For so many years, the idea of the Independent Business Podcast lived in my heart — that unrelenting desire to empower independent business owners and entrepreneurs like you with the behind-the-scenes secrets and tactical know-how to propel you to the greatness I know you’re capable of.
Now, here we are. The Independent Business Podcast with HoneyBook is no longer a proverbial “what if” twinkle in my eye. Rather, with more than 10 episodes and almost 15,000 downloads as of the time I’m writing this, it’s very much a reality. Am I dreaming? Sometimes I feel like pinching myself just to check.
I’ll admit, one of my favorite parts about this podcast — aside from the fact that it’s helping all of you kick independent business butt and take names — is that I get to learn alongside you. Each week, I connect with absolute industry all-stars (many I have admired for ages) to bring insights into our space in a way that’s never been done before.
We get to walk this journey of education and growth together, and that is so incredibly rewarding to me.
But (speaking of growth) I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a moment to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned so far in this process of creating the Independent Business Podcast. We love a good “lessons learned” rest stop, am I right? Because even though this is only the beginning of the story of this podcast, I already have a few key lessons I’m itching to share with all of you.
I had an inkling about what it would mean to record a podcast that is available in both audio and video formats, but actually going through this process has reaffirmed one key hypothesis I had when you take this approach — those who enjoy your podcast on video are often an entirely different audience than those who choose to listen to your podcast via audio only.
More than that, those who are audio podcast listeners are true devotees of the format, meaning they have very high expectations for the quality of your audio. On the video side of the equation, the same holds true for expectations around your visuals and graphics.
(That’s why we were very purposeful in what podcasting equipment we chose, with the help of an incredible expert.)
In a way, although it’s the same show, I now see the video version and the audio version of the Independent Business Podcast as two wholly separate products that collectively reach a much larger audience than I originally anticipated. The perk, of course, is that while they are two separate, standalone content offerings, they can be created at the same time from the same source material.
This is *chef’s kiss* beautiful to me because, in a world where we don’t have time to do it all, the idea that you can take one powerful podcast conversation and distribute it across multiple channels, in different ways is a win-win. It’s efficient for you as a creator, and it’s effective in reaching a wider audience, based on a multitude of different content consumption preferences.
Don’t get me wrong, I went into the Independent Business Podcast with my sleeves rolled up, ready to do the work. But even with that mindset, I want to talk about how much metaphorical and literal elbow grease it takes to grow a podcast from scratch.
To be fair, we’ve had some truly humbling success right out of the gate, for which I am truly grateful. Almost 15,000 downloads after only two months? How?!
That said, it’s not as easy as it might seem to attract subscribers, rather than one-off listeners, when folks happen to come across your podcast in the wild about a topic that interests them. Sure, maybe they loved the content, but was it enough to earn a permanent place in their podcasting roster? Not always.
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So, if you’re currently a frequent or “casual” listener of a podcast you really love (it doesn’t have to be mine), take a moment to become a subscriber — it means more than you know. It will not only help the shows you subscribe to grow, it will also increase their download counts.
This was another revelation that surprised the HoneyBook team and myself with the Independent Business Podcast.
While every single episode we’ve shared so far is wildly invaluable for independent business owners, we noticed that those episodes with very clear, business value takeaways were more popular than those topics that were a bit more broad and inspiration-focused.
What’s important to note though, is we’re going to continue to experiment and test. Honestly, this is one of the things I love about this podcast — in a way, it’s one giant experiment. We’re never going to get to a point where we aren’t in a mode of discovery and learning and iteration. For instance, right now, we’re running experiments about how we title episodes.
I think this approach should be true of anything you create, though. The first version of something you put out into the world (especially as a creator) should, in theory, be the “worst” version of whatever that thing is.
You shouldn’t come out of the gate expecting to be a champion in perpetuity. Instead, you should start with the mindset of, “OK, we are so proud of what we’ve built this first time out. But now, what can we learn, and how can we get better every single time?” Is this kind of work sexy? No, but that’s how you achieve impact and longevity.
This was another thing that surprised me, although given that I’m an “always be prepared” kind of gal, maybe it shouldn’t have. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I recognize this may not be the case for every podcast in existence, because sometimes prep work isn’t really required. You just need to show up with your fantastic brains and an idea, and you’re off to the races.
However, in the case of the Independent Business Podcast, I do spend more time preparing to interview our guests than I do physically in the recorded conversation. I dig into who they are, their current projects, and their areas of expertise, as well as a bit of research to see what scientific research exists about the topic.
I also spend time reviewing what other thought leaders in the space are saying about this topic, because I want to make sure that when we share a new conversation with you via the podcast, it’s fresh information rather than a rehash of insights you can find elsewhere.
That way you walk away from the podcast feeling smarter, like you know something brand new that will genuinely help you make more informed decisions within your business faster … or at least more effectively.
Alright, if you’re one of those people who has always dreamed of doing a podcast or video series — or heck, even just getting on social media more with your beautiful face and big ideas — but has avoided it because you don’t like how you look or sound, I am going to let you in on a little secret.
Those of us who are already doing it also struggle with the “cringe” factor around how we look and sound. Seriously, for the most part, none of us possess a shield of confidence that allows us to be absolutely enamored with our voice and appearance, including yours truly.
Like I talk about in my upcoming book, Gutsy, you’ve just gotta do it scared.
You’ve gotta give yourself grace, accept that you’re a human being, and move forward with your big dream, because your purpose and your vision for what could be are worth the leap. Plus, while it’s a bit “humbling” (yeah, we’ll go with that) at first to see your face and hear your voice all the time, it gets easier.
“I think curiosity is one of the most underrated strengths that you can have as an entrepreneur. So it’s not that I know everything, or I’m this genius, or you know, that just everything comes easy to me. It really is because I’m willing to get curious and ask a lot of questions.”
* * *
“One thing that has helped me a lot in combating doubt, is reminding myself of the impermanence of many of our decisions. I think, as CEOs, as business owners, we often attach too much to our expected outcomes of something because we feel that we have already risked so much to even be here building our businesses.
So every further risk we take, take feels like this has to work out or else right. But I think one of the things that has actually aided me most in our trajectory, and our growth has been this willingness to realize that many of the decisions we make in business and in life, quite frankly, are not permanent in the sense that they can be reversed, right? They’re not so final as we would make them out to be…”
* * *
“… the reason why I recommend people do not end their emails with let me know if you’re interested, is because a statement does not invite conversation … essentially, when somebody reads that you’re giving them permission … you’re automatically giving them that leeway to be like, oh, I’ll just take a mental raincheck on responding to this because there’s there’s no open loop, right?
If you ask someone a clear direct question, especially at the end of the email, the likelihood that they will respond is much higher because they don’t want to leave you digitally hanging…”
“And honestly, sometimes I’ll (send personalized video messages) in the DMs. And people are like completely shocked. They’re shocked to hear me say their name. They’re shocked to you know, see me speaking directly into them or pouring into them or sharing about something.”
* * *
“So, what I love about the times we’re in now is that content creation has grown legs to where you don’t — like it used to be a thing, right where you would have to have all of the fancy cameras like all of your favorite YouTubers really used like high quality cameras and things like that. And they still are.
But if you’re starting out, we have more people starting out than ever, I feel like and they’re using what they have, they’re using what they have in their hands. So start with your phone, if you have a laptop, you can use a webcam on your laptop as well — the best thing that you have is what you have.”
* * *
“Every single platform is video centric right now. Right now, short form content is definitely at the forefront. But then when we think about our business goals as independent business owners, long form content is where that sweet spot lies.”
“I personally don’t think there’s ever a bad time to start a business. And I don’t think this is a bad time to start a business.”
* * *
“Don’t ask anybody to respect you, until you can respect yourself. Because when you respect yourself, you show people how to treat you, you show people how to talk to you. So don’t expect other people to be all nice to you and to think of you as a trustworthy, respectful person, if you don’t think of yourself as a trustworthy, respectful person.”
* * *
“Well, the very first year, or two or three of your business, you need to obsess about something that most of us don’t want to talk about. You need to obsess about cash, where are you going to get it? How are you going to keep it? How are you going to not let any of it go? You’ve just got to do that. Business is about making money.
And a lot of people don’t want to think about that. They don’t want to be the sort of person who obsesses about money. They don’t want to be in it for the money. You know, I would agree that you shouldn’t be in it for the money if you’re in it for the money. It money is very fleeting and it doesn’t satisfy you. However, if you your business is going to eat money, and it’s going to eat a lot of it.”
“…there’s nothing wrong with knowing your lane and occupying it. But also, you can never be all things to all people at all times, there will always be somebody who’s disappointed. And the responsibility is not on me to speak to all things at all times. Because that’s what community is for. That’s what the collective is for. That’s why we lean on other people. And we learn from other people and we amplify each other’s voices because I cannot be the resident expert on things that I have no context on, because knowledge and context are two different things.”
* * *
“Just know that impact does not come without a cost. And most people want this to be easy. And most people want it to be a seamless transition. But this is not just about positioning your business to be more trendy, or trying to keep up with the times, this is a decision that you’re making to draw a line in the sand and declare that you care about other people. And you care about injustice, and you care about fighting oppression. And so if that’s the case, you got to stand 10 toes down on that, and know that you are entering a whole different arena, where more is required of you in that way.”
* * *
“…one thing that I had to make known very quickly, was that I’m not a resource, I’m a person, Because the content and the art that I would create was very, from a very specific vantage point. It was from, you know, my young, black female voice — also there was faith tied into there, and just many different aspects that make up who I am as an individual.
And so people would come and be like, I don’t appreciate this, because this doesn’t take into account my worldview. But that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m a person, not a textbook. You can find all the information that I’m sharing in a way that reaches your specific point in context, if you want to Google it. But for me, (my presentation) was just a part of staying true to who I am as a creator is to not leave my individuality and my personality on the table in order to appease the masses.”
“I just think of when I finally took the leap, I left my full time job, I did not have a plan. It was not intentional. I was so sick of my current quality of life that I was like, whatever happens on the other side has to be a lot better than where I’m currently at now.
And I know that’s not for everybody, right? Like I know, that’s not however, I just know, for me, I wanted something more than myself. And I did not care how much money I made as long as I got to live a life on my own terms that is rooted in joy, peace and content.”
* * *
“…people want more for themselves. And I think that was before the pandemic. And I think it just revealed that even more, I think it just was like, it just was an open wound that just ripped wide open, where people were finally, like, I have had enough, I want more for myself, this is not what life is supposed to look like, especially right now. And all of the trauma that everybody’s enduring, I want more, and I want more control over my life and how I choose to live it.”
* * *
“…that also was a heavy contributing factor as to why I wanted to start my own business was because the micro aggressions that I was experiencing on a daily basis, in my last job. And especially working in a corporate space — well, not just corporate, just any job in general — especially I think, for people of color, we I feel like I have to act a certain type of way.
We cannot be fully and truly ourselves, and who we authentically are. Because in a lot of these spaces that (are) predominantly white, certain things maybe just not are understood or accepted. And so you do have to kind of put on kind of a different mask, which is extremely exhausting. Who wants to live that way? I want to be free to be myself … I want to be in spaces where I am celebrated, not tolerated.”
“The one resource I can recommend to people is a website called Openstates.org. And you would go there, you would enter the address of your independent business. And you would immediately displayed on the next screen, who represents you in your state legislature, what their, what their names are with their email addresses, our phone numbers, mailing addresses, and you can then very quickly and easily reach out to them.
And I will tell you that if you are polite, professional and persistent — three things that most independent business owners know how to be; we all know how to be polite, professional and persistent — you can make things happen.”
* * *
“(Start by) telling your own story of why you started an independent business, why being a business owner is important to you why you want to be a good citizen of your community. Why independent businesses are the backbone of society, telling your own story will often have a far greater impact than following some specific format…”
* * *
“You can have the best product in the world or the best service in the world. You can be the best makeup artists or the best hairstylist or make the best journals or whatever it is. And if you do not have the persistence to show up every day, nothing will come of that.”
“I also think there’s a bigger retirement problem in this country like yes, we can talk about business owners, but I think in general like retirement is it’s pretty scary and it’s totally broken in this country. Like I think for a long time, like the government is sort of just passed the buck to the employer.”
* * *
“I cannot stress slash encourage people enough to actually take the time to do a financial forecast. I think when people hear it, I think we need to come up with a better name than a financial forecast. Because that just seems like just the most boring, daunting thing. But really, it’s just mapping out what you’re doing now. And what you will probably be doing the next 12 months or you know, however much you want in the future.”
* * *
“One of the most important things that I’ve seen both from creators and startups is one being able to listen and pivot. Because you can have the best idea! But if even if the demand was there, but it shifted, or if there’s like a more nuanced approach that you could take for a problem or pain point …
I think that you just have to humble yourself and listen to your customers or the audience and be able to read like, okay, what are the opportunities there? Being able to pivot has been trend that I’ve seen very successful people.”
“I think there is a lot of fear in the unknown. And that is (why) I really wanted to create a safe corner of the internet, where they can learn those things and fill those gaps. How can I use this? Is this safe? Am I smart enough to use it? This is something that I hear from creatives all the time. And it’s hard because we are so intelligent, we are smarter than this tech, (even though) it might not feel like it.”
* * *
“…it’s okay to be resistant, you know, like, it’s okay to be resistant, it’s okay to be afraid. But give yourself the time, the grace and the the ability to sit down and actually dive into these tools. So you can get to know them, figure out how it’s going to work for you. Because if you just assume it’s some like crazy robot in the background, that’s what it’s going to be.”
* * *
“I don’t think (AI) is going to replace people. But I do think it’s going to allow us to either take on more clients to grow our business, or it’s going to allow us to adapt and change our process to make it even better and a better experience for everybody involved.”
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“I need(ed) to have a clear understanding of how cash is going to flow into the business to cover savings and expense goals. That was the really painful thing that I tried to share with as many people as I can, because people don’t often think about like the accounting and the reporting and the cash flow side of things. And they go through these feast and famine cycles of freelancing.”
* * *
“Do I also see people getting a little bit more sophisticated and understanding that they can get more bang for their buck with an aggregation of smaller creators who have an engaged audience? Absolutely, takes more work, it takes more sophistication, but definitely opportunity there.”
* * *
“Having multiple revenue streams is good, because it makes you more resilient. However, it can also be kind of a distracting activity to try and build up six revenue streams all at the same time when none of them are working really strongly. My recommendation is to build a direct revenue stream, make it strong, and then start to say, ‘Okay, now what do I add on another direct revenue stream?'”
“We don’t talk about the grief of change. We talk about the grief of loss, but it’s the same thing losing parts of us — losing who we were or what we did believe. There’s a grief that comes with that for ourselves and for other people who are familiar with us being that way. Then there’s an illuminating and bringing light to, ‘Okay. This is who I am who I am today. This is who sits before you. And this is the light of what I’ve left.'”
* * *
“I think (getting told ‘no’) has been so much the foundation of being an artist — like the everything is connected to rejection at some point. So I just had to create a backbone with that. I had to create a backbone with that.
I also had to trust that the spaces that would be open to what I offer, the opportunities and the doors that would be open, were doors that were just so very distinctly made for me and for what I was doing.”
* * *
“I love hearing conversations about these big companies in these big spaces that actually do work with the people working and running the organization. You’re allowing them to take rest days, you’re giving them yoga massages on site, you’re nourishing them throughout the day — and not just like stuffing them with like coffee and to just keep producing. You’re reminding the people that they’re people, and that they’re humans and not machines.”
© 2023 Natalie Franke