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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Side Hustle to Successful Business

with Tammy Olson, Owner Tammy Olson Consulting

Tammy Olson of Tammy Olson Consulting shares her story on how her 2020 side hustle became her business allowing her to leave her corporate career. Tammy works with small businesses that are ready to grow, and move forward with efficient processes and systems in place.

Notes from the Show

Tammy Olson Consulting was born from a 2020 side hustle. Tammy is a consultant working with small businesses to create efficient processes to scale. Overwhelmed business owners whose hard work is paying off with growth and marketing often have failing systems in place that just can’t handle the new rate of business, this is where she comes in.

Tammy shares her unique business journey. After some very personal life losses, Tammy began to shift her thinking. Where she previously did not have a non-entrepreneurial spirit, she now was feeling unfulfilled in her corporate career. During COVID in 2020 and with more time freedom, Tammy started her side hustle, Tammy Olson Consulting. 6 months later she left her corporate world to pursue this side hustle as a business where she really loved what she was doing. Her advice to others? If you’re thinking about starting a business, do it.

As Tammy embarks on year 3 of her consulting business, her focus is visibility. She has spent her time learning what clients come to her for, who her best client is, and where she can be most helpful. Her marketing efforts are pouring into workshops and speaking opportunities where she can reach business owners before they need her, and just maybe when they're ready they will become clients.

If you’re a small business owner looking to grow and realize your foundation might not be in the place to support that group, Tammy wants to help. You can reach her by visiting her website, Tammy Olson Consulting.

What's Inside:

  • Helping small business owners create processes for growth.

  • Impacting the foundation of small businesses.

  • Starting your own business from a side hustle.

  • Leaving the corporate world for your own business.

  • How to know you need help in your own small business.

  • The power of efficient processes.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:37

Welcome back everybody today my guest is Tammy Olson, who's the owner of Tammy Olson consulting, and she is a business operations strategist. Welcome, Tammy.

Tammy Olson 0:50

Thank you so much for having me Susan this is so fun.

Susan Tatum 0:53

We're gonna have a great conversation today. And but before we dive into that part of it, why don't you just take a few minutes and tell us about for anybody that doesn't know you, who you are and what you do?

Tammy Olson 1:03

Of course, thank you. There are a lot of people who don't know me, I am fairly new in my business, I left corporate about two and a half years ago to open a consultancy that helps small business owners really, to create efficient processes in their businesses so that they can scale. And I take what I learned from my time in corporate and apply that were applicable to small business owners who are struggling with process, they're a little bit overwhelmed, actually, sometimes a lot overwhelmed. And that's been a lot of fun for me to really be able to help people at a real, you know, point of impact for them.

Susan Tatum 1:40

So what your you mentioned your were working corporate, and I know that you did event management? So what, what, what were you doing that made you a business operations strategist.

Tammy Olson 1:55

It was a, it was a it was a long transition. It was about 10 15 years ago, where I was doing mostly corporate event planning, I learned some super important things there. I learned how to keep my cool. I learned how to, we would talk about it was like, you're like a swan, you're super serene, and the surface of the water. And underneath, you're pedaling like crazy. You're just pedaling pedaling in an event. in event planning and event management. If you're really exceptional at what you do. No one will ever know, the better you are at your job, the more effortless you make it look, those were useful things to know in terms of managing expectations. So for any, you know, for anyone who's paying in corporate and wondering about this, there's a real communication strategy for managing up that I leveraged pretty extensively, because I don't I don't want to burden at that point. I don't want to burden executives with every last little detail, they were asking some ridiculous, outrageous question. I would just make it happen. But it was important for others, I thought to know, hey, we did this thing. And this was the this was the outcome. And I was always trying to push an ROI, really around the events around, you know, my involvement. And so that, that served me well in that space. And as I moved from event management, into travel management, that it became a matter of communicating across a whole broad audience of people who maybe didn't want to participate in your corporate travel program, maybe you want it to always find the cheapest fare, really. And frankly, we're you know, experiencing actual travel difficulties. So again, there's, there's a bit of, I've got this and it's natural for me, I want to help people, and I want them to feel comfortable. I've got this, even though I'm pedaling pretty fast to try to figure out like, and how are we actually can do the thing I just said, it's going to be fine. We'll figure it out as we go.

Susan Tatum 3:46

That's kind of true and consulting across the board. I mean, that didn't change because you became a consultant, you're still like, I got this, even if the buildings on fire. We're gonna get out of here.

Tammy Olson 3:56

Here are your accents. Everyone take a deep breath. I think it's one of the things that really lights me up. Clients will, clients will come to me and they'll be you know, they're very overwhelmed. They're very in their business. And as unique as all of us think our businesses are, there are very common themes and column vertical. Common verticals are things that we all need to do. And so clients will come in, they'll be overwhelmed, and I'll never, you know, they're convinced that no one can help them. And we just talk for a little bit. And you know, they're the questions and I kind of apply a methodology around how I get information. And I can see them just take a deep breath, like their shoulders drop. And they're like, someone gets me or someone's got me or there's, you know, someone who's going to hang with me and then I'm like, some of the consultants we ran into, you know, back in my corporate days where teams swarms of people come in and, and break you know, tell you everything that's wrong. And then say, Okay, well good luck with that, and leave and let you know, let the organization fix it. I really stick around with my clients to do the heavy lifting on the thing because frankly, if it's a if it's a platform or a technology or an automation, if they knew how to do it, they would have already done it. They don't need one more person telling them you need to do the thing. All actually hang with them to do the thing. Whether that's process or application, or whatever it is, I don't just leave them with a to do list

Susan Tatum 5:24

So you mentioned that clients come to you and they're overwhelmed. And when we were talking previously, I think one of the things that you said was you wanted, your preference was it would be better if people came to you before they were overwhelmed.

Tammy Olson 5:41

Yes Yeah, yeah.

Susan Tatum 5:42

What does it look like? How would a business owner know ooh, I better call Tammy, because I'm getting to the point where I'm going to be overwhelmed.

Tammy Olson 5:51

Yes. As entrepreneurs, we're very scrappy. And so we want to fix all the things that we you, we bootstrapped ourselves in you. And that's great. To be a self starter, I think the point at which people would start to recognize is hopefully in a place of excitement, like, oh, I want to, I'm looking to grow I am, maybe maybe my marketing is really starting to pay off, like I have put in a great marketing strategy. And I'm starting to get business and when that starts to come in, rather than waiting until the flood, and you realize that, oh, my gosh, my marketing work, I have all this work. And I really don't have a platform, or I don't have a foundation that will support this uptick in volume. That wouldn't be the time like, if you're seeing that marketing is working, you're getting more business in the door, you will often feel it, where you may have systems that don't integrate. And in the in the beginning, when it's you when you have nothing but time, because you're waiting for the for the business to come. That's great. And you can tinker with that all day long. But be honest, and I guess don't be afraid to skate ahead. Like let's assume everything works out if you're starting to feel like business is picking up or I think that I have a hiccup here between my for example, my project management isn't handing off well, to my QuickBooks, for example, there's a there's a break there. If there's something like that, that you're struggling with over and over and over again, let's fix it before it's mission critical. And that's the thing that say, stops you from invoicing in a time away, right? Things that affect money coming in the door, or your ability to collect money. Those are pretty, pretty big issues that you want to have a seamless process for, before you get frankly too busy to you know, if it's a matter of pushing buttons, we sometimes let that go on a little too long.

Susan Tatum 7:36

That makes sense. So you have a really interesting story, I think about starting your own business and what led to it so 10 tell us about that.

Tammy Olson 7:46

Yes, I can say that I I don't come from entrepreneurial stock. I think that I know that I can't I come from corporate, you know, you get a job and you stay in a job and it's a stable job. And, and I really kind of admired those people who were outside of that construct that were going to start their own business, they want to do their own thing. I never felt that calling. What I did start to feel as I got older, is I had a couple of losses that happened to my personal life one expected one completely unexpected. That started to shake or make me think about, Is this really how I want to spend whatever time I have left on earth? You know what those big questions like, Is this really how I want to spend my time, and I was working, you know, a lot of hours in corporate and it was feeling a little unfulfilling. And then I think this is where we went, I was on a good track. And there was a promotion that I frankly, I actually thought it was pretty much my job. It was it felt like it was mine to lose, and I'm running hard. And I'm doing all the things and at the very end, I didn't get the job. Like I didn't get the promotion. And there was a sting, it hurt. Like it didn't get picked for the team. And I was like, what is that? And almost immediately after that initial sting of rejection, I was like, Oh, thank God, I felt so joyous. I felt like this weight come off my shoulders that I didn't even know I was carrying, as I was marching down this process to the next step. And I started to think, Okay, you're starting to feel some constriction in your life around how much you know, do you really want to work? And how hard do you want to work for someone else and then to not not be happy that you can get a promotion, that's something really screwed up. So I thought about maybe I take it to a different company. And it wasn't the company I worked for a great company with great people and a great team. And about the same time I was having conversation. I had always had conversations with a fair number of people on my social network are those small business owners and entrepreneurial folks. And for quite some time they would you know, we just talk and they'd have a challenge. And I'd be like, Well, have you thought about this? Or have you thought about that? And they would thank me for the, you know, the advice, and I was happy to share my perspective. And they started saying, you know, you should, you could do this for a job like people would hire you to do this. I felt like really. And then it was COVID, I was working for a travel management company. I had an extra day a week I got for I was down to four days a week. It's furloughed a day. So I said, now it's a good time to start a side hustle, I guess. And so I literally started my side hustle during COVID. And I did that for about six months before I left corporate altogether.

Susan Tatum 10:26

So what happened during those six months? Did you just like work up enough confidence that you were ready to say goodbye to the corporate world?

Tammy Olson 10:33

Yes, and I one thing that I will say I know that certainly not the first person to have a side hustle by any means. But I knew pretty early on almost from the get go, that I liked that work. More than my corporate work, it was becoming very clear that that's what I wanted to do. And I it was my side hustle was never a hobby. It just, it wasn't something I like I put time to it. I did my day job, I worked on it. And then it was very focused on it being a business. And I learned things my I learned what what kind of work I was going to do. What what potential customers really valued or what the current clients, I had picked up a couple of small clients in my side hustle, and they were very, very informative in terms of helping me translate what I knew and how I could help them. And I am very grateful for that runway to be able to figure that out with the relative safety net of, you know, a day job.

Susan Tatum 11:31

So did you find that what you thought you were going to be doing? And what you ended up? And you are now doing changed?

Tammy Olson 11:38

Yes. And that kind of comes back to that one of the earlier questions about helping people, you know, when they're in crisis mode, what I, I came out small in terms of the work that I was going to do, and I don't have a real elegant way to say this. So it was very tactical. I came to me and said, I'm having this very tactical issue, I need help with this thing. And and it was, in that particular case, it was email box that was out of control. And I'm like, Well, okay, you have 1000 emails in your inbox? Yes, we can put folders in place. Yes, we can automate some things got Why don't we talk about why you have 1000 emails in your inbox to begin with, like, let's start there. And so every time in the early days, if someone was bringing me a very concrete, I need you to do this. I'm like, Yes. And? what about stopping it from happening in the first place? So I kept taking it back to strategy, and that, that was actually the work that I love the most and, and did the most of in corporate was, we can put in all kinds of process improvements, or there were, you know, platform integrations or or, or, but until we address the people part of it, or why do we think why do we think we need this bell or widget now that needs to be addressed first, and then we can fix the in between so that that tactical problem is minimized.

Susan Tatum 13:00

So that why is really important, you know, there's there was a I'm trying to think of who it was. But there was some theory that you should ask the client, why five times before you finally get to the, the what they really need. I think that might be exaggerated a little bit. But there are I mean, there's a lot of prospects that you think that you know, come to us and say, I need you to create this for me. And that's when they'll start going off in my head is like, yeah, it's why well, okay, wait, what, you know, what are you trying to accomplish with this?

Tammy Olson 13:30

Yes, I love that you bring up that? Five why's? You're right, whether whether it's directionally correct. It's more than one. If it's five, if it's seven, if it's two, when they get there, great. But there is there is a, there has to be a peeling back of the layers to really get to the heart of the why. And I think, you know, any one of us thinks that we know what our problem is. And if we have found someone that it seems like they can help us where we feel, you know, we feel like we want to tell them Well, this is what I need fix it would be I can't just walk up to someone and say I have a thing. Can you fix it? Like we feel like we want to tell them what the problem is? As a you know, as that consultant or as that person who's helping them. It's really incumbent upon us to say, I hear what you're saying. Let's wind it back a little bit.

Susan Tatum 14:17

We you know, and that also takes you from being an order taker basically to a strategic partner where you're actually helping them to, to sometimes unearth their problems and issues, and then to solve them, rather than just, you know, delivering that hamburger, or whatever it was they wanted.

Tammy Olson 14:36

Right. Actually, one of the biggest challenges I had, again, way back when I was a meeting planner is no disrespect intended, but there are a lot of there are a lot of meeting professionals back in the day, that literally were more concerned about picking linens, or making sure that you know what I simplify, but it's kind of true. And I there, I'm sorry, if you're an event planner, you're listening to this, and you think I'm all wrong. We know who those people are, that they aren't a strategic partner. And they're not thinking about the overall impact, and they have no desire to, I was not that kind of planner, which was why I lasted a certain amount of time. And then I moved on to something else where I could actually dig into bigger picture strategy work.

Susan Tatum 15:19

Yeah, and and for anybody that's listening, that hasn't ever been involved in a large event. Let me just say that if anybody can take care of all the details and figure out what's how to get to the end, across the finish line, it's an event planners, somebody with your kind of your kind of experience, because if anything can go wrong, that's where it's gonna go wrong.

Tammy Olson 15:43

It will, it's absolutely will, and I think that I there were a number of independent third party planners and professionals that I worked with, and I learned so I thought I was you know, I was okay. But they were amazing in just kind of being completely unflappable. And the graciousness with which like you, you would see these questions, get asked to some of these people, and it was the most outrageous, ridiculous thing, but I hear what you're saying that sounds great. Let me see what I can do for you. And I would be sitting there going, Oh, my God, that would make my head spin. I really modeled their behavior because they were so good at it. There's no, this is true. Like there's nothing to be gained by having a complete meltdown about anything. Like there was a problem, or a challenge or whatever. Like, let's think about it for a minute. Let's be responsive, not reactive. Those were skills that were, you know, I honed well under really exceptional people doing that, right. It's like, whoa, whoa, they have that all figured out. Now, they were probably going back to their room every night and you know, passing out with a bottle or popping lots of mileage to get through the day while they were in front of me. But they were certainly they were certainly modeling the behavior and the colonists that I wanted to show up with and that I think I always had, I just needed someone to like really

Susan Tatum 17:03

set the example. So you're so your businessbnow you're, you're into your third year. And so what are you? Where are you focusing? Well, let me ask you this. What did you get under control first, for your own business?

Tammy Olson 17:16

Well, it wasn't the thing that was it's kind of funny, it was, you know, I offloaded bookkeeping, and my QuickBooks, I couldn't get out of that fast enough. And again, not because the money was pouring in, don't get me wrong, it wasn't that I couldn't keep track of every penny. I just knew that that was something that's any many, many people could do better than I. And I want it to be. I want to get off of my plate as quickly as I could reasonably invest in that. So that was first thing.

Susan Tatum 17:46

So without say, you were asking yourself, What can someone else do better than I can do?

Tammy Olson 17:52

oh Yes. Yeah.

Susan Tatum 17:52

For an affordable amount.

Tammy Olson 17:53


Susan Tatum 17:53

Okay. All right.

Tammy Olson 17:57

That's, and that really is the driver. I mean, when when, oftentimes, clients will, will come to me because like, I, you know, I'm being told, I know, I know, I need to hire someone. But I don't know what to let go of, because it's all me. You know, I've always I've been doing it all. So that question is a very common, what's the first thing and there's a couple of ways to approach it, I knew I wasn't that that was not my sweet spot. And, you know, I wanted to be rid of the finances, I want the report, I want to see my balance, you know, like all balances. I didn't want to be doing a lot of the manipulating of that. And so, there's also an exercise that we can apply in terms of, if we have a finance of whatever your revenue is that you want money that you want in your pockets, you know, figure out your profitability or up plus plus how many hours you want to work, you can and should calculate your own hourly rate. How much am I worth? How much do I make when I'm doing my job? How much can I make when I make it? What's the value of a sale? If I am out, getting more sales? What's that amount and If you can pay someone and then extrapolate that out, if you can pay someone less than that number, to do something that you're not good at that is something that is not core to your delivery.

Susan Tatum 19:07

Or you may hate

Tammy Olson 19:07

you may hate, it's okay to say I hate something, I don't want to do this, like, we think we have to do all the things, we don't right Susan, you know this, I don't want to get it's my life, I'm gonna pay someone to do that for me. So it's, it's, it's those things, I hate it. I'm not good at it. And frankly, I know how much I'm worth. So therefore, it makes it easier for that business owner to say, oh, I can pay, you know, a bookkeeper XML. But I make twice that if I'm actually doing my work, so I should do more of my work. And get rid of the rest?

Susan Tatum 19:35

Yeah, yeah. And then you and then you also, you know, it's probably going to be done better by somebody that's a pro at doing that.

Tammy Olson 19:43

That someone I generally work with my clients are service based businesses. So it's the same thing, the same reason someone is paying you for your expertise, because you're more efficient, and you have the skills and you do it. That's the same reason you would hire somebody in your business, it's the same, it shouldn't be that hard for us to get our heads around.

Susan Tatum 20:03

So what are you focusing on now going into year three? What are you focusing on in your business?

Tammy Olson 20:14

I am focused, I am focused on visibility. So there is a certain amount of learning and doing I think that's the other thing, you know, we think we have to have all the answers before we do something, starting a business, if you're having a thought, my recommendation is do it and don't think that you're going to have every single thing figured out. Early in my business, I have figured out a lot around the clients that I've worked best with the services that I provide, you know, how I'm how the how the how I served them. And now that that has started to coalesce for me. Now it's about visibility. Now I know what clients come to me most often for now I know where I can be the most helpful in a way that is really easy for me and aligned to the, to my own core there's a soul discovery that happened for me. So going forward, it's visibility and trying to get to more clients. So I'm doing some workshops and doing some speaking and doing some things were really early entrepreneurs may not have a need for someone like me to kind of come in and put all the pieces pieces in place, but I can help them think about how would how should you be creating a foundation from this point forward. And so that's been fun, they may not be my ideal client right now. They will be someday. And I want to help them I guess that was the other thing is I want people to feel supported. But really, my work is generally one on one. And so I'm going to run into a bandwidth issue. So I I also tried to do some of this group work.

Susan Tatum 21:44

So you're so you're really part of your marketing and sales philosophy is provide get help people get get on the right track. And or avoid not being on the right track. And then maybe they'll come they'll they'll end up working with you at some point. Maybe they won't, but you've done right by the world.

Tammy Olson 22:03

Yeah, it feels it feels good. That's, you know, in the rights, it's, it's not hard for me to do that. I want to be able to offer that to people, if it gets them. Frankly, if it gets anybody moving faster into something that they think is going to change their life and fulfill them who would want to be part of that, like, I want everyone to do what they love doing. I'm doing what I love doing. And it's amazing. So I, you know, want to help people do that in a way that meets them where they are. And to that extent, I know one thing that I fell into, I think many of us do. And depending on the type of work we're doing, there's a lot of bright shiny objects out there. And there are a lot of tools and shortcuts and you can do this. And you know, there's an app for that there's an app for everything. But I fell victim to it. And I would like to help other people understand that. You need to understand what your business is going to do. How do you want your business to be here? How do you want to be even your business before you start looking for technology to solve it, because if you don't have a process, haven't buying some technology doesn't solve that problem. You still have to look you're still working within that platform. So it supports how you want to do your business. And so

Susan Tatum 23:13

if you try to put technology or you try to automate a bad process, you're just going to fail faster.

Tammy Olson 23:18

Yeah, fail faster and it was a waste of you know, it was not a good investment. So tremendous waste of time and it can be a real blow to someone they'll be like, Oh my gosh, I have no failed. I'm no good at this. I failed well You didn't fail, that wasn't the best approach, but just dial it back a little bit. And we'll, you know, shift course it's not. There's not it's not all or nothing. There's always, there's always the gray area. And that's, you know, that's what we'll do, honestly, so

Susan Tatum 23:45

yeah, yeah. So what's working best for you for bringing in new business now?

Tammy Olson 23:50

Now, same as since day one I had I was blessed I can't describe how it happened with a couple of amazing referral partners right off the bat, that I met. And they were business coaches, who had clients that they've been coaching, and my client knows they need, you know, they do the thing, and we talk about every month and you do the thing, do the thing. I need someone to help them do the thing. So I would be referred into those business coaches, clients, fractional CFOs

Susan Tatum 24:23

I would say, yeah, Yeah,

Tammy Olson 24:25

yep. And, to a certain extent, web developers have been a really good referral source for me, those folks tend to see or hear about pickups in the business. Certainly from, you know, from the finance side, they'll they'll see that the inefficiency surface in poor profitability, or, you know, lost revenue opportunities, but even some of the other ancillary services that we think about in terms of it's

Susan Tatum 24:49

That's interestingc so what are you? Do you have like a formal program that you use to develop your referral sources? Or to keep them warm? Or how do you go about doing that?

Tammy Olson 25:01

It's very organic. And I would say, I'm not doing it as well as I could be. So that's an opportunity for me to stay in front of and to stay connected to I do I do a fair amount of outreach and the referral folks that I hear from the most often. I'm very close to those people we're connecting. Easily. It's not hard for us to do that. But I have not, I have not, you know, really systematize that for myself.

Susan Tatum 25:28

I get asked about that a lot. Not not specifically to referral sources. But any, you know, anytime you've got folks in your pipeline, that aren't ready to buy right now, but they may be ideal clients later on? How do you keep them warm? And the answer is not sending them a newsletter, if you know, if you already have some kind of relationship with them, you you want to keep that going on. And it's I agree, it's hard to it's it's difficult to do.

Tammy Olson 25:52

And I have not cheerfully, truthfully, I have I have only just recently for myself, but in an automation platform that is taking off, it's I'm able to get rid of a couple other tools that I was using that will be in this all in one that I loving and geeking out on. And at this point, now I actually have an ability to do some email or some list management where you know, hey, I'm like everyone else. I spreadsheet. I use a spreadsheet for a long time. And then I got a little baby CRM, and now I've kind of, you know, moved on to something else and kind of blown that up. But I started just like anyone else did. And there's nothing wrong with that until you get to the point you're like, Well, it's a list, but it doesn't really track my activity. And it doesn't really help me track with any real efficacy. Well, my connecting with people, and now I'm looking forward to actually being able to do that for myself.

Susan Tatum 26:43

It's fun, you know, I talk to people that run multimillion dollar PR agencies with a spreadsheet of their clients and prospects. And yeah,

Tammy Olson 26:50

all spreadsheets I have yet that one of my clients loves Smartsheet he thinks you'll never need a CRM because he has smartsheets and I am like ok works for now. I'm not opposed to that.

Susan Tatum 27:00

Well, this has been a wonderful conversation. And I thank you for stopping by. And let me just ask you to tell us for those that want to follow up. What's the best way to get in touch with you?

Tammy Olson 27:10

Sure. First of all, thank you for having me on. It was a lot of fun. I love speaking with you, Susan. Thank you. And the best way to reach me is probably just to hop over to my website, which is

Susan Tatum 27:23

And that's O L S O N right?

Tammy Olson 27:25

Yeah. Tammy T A M M Y Olson O L S O N.

Susan Tatum 27:29

We'll put that we'll put all that in the show notes as well. But thank you again very much. And I am not going to tell you how many emails I have in my inbox.

Tammy Olson 27:39

There's no shame in that game. You know, we all work our inbox differently. So whatever works.

Susan Tatum 27:48

All right. Take care Tammy, it was fun talking with you.

Tammy Olson 27:52

Thank you so much. And have a good day.

Susan Tatum 27:54

You too.



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