Carolyn Browne Tamler

has helped hundreds of businesses and organizations with her thoughtful facilitation and research services. She also writes colorful and compelling articles about new business initiatives! Would this help you? Call Carolyn today!

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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    3-21-13 What is special or unique about a manicure business?

    If you are familiar with some of my marketing themes you’ve probably heard me ask, “What’s special or unique about your business?”  I consider this the primary question that drives how you market what you do.

    In The Business Buzz for April 1, you will read about Island Girl Nails.  This is a locally-owned nail salon that has been a successful business for eight years.  For most of us who have walked into a nail salon, the experience is pretty basic: a table, the manicurist and often a simple, small shop.

    Vicki Thompson, the owner of Island Girl Nails has been building her business by creating an environment and offering services that make her business special and unique.

    Vicki’s salon is almost like an art gallery.  The colors are vibrant; large round mirrors decorate the walls; there are oversized, relaxing chairs for the pedicures.  Most impressive, though, has been Vicki’s focus on her clients.  She learns about each new client’s health issues (if there are any), what they want with their service and what will make them feel most comfortable.

    All of her employees share Vicki’s ethic about making a visit to a nail salon comfortable and pleasurable.  There are other nail salons on the south end of the island, but the number of repeat customers and referrals have built her business and attest to the ways she has made a visit to her salon special and unique.

    No matter how many businesses compete with you in any way, it's up to you to create a product and/or a service that is special and unique.

    Check out Vicki's story at



    3-21-13 What if the need to make money takes the joy out of your passion?

    I got a very interesting response from someone who read my Blog a couple of weeks ago about following your passion to create your business.  Here was the comment:

     “I once had a business that was also my passion but I found that when you absolutely must earn a living from that thing, it can take the joy and pleasure right out of the thing that once fed your soul. For me, it's been much easier to NOT earn money from "what makes me passionate," but to do something else that can enable me to do my passion outside of work, without it having to be reduced to the grind of needing to make me money. “

    I’ve read this over several times.  I certainly understand the point that was made. 

    And yet, on Whidbey especially, I see so many examples of people who really love what they do while they are making a living from their business.

    I think what I have observed is that many people who move to Whidbey need to find a different way to earn a living since there are relatively few jobs on the island.  Many decide to follow a dream they have had but never acted upon.  Running any kind of a business isn’t easy, but I have crossed paths with many who moved to the island, decided to do something as a business that they had never done before, and find themselves feeling very contented with their business choice….even if it isn’t earning the money they might have gotten from their city job off the island.

    There really is no pat answer to the dilemma of job/business satisfaction vs. making enough money to live comfortably.  Obviously, if you can follow a passion and earn as much as you need to get by, it’s a formula for a happier lifestyle.


    3-14-13 More musings on collaboration: A good way to fire up creativity 

    Last week I facilitated two group meetings, one for some Chamber members and one for a political group.  Each group had a similar goal of defining areas where people want to direct their energies to facilitate future accomplishments.

    In each meeting, I followed my standard facilitation procedures: I encouraged participants to share ideas while I listed their suggestions on poster sheets.  Within each group, ideas flowed.  I made a laundry-list as each suggestion was offered.

    After everyone had an opportunity share ideas, I invited people to come up and prioritize the listed responses by selecting the five items they felt were most important (those who have been to a planning meeting I have facilitated know I love press-on stars for this purpose).

    In each of the two groups a clear consensus was apparent.  When I prepared my reports on these discussions, I was able to provide a reliable summary of what was important to the participants of each discussion, which was also a good indication of where people are most likely to be motivated to be involved; they also had a sense of participation in, and ownership of, the next moves forward.

    Some individuals are blessed with great creativity, but in my experience, a group discussion where each person is encouraged to participate, but no one is allowed to dominate, leads to many creative ideas and potential solutions.


    3-7-13 Collaboration: A discussion with Clinton Chamber members

    I facilitated a meeting with the Clinton Chamber of Commerce on March 7th where we talked about how collaboration was working in their business communities and how it could benefit the businesses.

    The participants at the meeting agreed that Clinton is a different kind of business community.  There are a lot of businesses, but many are “off the beaten path” and the retail businesses are clustered in three different locations.  Those at the meeting commented that the concept of collaboration – where one business supports another – seems to be a bit of a hard sell.  One person commented, “People who have small businesses are too tired and lack the time or energy to think about working with another business.”

    Yet, when we began making a list of where collaboration was happening, the list expanded rapidly.  (To see the specific businesses that were mentioned, go to my business Facebook page: Carolyn Browne Tamler).  In addition to the ones we listed, people came up with ideas for how businesses could market each other.  By the time we were done with the list, it was obvious that many of the most successful Clinton businesses are cooperating with other businesses in the community, and as someone added, “Collaboration creates a special kind of positive energy.”

    I ended with my own view (someone said I am evangelical about this, and I would agree): No one makes it alone, in your business or your personal life.  We all benefit when we work cooperatively with others.

    The Clinton Chamber has decided to promote the businesses that are collaborating in their newsletter and to encourage members to expand their horizons and look for other businesses with whom they can promote their products or services for mutual benefit.


    2-28-13 Being passionate about what you do makes good business sense

    If you have been reading The Business Buzz on Whidbey Local ( and if you have seen some of my recent Blog postings, you may have noticed a common theme.  Everyone I have been writing about really loves what they do and/or the products that they sell.

    When I was thinking about my Blog for this week, I thought about Sweet Mona’s, Sue Averett, Fern Ridge Alpacas, Whidbey Cupcakes, Vino Amore, and several other businesses about which I have written in the last several months.  And the word, “passionate” came to me.  These people care about what they are doing almost more than making a living at their business (though obviously this is a major consideration, and all these businesses are successful).  They are doing something that gives them a great sense of pleasure and accomplishment.  They believe that what they are doing generates something positive in the lives of others.

    If you are doing something that you really aren’t enjoying, maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “What ways of earning money are possible for me that will give me a sense of passion?”