Fixing What’s Broken to Develop New Products with Nathalie Lussier

Fixing What's Broken to Develop New Products with Nathalie Lussier

The Nitty Gritty:

  • What prompted Nathalie Lussier to transition her business from information marketing to software development
  • How the development of new products is driven by fixing what’s broken
  • How Nathalie’s team has evolved since they began to focus on software development

It’s always a good idea to listen to the pain points of your customers to develop your next big idea just like Nathalie Lussier, this week’s guest on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast and founder of software company AmbitionAlly.

Since she built her first website at age 12, it’s probably no surprise that she graduated with a software engineering degree. But she certainly surprised friends and family when she turned down a job offer with a Wall Street firm to become an entrepreneur. She launched her first business, originally Raw Foods Witch but now called Real Foods Witch, to share information about healthy eating. She used her software development skills to create a menu planner app for subscribers to use to drag and drop recipes and build grocery lists. But then she realized she didn’t have the audience or the number of subscribers to make it a worthwhile project.

Fixing What’s Broken

What was different about the development of the products that eventually became AmbitionAlly, intuitive software for ambitious business owners, was she knew that this time they had a solution that people were excited about. What started out as “scratching an itch” her own team was bothered by turned into solutions that help other small business owners. Her transformation to software development began.

Do fewer things better.

– Nathalie Lussier

The first plugin Nathalie and her team developed was AccessAlly to solve problems they had with the membership plugin they used. Because it was more complex, they didn’t release what they built as a solution to the public, but kept using it internally to keep improving it. The first tool they released for the public was PopupAlly. While they have a lot of ideas they could push into production they hold themselves back to stay true to the one of the team’s mottos: “Do fewer things better.”

We do a lot of listening to our customers and the people in the marketplace.

– Nathalie Lussier

This effective listening helps them come up with the next big idea and also confirms they are on the right track with new product development. Nathalie’s team solicits feedback from existing customers through surveys, they pose questions to their Facebook groups such as “What would be your ideal solution? How do you wish this worked?” and talk to their Certified Partners who are in the trenches using tools daily.

They have the finger on the pulse and they bubble things up to us if they think it’s important.

– Nathalie Lussier

The lean-and-mean team

Behind the scenes of AmbitionAlly is a lean-and-mean team made up of 6 full-time employees and 1 part-timer who make the magic happen. With the exception of Nathalie and her husband, all team members are dispersed in various parts of the world and rarely work side by side. To keep the team on track, Nathalie credits her team’s secret weapon: their project manager and a daily 5-minute stand-up phone call.

Learn more about the evolution of AmbitionAlly’s team and the priority they place on continuing education, Nathalie’s thoughts on trends that will impact the small business world and what’s on the horizon for new projects by listening to the full podcast.

Subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss a single episode of our award-winning podcast named by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the top 24 Exceptional Women-Hosted Podcasts for Entrepreneurs in 2017.

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The Evolution of a Person & a Business with Beryl Ayn Young

The Evolution of a Person & a Business with Beryl Ayn Young

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How personal exploration contributes to the evolution of your business.
  • How to use your personal values to guide the decisions you make in your business.
  • Why Beryl decided to create a membership community called The Village and isn’t afraid to “do it wrong.”

My guest for this episode of the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast is Beryl Ayn Young, the founder of Recapture Self, a community for moms who want to expand beyond their roles as mommies and explore their inner creative geniuses. Her story reminds us to be open to possibilities and what happens when you follow your “yes”—even when that means you might be called a rebel.   

No one should ever be expected to be 100% on, 100% of the time.

– Beryl Ayn Young

Your Business Can {and Will} Evolve

Entry into entrepreneurship wasn’t Beryl’s intent when she picked up her camera as a creative outlet from her full-time gig as an elementary school teacher. Or when she and her husband lost their first child when Beryl was 20 weeks pregnant. To work through the healing of that loss, she leaned in and created a blog where her writing and photography helped her express her grief.

She ultimately started a photography business that allowed her to leave her full-time teaching position, against the advice of friends and family who valued the stability and consistent income of teaching. Beryl admits, it’s a scary process transitioning to working for yourself full time.

I knew that I would beat myself up if I didn’t try to go to the entrepreneurial route.

– Beryl Ayn Young

Beryl quickly realized she was not meant to be a photographer—she experienced stress and anxiety about how the photos would turn out—so she decided to offer a photography class to combine her loves of teaching and photography. That class went well, she became a photography instructor.

When I taught my first class, even though there was fear there, it felt like a more natural fit.

– Beryl Ayn Young

As you will hear in the podcast, as Meryl’s energy flowed to different areas, her business evolved. In addition to her online classes, her business offers extensions of creative exploration.  Today, she inspires moms to live a more intentional, present, and connected life by giving themselves permission to lean into their creativity through a community she calls The Village.

Figure Out Your Values and Follow Your “Yes”

Get honest with what your values are.

– Beryl Ayn Young

You must get in touch with your intuition, listen, and be honest about your values. When Beryl considers a modification to her business, it has to be in alignment with her values—flexibility in her life and day, connecting with other people, and her creativity. Even though inherently Beryl knew that these were her values, it took her awhile to get really clear about them and then trust and use them to drive decisions about her life and her business.

And when does she know when it’s time for a change?

The process starts with getting curious and trying different things. There were plenty of things I tried and knew, well, that’s a no.

– Beryl Ayn Young

When it feels like a “yes,” you know it is something you should be doing.

Building a Movement

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got when I was growing my business was to ‘do it wrong.’

– Beryl Ayn Young

One of Beryl’s core values is connection, but it’s small, intimate connections where vulnerability and deep conversations can happen. As she began to think about building a membership community, as with everything, she wanted to do it her way. She asked herself, “How could I do this part of my business and do it wrong, in a way that only I can do it?” Her membership community, The Village, is going to speak to that process. Beryl wants to show other members of The Village how they can do their life wrong as well.  

To learn more about Beryl’s movement of moms who make space and time for themselves through creativity, how she does “it wrong,” and The Village community she is building to extend beyond her personal brand, listen to the full episode at Profit. Power. Pursuit.

The Recapture Connection Project

You can join Beryl starting March 16th for the Recapture Connection Project as you follow sparks of creativity and see
where they lead. Because creativity is the guiding force that connects us to our truest, most authentic, meaningful ways of living.


Every week we bring you tangible takeaways from some of today’s most inspiring business owners. Be sure to tune in every week and subscribe on iTunes to Profit. Power. Pursuit.

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Discovering a Need And Filling–Twice–with Digital Strategy School & Doki creator Marie Poulin

Discovering a Need And Filling--Twice--with Digital Strategy School & Doki creator Marie Poulin

The Nitty Gritty:

  • What is the difference between digital strategy and web design
  • How Marie identified the need for Digital Strategy School
  • How her product Doki has evolved in a market that just keeps getting more crowded

Every small business owner needs to hear Marie Poulin’s confession on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast.

And I hope when you tune in and listen to her, you will have the courage to ACT. Just jump over whatever barriers—you don’t have a list, your MVP isn’t ready—hold you back. What you actually DO is more important that what you are supposed to do.

Marie is a designer and digital strategist who uses her big-picture thinking to help business owners design and deliver products, services, and experiences that matter. In 2014, she launched Digital Strategy School, an online mentorship program to help designers become digital strategists. She followed that up in 2015 by co-founding Oki Doki to help business owners dream up, create, organize, and launch online programs. Oh, and along the way she and her partner Ben launched Doki, a learning management web app to help sell and deliver those online programs for interactive course creators.

Marie’s “Specialist Generalist” Journey

Turns out Marie’s history of wearing many hats and absorbing whatever she could with each opportunity allowed her to become a “specialist generalist.” She studied graphic design, but learned the ins and outs of web design in her first job at a small design shop when her boss wanted nothing to do with it. After that position, she spent some time freelancing until a company wanted to hire her as a digital strategist. Although within 4 months she determined she didn’t want to work for someone else again, she did learn a tremendous amount about what a digital strategist is and how that role works in a large company.

So, what is a digital strategist? Marie didn’t know either when she took her first job as a digital strategist. Today, she defines it as:

Someone who takes a high level look at a plan for how you will use digital tools to succeed in your online business.

– Marie Poulin

It’s a natural career progression for those who start out as a graphic designer.

Expand Beyond Graphic Design

As Marie continued on her own, she was helping several companies with their entire digital footprint from content marketing to list building in addition to the aesthetics of their brand. She started to notice that some of her graphic design colleagues resisted this trend and were complaining about low rates. In her own business, she was capitalizing and commanding higher rates for digital strategy. After a little strategic Facebook lurking and listening, she realized there was an opportunity to help graphic designers learn how to become digital strategists. Digital Strategy School was born. SPOILER ALERT: Listen carefully for her confession.

Be the Action You Want to See

As is often the case with new products or services, Marie saw the struggles her clients were having with their online courses and knew there was a better way. She and her partner, Ben, began the development process for what would become Doki. In the podcast, she shares the conflict, the process, the uncertainties, the self-doubt, and the learning lessons with taking a new product to market. One thing was consistent: They focused their product decisions on the customer.

It never, ever works the way you expect it to. Jump in and get moving.

– Marie Poulin

Learn more about the Doki development process, the value of talking to others in your space, and what the future holds for Marie and her companies by listening to the full podcast.

Subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss a single episode of our award-winning podcast named by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the top 24 Exceptional Women-Hosted Podcasts for Entrepreneurs in 2017.

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Why You Need to Think Bigger About Your Next Business Goal


When I’m feeling cheeky, I will admit to having retired two husbands with my business.

My first marriage ended (it’s better for everyone involved). And my second, well, okay…

Technically, we’re not married. But we own a house together, pay the bills together, and he survived about 25,000 miles of travel with me in one 12-month period. So, give me a pass on the shorthand.

Now, a few months after I retired my first husband and hit the biggest revenue goal I could imagine at the time, I started looking for a new goal.

I felt rudderless without a challenge to work toward.

I asked everyone: How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

Now, I realize that sounds like a really quality problem to have–and it is.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Here’s why:

You can’t create what you can’t see.

When you’re a student or working in a corporate career, your goals are based on what’s in front of you, what you’re exposed to.

You eye the scholarship. You fantasize about the acceptance letter. You want the promotion. You look for a raise.

You can see yourself attaining any of those things because they’re right in front of you. You see people achieving them and know they’re possible. They might be a dream, but they’re dreams you can see yourself living.

With business, it’s often very different.

I didn’t know I could dream of running a million-dollar company. I didn’t know I could dream of hiring a team of fabulous employees. I didn’t know I could dream of speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands.

Before I was connected to people who were dreaming those kinds of dreams and–more importantly–working those kinds of plans, I didn’t have a clue about my potential as an entrepreneur.

Every step of growth my business has taken has been a direct result of my connection to someone or something that allowed me to finally visualize a bigger goal or challenge.

When I retired my first husband, I didn’t know how to think beyond, “I want to make $100,000 per year and retire my husband.”

I had no close relationships with people who had achieved that.

When it came to ambitious colleagues and friends who took their businesses as seriously as I did, my well was damp at best.

As a result, my business suffered from my lack of vision and creativity. It kept growing but not at the pace it could have.

I worked harder instead of smarter.

I pushed for incremental successes instead of exponential steps forward and new ways of creating value.

Now, you might be thinking, “Tara, I haven’t hit the goal I’m working on right now. How can you expect me to look beyond that?”

Here’s why I expect you to–and why I believe you must:

The action you take is dictated–consciously or unconsciously–by your vision and goals.

Try this thought experiment.

What would you have to do differently to reach your goal for 2017 in the next 6 weeks, without working more in your business?

Your first reaction might be panic. But your second might be a pretty creative way to reorganize your business and your time to achieve more, at a faster pace, than you originally let yourself plan for.

That’s why you need to be connected to people who push you, challenge you, and take their businesses as seriously as you take yours.

Those connections help you take dramatic steps forward in your business–starting with the way you spend your time and the action you take right now.

They help you get creative about how you’ll achieve your goals and see new possibilities all around you.

The decisions I make and actions I take today are based on the vision that I can now see myself living, and that vision was inspired by the possibility I’ve glimpsed in the lives of people I know.

It’s such a relief to make big decisions with ease and take action that supports those decisions.

And, it’s all thanks to the ambitious and open business owners I’m connected to on a daily basis. They’ve helped me dream bigger dreams and take different action.

On Monday, I’m going to share with you how a completely different kind of connection–with people who have businesses wholly different than my own–helped to dramatically transform my vision for my business.

Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of what we’ve created for you to solve this problem.

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Creating Systems to Grow Your Business with 1-800-GOT JUNK? founder Brian Scudamore

Creating Systems to Grow Your Business with 1-800-GOT JUNK? founder Brian Scudamore

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How what you DO for business often isn’t your real business focus. Dig deeper to drive success.  
  • Why staying close to your roots even when your company grows keeps you focused.
  • How duplicatable systems, checklists, and the franchise model can free business owners up to focus on the next big thing.

Each week during our Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast we pull back the curtain to reveal the secret sauce of some of the world’s most inspiring small business owners. Even though Brian Scudamore, the mastermind behind junk hauling company 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and this week’s podcast guest, might not be your typical small business owner any longer, the franchise systems he’s built keeps him close to his small business roots.

Every big business started as a small business.

– Brian Scudamore

While the umbrella home services organization O2E Brands that Brian now leads (includes 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 Day Painting, You Move Me, and Shack Shine) has lofty financial and visionary goals, more than 50% of the company’s franchise partners do just over $1 million in revenue annually. While that is a sizable and meaningful number to O2E Brands partners, they are still small businesses. Brian’s team spends a lot of time communicating and asking questions of these small business owners to find out what’s working and what’s not.

Because people have ownership, they are giving us feedback as owners, as partners to say how we can build this bigger and better for everyone.

– Brian Scudamore

A Strategic Focus on People

We are taking ordinary businesses like junk removal and making them exceptional through people and customer experience.

– Brian Scudamore

When Brian first aspired to expand beyond Vancouver and create a national brand for his junk-hauling service 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, his strategic focus was on finding partners. He sought to find people who wanted to own their own businesses, but desired an entry to business ownership through proven formulas and systems. Today, his team calls these partners ENTRYPRENEURS and they all have the 4 Hs: They are hands-on, hard-working, hungry, and happy.

Franchisees: Perfect Crowdsourcing & Duplicating Model

Franchising has been the perfect crowdsourcing model if you will. We have all of these wonderful, brilliant minds of people contributing ideas and experiments toward making all our businesses perpetually better.

– Brian Scudamore

Critical to the efficiencies and increased probability of business success for franchisees is that Brian created checklists, processes, and systems that provide the roadmap to execute and become successful.  His ADD tendencies forced him to systemize his business and uncover its primary focus. An admiration for the founder of McDonald’s Ray Kroc’s brilliance regarding creating consistent processes also fueled his business mindset.

Everything I do, I try to create simple checklists. I don’t like to reinventing the wheel. Just keep doing what works.

– Brian Scudamore

Take a listen to the podcast today to get even more incredible insight from Brian about what moves him (HINT: It’s not a money thing), the plans for O2E Brands and even more incredible insight that can be easily applied to businesses of any size.

Be sure you don’t miss a single episode of the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast which was recently named one of the top 24 Exceptional Women-Hosted Podcasts for Entrepreneurs in 2017 by Entrepreneur magazine. Simply subscribe on iTunes.

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Rethinking the Fashion Ecommerce Industry with Brass Clothing co-founders Jay Adams & Katie Doyle

Rethinking the Fashion Ecommerce Industry with Brass Clothing co-founders Jay Adams & Katie Doyle

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How emotional intelligence was more important than data intelligence to the cofounders of ecommerce site Brass Clothing.
  • Why product is secondary to connection with your customer.
  • How the value you provide consistently for the customer isn’t just about the product.

The friendship between Jay Adams and Katie Doyle, cofounders of Brass Clothing, began when they were freshmen in high school. They never imagined they would create an ecommerce fashion line together to satisfy not only their own needs, but the fashion needs of a community of passionate women.

Fast forward from freshmen year to when they were both budding professionals—Jay worked with apparel manufacturers and Katie with online fashion retailers—and shared a mutual frustration with the lack of quality and integrity in the fashion world as well as the toll fast fashion was having on the environment and people’s lives. They launched Brass Clothing in September 2014 with a line of five dress styles to solve the problems they had in their own wardrobes and to take advantage of the opportunity to provide something better to like-minded women.

In this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. episode we learn about their unique product development and marketing approach that has fueled the growth of their business.

Unique Approach to Taking The Product To Market

We really were trying to take sort of a minimum viable product approach. Not very typical in consumer products, but for us it was really important for us to test our concept and see if there were other people interested in what we were doing.

– Jay Adams

Taking a minimum viable product approach wasn’t the only way Jay and Katie diverged from other ecommerce sites and consumer product businesses. In the spring of 2015, they were ready to attract more customers with their spring/summer product, but they wanted to do it in a financially feasible way so they used a Kickstarter campaign.

When it came to marketing their business, Jay and Katie continued to buck the trends of ecommerce and focused on connecting with their community rather than rely solely on what the data would tell them to do.

Tap Into People’s Emotions And Their Whys

When Jay and I started Brass, we knew we wanted to make products that women loved. Not only just great clothing, but we also wanted to create a brand that people loved. And really build a community around our brand with like-minded women.

– Katie Doyle

Typically, marketing for ecommerce sites is very data driven. Just lean on Google Analytics to tell you what people want. Jay and Katie wanted to focus on the emotional side. They really wanted to build a community. Connect with their customers. Develop relationships. As a result, emotional intelligence was more important to them than the data intelligence.

Listen. Learn. Adapt.

We’re not about cool-girl fashion, we’re about relatable fashion. We’re about connecting with our customers. We’re about helping her. Providing value all along the entire customer experience. Product, emails to the follow-up.

– Jay Adams

Listening to their consumer base continues to be a priority for Jay and Katie to help improve the product and the Brass Clothing experience. Their best-selling items have nearly 200 reviews, and Jay and Katie assess the feedback they receive from their customers to determine how they can improve. In the podcast they share several ways their products and experience have evolved based upon customer feedback including using models in all shapes and sizes to market their products.

One of the most valuable and special parts about ecommerce and direct to consumer brands is you get to own that relationship and communication with the customer.

– Jay Adams

There’s much more in the full podcast including how content marketing was crucial in the launch of Brass Clothing when Jay’s article, The Myth of the “Maxxinista” went viral, how Jay and Katie enhanced their products by embedding services (see the book by Dave Gray, The Connected Company for more on the concept), and how continuous improvement, even on tried-and-true products, is the key to success.

We look forward to sharing next week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast with you. Subscribe on iTunes and tune in weekly to learn directly from today’s most inspiring entrepreneurs.

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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.