Why Service-Based Businesses Are Here to Stay with Special Guest Tara CountermanAug 29, 2022
Today, I have a terribly overdue guest interview for you all: Please welcome Tara Counterman, who I’ll allow to introduce herself as a person and business owner. But Tara is my OG biz bestie from all the way back in 2018. We’re also each other’s clients, which we've been for a while.
Tara owns and manages and runs the company behind my podcast, CEOPWR, and she is one of my original bookkeeping clients from when we first started. She launched my podcast and was the friend behind me saying, “You need to do it, you need to do it,” way before I thought I was ready. But here...I’ll let her tell her story, then we’ll jump into why service-based businesses—which both of us run!—aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, despite the misconception that service-based businesses are risky to commit to.
Katie: So, Tara, why entrepreneurship? What got you started and where are you now?
Tara: Okay, so, it starts with soccer. I played soccer in college, and during my freshman year I had surgery on both legs, which meant I was done. Totally done. The environment was toxic and I decided to quit. Well, after that, my parents cut me off. It’s been about ten years now since I've had any contact with them, and I have been so much better off since then. But quitting soccer, I couldn't afford the difference between in and out-of-state tuition, since I didn't have my scholarship and I wasn't an Indiana resident. So I decided that I was gonna get three retail jobs and work my life away until I could afford to go back to school, and then I’d figure everything out from there. And I ended up being introduced to network marketing and was able to leave those three retail jobs to make more money than I was earning working 90 hours a week.
And I just caught the vision, you know? Maybe I didn’t need to go to college. Maybe I didn't need to get student loans and go into debt. Maybe we can just do this our own way. My husband was building his own business while he was finishing school, so we've kind of always had the entrepreneur bug, and then with our family upbringings, it was really important to us that we lived within our means as much as we could. We wanted to keep our bills really low. We didn't want to go into debt. We wanted to pay cash for things. And if we couldn't, then we didn't have them. And we kind of ate shit for a long time, but it allowed us to build what we have now and do it without a lot of pressure.
So I started in network marketing and was building there. I stopped once I got pregnant and went full stay-at-home mom, but I was really missing something. I definitely had that entrepreneur bug. I was always kind of driven and ambitious, and I was missing that in my life. I loved being a mom, but I just needed something else, too. So I got back into network marketing, tried multiple things, but didn't ever feel like I found a home.
So I started to look at the idea of what it took to build a personal brand. Or rather, how can I build this differently than the sleazy sale DMS and cold messages? I didn't have much of a personal network, so ultimately I ended up joining the program that I met Katie in. And it was through that program that I decided to start a podcast.
That was pretty much the catalyst of everything. Because it was my own show and because I was also a mom, I needed to be really intentional with the time that I was putting in to make sure that I was seeing a return. So I was looking at all these other shows to try and figure out what mine should look like.
Those podcasts, though, were all interview-based, and I didn't really see how it was actually growing their businesses. So I set out to create something a little bit more intentional for myself, and it was only ever gonna be for me. And then I had a friend who hired a podcast manager; they were taking advantage of her, and things weren't getting done. And I ended up saying, “Listen, I don't even know what you're paying her, but just pay me whatever you're paying her and I'll take care of it for you.” I was kind of over network marketing, but I didn't know what else was going to come my way. So I was helping my friend with her podcast, and I remember I was kind of at a point where I was thinking, “I can't keep giving up so much time for so little in return.” My kids needed me. Mentally, I felt a little unstable. I was just ready to be done. Maybe this whole entrepreneurship thing wasn’t for me. And I had a breakdown with a friend over Voxer about it, and the next day I woke up and I thought, “What if I did this podcast thing?” And I put the idea out in a group program I was in at the time, a different one than where I met Katie, and I had signed about $8,000 worth of work within 24 hours. That was like, “Okay, so this is what I'm gonna do.” I went all-in, and I think that first month was about a 30k month. It was like 0 to 100 so fast.
Then I started to build a team, and now I have the agency that I do, and we do weekly podcast management as well as podcast launches, and I developed what's called a Podfunnel, which is a ten-episode podcast that is essentially a sales funnel for high-ticket offers. That's how we sell all of our own high-ticket offers without ever getting on sales calls. And that’s where CEOPWR took off!
Why Service-Based Businesses Are Here to Stay
Katie: And I feel that one of the reasons CEOPWR works so well is that it’s one of those service-based businesses, so it’s not about teaching the skill, but taking it entirely off your plate. So you don't have to learn yet another new thing in your entrepreneur journey. Because as valuable as it can be to gain that skill, sometimes you just really want someone to step in and do it for you. It can feel like service-based businesses are a risky move, because anyone can learn to do anything themselves nowadays, and you think you could be out of a job. But that’s just not true.
Tara: Well, and that's been the most profitable thing for us. We've done courses, and I'll always have courses, but it's never been the bread and butter of our business. It's always been one of those service-based businesses, because you can absolutely do a podcast on your own, and there are things that you can scale up to make it more professional and things you can scale down to keep it really simple. You can totally do it by yourself, for yourself, however it works for you. But when you are a mom and a business owner and you have so many other things, I found that I could help people get more of their time back and impact more people's lives by just doing it for them instead of trying to teach them another thing that they're gonna have to keep doing. So that's been our bread and butter. And it is tough, because I don't want to be a coach. I'm not a coach. But I’m still struggling with this identity of running service-based businesses in a world where coaches are making millions and have this lifestyle that we're striving for. Even so, I don't actually want that.
Katie: And you know, as somebody that sees a ton of numbers, there are successful coaching businesses and everything. But what I really love about service-based businesses, especially ones like yours and mine, like bookkeeping or podcasting, is that service-based businesses are perpetual. They’re not just a quick project. If you’re doing something “quick” and you need to keep ten to twenty to thirty clients in order to be at full sales, if one client or multiple clients are falling off every three to six months, you're in a sales cycle constantly. You never get to stop selling. But when you have long-term, service-based businesses that sell through word of mouth, that are stable—because service-based businesses are stable, you know—then there's a lot of security in that. And then coaching courses, templates, DIY options, all those other things get to be sweet extras you can add in.
Tara: Or even bigger projects. Because we have the bread and butter that supports service-based businesses, we can do things like Podfunnels, where I'm only trying to sell two to four per month. They're helping us reach our bigger goals, and I love doing them, but I don't have to do them. We have our core thing, and that's always recurring.
Katie: Right. And that's the thing that you can kind of ease into and scale up. And it really matters how it feels to you, too. This is absolutely not a knock on coaching, but as a person who runs both sides, I personally resonate with the comfort, stability, security, and dependability of service-based businesses. They’re not the risk that people think they are. Service-based businesses are definitely here to stay.
So there you have it…service-based businesses aren’t going anywhere. And don’t worry—this isn’t the last you’ll see of Tara! I’m not sure exactly when, I think around September, but we're going to have Tara coming into Libby and doing one of those pop-up workshops where if you're not in Libby, you can pay to join, but we're going to be talking about podcasts for service-based businesses and service providers, specifically bookkeeping. So that bonus workshop and standalone workshop is coming soon with Tara. Keep your eyes peeled!
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