The Nitty-Gritty

  • The many ways Tara McMullin’s business and brand has changed over the years
  • Why she finally feels able to be 100% honest with her brand and content
  • How to nurture community culture that affirms the contribution of every member
  • Why CoCommercial has become The What Works Network

At the end of 2016, I decided I wanted to do business differently.

I wanted more for our customers, our followers, and our listeners than talking heads and internet business celebrities.

I wanted to honor the unusual, unconventional, and diverse ways that small business owners like you make things work.

I wanted to affirm your resourcefulness and problem-solving skills.

I wanted to leave plenty of room for “it depends” and “this might sound weird, but here’s what works for me.”

Most of all, I wanted to make sure that more small business owners had access to the kind of insider information that gave me the info I needed to make important decisions about how I did business myself.

In other words: I wanted to put you in the driver’s seat when it came to gathering information and ideas for your business. I didn’t want you to be at the mercy of someone’s sales funnel or course catalog.

That’s why we built our small business owner community.

I envisioned our community growing into a hub where small business owners from all different industries came together to talk shop, get real, and support each other.

And… I knew I couldn’t do it under the brands that I’d been known for up until that point: Tara Gentile & Quiet Power Strategy.

This community was more than me. It was more than a particular framework or methodology. It stood for a bigger mission.

So I dusted off a dream that I had started working on a few years prior to this pivot: a coworking space that brought freelancers and small business owners together in community.

And I called our community the name of that coworking space…

CoCommercial.

To me, the name had meaning. It had an origin story.

But, in all honesty, we’ve been fighting this name since Day 1.

Please hold your “I told you so’s” for later!

For every person who got excited about what we were creating together, 3 other people just got confused about the name!

Now, fast forward a bit to another naming opportunity.

Back in April 2018, we ended our podcasting partnership with CreativeLive, who had helped us produce and edit this podcast since 2015. They graciously allowed us to take full control of the existing show.

With this big opportunity, we had the chance to make a statement. We wanted to imbue the podcast with the mission of our company and community. We wanted to have a public version of the private conversations we were having inside of CoCommercial.

Above all, we wanted to produce something that would give you an inside look on the nitty-gritty details of how others run their businesses–just like we do inside our community.

We had a show all about what was really working for small business owners–regardless of the current hype–and we wanted the name to reflect that.

And then it hit us: the show should be called “What Works.”

“What works” is as much a question as it is a statement. It’s an invitation to discover what’s working for others and a chance to ask yourself if what you’re doing is really working.

“What works” is exactly what we talk about every day inside our community. “What works” is what I want more small business owners to focus on–instead of fads or hot new trends.

You might see where I’m going with this…

Our community is all about discovering how what works for others is connected to what works for you.

And that’s why we’ve stepped into the next phase of our dream for this community of small business owners and turned CoCommercial into The What Works Network.

Now, I will be 100% honest with you: I didn’t want to do this at first.

The idea of setting out to make meaning for yet another name sounded exhausting (and just a little bit flakey).

But the more the team and I talked about the possibility, the more it felt right. It felt like the meaning had already been made. It felt like we were shedding some jeans that didn’t quite fit and putting on a smart pair of professional-yet-stretchy pants.

I texted my closest, most trusted business friends with the idea. YES, the responses read. They were stoked. They got it immediately. It made sense.

The process of branding is always a process of meaning-making. What I realized throughout these conversations is that we’d done the hard work of making that meaning over the 180+ episodes that the podcast has been running.

And, we’d been making that meaning inside our community already—since day one.

Today, you are listening to What Works—but I’ve got something a little different for you. I’m going to turn things over to my friend Dana Kaye at Branding Outside The Box (who I featured on Episode 163) and share the interview she did with me.

We talk about the many things that have changed for me over the last 10 years—plus all the things that have stayed the same. We also talk about the ethos and logistics of building an online community as well as what we’re doing to combat expert & advice culture. Finally, we go in-depth on why we made the change from CoCommercial to The What Works Network.