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Episode 201: Deciding Not Defaulting in Your Consulting Business—with Natalie Eckdahl

Deb Zahn: Hi, I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. So, in this podcast, we're going to have a good time because we're going to debunk some of those have-tos that you might have heard about as you've started or as you've gone along in your consulting journey. And these are the things that experts tell you, "You must do this, or you're not going to be successful."

And what we're going to do is we're going to replace it with things that you get to decide based on who you are and what you're trying to accomplish. And I brought on someone who is a wonderful, true expert at this, Natalie Eckdahl, and she and I are going to talk about how to brush away some of those absolute musts that you've heard about and replace it with choices that you get to make. So, let's get started. Hi, I want to welcome to my show today Natalie Eckdahl. Natalie, I'm so excited to have you on. Welcome.

Natalie Eckdahl: Thank you, Deb. We were having so much fun chatting before we got started and I'm really excited for this episode. Thank you for having me.

Deb Zahn: Wonderful. Well, let's start off. Tell folks what you do.

Natalie Eckdahl: Sure. My company is BizChix, Inc. And we spell chicks with an X, and we provide mentorship and training to consultants, marketers, and financial professionals. Our signature program is called $ix Figures Lab, and in that program, we help women's service entrepreneurs go from multi-five figures in revenue to multi-six figures in revenue so they can pay themselves eight to $10,000 a month.

Deb Zahn: Love it. And for anyone listening, if how you introduce yourself is not as clear as that, go back and listen to these five more times because that was perfection. That was just fabulous.

Natalie Eckdahl: Thank you.

Deb Zahn: So, today we're going to talk about some of the must-do things that we always hear and we're going to sort of poke sticks at that a little bit. And one of them is going to be having an email list and using it for marketing and whether or not you need that to have a six-figure consulting business.

But I want to start off because I know when I entered consulting it was a little bit less, but certainly when I entered this new entrepreneurial space, everybody was telling, "You have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this, or you're going to be a complete failure." And what are some of those have-tos that you've heard that you would like to whack with a stick?

Natalie Eckdahl: Well, one of those is the email list.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: Really, it's anyone telling you you have to do something without understanding who your ideal client is and what your market responds to. So, a lot of what we see out in the world and the people running the ads that we might see on Facebook or Instagram and even LinkedIn, they are not necessarily targeting people that are consultants. So, they may not be targeting people that have the ability to get, say, a $100K project or someone that, with a few phone calls, can get a referral and sign within a week a proposal for a five-figure gig with someone they've never even met before. So, I think that it's really looking at who is teaching this thing and what is their business model and who are they targeting? Who is their ideal client as well? So, yeah, a lot of, "You have to have a course, you have to have what's called a lead magnet," which is usually something that you're offering in exchange, like a checklist or an e-book. That was really popular five or seven years ago.

Deb Zahn: Oh yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: There's a lot of people that suggest you have a free Facebook group. There are people that suggest you do challenges, virtual summits. There are so many different kinds of marketing tools out there that are recommended, but as you and I were talking, Deb, you have a consulting business and you told me, "I don't have a website, I don't have an email list, and I don't do social media, and yet I'm extremely successful."

So, without knowing a lot about your background, I know some from your podcast and your website, but I'm assuming you have a great network, and you do amazing work.

Deb Zahn: Yep.

Natalie Eckdahl: And so you are getting referred, and you don't have to work very hard to get business. It comes to you. You've probably been doing it for some time, you're well-known in your industry, and so there's no reason for you to be spending time doing these things when it's not necessary for you to get work.

Deb Zahn: That's right. That's right. And if I have gaps in my pipeline, there are other tools that I have in my toolbox that I know my market responds to that I pick up. I'm like, "Yes, I need a wrench now," and I apply those. But on the consulting side of the business, Craft of Consulting is different. It was never a problem. I didn't even know what an email list was 12-plus years ago. I think LinkedIn existed, but if it did, I didn't like it.

Natalie Eckdahl: It did, but none of us liked it then.

Deb Zahn: Because it was boring.

Natalie Eckdahl: It was very boring. I like it now. It's my favorite place to be now. That's where I spend all my time. And I think it's also... So, when I first started, when I found this online space and how you could work with people remotely, and I have a podcast as well, I've had my podcast since 2014. And so I was very early in podcasting. There were people before me, but I have the longest. I'm very proud I have the longest-running, longest-standing podcast for women entrepreneurs.

Deb Zahn: Woo hoo.

Natalie Eckdahl: When I started, there were only three or four of us. My friends who started at the same time, we became friends because there were so few of us, they've moved on to different topics and different things, and now there's hundreds of podcasts for women entrepreneurs. It's very noisy, hard to get noticed.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, even I have a podcast, but I wouldn't recommend that most of my clients in consulting host a podcast. And if they did, it would be done more for networking and connecting with their ideal clients, people they can't get noticed with. They might try to call and get a meeting with you. "No." May I interview you?

Deb Zahn: Exactly. Exactly.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, I think it's really understanding no matter what the tool is, and it may be someone's listening and after this conversation they'll say, "Well, my ideal client would respond to an email list." Great, go do that. But don't just follow something some expert says just because it has worked in their business. Because you really need to take time and understand how are the people I'm trying... Who are the decision-makers for my work, and how do they best respond? Are they subscribing to email lists? Are they online looking for a checklist?

No, those are usually people that want to DIY something. It's usually business to consumer more often or very small, very early business owners that are trying to do a lot themselves to save money. But someone in corporate or a nonprofit or the government isn't necessarily…they don't have time to go look for a checklist on how to do something themselves. They're hiring people to do things that help them do their work and move forward in their position.

Deb Zahn: You've actually said something that relates to my next question, which is the things that are actually critical to have. You've actually said two of them, which are critical, that I want you to dive into a little bit more. One is you keep mentioning the ideal client, which makes my heart sing. And the second thing you mention is the market. And so what are those you really need to be able to do these things in order to even choose what's going to be effective?

Natalie Eckdahl: Well, I always start when I work with clients, and probably you do as well, Deb, which is positioning them and understanding where they fit in their market space. And when I talk about positioning, I separate niching and specializing. So, I say the specializing is more what we do and niching is the who. So, for example, I have a lot of clients that do leadership consulting. Well, that's very broad, so I would have them break that down a little more specialized, actually. What problem are you solving? A lot of times, they start with strategic planning and that's a great in to a company. I know that's part of what you do as well.

Deb Zahn: But so does everybody else.

Natalie Eckdahl: Exactly. Many people do, but that is something that companies and organizations are looking for. They need a strategic plan. They are looking for people to do that. And so that still is too broad. So, you may dial that down to a special way that you do it that would resonate with whoever you're going to work with. But really you don't want to say, "I do strategic planning for anybody." As a person that refers a lot of other people out to my network, I would not know who to refer you to. That's too broad. So, choosing even, say, nonprofits is still too broad for me.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: Are you working with growing nonprofits, established nonprofits, maybe you're specialized in environmental nonprofits. There's so many different ways you could help make the box in my mind. I want to keep you in a little box in my mind, but right now you're kind of floating around if you just say, "I do strategic planning" or if you say, "I'm a consultant to nonprofits." I have no idea what that means. That means nothing to me.

So, first, we have to start with positioning where we are, what we do and who we do it for. And making that more narrow so that we then can think about, "OK, if I'm doing this type of work for this type of client," really trying to understand them. And some of it can be if you're early on in your business and you're trying to understand this from their perspective, most likely you have some people in your network that you could go ask and say, "Hey, I'm just wondering if I could ask you a few questions about how you make these decisions or what you're struggling with. I'm not trying to get work or pitch you anything. I'm really just trying to understand what a founding director of a nonprofit is struggling with or what someone in HR who's booking trainers, how you do that."

So, often when I ask people, they're like, "Well, I actually have a friend that does that or someone I went to school with." And most of us have, especially if you're in your 40s or 50s, you have a background and a network that you can tap into. You have a work experience and friends and family and people you can tap into that can probably help you answer some of these questions.

Deb Zahn: I love it. And what I have found is I've had many of those conversations—and I suggest them— is people actually like telling you that stuff because no one ever listens to them or they don't have anybody that they can say, "This is really hard and this is what I'm struggling with" because they don't necessarily tell their peers or if they're a CEO, that they don't have anybody to have that conversation with.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes. And it's so valuable to get that and to write down the words that they're using and to know the way they're saying things is how you want to present it back to them. So, really being a great listener, I think, is critical as you're building your business and being able to describe what you do to your network is really the most important thing that you want to get to so that you can start sharing with your network more about what you do and who you do it for so they can help you. They want to support you and help you. And it's fun to test out, too, on people. I spend a lot of time on the soccer field these days. I have three kids and my daughter's in college, but my boys are in elementary school, and so I'm on the soccer field a lot.

So, sometimes I'll practice sharing what I do and who I do it for, and I might vary it by who that person is and what they've shared about their background or what I know about them versus if... I just went to a book club. I'm trying to meet new people in Tennessee. We moved here from southern California, and so I went to a book club this last week, and how I introduce myself kind of changes from the venue I'm in versus if I was at a conference for podcasters, that might be different as well.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: I think it's also OK to vary how we describe what we do. We want to create curiosity as well.

Deb Zahn: That's right. But to vary it, you have to have clarity to begin with, which is why I love that you started with that. And I don't know if you've experienced this. I see a lot of folks skip that part and they go right to, "I do strategic planning," or they go right to, "I work with nonprofits," and they skip the details that are going to make life easier for them, and we want to make life easier.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes. And it's so hard because when you're starting out, your brain is telling you, "Keep it broad." Your brain's trying to protect you.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: "Don't narrow things down. You won't get work." And now that scarcity feelings come into us. But as counterintuitive as it is, time and time again, I've watched people become... The more specialized you are, and if there's a demand for what you're offering, the easier getting work will be. And you can charge higher prices once you're one of the very few people that do that thing.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Oh, I love that. So, let's dig into email because you mentioned that's one of the big-

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes.

Deb Zahn: So, I'll say what I heard and then you tell me if what you heard is "Not only do you have to have an email list, but people brag about the size of their email list." I won't even go there with all the jokes we could tell, but it's like, "I have 20,000 people on my email list." And it's not just having one, but you have to have a large one in order for it to work for you. What did you hear? Was it along those lines?

Natalie Eckdahl: Oh, it was the same thing. And I remember when I first started out in my coaching practice, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to specialize. We're going back to 2014, and so people were saying I needed to have an email list, I needed to grow it, and I needed to offer a lead magnet to pull them in. So, it's kind of this exchange. "I will give you this thing, and you give me your email." And that's kind of why people would give you their email.

And I remember thinking, "I'm not even sure. I don't know what to create for who." So, it didn't make sense. And it's interesting, as I've been around and watch people come in and out of business and even change their businesses completely, some of the people that just followed that blindly and built big email lists, and there was a while where Facebook groups were the in thing and people would have 30,000 people member Facebook groups, free Facebook groups, 50,000, they shut them down completely.

They spent all this time, they spent all this energy. So, I've heard the same thing about building an email list, why it's critical, and the truth is, for some businesses, it's very important and it is critical. So, if you are selling a low-ticket membership site or you're selling courses that are, say, even $1000, $100, $200, $300, we see people doing that. Here's a really important thing to understand. And this is what most of the people that teach us don't share, which is unfortunate.

But at any one time, only one to 2% of your audience will buy from you. And I've seen that play out in my business, in my peers' businesses, I've been in groups with online business owners that have lists of 100,000, even a million. That one to 2% holds true across sizes of lists and across industries as well. So, if you look at your precious email list, if you've already spent time building one, it's OK, but realize that it depends on what you're trying to sell. If you are selling consulting services, is your ideal client even reading email lists? Are they personally reading their own email even? They may or may not be. If you're targeting CEOs, they probably have an assistant that's reading their email. They're not even in their inbox.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, it's just getting deleted.

Deb Zahn: Yep. I love that. And again, that's the importance, exactly as you stated, of why knowing who your ideal client is and what your market response to is so critical. And those quizzes where big deals for-

Natalie Eckdahl: Oh, yes, the quizzes.

Deb Zahn: Oh, good lord. And I like a good quiz. If you tell me, "If you were a cat, what breed would you be?" I might take that quiz.

Natalie Eckdahl: Says someone who rescues cats.

Deb Zahn: Exactly. I might even do a dog. Who knows? But if it's business related, I have to admit, I pause and I think, "What I do is serious, and a quiz doesn't feel like you understand the seriousness of what I do."

Natalie Eckdahl: Yeah. It goes back to really looking at who is teaching and who they're targeting. And I think also consultants sometimes get missed by a lot of the online experts out there and people teaching these strategies, which do work in certain scenarios and in certain time periods. Right now, people that have those businesses are struggling to grow their list because they've relied on Facebook ads, which have gotten very expensive.

And so what used to cost them 10 cents, 15 cents, a dollar, $2 for a lead is now costing them $15, $20, $40. So, their whole business model has been turned around. But they're not thinking about people that have the ability to go out there and only work with, say, two clients a year, five clients a year, 10 clients a year. So, a lot of times where I'm able to stop people and have them really think, "How many clients do you really need? If I could get you to capacity right now, how many clients do you really need?" And it's usually way less than 10, and a lot of times, it's less than five.

Deb Zahn: Yes.

Natalie Eckdahl: And so, what is the point of an email list? You probably can just talk to your network and let them know you're available and go to some certain events where your ideal client might be. There are some much easier ways to get your clients than creating newsletters and hoping and praying people are reading them and going to work with you.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, I would agree with that. And, again, since you're going out and having conversations with people, you can ask them. You can ask them, "Do you pay attention?" And it's interesting, for my Craft of Consulting, I have a newsletter because that works really well in that market. I have a couple consulting clients who told me that they read it religiously every week because they just want a break, and they want to hear about the funny farm things that I talk about. And I thought, "Well, that's wonderful and fabulous, but that's not how I've chosen to get business on the consulting side. And it hasn't hurt me one little bit."

Natalie Eckdahl: Yeah. I think for people that are coming from, maybe they're transitioning to a different, maybe an industry and they do need some ways to get noticed. I have what I call rapid visibility techniques, which are ways to get that visibility quickly. And one of those is the center of it is your personal network. That will always be the fastest way to get business. And we need to think about most of our ideal clients in consulting, they are not Googling, they are not looking on Facebook and even LinkedIn. Their first thing is to think, "Who do I know that could give me a referral?"

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: "Who could help me with this? How could I fast-track this?" They will go to the other places next. I like for my clients to use LinkedIn to inform their network about what they do and who they do it for to highlight speaking engagements they've been to, to share their thought leadership. So, for example, on LinkedIn, I did a post that says, "You don't need an email list" which it's a bit controversial and I knew it would be, and I knew people would disagree with me, but that's OK. And we want to put content out there so our network can consume it if we need it.

So, Deb, you don't need it for your consulting, but people starting out, some of them do if they don't have their network. And I love LinkedIn for that. And also, commenting and engaging on LinkedIn, in terms of what you should do versus an email list, I would direct that energy towards making sure my network understands what I do and who I do it for and how they could best refer me. Being of service to my network, so being a person that is helpful and referring and checking in on people. And if you are on a social media platform like LinkedIn, be a part of it. Go engage. Don't just post. You need to comment. And so many people are lurking. It's really fascinating.

One of my clients who started doing video on LinkedIn to kind of share her consulting practice, she had her ex-sister-in-law refer her a client because she finally understood what she did. She's like, "I'm watching your videos on LinkedIn."

Deb Zahn: Nice.

Natalie Eckdahl: And she said, "My colleague is looking for what you do, so I told them to watch your videos too, and they're going to call you."

Deb Zahn: Oh, nice.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, you just never know who is watching what you're doing on that platform. And I do prefer LinkedIn over focusing on an email list because that's an open platform. So, she's not having to say, "Oh, go to her website, subscribe and you'll get her emails or you can then read her blog." This person's probably already spending time on LinkedIn. They can pop over and look at her profile. She can see that they've looked, and so she could follow up. And it's just a great way to start to grow your professional network and to educate your professional network as well.

Deb Zahn: Now you're talking a lot about real relationships and relationship marketing, if you will. Say more about, and LinkedIn's an example of that, but say more about what that is and how you encourage folks to use it.

Natalie Eckdahl: Well, I first realized that people thought it was a bad thing because clients would say, I would ask them what they were struggling with when they came to work with us, and they'd say, "Well, I really need help with marketing." And I'm like, "OK, well what is the problem with marketing?" And they're like, "Well, I get almost all my clients from referral, so I need to do marketing because they're only coming through referral." They're just like…

Deb Zahn: Like, "Are they paid?"

Natalie Eckdahl: They're like, "It's really only through referrals, and so I have no control. I don't know when I'm going to get one." And I said, "Well, this is amazing. You don't probably need marketing. Let me learn more about your work and who your ideal client is, but this is what you want. People are dreaming of having the referrals that you have. And so how can we make some decisions that will help grow your network or to keep your network abreast of what's next even."

Let me go back to make sure I'm answering your question. What is relationship marketing? For me, that is really just having a professional network, making sure that people around you understand your work and who you serve. And then kind of what I said before, it's not a one way thing. It's a relationship, so it's two ways. So, people are doing things for me and I'm doing things for other people. Here's an example. I have a former client and she does coaching and kind of branding with people. And someone said, on LinkedIn, they said, "Natalie, could you help me? I'm looking for someone to help with my messaging and to help with some accountability." And so what I did is I sent her my former client's LinkedIn profile.

I said, "Hey, check her out and if she seems like she's a fit, I'd be happy to connect you." So, am I going to get anything in that exchange? No. And I'm not expecting to. I am just being of service. And I know at some point that will help me in some way. I don't know how, but it's just kind of this reciprocal being of service, helping other people, being kind, and being encouraging to others. And it starts to... So, few people do it and do it well that if you start to do it, it just starts to really help your business.

And another key thing about relationship marketing is thinking about who is your client talking to when they are looking for your services, or who else are they working with?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, if you're a consultant, what other consultants are around that don't do what you do, but might, say, owe you? For us to go to the next level, you need this help. Or now that we're done, you really need to go look for this. And so it's understanding, it's really about, and it can be really hard for some people to get into the head of that person, that decision maker, and to think, "What are they struggling with and where are they going? Who are they asking for help?" So, if they don't have a referral, they are probably then going to go looking on LinkedIn or Google. So, if they're going to look on LinkedIn, you want to make sure that you are someone that comes up, and how can you do that?

Deb Zahn: Yeah, I love that. And I love the emphasis on real relationships. I definitely love the, "Who else are they talking to?" So, I get, personally on the consulting side, quite a bit of business from law firms that I tend to work with, with financial consulting firms that I tend to work with. We all like each other. We like sending each other business. Before the pandemic, we liked having drinks. And we have each other's back and we support each other, and that includes sending each other business. And our clients tend to want all of us. So, we call it putting the band back together. And it's always delightful, it's always wonderful, and it's a significant portion of the business I've gotten.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes.

Deb Zahn: So, I love that suggestion. Wonderful. So, you did talk about earlier specialization and niching or niching, however fancy pants you want to say.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes. I like saying niching because it feels fancier.

Deb Zahn: I like it. It is fancier.

Natalie Eckdahl: It's the same. Niche, niche.

Deb Zahn: It is. So, explain again the difference between those and how you encourage people to use those in order to clear the way for business, we'll say.

Natalie Eckdahl: Ooh, I like that. So, the key is you don't want to be a generalist. So, you don't want to be someone who could do anything for any organization or any person. If you are that, we have no idea what you're doing and we can't help you.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, that's the first step is you don't want to be just a consultant, and I don't want to be just a coach because that doesn't mean anything to people, and people will roll your eyes at you. So, we specialize by the work that we do and we niche by the who. So, it could be industry, it could be size of organization, it could be revenue size, it could be team size, or a number of employees. So, for example, I have a client that she's a chief financial officer previously, so she provides fractional chief financial officer services to individuals. She used to actually call herself a consultant or a business coach.

And when I looked at what she was doing and her background, I said, "You're really a fractional CFO." She's like, "You're right, I am because I'm focusing all on the money side." And now she's able to say that she only works with small businesses that are one to 10 million in revenue. So, now when I think of her, if I'm talking to someone and their business is smaller or bigger, we don't consider Jennifer. I know about what she's this one to 10 million range, which is very specific. It could even be smaller, but it's so helpful.

And if you are consulting into organizations thinking about the size of the organization or the size of the division or they have multiple locations or they're startups that have venture funding, the more specific you can be about the who, the easier it helps people refer you and then to connect to those amazing potential partners like you have that are complementary providers that you might be able to put a band together and go work for a client in tandem or one after the other. And we all want to make referrals that will be successful. I think this is really one of the key things to think about.

If I am going to put my reputation on the line and send someone to you, I need to make sure that you're going to deliver. Otherwise, it impacts me.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, we need to really understand that it's not just about being helpful. I'm wanting to make a great referral. So, in the recommendation I gave previously, I know that my former client will take care of this person if she chooses to work with her.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Natalie Eckdahl: And is going to do a great job. I have other people I know or have worked with or colleagues that I would not send. I don't know that they would be the right fit for her or I'm not positive they would do great work for her.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: So, that's the other point is to remember that whoever is going to make a referral for you and help you in terms of relationships, it's impacting their relationship too.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Because you're borrowing their credibility. But that's also where, and because I know you also talk about systems and whatnot, have everything set up so that you can follow up quickly and appropriately because if you wait two weeks or you everything's messy or clunky, that's a hit to your referral buddies credibility.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes. And then I like to remind people to circle back. So, if I made a referral and it was successful, I'm not going to know unless one of them tells me, and it should be the person that I gave the business to. So, I want to hear back from that person whether it's just a, "Thank you so much for sending Sally to me. She was an amazing client and we're having so much fun together."

Or if you like to send gifts, send me a gift. I'm not against gifts. I like little gifts. It's fun. Little thank you. But I really don't need anything other than to know that it worked or didn't work. I just want to know the results.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: Another thing that really harms consultants, especially when they're starting out, is they ghost their network because they get too busy.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Natalie Eckdahl: It's so hard because…

Deb Zahn: It's sad.

Natalie Eckdahl: It's hard, and it's sad because especially if they have a very large client that is taking up all of their work. If one client has them at capacity or one or two clients and then that project ends or they both end at the same time, then they have nothing. And they have not been talking to their network, they don't have anything in the pipeline. And so that's really one of the things that I love to talk about is, "Don't ghost your network." So, no matter how busy you are, you need to nurture the future of your business, or you won't have a business. So, taking some time to, every week, just even if it's just sending one email or cheering someone on on LinkedIn or sending someone a direct message or one of my clients, she has all her clients in her phone and she texts people.

She'll be like, "I was thinking about colleges starting now, and I remember your daughter was going to college. How's it going?" So, she's just like, "Keep texting people." And that's her method. And it has to go with your personality and feel like a fit for you. For some people listening, they were like, "I'm never doing a video on LinkedIn. Peace out. No, thank you." That's OK. It should be whatever is your personality, and your personality may be everything is done in direct message on LinkedIn, and we would never, Deb and I would never see what you're doing, but you are nurturing and staying in relationships with people and building new relationships too.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I think if I hear anything, which just makes me so happy, is treat it like a real relationship. So, we don't like those friends that only show up when they need something. "Hey, can you help me move next week?" And you haven't heard from them in two years.

Natalie Eckdahl: No.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, act like a real friend. Act like someone who actually cares about them.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yes.

Deb Zahn: It's how I've gotten most of my business.

Natalie Eckdahl: It seems so simple, and it really is. It really is simple and it doesn't have to be complicated. And especially when you only need a small amount of business each year, you don't need to have any complicated marketing system happening. You don't need this email list that you're spending money for software to make happen and you're having to follow the rules of the FTC. So, there's so many different things out there that you don't really need. And so I love keep your business simple. Do what feels right for your personality and your business. Watch other people that have been successful ahead of you doing what you do, and that will really be a great clue.

Deb Zahn: Oh, love it, love it, love it. Well, obviously, you and I could talk forever, but where can folks find you? So, you mentioned your podcast, which is great. We're going to have that in the show notes. Where else can folks find you?

Natalie Eckdahl: Well, LinkedIn, so Natalie Eckdahl. I'm there, and if you've heard this podcast, please tell me. Say, "I heard you on Deb. I wanted to say hi." I love when people tell me how they found me. And we have something new, which is a private podcast feed, which talks about what I call how to build an enduring business. And if people go to my website,, they can get that. It's just coming out.

What we did is we curated episodes that we've done previously and one of those is relationship marketing, one of those is on not having an email list. So, if you want a deeper dive on those two topics, that would be a great place to go. And, yeah, I think any of those three places. Listen to the BizChix podcast, check out the private feed at or find me on LinkedIn, or all three.

Deb Zahn: Nice. And, again, we will have all of those in the show notes. Now, I also know one of the things that you talk about is reclaiming your time, which I think is critically important, particularly if we're our own bosses now. So, how do you bring balance and get your time back, however it is you define that?

Natalie Eckdahl: Well, I have to first share that I started my podcast, and I did over 150 interviews in the hopes of figuring out the secret to balance. And I could save everybody a lot of time. 150-plus hours. There's no secret. So, first of all, I talk to a lot of other women business owners. There is no secret to balance, or work-life balance, as a lot of times people say. What I really like to talk to people about is doing the things that they are the greatest at, whether that's what they do and love doing at home and at work and outsourcing and delegating the rest. And I tell people to get as much help as they can afford at home and at work.

So, it's a strange concept for some people that have not grown up seeing other people being paid either in their family business or in their home to help with things but try it out. And if you have a partner or spouse that's against it, sometimes if you say, "Could we try it one time and see how it goes? It doesn't have to be a lifetime commitment. We could just try having someone come clean the house or having someone wash our cars or hiring an assistant to help me schedule things." So, it doesn't have to be a forever thing. It can be very hard, but once you get a little taste of it and get to focus on what I call your zone of genius, I think it's amazing.

I also heard another person say this, which has really stuck with me because I tend to be really good at a lot of things, and I bet you are, Deb, and I bet your listeners are too. Just because you're the best at something doesn't mean you have to do it or should do it. So, I am the best in my house at loading the dishwasher. I just want you to know I am the best, but that doesn't mean that I should be the one doing it.

Deb Zahn: Yes.

Natalie Eckdahl: Doesn't mean I don't do it, but it doesn't mean that I have to be the one doing it all the time. And that could be the same in any part of your business or any part of your home. And that's from Tiffany Dufu. That quote comes from her, and she has a great book, talks a lot about delegating and outsourcing.

Deb Zahn: Oh my gosh, I love that last one so much. And I just have to share with you. So, we have chickens, and when we first got chickens, we lived in a suburban area and my husband said, "They're yours. I don't want to have anything to do with them. They're yours." And then he watched me clean out the chicken coop and we're both systems people. He thought he had a better way to do it. And at first I was like, "What? You don't care." And then I thought, "Shh, be quiet. He wants to clean the chicken coop out."

Natalie Eckdahl: Let him. He has the best system. Whatever it is, it's the best. I agree with him.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And he didn't read that book, so he doesn't know he shouldn't be doing it.

Natalie Eckdahl: Yeah, and we're not going to tell him.

Deb Zahn: That's fabulous. Well, Natalie, you're wonderful. I'm so glad to have you on. And there have been just so many amazing nuggets that you've shared with folks throughout this whole thing. I think anybody should go to your podcast and get more of it.

Natalie Eckdahl: Thank you, Deb. I appreciate you so much. This was so much fun.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up in a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything.

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