Copy of Podcast #34 Megan Hale page header

Do you ever feel like your business has a mind of its own, pulling you between content creation, client work, marketing plans, bookkeeping, and who-knows-what-else without you really knowing what’s going to happen next?

This can happen when you’ve had some success in your business and it’s grown a bit faster than you planned. It’s a good problem to have, and intermediate business owners in this position can benefit from a healthy dose of strategy, focus, and accountability that a more seasoned business-builder can provide. And getting help at this point can help you avoid building a business that isn’t actually aligned with what you want in your work and life.

Michelle Warner is a business designer who helps people grow their business and truly understand it for the first time. She works with people who have experienced considerable success but need strategies for becoming the leader of their business, rather than being an employee of their free content.

Michelle has been in the digital business-building space for more than fifteen years, and combines her experiences as a startup founder, CEO for hire, and MBA to offer some of the most strategic online business advice out there.

Michelle and I talk about her work as a business designer and how she helps business owners move beyond the basics to build something more sophisticated. We discuss her experiences as a startup founder and CEO for hire and how these helped her realize that she loves the messy, early building phases of a business. We also chat about the state of online business at the moment, how things have changed in the online business market, and why it’s important for smaller businesses to get ruthlessly focused.

Michelle also shares some tips for creating this focus and honing in on what you really like to offer and who you love to work with. And we wrap up with a discussion about business pitfalls to watch out for and why it’s better to have your inevitable, entrepreneurial identity crisis before you have everything on the line.

What Mastery means to Michelle:
To me, mastery means being so good that you can break all the rules and create your own path. True innovators - true masters - know the foundations of their subject matter to such a degree that they can find the holes in everything and use those holes to find their own innovation. That's what mastery is to me - or at least that's what I'm in pursuit of when I say I'm looking for mastery - I'm looking for freedom to know so much at such a deep level that I can make anything work for me. It's actually why I went through the hell of getting an MBA at the world's top-ranked business school while working full-time - I told everyone then, and I still believe now - that I did that so I could learn all their rules so I could turn around, break them, and never live a life that looked anything like a typical, corporate MBA grad.

Turning point:
It had to be when I started my current business. Prior to this business, I was the CEO and founder of a typical tech startup. It came with plenty of stress, travel, and chaos, but at the end of the day, I was building a product at that business, I wasn't building myself as the product. When I started this business under my own name, powered by my own theories, I naively thought that experience building a 7 figure business would be all I needed. Wrong. I had no idea the personal growth journey I had in front of me now that I was building my own face as a business instead of a product I could hide behind.

Core message:
Solve for growth. So many of us get caught chasing shiny objects - yours truly included - because we see and then try to solve surface level problems or challenges we encounter in our business daily. But that sends us wildly off track of the core foundations that matter most. But when your focus remains on growth, and systematically solving the problems that stand in the way of growth, you're going to stay on track.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why Michelle started calling herself a business designer after feeling like the titles “consultant” and “coach” just didn’t fit.
  • How she uses business building as a creative outlet.
  • How Michelle combines her startup founding, business building, and liberal arts MBA experiences to provide unique and incredibly deep strategy offerings to online business owners.
  • How she found clients when she was working as a CEO for hire back in the Wild West days of Facebook groups and overnight-success online businesses.
  • Why Michelle decided to pivot toward project work and a group membership program after being a CEO for quite a few businesses.
  • How to get ruthlessly focused on what’s working (and what’s not) in your business

Links mentioned in this show


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Hey there. I know what it's like to try and fail over and over again. I've been through all the mindset ups and downs, feeling like a failure and wondering why it's so hard to attract amazing clients consistently.

I finally realized, more recently that I'd like to admit, I was still hiding. I was afraid to put my work into the world in case no one wanted it. What I really wanted was for someone to say, "hey you, your stuff is great, come share it with my audience".  Finally I realized that that would never happen, not until I started first.

Putting out my content and message into the world had to begin with me. I  committed to showing up consistently and building my own meaningful relationships. The result? Much more clarity about how to gain visibility and grow my brand. And, of course, THIS PODCAST which I'm thrilled to host!


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