Ep #159: What If I Don’t Want to Scale My Business? With Diane Tarshis

The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley | What If I Don’t Want to Scale My Business? With Diane Tarshis

There are many buzzwords when it comes to business, and some that you may already be familiar with are growing and scaling. But do you know the difference between the two? Today’s guest has a different perspective from a lot of people on the concept of growing and scaling and joins us to talk about why she chose not to scale her own business.

Diane Tarshis is the Founder and Principal at Startup Distillery, a startup consultancy for businesses of all kinds. Diane combines her unique mix of finance, retail, manufacturing, and operations experience to help entrepreneurs across the world distill their ideas into profitable, growing businesses. She’s here today to talk all things business, and specifically, why scaling doesn’t have to be the ultimate goal in business.

Join us this week as we define what it truly means to grow and scale a business, and hear why Diane decided to keep her business small. We share some tips for growing your business without scaling and learn why more money isn’t always the ultimate goal, especially if it’s at the expense of other things. Get ready to get excited by what’s possible in your business, friends!

If you want help creating a business with thriving revenue streams so that you can design the life you really want this year, now is your chance! We’re going to be opening the doors to the Design You Coaching Program really soon, get on our waitlist now!

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • The difference between growing and scaling a business.
  • How to make money while you sleep.
  • Some tips to streamline your business in a way that supports you.
  • Why fear shouldn’t hold you back from exploring things.
  • How to grow your business without scaling.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 159.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy. Here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.

Hey friends. I feel like it’s been a minute since I recorded the podcast. You all don’t know it because we bring you one every week. But just I love recording these episodes. And I just had a really fun conversation that I can’t wait for you to hear. But I just want to say I’m so happy to be here with you and thank you for listening every week. It is such a joy to do this work and to have these hopefully helpful valuable conversations that really make a difference in your life and your business.

So today I’m talking about the concept of scaling your business or actually we’re kind of talking about why not to scale your business. And what all of that even means. I have a guest today named Diane Tarshis. And she’s the founder and principal at Startup Distillery. She’ll tell you all about it. It’s a consulting firm where she works with businesses of all kinds and really across the globe, across the US. And she brings a unique mix of finance, and retail, and manufacturing, and operations experience.

She’s kind of been in every piece of the puzzle and she brings a really interesting perspective which is not unlike the one that I have. And so you’ll hear a lot about us kind of defining terms and getting clarity on what we really mean when we talk about scaling a business or creating a scalable product. But I think it’s a refreshing conversation today. It’s one that hopefully will get you excited about coming up with new ideas for your business and what’s possible. So I hope you enjoy this interview with Diane Tarshis.

Tobi: Hi Diane, welcome to The Design You Podcast. I’m really glad you’re here today.

Diane: Thank you so much for having me.

Tobi: So why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about you because I’m just meeting you actually. A lot of the guests that come on I actually already know or have a connection to. But I think it was probably just maybe your publicist or someone that you work with that sent over your information. And I’m like, “I think this is a conversation we need to have here on the Design You Podcast.” So yeah, tell everybody about you.

Diane: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for taking the risk. So I’m Diane Tarshis and I am the founder of Startup Distillery where I help people in all kinds of industries all over the globe build growing profitable businesses. And I do that by helping entrepreneurs distil down all of the ideas, and all of the to do lists, and all of the feelings of being overwhelmed into step-by-step roadmaps that turn their dreams into reality. So now you have a clue as to why I named my company Startup Distillery. It’s not necessarily about whisky, although I do have some of them as clients.

Tobi: Although it could be.

Diane: Exactly. And I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years after years of experience working on Wall Street, and in manufacturing, and operations, and retail. And so that’s how I got here.

Tobi: Okay. So that’s wonderful but much needed I’m sure, because it’s much needed in my industry of interior design and other creative industries. But what we’re going to talk about today is the idea – well, we may get into some other things but we’re at least going to for sure talk about scaling, the idea of scaling your business because you have a different perspective from a lot of people on this concept of scaling. But I think before we even get into your perspective let’s talk about what scaling is.

Because I think creatives, entrepreneurs that listen to our show maybe aren’t totally clear. And it’s one of those things that a lot of times as business owners we kind of feel silly or stupid or we should know what things mean. And I don’t think it’s silly at all, I think there’s a lot of terms out there in business that we just might not quite fully understand. So can you tell us what you think the concept or the term ‘scaling your business’ means?

Diane: First I’m going to say that all of these buzzwords that are in business and in the startup world in particular are I think sometimes designed to make people feel foolish, and they shouldn’t. I think it’s a bunch of baloney. So I want to say no one, many people, most people don’t know what all of this means. So in terms of scaling versus growth, so growth we all know, that’s getting bigger, getting more, getting larger.

Scaling is exponential growth. So that’s like you and I were talking a little bit earlier about if I had an interior design business and I wanted to scale it, if there were a new technology where I can clone myself so that I could be in 10 places at one time, that’s exponential growth, that’s an exponential growth opportunity. But since I can’t clone myself and because of the things that I want for my lifestyle and my business I don’t want to scale. I do want to grow. So those are two different things.

Tobi: Okay. So scaling then – and we’re going to get into a little bit about the difference because as you said we were having a little chat beforehand. And I talk about something called, what I call a scalable product which we’ll get into in a minute. But what you’re really saying is – give us an example of a company we can imagine that is a business that’s scaled.

And it doesn’t have to be in the design industry but just for us to have perspectives. It’s the opposite of a one-on-one high end residential interior design business. But what would be a business that you would consider a business that’s scaled?

Diane: So Uber is one that I think we could all relate to. So it’s really a matter of growth is sort of one-to-one, I’m going to spend x number of dollars on my costs, my expenses and I’m going to get three times as much revenue as a result of that. Or actually for scaling it would be a 100 times more revenue by just spending x number of dollars. So that’s kind of what it’s likes.

So Uber doesn’t have to – all they had to do was spend the same amount of money to pay their developers to add this functionality. But they didn’t have to hire a bunch of drivers because they don’t have to pay them. They’re not employees.

Tobi: Right, yeah. So theirs was more just an app and it was a business model that allowed them to be more global or at least national in a way that is a lot bigger than what a lot of us are thinking when we’re thinking about growing our business, yeah.

Diane: Right. And when you have a retail store it costs the same generally for each location that you’re opening up, so that’s the difference. Software, you’re spending the same thing no matter what to get this exponential growth.

Tobi: Yeah. So it’s fixed costs. There’s not all these variables that just keep growing, and growing, and growing, and growing. As we sometimes see in our one-to-one businesses where we have to have a lot more human resources and a lot more, yeah, things that are not set, that are not clear, that are not just a model that we can replicate over and over again. Yeah, that makes sense. And then there is the thing that I call a scalable product, which the reason I call it that is because it’s one-to-many, it’s not just one-to-one anymore.

And so you can get scale, economies of scale. You can create it once and sell it multiple times, so the kind of the making money while you sleep thing which probably in some of the terms I’ve read that you have in your language or vernacular. You would just consider that an additional revenue stream of sorts is that right?

Diane: Exactly. So I had a client, she was a creative working – she’s an artist frankly. And so she works with corporations, and businesses, and individuals doing all of this one-to-one work. But then she came up with an idea for a kit that she could sell. So again making money while she sleeps where it is just this steady revenue stream, it doesn’t have the ups and downs of finding new clients all of the time. And so that gives a little stability to this kit where it’s developed. Once she creates it it’s done, it’s self-sustaining and so yeah.

Tobi: Yeah. And I think what’s interesting about that is it’s sort of like it’s the concept of scaling but it’s on a micro level. Because the thing that you just said that is similar to the concept of scaling is that when you create a product like that, the costs are pretty fixed. You can know whether you’re going to promote it on your website, if you’re going to do Facebook ads or something else. You can know if I spent x dollars I can get usually kind of y amount of growth. And that’s the beauty of having a revenue stream like that but that doesn’t mean that you’re truly scaling your business.

Diane: Right, exactly.

Tobi: Okay so let’s talk about keeping businesses small then. Because even when in the realm of scalable products which is a new kind of idea for a lot of people in the creative space like you were just talking about your artist client. And it’s something that I’ve been super excited about for a few years. But I see a lot of people afraid of that or even afraid of other revenue streams. They don’t really understand what to do with them. And they are really just interested in what they would call staying small.

And I want to know if that’s the same thing as what you mean when you talk about staying small because you said you consciously chose to stay small with your business because of what it did to your lifestyle, and your family, and your flexibility. And as you and I were talking, it’s so funny it’s all in the way you talk about it because for me adding those scalable products were what allowed me to do that very same thing. But I guess in the grand scheme of things my business is still relatively small.

So is there a revenue number that you consider anything under a certain size is small? What defines small?

Diane: Well, I think it’s however you want to define it frankly. So for me personally keeping it small means that I don’t want any employees. I knew that I really didn’t want to manage anyone else. So now I could hire people and my company could still be small. But for me it’s about the employees, it’s about the amount of stress. It’s about being able to be hands-on with every client.

I really didn’t feel comfortable handing clients off to somebody else. I really like to have that relationship. People call me because they want that relationship with me. And maybe I have trust issues or control issues, who knows, or both.

Tobi: I feel like what you’re saying, yeah, I feel like what you’re saying is very similar to what I hear a lot of interior designers.

Diane: Right. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t explore a new revenue stream. So when I spoke earlier about this kit that I helped my client develop, I neglected to use the very important word ‘subscription kit’. So I realized I spaced out for a moment there. So a subscription kit can dramatically increase revenue but it doesn’t make her business any less manageable. So not exploring these other opportunities, I understand fear but fear shouldn’t really hold you back from exploring things.

So for me a lot of the great ideas, and developing, and growing a business is about talking to people. And I don’t just mean customers, I mean suppliers, I mean the competition, I mean maybe a new target customer, a new segment. This client that I was just talking about with the subscription kit, she was creating something for parents of young children. That was a completely new direction for her. That’s something that came out of conversations that we had.

So there are all kinds of opportunities out there but it’s a matter of that sort of creative problem solving that can happen when you have conversations with somebody maybe coming from a different background.

Tobi: I think it’s so interesting because before we started I said, “U’s fascinating because in some ways I think the words I’m using and the words you’re using in your language sound complete polar opposite. But I think we’re talking about the exact same thing.” And we actually are because I have a membership which is a subscription based membership that I’ve built into a seven figure business. And it has been that thing that I call that scalable product that has allowed me to do exactly what you’re talking about. And it’s been such a beautiful thing to have that as an option.

I do have a question for you. So if you don’t have any employees do you have contract team members, or virtual assistants, or other people that support your business or are you truly doing everything?

Diane: I do. No.

Tobi: Okay. I want to make sure that that’s clear too because I think sometimes when people hear, “I don’t have employees,” they think that it means that I don’t have help, or support, or that I do it, that I’m wearing all the hats. And so I want to make sure that – let’s have that conversation. So that means you might not have full-time employees that you have to manage. And the beauty of having a contract team member, it’s really like you’re their client a lot of times. They’re taking care of you. So can you speak to that and what that has looked like in your business?

Diane: I can’t tell you how important it is to have help. You can’t build a business by yourself or at least I don’t think so. So that’s why people hire me. That’s why I hire. I have my web guy, Andrew who I’ve been with for 20 years. I mean I’m sure I could think of other people.

Tobi: Do you have a personal assistant? Do you have an executive assistant, a virtual assistant, people that do a lot of the…?

Diane: I don’t. And I’ll tell you why. I’ve automated a lot of it. So I use technology. So I have an online calendar where people can just go to startupdistillery.com/calendar. And they can sign up for time to meet with me. And then I either confirm it or say, “I forgot to put something on my calendar that conflicts, how about this time?” But that gets rid of Ping-Pong Calendar emails and I don’t need a virtual assistant and so on.

Tobi: Yeah. So what you’re really talking about there, it’s interesting, I just recorded a video on this last night. It’s our topic of the month in my membership which is systems, and SOPs, and automation. So if you create systems and then if you write out the Standard Operating Procedure for it. And then instead of putting a human in that slot you automate with technology, it’s still support. So it’s similar to as if you were having someone do it manually but it’s all happening automatically.

Diane: Yeah, absolutely. So some of the support is human and some is not.

Tobi: Yeah, so good, okay. So let’s talk about – well, I think we could go into the downsides of scaling but I think we’ve really covered a lot of that. I don’t know that a lot of my audience is really wanting to be a gigantic global business. But I do know that people do wish they could clone themselves. And when you only have one revenue stream there’s one-to-one and there’s only so much time in the day, and there’s only so many clients you can meet with. And so that can put a cap on your revenue and that sort of thing.

So you have some ideas for ways to grow your business without scaling, can we talk about some of those?

Diane: Well, we started to touch on one of them which is thinking about new revenue streams. So thinking about like I was saying, my artist client had this idea for a subscription kit for parents with young children. Or there are partnerships. So I had a client who his business was focused on these really cool fun men’s socks, these sort of luxury but fun beautifully designed socks. And so he was thinking about retail shops and where to sell them and whatnot. But what was interesting is we talked about – I don’t know if you’re familiar with the direct to consumer company, Bonobos.

So it’s a menswear company and so it turns out that at the time, this is a client from several years ago. But Bonobos was not selling men’s socks. So they were selling ties, and shirts, and suits, and jackets and all kinds of things but no socks. So it was a matter of contacting them to see about partnering up to sell socks through their retail outlets. Or sometimes it’s a matter of talking to suppliers and maybe they’re able to introduce you to some of their sources.

So I had another client who does paper art. And so it was a matter of contacting the paper suppliers who deal with thousands of customers. And having them make introductions so this paper company became sort of a pipeline source for new introductions.

Tobi: Yeah. I think that’s interesting because I think the model that has been in place in interior design and in the home industry has been more of the licensing model and I think that that product licensing. And I think, I mean there are still some opportunity for that but a lot of things have changed there. And I think it’s fascinating that you suggest kind of thinking of partnerships because I think although a licensing agreement is a partner, it’s a little bit different.

Because you’re saying that you’re coming to the table with your own ideas. And I think that’s something interesting to explore because there’s a lot of conversation. I have some licensing agreements for products with several companies. But over the last say five years a lot of those have become fewer and farther between. Companies have felt like they could create things on their own and not have to do the revenue share and that sort of thing.

But I love this idea of bringing your own creative idea that somebody’s not doing, like a void in the market or a void in their products line and exploring that option.

Diane: It’s the idea of the sum is greater than the parts, whatever that saying is. And so that’s really the idea behind it. So, right, someone who is not doing something that you’re doing where there’s sort of a natural affinity. And so in interior design, I’m not thinking especially creatively right now. But what comes to mind immediately is certainly real estate agents. But who are the people who are running into your target customers? So maybe it’s something, and I’m just spit balling here.

But connecting with financial or maybe even now I’m thinking of something different which is mortgage brokers who are working with young couples buying their first homes. And maybe it’s financial planners who are working with certain segments, whether it’s empty nesters or young families.

Tobi: Yeah, I think what I was going to say is I think that the good thing about that is I think the typical go to that everybody in the design industry thinks about is realtors and homebuilders. And so those people get a lot of probably requests and kind of bombarded and vice versa. Those people are coming to designers to work with us. But I love that you’re just saying get more creative. Who else is in sort of the supply chain from start to finish of someone buying a home, or planning for a home, or any of the pieces that have to do with that process?

Diane: Right. Or even just thinking about, to me it’s about backing up and saying, “Who are my target audiences? Who are my ideal clients?” And so if they are empty nesters, if they are young families, if they are single millennial guys, I mean who knows. Where are those people hanging out? So coming to mind right now, there’s that online service, Trunk Club which focuses on – I don’t know why I’m on a menswear kick today. So men who don’t want to be bothered shopping in that sort of annoying way, going to one place and getting outfitted or whatever.

Well, that seems to be a great location for guys who, obviously they care what they look like to a certain extent. So maybe they’re at the point of buying their first homes or second home or whatever.

Tobi: Caring what their home looks like, yeah.

Diane: Right, and they care. And so maybe there’s some sort of an opportunity to join forces, have a promotion, whatever it is with Trunk Club. So it’s really sort of coming at it, I want to say from the other end of who do I want to reach and where are they hanging out?

Tobi: Yeah, I think that’s really good. And I do think that it’s so funny that as a creative industry we’re so good at what we do. But sometimes in these types of explorations and idea generation we aren’t as creative. We get tunnel vision. We feel like it’s hard. And it’s really not hard, it’s just opening your mind to all the different opportunities that might play a role in this either industry or an adjacent industry, a related industry. Like you said, even your ideal customer and other people that they’re using and targeting. I love that so much.

So I think that a lot of people will hear this and think that sounds amazing. But then doing it is a totally different thing. It’s like that sounds good, but usually it’s some version of, but I don’t have time for that, or I don’t have time to think of that. I’ve got to take care of my existing clients. And so I see people stay stuck in this sort of treadmill approach to their job.

Diane: I call it the hamster wheel.

Tobi: Yeah, totally the hamster wheel. And that doesn’t feel good. You were talking about the reason that you stayed small was so you could have flexibility in your business would feel good. But a lot of small businesses don’t feel good. They’re on the hamster wheel, they can’t get beyond kind of the trading dollars for hours, just getting one more client, or taking all clients because we’re afraid that some might not be coming our way later.

So can you speak to that a little bit and how that you’ve seen your clients or you personally have success to get out of that sort of hamster wheel mindset?

Diane: Well, here’s, you know, everyone feels like they never have enough time in the day. And I’m even kind of marveling during the pandemic where I theoretically do have time. And I don’t know, so…

Tobi: But what are you doing with it kind of? Yeah.

Diane: Am I putting it to best use? Maybe not. But here’s the thing, so here’s how I talk it through with clients which is you can always carve out 15 minutes a day. There are no excuses. So carve out those 15 minutes a day to either think about, or strategize, or develop these ideas. 15 minutes doesn’t feel so overwhelming. And what’s interesting is sometimes you do just keep it to those 15 minutes. But sometimes it actually expands a little bit. And it’s amazing how if you just chip away at these goals then you suddenly look back and realize you’ve made progress.

But it can feel so overwhelming if you’ve got this sort of monumental task or goal in mind and you just become paralyzed. And that’s not productive.

Tobi: Yeah, I agree. So it’s when we’re thinking of I’ve got to have the big million dollar idea. I’ve got to start making a lot of money so I can get off the hamster wheel. It creates kind of the opposite effect. It creates a lot of urgency but it’s coming from that scarcity place.

Diane: It’s too much stress.

Tobi: Yeah, it doesn’t create results, I agree with you. The other thing I was thinking when you were talking because I have created a – I would call it a practice, maybe you’d call it a habit, a practice of – and what I call it is super thinking.

Diane: I like that.

Tobi: And it’s on my calendar and it’s on Fridays when I’m not doing other work. I’m not squeezing it in between deadlines or whatever. And I just got a new assistant actually, today was her first day to start. And she was looking at my calendar and she goes, “What’s super thinking?” And I’m like, “I’m glad you asked that.” Because it’s truly on my calendar and it’s on every week. But then a few days before I’ll go plug in a topic that I want to think on. But it’s in there so it doesn’t not happen but it’s definitely something that I have developed.

And so now my super thinking sessions are 60 to 90 minutes. But like you said, in the beginning they were probably much shorter and smaller than that because it’s like anything else, I feel like journaling, or yoga, or exercising, or anything else I think you do have to develop that habit or practice. Have you seen that to be true for you too?

Diane: I completely agree with what you’re saying and I particularly like how you pointed out that you put it on your calendar. I think that that’s key because otherwise it just falls by the wayside. So I see great success with it because 15 minutes makes it feel manageable. Otherwise it’s just too much and people stress out too much.

Tobi: Yeah. And I think also, don’t you think the objectives, so I think if you’re thinking in 15 minutes you’re going to create the idea, it’s never going to happen. But if you’re just creating space and you’re like, I have no idea what’s going to come out of the session but I know I’m just going to write, or brainstorm, or doodle, or sketch, or whatever, and explore things that might lead to a new creative idea. That’s a totally different situation.

Diane: There are two different ways that I work it personally and I guess sometimes professionally too. And that is I can carve out that time for myself and I can either sit down and think about it or what I find is I do a lot of great thinking when I’m driving in the car, or if I’m traveling. So if I’m on an airplane, when I’m out of my usual environment then I’m able to really think differently about things. But the other way that I think and I think I just demonstrated earlier in our conversation is I think out loud and I’m not good at talking at myself.

So part of what I enjoy about my business is that it’s so collaborative. And what’s fun is the exchange of ideas like we’re doing and then thinking of new things. And so whether it’s certainly hiring somebody or talking to a friend or a family member and talking things through, it’s amazing how that back and forth can really generate new ideas.

Tobi: Completely agree. I was going to ask you that very thing so I’m glad you said it because I was going to say, do you think it’s better? I love both of the things you said because first of all getting out of your environment, if you think you’re going to do super thinking but you’re say at home, or working from home, or at your office. And you believe you’re not going to suddenly start either doing the dishes or cleaning out your email inbox, you’re lying to yourself.

And that’s the beauty of going somewhere, like even just going to a park with a notebook and [inaudible] car or back when we could actually go places. And it’s starting to open up again, sitting in a Starbucks or whatever, I agree with you. I think the environment change is huge. And then I love that you said collaborating with other people. So whether it’s a peer group, whether it’s a mastermind you’re in, whether it’s just a friend, whether it’s your mom, whether it’s your sister, a colleague, a coworker. I agree with you, creating that space.

And one of the things, I was recently reading a book that was brilliant, is brilliant called Do Nothing, I don’t know if you’ve read it, by Celeste Headlee, it’s brilliant. And it’s about getting off of the whole addiction to productivity. It’s getting off the treadmill is what it’s about. But she said we do brainstorming wrong. And she said what we do is we think that we should just come together and brainstorm together. And then everybody should go back and put things into practice. But a lot of times it never gets integrated into the business.

And so she said that studies show if you do some thinking first and then come to that collaboration with your ideas, and you’ve both already kind of had the homework assignment of start thinking on some ideas and then come together. And I think that’s a fascinating thing that I just wanted to throw out because I do think that could move the conversation along. And then you can even say, “Once we leave this brainstorming what are the next steps we’re going to do?” So it doesn’t just become this idea sitting in a notebook or on a shelf somewhere.

Diane: Right. I think that makes a lot of sense because I think about it, I come up with some of my best ideas either in the shower or when I’m about to fall asleep which is like the worst or when I first am sort of waking up in the morning. And so it frees things up but then yes, by the time you start talking to someone you’ve already sort of laid the groundwork. And that’s far more productive than just kind of winging it because then everybody sort of sits there and stares at each other and I don’t know.

Tobi: Exactly. It’s like be creative on demand, stop everything else you’re doing and it’s like dance, do it right now and that’s not always possible. So I did like that little tip of kind of doing some prep work, so good. Well, this has just really been a fascinating conversation and I love that for the most part we’re advocating the same thing which is creative revenue streams, way to make money while you sleep, way to think out of the box.

And some of those terms get so clichéd, but what does that really mean? And I love your suggestions for thinking about up and down the supply chain, or adjacent industries, or how your ideal client, how they’re spending their time, so good. Anything else before we wrap up that you think people really need to keep in mind, if they do want to stay small but they want to have this non-treadmill approach to their business?

Diane: I think it’s really a matter of doing some personal thinking about what it is that makes you happy and that what you want your business to look like, that has nothing to do with outside expectations. You really have to be true to yourself. So looking at what everyone else is doing is good for idea generation. But in terms of applying those expectations to yourself, I don’t think that that’s really fair to yourself.

And so yeah, I think you really need to think about what you enjoy doing, what you like. But also don’t be afraid to explore, to talk to people, and to think of new ideas that you might want to check out to expand whatever it is you’re offering.

Tobi: Yeah. I love that and I love that you give people permission to really decide what they want because I do think that that’s the opposite of what most of us do. We’re like what’s everybody else doing, it’s that compare syndrome.

Diane: And that’s the worst.

Tobi: Yeah, it is the worst. And the other thing I think, and I was going to ask this earlier and I want to tie it in here is I recently listened to a podcast episode that’s two of my friends who have also been sort of mentees of mine. And they were saying that we talk a lot about as friends, or colleagues, or collaborating that it’s not just about money. And if you’re completely exhausted all the time it’s just not worth it. And so they’re both introverts. I’m an extrovert, or kind of ambivert.

But they were talking about how they found that there’s really a limit to what they’re willing to do because more money after a certain point is not really worth the cost of what they have to give up to do all of that stuff. So when you’re talking about what kind of business do you want, do you agree that it’s important to think about? And how much money do you really want or really need?

Because I think sometimes we’re just always thinking more, more, more, I need more money. I need all the money to create the life I want. And that’s not necessarily the truth and I think that there’s some tradeoffs that come sometimes with…

Diane: I guess I don’t think about money as sort of the starting point of, you know, I don’t even know how to word this. But money is certainly important and is an important byproduct. But when I’m thinking about – I’m an introvert also. And so there are times when I have talked to a prospect and I can see that we’re not clicking. I mean I think it’s happened maybe three times in my 20 year career. But I’ve had to say, “No, thank you”, because I know that I’m going to be really unhappy.

And that it would be nice to make whatever that dollar amount was but is it worth it in terms of my sort of emotional wellbeing? No. It took a while to get to that place but no. So everyone really has to decide, I think each person for themselves and the money becomes part of that larger question of do I want to do tasks a, b and c to get that money? And yes or no, as opposed to do I want that money? Well, everyone will say yes, I mean everyone wants more money.

So it’s just what do you have to do in order to get that. And frankly, maybe the path A might not be the right path to take. There may be an alternative, I mean that’s the other thing so where there’s a will there’s a way is what my mom always said. And so I believe in that.

Tobi: Yeah. I think that what you’re saying though is being more thoughtful both about the financial piece and the jobs you’re going to be taking on because I think back to that conversation I was listening to my friends have on a podcast. They were kind of saying, “At some point I would rather have a certain amount of money but also have a lifestyle and a quality of life.” And what you’re saying is, okay, maybe.

And then also not either or, but both and, also could I create that lifestyle and then still get creative of are there other ways I can bring money in? Like these cool ideas of like the subscription box or something else, that would then sort of be the icing on the cake of adding more funds that become more disposable income or even give you more freedom, right?

Diane: Yeah, exactly. Because I mean I could have grown my business more or even scaled it and made more money. But I knew I wasn’t going to be happy. And I knew, when I started this business I had very young children, and I wanted to be able to set my own hours and to go to the performances in the middle of the day, or the teacher conferences or whatever. So yeah, it’s a tradeoff.

Tobi: Yeah, so good. Well, thank you so much for being here. If people want to find out more about you, where do they find you? What can they find when they go out and seek you out that would be helpful and then some of this journey?

Diane: Sure. Well, they could find me at startupdistillery.com. And my phone number is on there and I love spur of the moment phone calls. So people don’t have to make an appointment, they could actually pick up the phone and call and reach me.

Tobi: Wow. That’s unheard of.

Diane: I know, kind of old fashioned, well, if I’m not there, the answering machine will be there or the message, whatever. And they can learn all about me. That I offer one-on-one consulting and writing business plans. And I also have a DIY business plan kit. So those are the main offerings and you can learn all about them on the website.

Tobi: Speaking of a scalable product, there’s a DIY do-it-yourself business kit.

Diane: And that is – and I am still to this day joking with my husband, “Just made money while I was sleeping.”

Tobi: Yeah, exactly, so good. One of my product lines that I make furniture with a company called Woodbridge that I love. One of our pieces just sells like hotcakes and they call it my daughter’s college fund or college annuity. They’re like, “The fairy chest is Ellison’s college fund.” And they’re like, “We just added more to the college fund.” But it’s kind of the same thing. When you do have something like that that’s a hit, that really helps people. It is really fun to see what can happen with it, so yeah.

Diane: It is and it makes you feel good too.

Tobi: It does, yeah, and you’re helping people. Well, you can help a lot more people that way too and that’s the fun thing, than you can do just doing one-on-one work, so good, okay.

Diane: Exactly.

Tobi: Well, thank you so much for being here, a great conversation. I loved it. So nice to meet you.

Diane: Same here, thank you.

Tobi: And yeah, and I will check out what you have to offer and I’m sure a lot of other people will too, so thanks so much.

Diane: Wonderful. Thanks so much Tobi.

Okay. Are you ready to scale or not scale? Are you ready for some super thinking time like I have on my calendar? I think you will be amazed at what creating that kind of practice will do for your business, even if it’s just working on your current offerings, and revenue streams, and services, and people you work with. Just having that time every single week where you can step away and just think has just done wonders for my work, my business, the ability to serve our clients in a totally different way.

So try it out, let me know if it works for you, let Diane know, tag us that on social media. For sure tag me on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. And if you loved this episode, if you’re trying super thinking, if you want to scale your products or have scalable products in your business, definitely shoot me a direct message on Instagram. And we can have a conversation about how I can help you do that or how you might take the next steps on your own to do that work because it’s really, really fun.

And like we said at the end of the interview, my favorite thing about having products that I sell one to many, I create it once and can sell it to many people, like our Design You membership. It’s just the sheer number of people that I can impact. When I was only working one-on-one as a designer or as a business consultant there just were so many hours in the day. And so I love having this opportunity to serve so many other people. And I think you could potentially really enjoy that in your business too.

Okay, so I can’t wait to hear from you. Have an awesome, amazing time thinking about your business and that super thinking slot you’re going to put on your schedule. And I’ll see you back here next week with another episode of The Design You Podcast. Bye for now.

Thank you so much for listening to The Design You Podcast, and if you are ready to dig deep and do the important work we talk about here on the podcast of transforming your mindset and creating a scalable online business model, there has never been a more important time than right now. So join me and the incredible creative entrepreneurs in my Design You coaching program today. You can get all the details at TobiFairley.com.

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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