250 episodes

Transcend the hype and hear from small business owners about what's REALLY working when it comes to running & growing their businesses. Tara McMullin (formerly Tara Gentile) hosts candid conversations about the ins & outs of marketing, management, mindset, operations, product development, sales, customer service, and more. No gimmicks or fads. Just an inside look at how coaches, educators, lawyers, digital product creators, agency owners, writers, consultants, and more make it work.

What Works Tara McMullin

    • Entrepreneurship

Transcend the hype and hear from small business owners about what's REALLY working when it comes to running & growing their businesses. Tara McMullin (formerly Tara Gentile) hosts candid conversations about the ins & outs of marketing, management, mindset, operations, product development, sales, customer service, and more. No gimmicks or fads. Just an inside look at how coaches, educators, lawyers, digital product creators, agency owners, writers, consultants, and more make it work.

    EP 261: 5 Project Management Tools These Small Business Owners Can’t Do Without

    EP 261: 5 Project Management Tools These Small Business Owners Can’t Do Without

    The Nitty-Gritty:







    * 5 small business owners share the project management tools they can’t live without* Why each tool is the right fit for the way each business owner works* How they incorporate the tools into their workflows* Plus, what tools haven’t worked for them











    Project management is so much more than software.







    But if you think about tools like Asana, Trello, Clickup, or Notion (referral link that helps to support What Works) when you hear project management, you’re certainly not alone.







    I remember when Asana first started gaining popularity among digital small business owners. “Finally!” we thought collectively, “We can figure out how to get it all done.”







    Of course, most of us quickly realized that software like Asana doesn’t solve the problem of having too much work, unclear priorities, and a decidedly nonlinear project to complete.







    Project management is as much about how you approach the work that needs to get done as the software you use.







    So if project management is as much about how we approach the work as it is the software we use, why do we spend so much time stressing over that software?







    My hunch is that, despite all indications to the contrary, we believe that there’s a piece of software out there that will make us more productive, more organized, and more effective.







    Here’s what I’ve found to be true, instead:







    My project management software is only as good as I am. I can’t expect it to do for me what I’m not willing to do for myself.







    But if I commit to doing the work of project management…







    …if I organize my projects and get real about what’s required to bring each of them to completion…







    …if I’m willing to do the work I say I’m going to do…







    …if I consciously balance my big picture goals and my daily to-do lists…







    …then I can find project management software that helps me do that. But it starts with me and my own approach to the work.







    Now if that sounds personal, I can assure you that it is. I thought I was “broken” when it came to project management and that maybe there was some piece of project management software that could fix me. I tried a bunch. For while, I tried managing projects in Evernote–but that really just turned into me relying on my own brain, as per usual. Then, we dabbled in Trello… but it just didn’t work for us.







    Then, I tried using Asana. My team used it for 2 full years but I could never get the hang of it.







    That’s partly because I needed it to do something it just didn’t do–but it’s also because I wasn’t fully committed to doing the work of managing my projects. Then, I decided to grow up and do hard things.







    At the same time, we switched to Notion.







    Yes, Notion lets me do things I could only dream of in Asana or Trello. It combines content with task management in an completely customizable interface.







    But the most important piece is that I decided to manage my projects. I decided to work the system. I committed to following through–and Notion helps me do that.







    Today,

    • 27 min
    EP 260: Tracking Complex Projects With On-Demand CFO Christina Sjahli

    EP 260: Tracking Complex Projects With On-Demand CFO Christina Sjahli

    The Nitty-Gritty:







    * Why clear client communication helps on-demand CFO & cash flow analyst Christina Sjahli manage her complex financial projects* The system she uses to keep track of documents and change history* How she uses deadlines for herself and her clients to manage the progress of her projects* What Christina learned from her corporate finance experience that’s transferred to her own business—and what she left behind











    Can I really learn project management as an entrepreneur?







    A few of years ago, it became trendy to explain away the operational problems in our businesses by saying something like, “Dammit, Jim! I’m an entrepreneur, not a manager.”







    This trend was fueled by a book called Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman. In Rocket Fuel, Wickman argues that entrepreneurs are Visionaries.







    He writes, “Entrepreneurs hunt. They don’t manage. They explore rather than analyze. They build companies with vision, creativity, and tenacity; not with policies and procedures.”







    He continues by suggesting that every Visionary needs someone to be their Integrator. The Integrator’s role is to manage between the entrepreneur’s vision-driven ideas and the people on the ground actually making those things happen.







    I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker.







    The ideas in Rocket Fuel felt right to me.







    After all, the idea of creating, managing, and—dear god—following procedures made me feel all sweaty and claustrophobic.







    Finally, someone was telling me what I suspected all along: I just wasn’t good at managing. I wasn’t built for precision execution. I would always suffocated by routine, analysis, and consistency.







    Lots and lots of other small business owners I know bought this argument too. Soon we saw job descriptions for Integrators everywhere. We saw virtual assistants and online business managers start advertising themselves as Integrators.







    The language might be new to you—but I have a feeling that this distinction between the idea-creators and the idea-managers feels familiar.







    Here’s what I’ve realized since I myself caught the Rocket Fuel fever:







    While it’s true that some of us are gifted with natural aptitude toward one side of this spectrum between vision and management, that doesn’t get us off the hook for taking the time and care that’s necessary to manage projects well.







    Just because I’m an idea machine doesn’t mean I can’t also be a procedure machine.







    Just because I’m creative doesn’t mean I don’t have to follow systems.







    Just because I’m fueled by vision doesn’t mean I get a pass on thinking through the process behind my vision’s execution.







    Plenty of people will say that you’ve got to stay in your Zone Of Genius to be successful. At the risk of mixing metaphors, I say cross training is important.







    I’m not either/or, I’m both/and.







    And the more I’ve stepped into everything I can bring to the table,...

    • 45 min
    EP 259: Managing The Creative Process With Brooklyn Book Doctor Founder Joelle Hann

    EP 259: Managing The Creative Process With Brooklyn Book Doctor Founder Joelle Hann

    The Nitty-Gritty:







    * How Brooklyn Book Doctor founder Joelle Hann manages the process of book writing for her clients* What her book coaching experience taught her about creating and managing a group book proposal writing program* The tools Joelle uses to track her clients’ progress and coach them along to completion* Why it’s key for Joelle to consider the human element at every stage of managing a book writing project











    What happens when project management and the creative process collide?







    I think we expect a mess. A gnarly pileup of missed deadlines, unrealistic task lists, and artistic prerogative.







    But what if the creative process was manageable?







    What if there was a way to do your best creative work while also honoring your commitments to the more objective pieces of your project?







    That’s the question we’re asking today.







    Managing the creative process is exactly what my guest, Joelle Hann, does.







    Joelle is the founder of Brooklyn Book Doctor. She works with authors to help them complete their book projects—whether it’s crafting the proposal or completing the manuscript.







    Her job is to be as much creative partner as it is project manager.







    After Joelle and I wrapped up our conversation, she told me: “the human element is a huge piece of the puzzle.”







    And, honestly, if you listen for this idea throughout this interview, I think you’ll see what she means.







    Joelle has become a master of managing for the human element in the creative process. And while Joelle has to manage the human element with her clients, we have to do this for ourselves every day.







    I believe that all business owners are creatives in one way or another. Whether your version of creativity is expressed in product development, code, design, marketing, or management, you’re creative.







    And that means we’re tasked with managing the human element—that’s us—in the creative process each day.







    It’s the reason we can fail so epically at developing systems, documenting our work, or shipping new work. It’s the reason we can expect a team to follow our procedures while ignoring them ourselves. And it’s the reason why the technology we use and the way we approach that technology can make such a difference in whether we follow through on the work or not.







    Be sure to listen to this conversation for not only some ideas on working with your customers or clients—but working with yourself.







    Joelle and I talk about the tools she uses to manage different types of writing projects, what she’s learned about managing projects for creative people, and how her project management system blossomed into its own offer for working clients through the book proposal process.







    Now, let’s find out what works for Joelle Hann!











    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.

    • 41 min
    EP 258: Managing Multi-Layer Projects With Kaye Publicity Founder Dana Kaye

    EP 258: Managing Multi-Layer Projects With Kaye Publicity Founder Dana Kaye

    The Nitty-Gritty:







    * How Kaye Publicity founder Dana Kaye plans and manages multi-layer book publicity projects* The tools she uses to track progress, run reports, and organize the information that goes into every project* How her team members take ownership of different areas of each project* Why she’s learning to take a more top-level role in each project they manage











    One of my most important personal commitments from last year was to “work the system.”







    In other words, I wanted to stop constantly reinventing the wheel, breaking things that weren’t broken, and looking for new novel things to add to my plate.







    I wanted to take the systems that we had as a company and work them. No more pretending that I didn’t have to follow the procedure or document my work just because I was the boss. No more excuses for why my tasks weren’t getting checked off or the process wasn’t getting completed.







    Just working the systems we had, making them better, and following through until every last item was crossed off the list.







    By and large, I was pretty successful! I confirmed this with my team to make sure I wasn’t blowing smoke up my own butt.







    What I’ve discovered as I’ve embraced working the system is that—against all odds—I actually love it. In fact, now that I’ve been working the systems for a year, I see systems everywhere. I see how they make things better, how they make me better.







    And I relish getting those set up and figuring out how they can become more effective.







    Since I’ve decided to finally embrace not only having systems in my business but actually using them myself, I thought it would be fun to kick off the new year at What Works by focusing on project management.







    In other words, what does it take to make sure that the projects we start are projects we can finish?







    And how do different kinds of projects take on different forms as we use tools to track and complete them? And… how do different kinds of business owners approach managing projects differently?







    This month, we’re going to take a look at how a book coach manages the creative process for her clients. We’ll examine why communication and expectation is so important in complex projects with an on-demand CFO and cashflow analyst. And we’ll find out how a conference planner sees his events from vision to final invoice paid.







    Plus, we’ve also asked a panel of small business owners to share the tools they use to manage their projects and why they love them. You’ll hear about software like ClickUp, Asana, Trello, and Notion so you can make a more informed decision about what will work for you.







    But today, we’re starting with a look at managing massive multi-layer projects.







    Dana Kaye is the founder of Kaye Publicity, a publicity agency specializing in helping authors get media coverage for their books. As you’ll hear, publicity projects aren’t exactly linear. It’s not just a list of tasks that need to be completed step by step.







    There’s traditional media to go after. There are influencers to reach out to. There is content the team needs from authors and there are conversations that need to be had with the publisher.







    Each type of media is another layer in the project. Each layer is owned by a different member of the team.

    • 55 min
    EP 257: End-Of-Year Mailbag Episode With Tara McMullin

    EP 257: End-Of-Year Mailbag Episode With Tara McMullin

    We’ve had a helluva year here at What Works. We’ve talked to over 100 small business owners, published more than 80 episodes, and tackled 12 different themes this year.







    What Works is special because we focus on the people who are making their businesses work every single day.







    We believe we all have a lot to learn from each other—and the more honest & transparent we are about how our marketing, operations, tools, product development, or sales processes work, the better chance we all have for success.







    On this episode, it’s no different—except, instead of me being the one asking the questions, you are!







    Here’s what we covered:







    * 2:20 What are the best ways to grow your organic reach on social media today?* 12:48 What kind of structure have you used for in-person strategy intensives?* 19:31 What’s working for you right now as you deal with capacity challenges in a 1:1 service business?* 28:46 What trends do you see coming in 2020?* 36:08 How did you come up with the name for YellowHouse.Media?* 38:24 What are your biggest business lessons from 2019? What marketing will you continue in 2020 and what will you stop doing?* 49:58 How have you leveraged the symbiotic relationship between your podcast and your community?* 55:21 Still running Facebook/Instagram ads in 2020?* 56:43 Who manages your finances and payroll? We use Gusto and recommend you do, too (we receive a small commission when you sign up)!* 57:49 What has been your biggest business challenge in 2019?

    • 1 hr 2 min
    EP 256: Discovering What You Need From Your Business With BrainSpace Optimized Founder Hailey Thomas

    EP 256: Discovering What You Need From Your Business With BrainSpace Optimized Founder Hailey Thomas

    Today's guest mentioned early on in our conversation that she found herself taking the work that came to her, growing her capacity to be able to bring in *more* work, and never really stopping to ask herself how she was designing her business.

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

HenryLopez@TheHowOfBusiness ,

It Works!

Tara offers great and actionable information for small business owners like me. Very professionally produced show. Love it!

ThisNicknameIsntChosen ,

Tara is top of the class

Tara is a master at bringing together knowledgeable, generous business owner who have worked hard but also intentionally to build their businesses — and are willing to share it all. This podcast is so well done and ties in beautifully with the What Works community discussions. The podcast is a great tool on its own, but add in the community and you will see tremendous growth in your business. Great job Tara and team! Thank you for all that you do!

Atb275 ,

Such a breath of fresh air

This podcast is so refreshing in a sea of “do more” and “grow faster.” I love listening, and the monthly themes make it easy to stay engaged and not get bored. Thanks for truly making a difference in my business AND life, Tara!

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