You Economy Case Study: violetminded Media and StudioMME

This week, I’m sharing the stories & mini case studies of some of the alumna of 10ThousandFeet. Grab some inspiration, see how others are making their businesses thrive, and then go out and make big things happen!

Amanda Farough, Founder & Creative Director of violetminded Media

amandafaroughI started working with Tara in the spring of 2012, right before I found out that I was pregnant with my second child. At the time, I was overworked, underpaid, and exhausted. I knew that something needed to change but I was too stuck in my own head to see what that was.

After several sessions alternating between angst and stuck-itude… I started to make Big Changes. I started to actually utilize my team, instead of whining about having to train them. I doubled my pricing (again) while communicating the value of my work in a much more effective (and enticing) way.

Tara showed me that I didn’t have to compromise my core values in order to make serious bank; I could show up the way I’ve always shown up in business (with el-oh-vee-ee) but do it with a more discerning eye.

When Tara and I came to the end of our coaching sessions, I’ll admit that I got a bit panicky–what would I do without my heroine in shining business armour? But then she announced her mastermind group–10ThousandFeet–and I was absolutely ecstatic! Not only would I continue to glean the best bits of Tara’s knowledge (and there is a lot of it), I would be able to connect with many other like-minded small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Throughout my time at 10KFeet, the evolution of my business kept unfolding and changing at an incredible rate. What usually took me months was happening in the course of a few weeks. I was revamping systems, developing offers (and a new business), building my team, all while creating the most beautiful websites of my design career. Clarity of purpose will do that.

The clarity and depth offered in 10KFeet is something that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. Tara’s singular in her mastery of digital business and her leadership is something that I aspire to on a daily basis.

If you’re ready to make a Big Change in your business, 10KFeet will be everything that you hoped for and more. It was for me.

Amanda took what had been a solo-entrepreneur style business and created a whole new concept: the digital artisan collective. violetminded Media is now capable of serving and attracting a different type of clientele that allows Amanda to change her role–better utilizing her own strengths–while supporting the work of 10 other people (and their businesses).

While New Economy growth is often not about size or scope, it is about innovating new ways of making an impact. violetminded Media is doing just that.

Megan Eckman from StudioMME

10ThousandFeet allowed me to take a big step back (or up) from my business and realize what my customers were silently demanding and what I could create with minimal effort.meganeckman

It had been staring me in the face for months. People would comment on Facebook how much they loved my embroidery patterns and I thanked them. It wasn’t until Tara helped me look at the bigger picture that I realized how much they wanted these patterns, something that only I can offer them.

Almost immediately I knew I could create an embroidery-of-the-month club which would mean one email’s worth of work for me, monthly patterns for club members, and lots of income.

It took me half an hour to write a sign-up form and share it with my fans. The launch that followed two weeks later had the greatest conversion rate ever for my business! That month my total income outstripped my December sales from the year before and I had added over 50 new people to my mailing list. This success allowed me to make the move to working fully for myself starting August 1st! I hadn’t imagined working for myself for another year but thanks to 10ThousandFeet, I am nearing that special day.

Side note from Tara: This special day terrifies me. Megan also is my behind-the-scenes, lady-in-charge for my business and Kick Start Labs.

Thanks to the successful launch of my club, and Tara’s process, I now know how to get in touch with my customers and figure out what they want before they know they want it. I’m setting up steps now to make this club grow continually. The workload for me won’t change but my revenue will grow exponentially.

Megan continues to attract commissions that are more aligned with her own passions and artistic style, including working on a project drawing nanosatellites for a NASA engineer creating a funding proposal. Check her our at StudioMME.

The Promise of the You Economy: It’s Not About You

There’s a bit of a misunderstanding about the promise of the You Economy.

It’s not all about you: your self-worth, your passion, your personal brand.

It’s about your power to create and offer something of lasting value. It’s about your ability to contribute to things that are bigger than yourself. It’s about your access to the machinations of commerce.

My friend Amanda Steinberg, who is also the founder & CEO of the financial education company you simply must subscribe to, wrote recently of the proliferation of personal brands in the wake of the solo entrepreneurship craze.

She describes it–and I squealed when I read this–as a “torrent of social media one-upmanship.” It’s a race for the funkiest website, the hippest photos, the most profound tweets, the cleverest pins, the most raw Facebook updates.

Stand out, or stand down.

And she’s right. It’s a mess.

The You Economy doesn’t promise that you can get paid to be you. It doesn’t guarantee that you can make money & follow your passion.

The You Economy promises that you have the chance to create something that makes others lives meaningfully better.

You can harness your passion, your personality, your pizzazz to realize that imperative but those things are no substitute for stick-to-your-ribs value.

If you’ve found yourself in the one-upmanship game of personal branding or the race to social media stardom, it doesn’t mean your business is doomed. But it does mean you need to stop–today–and evaluate the value your business is creating.

Escape “digiphoria; the cold, joyless comfort of softly glowing screens.”

Venture into the pursuit of something real.

Click to tweet!

What are you pursuing? What keeps you up at night? How does that drive you to serve? To create? To question?

The You Economy has asked you to show up. Not just as you are, but in pursuit of the solution to a problem, the answer to a question, the fulfillment of a desire.

Will you rise to the occasion?

The You Economy is Self-Determined — are you?

Street 14 Coffee is Self-Determined

Despite the lasting effects of the recession, despite crippling college loan debt, despite the stubborn unemployment rate, there has never–ever–been a period of history where you have more control over your work and the way you get paid for it.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a part of the ever-growing movement of entrepreneurs and freelancers that are making up the global economy in larger & larger shares. But there are plenty of others joining small teams of motivated doers, organizing to create something new & meaningful and then disbanding to look for the next opportunity. Still more people are writing their own job descriptions and determining their own expectations at growing companies.

This rapidly evolving economic environment, this strange new world of work & creative energy, requires unprecedented agency to get ahead, to make an impact.

The You Economy is self-determined.

Are you? Click to tweet!

Success in business today is not predetermined by a particular set of preconditions. It’s not contrived from a particular set of tactics or forged from a website with graphics and layout just so.

Only you can determine the course by which your business succeeds. Only you can determine the best way to merge your ideas with your customers’ perspective to find the winning combination of service and profit.

This is your chance to shine, to decide. Don’t lend your light to others you believe know better than you. Learn, grow, collaborate–but don’t lose track of your own ability to create a path that allows your business to make its greatest impact.


Ready to realize your own dreams? Ready to forge a self-determined future that includes a business with a big impact & a life of meaning?

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Are you using the greatest asset your business has?

The greatest asset your business has isn’t its products, your experience, the equipment in your studio, or the technology that makes it all go ’round. The greatest asset you have is your ability to connect people.

Business has a unique power to bring people together. We have the sense that we have more than a little in common with the person at Starbucks who orders the same drink that we do. And we may strike up conversations with other regulars at the neighborhood bar & grill. Main street businesses band together to create community activities that bring together whole towns. A simple ebook can spark an ongoing discussion on Twitter.

These person-to-person, customer-to-customer interactions are important.

No matter how trusted the business, no matter how respected the brand, a business-to-customer relationship will always have an air of quid pro quo about it.

I experience this firsthand all the time. I’ll be having a drink with someone at a conference or lunch with a friend I’ve met on Twitter. The conversation inevitably winds its way towards business. Once the other person realizes what’s happened, they often apologize and explain that they value my take on things but don’t want to take advantage of the situation. Take advantage? I love this stuff! No one needs to goad me into talking about business and I’m happy to lend a fresh perspective at any time.

But there it is, that sneaking suspicion that our personal connection may require a greater investment down the line. Not so, but it’s something I’m always aware of.

Instead, facilitate conversations within your tribe. These are genuine, peer-to-peer, incredibly enriching connections that help you do your job better.

How can I create conversations within my tribe?

First, look for opportunities for external connections. These conversations & relationships happen in the public sphere. They happen on social media, main street, book clubs, community events, conferences, etc… anywhere people are gathering is fair game for people talking to each about what you do.

Your aim here is for your customers or potential customers to be talking about your ideas or product, not the business itself. It’s not that that’s bad, it just doesn’t make for as meaningful of conversations.

How can you encourage external connections?

  • Make an extraordinary product. Products that change people’s lives – even in small ways – give people a reason to talk to each other. Yes, this is classic word of mouth advertising. But it’s also spreading special tricks & techniques or creating a product culture (look at the conversation around Apple’s press conference this week).
  • Offer up a symbol. Paul Tillich defined a symbol as something that “points beyond itself” to something mysterious or unknown. My iPhone is a symbol of Apple brand culture but it also points to an unbound sense of creativity & love of design. The #youeconomy hashtag is a symbol of my philosophy of the New Economy but also points to a sense of hope in the future.
  • Deliver an innovative idea. Your rallying cry, manifesto, or great ambition is nothing if it can’t spark conversation & connection. Almost every day, I spot a conversation on The Art of Earning on Twitter or Facebook. The idea that “making money is beautiful” is fresh for many people and it’s a reason to celebrate, talk, laugh, and share.

Once you’ve nailed some opportunities for external connections, take a look at how you can foster internal connections. These conversations & relationships form within your tribe in secret or private places. If your business was a tree fort, these connections would be on the other side of the secret handshake.

Internal connections work because there’s a sense of exclusivity. Not everyone is in on these connections and the people that are feel a sense of shared purpose.

While this has always been a part of the way I craft offerings, never have I seen this come together more beautifully than in the program I’m running with Adam King, Make Your Mark. It’s a fairly small group and weighty material so everyone in the group is helping to each other accountable, witnessed, loved, and moving forward. It’s downright inspiring to watch. I feel privileged to be able to witness the conversations & connections happen every week.

The Make Your Mark participants will each be more successful in what they produce from the program because they are now a tight-knit community.

That’s the beauty of internal connections: they amplify the work you’re already doing.

Facebook groups, forums, in-person meet-ups, phone calls, Skype groups… you can create these opportunities in a multitude of ways. Experiment and find out what works best for your tribe.

Never underestimate the power of your ability to connect.

Connection is one of the major touch points of the You Economy. Moving forward, connecting with others through business will be a non-negotiable. In your business, you have no room to ignore the power you have to facilitate meaningful, positive connections between the people who use your services or buy your products.