businesses:

Andrea Owen

I am a life coach, mentor, and author. I help smart women who struggle in the areas of perfectionism and isolation and numbing out, and I help them create a life of courage and confidence instead.

The one thing that I thought I knew about my business but later realized wasn’t true…

The word that first came to me was childish. When I started my business, I was fresh out of life coaching school. I went to college for exercise physiology and I also at the time was a certified personal trainer, and I wanted to meld together the worlds of fitness and wellness and life coaching.

A couple of things that I thought that I knew. First, I thought it was going to be easy. You know when you’re fresh out of training and it was this thing that you’re passionate about, you can’t fathom why the rest of the world doesn’t think so. I didn’t think I would need to sell. I didn’t think I would need to convince and persuade people that what I had to offer was valuable. I was under the assumption of, “Build it and they will come.”

That came as a bit of a slap in the face. I really just did not understand why everybody was not on board with this. This was a business, and that was the part that I was kind of embarrassed of that I didn’t realize from the beginning. I can’t believe that I didn’t know I was going to have to learn to sell. I also can’t believe that I didn’t realize I was going to have to learn to run a business. I thought it was going to be easy. That’s what I thought. I thought it was going to be simple and uncomplicated, that people would just line up to be my clients and take my courses, and that was that.

I was sorely mistaken. It’s not that it’s been just terrible and so hard and challenging. It has had its bad days, but it’s also had its great days. But it has had its trials and tribulations, and it’s been a labor of love. That’s the thing that I thought I knew about my business but later realized wasn’t true, that it was going to just happen.

Anna Guest-Jelley

I am the founder of Curvy Yoga, which is body-affirming yoga for people of all shapes and sizes.

One thing that I thought I knew about my business but later realized wasn’t true was that I thought my business needed to be as big as it possibly could be.

So if an invitation or an opportunity came my way, I thought, “I have to jump on this.” I thought I should build as big of a team as I could. I thought I should earn as much money as I could. So I started doing those things. I built a team, I developed a bunch of products, I opened a brick and mortar studio, and on and on.

Of course, doing all of that took a ton of time and money, and I was constantly overwhelmed, very rarely present, which is kind of hilarious for a yoga teacher, too busy to see my friends, the list goes on. I actually had this one year where I did so much that people were constantly telling me how amazed they were and how they didn’t know how I did it all. And I didn’t really know either. And then one day I looked up and realized, oh. I know how. By building a life I don’t want. I got everything I thought I wanted in my business and I was miserable.

That big business model totally works for some people, but it’s not for me. Just as importantly, I built it using a bunch of innovation marketing techniques that weren’t me either. I never did anything, of course, that I thought was wrong or manipulative because I am so not about that, but I did do it by having a pretty constant presence on every social media platform, sending tons of emails, and that’s just not how I really wanna be communicating. Again, not a bad thing, but it’s not my thing.

Amy Puller has a great way of saying this. She says, “Good for them! Not for me.” And that has really been my biggest lesson in business, and it’s something that I think is an iterative process that evolves over time. What is good for me? What is good for my business? What is good for my community, students, customers? How do I take advice from others and weigh it against my own experience and knowing?

Other people do not know me or my business better than I do, and that was true even when I was starting out. The first several years of my business I spent a ton of money and time on courses, coaches, and loads more, and of course, some of that was extremely helpful. I didn’t have any experience running a business before starting my own, so I definitely had a lot to learn. But I later realized there was a pretty substantial difference between learning new information that you need and secretly, or not-so-secretly in my case, hoping someone else can sweep in and tell you the exact formula for success. When I look back on those really hectic years now, when more money was going out the door than in, I don’t regret any of them.

One of the things that I love about yoga is that it teaches us what it means to practice. Each day on the yoga mat is a new experience because the me that steps onto the mat this morning isn’t the same as yesterday, much less last year or the last decade. I believe that the same thing is true about business. It’s really a practice. The me back then couldn’t have known what the me now does, and I hope the same is true of the me of the future.

Joanna Penn

I’m a USA Today bestselling thriller author, and I also help authors sell more books and make a living from their writing.

What’s one thing you thought you knew about your business but later realized wasn’t true? It’s a classic mistake, but I thought I could scale my income by doing everything myself. You can pretty much brute force your way to low multi six figures by working really hard, but if you want to up your game creatively, financially, and reach more people, you need to think differently. If you feel like you’re working too hard for your money, then you’re also at this stage of the game.

It was actually Tara’s advice on Profit Power Pursuit that helped me realize that the design of a six-figure business was not the same as a multi six-figure or seven-figure business, so I needed to change my mindset and think more about leverage. My core business principle is to be location independent and have no employees, but I shifted my thinking around processes and outsourcing. Now I have a team of freelancers, virtual assistants, and co-writers who help me with various tasks so I can focus on what I do best, writing thrillers and dark fantasy as well as helping authors sell more books and make a living writing. I’ve now broken through that previous income barrier and continue to redesign parts of the business to make them more scalable and sustainable.

Parker Stevenson

I am a co-owner and partner at a business called Evolved Finance. Evolved Finance is a bookkeeping service and also business education company. So my business partners, Cory and Anna Whitaker, help me to run the service side of the business. We all have clients that we manage. We have a phenomenal bookkeeping team that does a lot of the bookkeeping work, and then Cory, myself, and Anna are on calls every month with each one of our clients to review their books, go over what’s going on with their businesses financially, and just offer any guidance or advice that we can provide based on our experience looking at the numbers. The other side of our business, we also do business education, we sell some courses and online products to help smaller online businesses take control of their money.

The one thing that I thought I knew about our business but later realized wasn’t true was that I thought I could do everything myself.

As I mentioned, Cory and I are both on calls every month, but we also have other duties that we manage. Cory manages really the CFO, COO side of the business, where he’s managing the operations. He is also managing all the financial aspects of our business while I’m managing more of our marketing and business development as well as most of our sales. So I felt like, you know what? I’m lucky to have a business partner. I’m lucky that Cory gets to manage part of the business that although I’m involved in, I’m not heavily involved in, just like he’s still involved in the marketing and business development, just not in a very deep level. But I thought, hey, I have a business partner, which is better than most. I should be able to do all this stuff.

The beginning of the month is pretty easy, but as we get into the second, third, and fourth weeks of every month, my schedule is really busy. So we developed these three really great products that we’re currently selling, these digital courses. They come with financial tools.

I was so excited to get these out to an audience, but what I realized that between having to develop content, having to send out weekly emails, having to actually develop the products ourselves, which luckily are done now, but that took a long time, trying to create our sales funnels and our marketing automation in order to support our new products, I quickly realized that I would not have enough time to learn everything I need to learn to do all this stuff quickly and effectively, and that’s a big piece of it. I think for me, we work with so many amazing online businesses. A lot of the clients that we have are people who are doing amazing things selling their digital products. Not all of them, but we do work with quite a few businesses that sell digital products.

So I think for me, I thought, hey, look at them. They’re doing it. I know what they’re doing. I understand the systems and the models from a general standpoint so I can put this into action in our own business. And what I realized is that unless I was willing to just drop all my clients, which just wasn’t an option, I was gonna have to get help.

We were gonna have to find somebody or some people to help us get the course part of our business, the digital product part of our business, up and running. I thought I was gonna do it and after all our products were finished and I started jumping in, I quickly realized there’s not enough hours in the day for me to do this and get it up and running quickly, cause that’s the other thing. I could technically do all the work if I wanted to, but it might take me two years before we really start making good money from all the work that I’ve put into creating these products.

That’s where I realized in order for Evolved Finance to be as successful as I think we know we can be, that we needed to invest in advertising and we needed to invest in people. And luckily because our service based business has done so well and we had some profit left over to invest back into the business, that’s been something we’ve been able to actually make happen and something I’ve been very excited about.

Rebecca Tracey

 I work with coaches and new servers based businesses who want to be able to work online, and I help them understand how to talk about their business and market it in a way that helps them have clients come to them instead of them having to go out and hunt for clients all the time.

What is the one thing that I thought I knew about my business but later realized wasn’t true? When I started my business in the early days, I really thought that I knew my audience. I thought I knew what they needed, I thought I knew what they wanted, and I created a whole wagon load of stuff for them. I wrote blog posts, I wrote free opt-ins, I wrote paid online courses, and it didn’t really work.

What I later realized and what I now know is that there’s a big gap between what I thought my people needed and what I was actually selling them. It doesn’t mean that the things I created weren’t right for them, but the way I was talking to them, the way that I was marketing them was filled with all kinds of my industry jargon, and there was a gap between what I was selling and what they were wanting to actually buy and pay for.

When I realized that and I was able to close that gap by going up and talking to customers, talking to clients, asking people questions and really listening to what they needed, I was able to really shift the language of what I was offering so it was more in line with what they thought they needed. So I ended up with more sales, more clients, more money in my pocket, which obviously is a good thing for business. Now that’s something that I do all the time that I know is working in my business and that I’m always listening to my clients after I work with them and before I work with them and really paying attention to what they need so I can be sure that the programs and the free opt-ins and the blog posts that I’m creating are exactly what they need and not just my interpretation or assumption of what I think that they need. And that’s the biggest change that I’ve made in my business that’s really helped me grow.

Sue B. Zimmerman

I teach business owners all over the world how to get more visibility online from telling their visual story, specifically using the power of Instagram.

The number one thing I thought I knew about my business, specifically this online business, but realized it just wasn’t true, was that I thought there was a formula to doing an online business, so that’s what I was taught when I first entered into this online education space. And I paid for those formulas. I paid to attend conferences, to listen to those formulas. I paid for someone to write an email sequence, follow-up sequence to a course I created, and I even invested in learning about speaking on stage as if there was a specific formula to go through once I was on stage.

And what I realized was that if I just showed up as my authentic self and embraced all the experiences that I had in my entrepreneurial life, which spans over 25 years, and I focused on my stories and my wisdom that I’ve had through the years of having so many business, and just rocked my personality and my character, that my business would grow and attract those people that I’m meant to be serving.

Because I really believe that it is your character, your experiences, and your stories that sell. When I say sell, I don’t mean that necessarily in an exchange from money, but they sell who you are and how you show up as long as you do it authentically. That’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned since entering into this online space five years ago, and it’s pretty wild that you can literally be talking to anybody all over the world in seconds from using tools like Instagram stories and Facebook and Twitter and all the social platforms that are out there to help you really amplify your message and broadcast your gift, but ultimately your goal is to attract those people into an offer that helps them solve a problem so that you can nurture those relationships.

And so my biggest lesson in all this online space has been the power of nurturing true relationships and growing an authentic community who ultimately cares about each other more than themselves and growing and making this world just a happier, better place, and that’s pretty cool, and I feel really proud to be a part of that.

Shawn Fink

I’m a family wellness coach for busy moms around the world.

I would say is very much, very clearly for me, that I thought that my business needed to be like everybody else’s business and that I needed to do what everybody else was doing, and while I didn’t always just follow the crowd, I certainly always felt a sense of I’m not doing as well because. And what I realized was that all along I was really listening to my true self, my authentic self, which set me apart, but I didn’t know that in the beginning, so I spent a lot of time researching how to make my business like everybody else’s business, but really it was never supposed to be that way. I only later realized that I could have all along just been doing my own thing, and that would have been so refreshing and such a relief.

Arianne Foulks

I run Aeolidia, a web and graphic design studio that has been serving creative and design oriented shops since 2004. We work with a ton of awesome clients and I’ve learned a lot of amazing stuff from their projects and the work that we’ve done with them and just seeing how they’ve grown their businesses, and we are currently expanding our business into a second venture which is called the Ship Shape Collective, which is an online community and educational project for people who are working to grow their businesses up and get them to the next level. So you can learn what we’re doing there and check out our web design work as well at aeolidia.com. I hope you’ll join us.

I try to be really open-minded about my business, but there is definitely one time where I was dead wrong about what the right thing to do was. I started out Aeolidia as a freelance designer and developer, and I did every part of the business myself, of course. I managed the business, I marketed it, I designed websites, I developed websites, I did the customer service and the product management and kept up with the schedule and all that stuff.

As my business grew and I got more clients and got busier and I started hiring other designers, I could see that there was a potential that I would get too busy managing everybody else’s projects and not be able to do my own projects anymore, and that is something I really resisted. I told myself that I did not want to end up just being the boss because I had no desire to boss anybody around, for one, and second, I loved the work that I did and I loved being able to be creative and I didn’t want to lose that.

So of course, life got in the way and things changed, and not only did I have more designers and more clients and more projects and many projects to manage, but I started raising a family and I had two babies to take care of and I just did not have time to also be designing websites and working with my own clients.

So I temporarily shifted from the role of being the boss, but of course, we ended up with me just totally being the boss and me not doing web design projects anymore, and I have to say I’m really glad I don’t have to open up that blank white Photoshop screen and stare it down every day anymore.

But aside from that, I really love being the boss. Not to boss people around, but I love being able to come up with ideas but instead of them just staying on a to-do list somewhere, they actually go into production and turn into actual things, which is thrilling. And I love working with my team; they’re super talented. Every person that I hired to replace me in any of my roles is way better than I ever was at the job and it is a delight to watch them work.

And you know, it’s just fun having a group of people. When you’re just by yourself you can talk to your friends and family about what’s going on at work, but they don’t really care as much as you do. When you have a whole team that’s working together with you to achieve something that you all want to happen and you’re all interested in, it’s really fun to have a whole group to work with.

I’m 100% happy that I went ahead and ditched all my other jobs and went for the managing a business job. It’s really rewarding and it’s fun for me to do all the visionary stuff.


If you loved this episode, be sure to check out our interviews with each of today’s contributors: Arianne Foulks, Anna Guest-Jelley, Andrea Owen, Parker Stevenson, Joanna Penn, Rebecca Tracey, Sue B. Zimmerman, and Shawn Fink. You’ll find them in the archives along with over 100 other episodes of the nitty-gritty details of growing a small business in the new economy.

Next week we hear from former guests on another important subject: what’s working right now? 

Let’s face it, the market and the marketplace change on an almost daily basis. New technology, new questions, and new opportunities make themselves known every day. Our business has changed and evolved to rise to the occasion or they don’t, and they end up sputtering out. I asked former Profit Power Pursuit guests what’s working for them right now to grow their businesses. Check out their answers on next week’s episode.

In the meantime, don’t forget to tell me your answer to this week’s question. What’s one thing you thought you knew about your business but later found out you were wrong about? Tag me on Twitter or Instagram — @ taragentile — and let me know. Or, leave a response with your answer to the question on this post. I’ll share my favorite answers on social media.

What’s 1 thing you thought you knew about your business but later realized wasn’t true?


Small business owner: it’s time for some year-end reflection and planning! We’re hosting a virtual conference on December 13, 2017 to do exactly that.

Join CoCommercial today and enjoy exclusive access to this conference during your 30-day free trial. Plus, for each new member that joins, we’ll donate $10 to the Special Olympics, now through December 13.

Click here to start your free trial of CoCommercial, the fluff-free social network for small business owners!

Taking Your Message to A Bigger Stage with Tanya Geisler

Taking Your Message to A Bigger Stage with Tanya Geisler

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why speaking could become an integral part to your business
  • Where to pitch your speaking services and get speaking gigs
  • Why the Imposter Complex is a good sign

My guest this week on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast is Tanya Geisler who is a leadership coach, TEDxWomen speaker and writer that teaches women how to step into their starring roles, own their authority and overcome the Imposter Complex in their lives and in their work.

We talk about how Tanya has actively grown the speaking segment of her business, how she and her team pitches her speaking services and why experiencing the Imposter Complex is a good sign.  

Reach a Larger Audience Through Speaking

Speaking and sharing her message to a larger audience was a natural fit for Tanya. It was something she knew needed to have as an element of her business because she always loved the stage even from a young age. It was always her favorite responsibility even in jobs she didn’t like. Today, Tanya mostly does keynotes that are 45 minutes long with a 15-minute Q&A. Since the Imposter Complex is her body of work, she primarily speaks on that subject but collaborates with the event host to co-create the talk based on their learning objectives. It takes time to experiment and refine the message you want to deliver, even if you are gifted at speaking.

How to Pitch your Speaking Services

I can trace back every last speaking gig that I’ve had to a podcast interview that I’ve done.

–Tanya Geisler

Tanya and her team actively pitch associations and conferences as well as certain companies if she has a contact there. She rarely cold calls an organization. Being a guest on podcasts is a very effective way that Tanya gets speaking engagements; in fact, she can trace every speaking gig that she has had to a podcast interview she has done. Since Tanya is a coach she is able to find a moment in each interview where she can “coach” the interviewee, and that’s a really important moment of resonance. Ultimately, when that happens people lean in and listen more closely, and it’s in those moments that they realize they might want to book Tanya to speak to their organization.

The Imposter Complex: It’s a Good Sign

Nobody is ever fully ready for anything, but you’re ready enough.

–Tanya Geisler

There are 12 lies the Imposter Complex really wants us to believe. If you aren’t feeling the Imposter Complex you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. When something really, really matters to you, that’s when the Imposter Complex is going to show up and you don’t really want it to go away. When you don’t want to feel like an imposter you go to one of six coping mechanisms. You must always remember if you know more than the audience you are speaking to, it makes you expert.

Learn more about why the “pencil can never be sharp enough,” the process Tanya has developed to determine the goals of the audience she’s speaking to, Tanya’s Starring Role Academy and ways to overcome the Imposter Complex when you listen to the full episode.

I invite you to subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes so that you can tune in each week to learn from today’s savviest entrepreneurs.

Want to know the 3 things every woman with unshakeable confidence has in common? Join Tanya for her Unshakable Confidence Masterclass on November 30th. Click here for more information.

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Tara Gentile is on a mission to turn the small business owners of today into the economic powerhouses of tomorrow. She's the creator of Quiet Power Strategy®, a business design system and entrepreneurial family. She's also the host of Profit. Power. Pursuit., which Entrepreneur named one of the 24 top woman-hosted business podcasts.