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224: How I dramatically simplified my business

If you’ve been in business for awhile, it might be time to do a spring (or autumn) cleaning. Learn how I simplified my business at TaraSwiger.com/podcast224

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I dramatically simplified my business this summer. Today I'm going to share what I did and more importantly, how you can simplify your business in just a few questions (but a lot of heavy thinking).

As you know if you’ve been listening for awhile, we’re getting ready to become foster parents and one way we’re preparing is by getting very clear about what our priorities are.

Now, before you start worrying, my business is a big priority. Not only because it pays 100% of our bills, but because I LOVE IT. I love the podcast, I love helping you guys, and I love what I do.

But, over the 8 years since I started creating my courses and books, my site has just kept expanding and expanding and I have kept added new stuff (something every 6 months or so!) without editing anything down and looking at it all in one go. So if you’ve been business in a while, your business might need a spring (or autumn) cleaning as well! I’ll share what I simplified my business into and will suggest some questions that can help you simplify if you need to.

My mission: Help women make empowering decisions in their income, their enthusiasm, and their emotional help.

First, I identified my favorite bits + my long term goals:

My mission means I really just want to do two things:

  • Helping people build businesses (Starship and mentoring through my doTERRA business)
  • Helping people take care of themselves via emotional wellness.

I most like to:

  • Write
  • Talk
  • Create community and culture that encourages support and friendliness.

Second, I got  clear on what are the BEST ways I can do those things:

(I did this with the help of Joeli, of JoeliCreates.com, who does 1:1 sessions if you need some clarity.)

  1. Podcasts allow me to communicate important, helpful stuff clearly
  2. Instagram gives me interaction and connection and allows me to provide daily bits of encouragement.
  3. My classes are MOST helpful when they build on each other, when you're focusing on what matters, as opposed to one-by-one, so I put them together in the Starship Program.
  4. Community is my favorite place to be and let's me go deeper with clients. I have the Starship Community to help makers and artists and students in the Program, and the Enthusiasm Builders community to help people who have wellness based businesses with doTERRA.
  5. I'm still working on the best way I can help people take care of themselves, via essential oils (ie, in-person classes, webinars, FB groups, etc). I'm measuring the impact, both in the moment and ongoing. So far in-person classes and video consultations are the best, but I'm still experimenting around this.

Third, I stripped all my offerings down to the work that does the two things I want to be doing (helping women build businesses, and take care of their emotional wellness):

  1. The podcasts encourage people, for free. Explore Your Enthusiasm helps you in your business, Take Care of Yourself does it in your self-care. So I do them and then have a system for sharing them (on iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram)
  2. You can get my classes and my help via group coaching inside the Starship (not open now), and that's it – you can't buy my classes separately anymore (because I'm stripping down to what's most effective)
  3. I don't sell books from my website anymore. My books are the easiest way to get started working on your goals or your marketing, but ME shipping them is the least effective way to get them to you. Amazon is super efficient.
  4. Only 1:1 consultations (which are free!) to help you make a daily plan for self-care and emotional wellness, using essential oils.
  5. Workshops and group coaching for people building a doterra business.

The even more boiled down version is this: I just do a few things now: Podcast, IG, consult with people about self-care and help people build businesses via group coaching – either in SS or for their doterra business.

Questions to ask yourself to simplify, re-calculate your path, or just get some clarity:

  • What is your mission? (Who are you here to help? How do you do that?) (Learn more about your Mission here)
  • What do you long term want to be doing?
  • What actions do you most like?
  • What are the specific ways you do that?
  • What are the most EFFECTIVE ways you do that?
  • What can you let go of to focus more that?
  • Is this guiding you towards where you want to go?

I hope these questions help you simplify your business and I hope you enjoy all that I’ve got here at TaraSwiger.com.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

221: Foundations of a healthy business: What you truly need to succeed

When you have a solid foundation in your business, anything is possible. Learn more about the very fundamentals of building a beautiful business at TaraSwiger.com/podcast221

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Where should you spend in your business? What actually matters for a profitable, thriving business? And how in the world do you get there? Today we’re going to discuss the foundations of a healthy business.

Today we’re going to talk about what really matters in your business. Now, these are the foundations, but this isn’t just for new business owners. In fact, if you’ve got your business together and you’re wondering how you can scale it, or make it more profitable, or make more sales, the answer is almost always in these foundations. But before we go into foundations, I want to remind you that Starship is open right now.

The Starship was just overhauled and GOOD NEWS, when you join, you are walked through these foundations, in a series of classes that serve as deep dives into your business. Over the course of three months, you’ll be guided with weekly lessons in these foundations, plus you’ll get access to our community, where you can ask your questions 24/7, our weekly check-in to hold you accountable, and monthly group coaching calls with me – where I will go deep on whatever your question is.

In the past, I’ve just given you access to the classes and told you “take what you need”, but I’ve learned over the last 6 years that the biggest transformation happens when work on your foundations in a specific order, and when you have access to ask your questions, when you’re held accountable and when you get coaching help as you go.

And now, when you’re done with the 3 month program, you can choose to stay inside the community at an affordable price. As I mentioned, we go through the foundations, but the Starship is for a business that’s set up – that knows what it sells and know how it will sell it. Maybe you don’t have sales yet, but you’re committed to this business and to doing the work to make it thrive.

Now, let’s talk about what those foundations actually ARE!

There's so much you *could* focus on, but there are a few areas where, if you focus, you can dramatically improve your results. They are:

  • Clarity of your own biz dreams (as opposed to what other people have or want)
  • Honesty about where you ARE
  • Breaking down the gap into goals, and the goals down into actions
  • Profitability (you gotta know your products will make money)
  • Marketing (someone's gotta buy your work – marketing is how you communicate with those buyers)

These can be split up into 4 main areas:

  • Mission and Mapping (everything from big-picture to this-month goals)
  • Profitability
  • Marketing
  • Effectiveness (not just doing things quickly, but doing the right things, and feeling good about your workday)

Here’s the good news: Just knowing that these are the areas that matter can help you defeat the “OMG WHAT DO I FOCUS ON” overwhelm. You can just come back to this list: Which area needs work? And then work on it!

(Not sure HOW to work on it? Or where to start with each area? This is what I teach in the Starship.)

What’s super cool is that these areas actually all build on each other – you can’t get a clear picture of your marketing if you don’t what your mission is and you don’t want to do marketing until you KNOW your item is profitable. And you can’t reach your number goals (which we talk about with profitability) unless you actually, ya know, share your work with the right people, using the right language.

In other words, working on ONE area is working on ALL areas. It’s like a fractal. Everything you do is reflected around your business. When you work on how you want to communicate with your people, you’ll see the same words and feelings show up in your Mission. Or… exponential:   working on one area improves that area (and often improves sales), then improves the other areas, which improves sales.

When I got really clear about my Mission – what I wanted to do in the lives and businesses of makers and artists, my marketing became so much more clear. From the words I use, to the topics I talk about, to the images I use. I suddenly know what to say, because I know what the end goal is; I know what I want my work to do in the person’s life. And that has improved my sales – it doubled within a year of getting ultra-clear!

So how about you? Which foundation of your business needs work right now?

As you think about that, you may feel really frustrated that you’ve wasted your time on other things, that you didn’t focus on the main foundations and instead got swept up in figuring out the perfect hashtag for your photo – that is ok! We all do it. We all read a blog post or listen to a podcast that is about a specific tactic and without asking “is this what matters to my biz right now?”, we dive into learning about it and trying to implement it.

A while ago a few friends started talking about  Facebook ads. So they’ve been talking about it in our group and I have to admit, even though I KNOW advertising isn’t where I want to spend my energy right now, it was tempting! It’s so tempting to work on something that’s outside of my strategy.

On the other hand, a lot of makers tell me that they’ve avoided thinking about ANY of this. They just make their thing, put it in their shop… and hope it turns into a business.

And you know what?

If that’s you, you’re not alone either. That is absolutely where to start. You haven’t done anything wrong if you haven’t started working on profitability or marketing yet. There is a tiny tiny percentage of artists who just make their work available and it all sells out. They don’t have to do any marketing and the numbers magically work out.

But those are the unicorns. And you may be a unicorn, but if you have big dreams for your business, I don’t want you to waste your precious life waiting around to find out.

Instead, I want you to do the work that makes your biz successful, so that you KNOW it will be. So that you don’t have to rely on outside circumstances, or being “discovered” or wait for someone else’s approval before you build the business you want.

And how do you do that?

You build each of your foundations. Here’s a few things that each foundation needs.

For the foundation of Mission and Mapping, you may need to:

  • Define your dream biz
  • Get clear on your Mission
  • Identify your assets and support
  • Choose a goal
  • Create a plan to reach that goal.

For Profitability, you may need to:

  • Know your numbers and how to get them.
  • Identify the profit margin for each item and your Break Even Point
  • Variables to experiment with

For Marketing, you may need to:

  • Improve how you talk about your work
  • Make it easier for strangers to find you
  • Look at how you build a relationship with potential customers
  • Identify how customers buy + make it easier for them
  • Work to keep customers happy and coming back

For Effectiveness, you may need to be:

  • Doing what matters each day
  • Keeping track of all your tasks
  • Streamlining all of your recurring tasks
  • Getting the level of accountability you need in order to get it all done

So which one of these, in your business, needs your focus? Which one of these matters MOST for you right now?

If you want to work through each one of these and discover everything I listed for each one, join us in the Starship, it’s open now and it closes in a week. Learn more at taraswiger.com/starshipbiz

In the new Starship, we cover every one of these foundations, and we explore your answers to these questions: What are your goals? Who are your people? What is your ideal workday like? And instead of feeling overwhelmed about figuring it all out at once, you work on each area, one at a time, over the course of three months.

And all along the way you have support, encouragement, group coaching with me, and accountability.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Mission, Strategy, Tactics

What do you want from this year? How are you going to get it? Let's get clear by using the framework Mission, then strategy, then tactics. More at TaraSwiger.com/podcast89/

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What do you want from this year? How are you going to get it? Let's get clear by  using the framework Mission, then strategy, then tactics. 

Back in September I wrote a post about this, about the necessity of stepping back and looking at the big picture. That post prompted so much discussion and questions and has come up again and again in conversation, so I wanted to dive even deeper into it now, as we're all thinking about what we want from the new year. I want to fully explain this framework, so you can use it not only as you plan your year, but also as you work on ANY project or have to make any decision in your business.

If you've been feeling frustrated in your business, about its growth, or how you're spending your time – this might be the problem. If you feel like you scramble back and forth between things, without seeing traction in any of them, this might be the problem.

The solution is simple: You're going about it in the wrong order. In this episode you'll learn the right order to plan your actions, and be more effective. 

 

Resources

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

What Matters MORE Than More Followers

missionstrategytactics

10 ways to get more Twitter followers

10 Steps to more Instagram likes

5 million ways to get more followers, likes, hearts, and approval from strangers

 

Posts like these litter the internet. Some are great. Some are educational.

But these posts are an AWFUL starting place. This the worst thing to focus on when you're not sure what to do next.

 

Why?

Because they are tactics. Tactics for implementing a tool.

But before you can apply tactics for one tool, you need to first know if your strategy includes using that tool, in that way.

And before you can know if your strategy includes that tool, you need to know the bigger picture, your Mission.

In other words, why the heck do you need more followers or likes? What are you going to DO with them?

Starting with tactics is starting at the wrong end. It's ensuring that you don't go anywhere important, you just spin your wheels doing doing doing.

Instead, start with the Mission. Then move onto the Strategy. And then, finally, figure out what tactics you need to learn to implement your strategy.

What's the difference?

Mission: This is the big WHY. Why are you doing what you're doing? Where do you want to go? What's your destination?

You don't have to have a big fancy reason, it can just be: I want to make $2000/mo from my business. That's a mission.

It could also be: I want to make a living from my art. Or, I want to share my art with the world. Or, I want to earn some money from home while my kids are growing up.

My Mission: Help makers + artists feel awesome about sharing their work with the world in a sustainable (profitable) way while creating a sustainable life for myself + my family.

(Note: It'll be easier to come up with your mission if you also a Vision – a bigger picture of the life you want and how your business fits into that. But sometimes you don't really have a bigger vision for a while, and that's ok too.)

 

Strategy: This is how you will enact the Mission.

How are you going to get there?

What are you going to do?

For example, if your mission is to make a living from your art, how are you going to sell it? Retail (Etsy shop, website?) or wholesale (through other shops)? Are you going to combine this?

Or, if your mission is to share your art with the world, how are you going to do that? Maybe you graffitti walls, or donate your art to hospitals?

My strategy is to first connect with makers via awesome content and encouragement for free: via weekly email lessons, blog posts, podcast episodes, and social media (especially Periscope and Instagram). This allows the people that my work is a good fit for to find me and feel comfortable taking the next step, where we apply lessons to their particular business via workbooks, classes, a supportive community, and live events.

 

Tactics: This is the actual implementation of your strategy.

What particular action are you going to do? How are you going to implement your strategy?

This is where learning about social media tools, or blogging, or managing your time better comes in.

You can see now, that for any Tactics to be effective at moving your business forward, you first have to identify your Mission and Strategy. (Also! Often your Mission and Strategy don't even require that you get more followers and likes!)

It looks like this:

Mission -> Strategy -> Tactics

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by all you “should” do, or confused about what the next best thing to do, you've probably been focusing on tactics.

(Take a deep breath! It's ok!)

Tactics are what 99% of online business advice is about, because it's fun and shiny! The Mission + Strategy portions are so personal, it's not easy to write a snappy blog post about them.

Instead, discovering your Mission + Strategy takes time and introspection.

This is why I've ensured it's the FIRST thing everyone does when they beam aboard my online community, the Starship. First, you do Chart Your Stars, which will guide you through identifying your Vision for your business and life and your Mission for the next year. Then, as a group, we do the Map Making process, to identify your Strategy for enacting your Mission over the next three months. I want everyone aboard to be clear:  What are you going to work on? What are you going to do?

And then you get access to my entire library of classes, some of which (like Craft Your Marketing) will help you identify your strategy and some (like Rock the Craft Show) will focus on your tactics.

I don't want to talk about your tactics, until we both know what your mission and strategy is. Because when we do talk about tactics (which we do, in the forum and weekly chat!), I want to be sure that we're helping you use the tactics in a way that will move your mission forward!

In this way, you can avoid an overwhelming, never-ending list of stuff to do. You can stop focusing on followers and likes, and instead focus on what you need to know to reach your goal.

And you can start crafting a business you really love.

To get clear on your Mission and Strategy + to join a community of encouraging makers and artists, click here.

How about you? Do you know your Mission? What about your Strategy?

How are they impacting your tactics?

 

Notes from the BOOK: A spoonful of my own medicine.

Notes from the BOOK is a weeklyish peek into how the BOOK is taking shape. Lessons learned, moments of bing, and excerpts.

Last week I wrote this for the book:

“Get clear on YOUR strengths and your product's unique awesomeness before you start thinking about your customers. If you do it the other way around, you'll create something bland and not-you. Your you-ness is the main selling point when you make something by hand, so we're going to do everything we can to make sure we don't dilute it.”

 

And then I got stuck.

I couldn't write another word.

I outlined my next few points, the rest of the chapter…but I couldn't seem to turn my outline into coherent sentences (even the above sentences are a little murky for me, they're sure to go through a rigorous editing before they end up in the book).

 

A few days later (3 days of no writing! The world was caving in around me!), I recognized something else lurking, some un-book-related stuckness. I've been feeling a bit drifty about what I want to do next (I know, I know, the BOOK should be project enough). This sense of unease seeped into every other aspect of my work.

I didn't feel like my Work has a Mission. It seemed random, piece-meal and unfocused.

 So I went in search of a Mission.

Many journal pages, and days, later I talked to Jay about it.

His first, uncluttered response: Isn't your Mission to Be Tara?

 Oh, yeah.

 I spent another few days trying to figure out what this meant for my business.
Obviously, it's not a business model. It's not a marketing plan. It might be my personal mission, but how could it lead the business?

 

Uh, what did I write up there?

The first job, when you're selling something so very YOU, is to get clear on what that YOU is and then make all decisions from that. Your strengths, your vision, your you-ness guides everything (in fact, my whole BOOK is about HOW you make smart marketing decisions based on your you-ness).

 

The drifty, unfocused feeling came because I lost sight of that.

I've been making decisions based on what I thought I should be doing.

On other people's definitions of my business.

And other people kept thinking I was a consultant.
So I had to set up my site like a consultant.
I had to market and make offers and products like a Consultant.

 Except I'm NOT a consultant. I'm not a person-who-knows-better.
And I'm so totally not a coach (unless it's napping. I could totally be a napping coach).

 

 I'm Tara.

(my own Tara, not other people's versions of Tara)

An explorer.
A writer.
A sharer.
A big-sister (a smidge more experienced, a little bossy, mostly goofy).
I share that here.
I create tools and spaces for you to do YOUR OWN exploring.

In those tools and spaces, I'm a silly, friendly, encouraging fellow traveler. I share my path and help you figure out yours, all while protecting and respecting YOUR experience.

Knowing that, respecting that and paying attention to that Tara-ness IS a mission.

It is a business model.
It is a marketing plan.
It guides my decisions.
It helps me focus.
It keeps everything coherent and heading the right direction.

 

And back to the BOOK…

The last week of not-writing, it was my own good sense trying to fight through the what-everyone-else-says clutter to assert itself in my life. To bring me and this place and everything I do in alignment with what I was writing.

 

(why yes, it is a little frustrating that I didn't recognize it before spending a week gnashing my teeth)

 

What's your mission? How does it want to assert itself in your business?