Aligning Business with Life: How to Balance and Purpose as an Entrepreneur with Tammy Johnston

This week’s episode features an inspiring conversation about decision-making as an entrepreneur. I speak with Tammy Johnston, CEO of KSA Business, the Kick Your Ass Business Coach. Tammy shares her personal journey as an entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of intelligent decision-making and hard work in business ownership. She discusses the eight foundational aspects that all businesses need, and highlights the fulfillment she finds in helping clients and sharing knowledge. Her mission is to improve the success rate of small businesses.

Join us for this engaging and informative episode!

Topics covered in this Episode:

  • Common mistakes when trying to create a sustainable business.
  • The 8 fundamentals of a successful business. 
  • How to hire for the right business advice

The E-myth: Michael E. Gerber
The Success Principles: Jack Canfield
The Infinite Game: Simon Sinek
Grit: Angela Duckworth


Tammy Johnston is THE Hold Your Hand and Kick Your Ass Business Coach. She has been working with small businesses for over 20 years to help them build sustainable and successful businesses. Tammy believes that business done right, honestly, ethically, and morally, has the power to make the world a better place for our customers, our families, and our communities. She doesn’t promise a magic bullet (because there is no such thing), but she does teach all the basic, foundational skills you need to first survive and then thrive. She only deals in real, practical, put it to use training and advice that has been tested in battle.


Connect with Tammy here:



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Timestamped summary of this episode:

Introduction to Tammy Johnston, the Hold Your Hand and Kick Your Ass Business Coach


[6:24] Welcome to the Business Legacy Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Dio. And from Canada, we have a, great guest, Tammy Johnston of KSA Business. She is the hold your hand and kick your ass business coach. So definitely the first of her kind. And I can’t wait for this conversation.

So welcome, Tammy. Thank you for having me, Paul.

So Tammy, I got to ask, how did you even, how did we get here?

Holding business owners’ hands and kicking their ass, but also holding them accountable, how did we get here?


[7:04] Yeah. Well, there’s a little bit of a story. So I’ve been in financial services for over 30 years. Okay.

And I started my own business like 21 years, over 21 years ago now.

It wasn’t necessarily planned. I was actually fired from a job I absolutely hated.

And in that moment, I decided I never needed to work for another incompetent, creepy old man again and decided to finally start my business that so many people had been pushing me to do for years up until that point.


[7:37] And so I started doing personal financial planning and stuff like that and i was working with a lot of self-employed small business owners.

And when i’m getting into all the stuff with them one of the things that i was discovering is they really need help with their business like they don’t know what they’re doing like they know their product or their service but when it comes to the actual business aspects they’re lacking.

And i’m going i have a greedy motivated self interest to see them do well in their business because broke people can’t afford investments or insurance.


[8:09] And so i started helping them because i’ve been studying money business and success since i was seven years old like this this is what i do for fun.

And so i started helping them and their businesses were doing better so they were referring me to their friends and colleagues for the personal stuff and for the business stuff.

And one of the things that I was discovering is they need the love and the support, but they also need the accountability.

And it’s actually my clients that call me the hold your hand and kick your ass business coach.

Because I say, I know that I can come and talk to you that you’re going to love me and support me, but you’re not going to let me get away with my own crap.

So you help me get things done. And I’m just going, yeah, that is pretty much me.

So I’ve been doing the holding hands and kicking butt on the business coaching for about 19 years.

And then in 2019, I split my business into two. So I still have my personal financial planning company, but I’m focusing on helping new business owners build a successful, sustainable business.


[9:18] Yeah, let’s start there. What are some of the common mistakes or common errors that you’re seeing from business owners that do not create a sustainable business.

Common mistakes made by business owners for sustainability

[9:29] Well it kind of depends on who they are to begin with what i discovered is there’s about sixty to seventy percent of people that start businesses are what i refer to as a bunny rabbits.

And these are really extroverted people there great ideas they they love marketing and talking people they don’t have any problem making sales their problem is actually going back to the office or the shop or anything and getting it done.

Typically, they’re dropping things all over the place because they’re just not focused, they have no systems, they don’t understand their financials.

They just want to go out and make sales, but they can’t deliver on the sales that they make. So I have to work on them with different things.

And then I find 30 to 40% are more owl type. So these are the ones that don’t ask us to come up with the ideas.

We’re really good at getting the stuff done.

Give us a job or a project we’re going to knock your socks off we’re going to deliver above and beyond our offices and shops and all of that stuff are organized we’ve got our systems all in place, but with these types if you ask them to go out and talk to a real life human being and tell them how they can help them you better have the defibrillator handy because they’re going to go and have a cardiac event. So depending on what their strengths and weaknesses are we need to work on different things.


[10:57] Got it, got it.


[11:01] And are there any particular stories or client stories that you enjoyed or that you had the pleasure of transforming their business?

The joy of helping clients discover if entrepreneurship is for them


[11:10] Oh, that’s a hard one because there’s been so many of them over the years.

I’m going to give you one that’s a little bit odd and is not going to sound normal.

So I’ve been teaching a small business class for close to 20 years now.

And I’ve had a few people come through my class and it’s just a weekend intensive and they’ve come up to me afterwards and they say, okay, now that I have a proper understanding of what all goes into it, work-wise, emotional, all this stuff, I have discovered that starting my own business is not for me.

And I go, that is absolutely wonderful. I am overjoyed because I would rather have you Figure that out now before you’ve put in years and your life savings and everything into it to find out that it’s not for you.

It’s like, on my personal financial, I do a lot of pre-marriage counseling, and I’ve actually had people decide not to get married after working with me.

And people go, oh, you’re horribly prevented a wedding.

No, I prevented a divorce because they were so incompatible that it wasn’t a matter of if they were going to end up divorced, it was when.

And now if we can save that, and they’re still friends. But so I love those as I count those as success stories too.

The Work and Commitment of Being a Successful Business Person


[12:33] Because there’s a lot of people like, yes, anybody can be a successful business person, but not everybody.

It’s going through and like, do you know the work that’s involved?

Does it fit in? Or you could be a perfectly good business owner, but maybe not this stage in your life, because you’ve got too much other stuff going on.

And I would rather have you make an intelligent decision to hold back or not to do it, than to buy into the rah-rah and all the hype that so many people are selling, and then crash and burn painfully.

But I’ve also had like a lot of businesses where they started out because they were fired or laid off or I want to try something And we slowly build them into very successful businesses where they’re able to travel and they’re speaking and they’re able to support their families.

Like there’s tons of them.

Identifying Triggers for Hiring Business Advice


[13:32] That’s great. Now, are there any symptoms or things that are triggers that business owners, that you’ve identified where they need your services where it’s time to hire outside advice?

Well, personally for me, because like I said, I specialize in the brand new people. I love getting them at the idea stage. Because as I mentioned at the beginning here, I started my business the moment I was fired from a job I hated. And I went into it in a much better position than most people that are starting their business. And that’s why I’ve been, going for over two decades now. Most people don’t make it past the two-year mark.

But there is so many things that i had to learn the painful expensive stressful way to trial and error.

And i go if i can go back and talk to me one year before i was fired and started my business okay here’s the stuff that you need to do and put things together it would have made a huge difference in my life so it’s not.

I think you need help all the way through and when i started there wasn’t really anybody that was doing anything in terms of business coaching that.

Filling the Gap in Business Coaching Services


[14:57] I’m doing the stuff that i needed like most of the stuff. Is very like high end or very very specific like i for example i was literally just on a webinar today on linkedin.


[15:12] Very good valuable stuff and yes you could do great things with linkedin but it’s just a tiny little piece of the puzzle you can do facebook or you can have like a financial coach for your business and stuff like that and these are all wonderful but if you don’t have the foundation.


The Importance of Eight Foundational Pieces in Business


[15:30] We only have like two sides of it you hit a storm and the whole thing is comes crashing down like.

Every single business needs the same eight foundational pieces and the more of them that you’re missing or weak on it’s just the faster you’re going to crash for if you build those eight pieces the chances of you succeeding are dramatically improved.


[15:54] Great could you go over those eight foundational pieces. So, first one is mindset, like thinking as an entrepreneur, as a business owner is very, very different than as we’re taught how to do it as an employee.

You have to have your habits.

Running your day as an employee, when you have outside people like your boss and all this stuff telling you what to do and where to do it and all of this stuff, in some ways is very, very easy.

When you’re a business owner and you are in control of everything, that’s a blessing and a curse because so many people start off going, I don’t even know what I need to be working on.

So they’ll get sucked into busy work. So that makes it look like they’re doing something, but it’s not actually getting them forward on anywhere.

So their habits, they need to have their marketing and you can find tons of amazing coaches on different types of marketing. And there’s 29 different ways to market your business.

You do not need to do all of them.

In fact, don’t even try to do all of them. You have to find the two or three things that work for you and consistently do them, you need to have your systems.

No systems, no business.

If you don’t have systems, All you have is a job that owns you.

The Power of Understanding Financials and Cash Flow


[17:08] You need to have financials that’s the number one thing that i typically find that business owners it’s the first thing that they abdicate they don’t delegate it they abdicate it because they think that it’s complicated i don’t i don’t have an advanced calculus degree so i’m not going to understand it couldn’t be further from the truth and if they don’t have like so much money coming in they never want to look at anything and they’re missing all of the wonderful exciting stories that that their numbers could be telling them if they just got friendly with them on, okay, why is business coming in the door?

When is it coming in?

How can I take advantage of that?

If I’m having ebbs and flows in my business, well, what can I do to bring in more business when it’s in a lower time and different things like this?

And it doesn’t take a lot of time, but you do have to pay attention to it.

You have to have a good advisory team, especially when people are starting out.

They get most of their advice and their broke ass friends and family have never played in the entrepreneurial arena and they’re wondering why they’re not getting good advice. It could be coming from people that love them and want them to do well, but you’re not going to go to somebody who’s never even heard of the game lacrosse and ask them, well, how do I be a better lacrosse player? You want somebody who is playing that game and has been successful playing that game to help you out with that. And you need to understand cash flow.

The Difference Between Cash Flow and Profit


[18:32] And profit and how both of them work and how they are different. You have those eight pieces, the chances of you succeeding, way better. You’re missing any of those or a lot of them in most cases, unlikely you’re going to make it. Great, that’s phenomenal. What changes have you seen in the overall business landscape since you’ve started.

The Evolution of Marketing: Pre-Social Media Era


[19:01] Big thing is, when I first started, social media did not exist. I think MySpace was around, but that was about it. There was no Facebook, there was no Instagram, there was no TikTok, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or any of these things. And people did have websites. I created my own website almost 22 years ago now, but that was still a relatively new thing. People had to either do all their marketing face-to-face like networking groups and stuff like that or they had to go the traditional route and do like tv ads radio ads and stuff like that now with social media being a blessing and a curse you need to play in the social media space and it’s learning how to do it like there’s a lot of people that they understand the technical aspects of it and they’re doing great stuff but they don’t understand how to properly market and then there’s people that that know how to market but have to learn the technical aspects.

And then what platforms do they need to be on? Like right now everybody’s talking about threads, which is Facebook’s answer to Twitter and stuff.

Do I need to be on there?

And threads has only been up for like, what, a week? And there’s already coaches, coaches, advertising, come take my course and I’ll teach you how to make millions on threads just like I did.

It’s not even possible, it’s been open for a week. Yep, yep.

Reflecting on the Best Decision in a Career


[20:28] As you look back at your career, what would you say is the best decision you’ve made so so far.

The Best Decision: Embracing Freedom


[20:37] The best decision was the decision to start. It was scary. I felt this great big weight being lifted off my shoulders, and it was wonderful and freeing. And my boss, who’s firing me, couldn’t understand why I had this big grin on my face. He’s expecting me to be all upset.

But I’m like, I’m free. That was the best decision. But then I also had to go home and tell my husband that, no, I’m not going to be…because at the time, I was already looking for another job and I was doing interviews. In one more week, I would have been giving my notice and all this stuff. And if he hadn’t fired me in that moment, it would have taken me a few more years to get.


[21:20] Pissed off enough to finally step out on my own. So, I needed that push.

What would you say is the worst decision you’ve made thus far?

My worst decision was I made an agreement to sublet office space from somebody who I thought was my best friend back in 2007. And I used my brain and my trust of her and friendship and stuff to override a lot of screaming in my belly button.

And that was the most expensive, the most painful mistake I have ever made.

It almost cost me everything. It took me close to 15 years to financially recover from that.

Painful Mistakes as Valuable Lessons


[22:09] But I learned an awful lot through it. And I’ve used my very painful mistakes to help my clients so that they’re not making the same ones.

And would I ever want to do that again? No, but I consider it my Harvard business lesson.

The Power of Books and Advice


[22:31] Great, great.

Are there any books or specific pieces of advice that stick out that you’ve learned throughout the years?

Oh, there’s so, so many amazing books. Like, I’m a massive reader, And I love listening to audio books. If I’m doing a long drive or every time I go to the gym, and listening to different books.

Few ones the the emiss by Michael Gerber. I would say I call that the business Bible It’s like it’s a very simple book. It’s easy to read but it leaves like.


[23:04] The foundations for like systems and how to look at building a business um Another one that I like I call this the life bible. It’s the success principles.

[23:15] By jack canfield Absolutely. Love that one. I’ve I read it every single year Um, so I’ve been, yeah, I’ve probably read that like 18 times cause it originally came out in 2005 and now I have the 10th anniversary edition and looking forward to the 20th anniversary edition.

And, um, I love all the stuff from Simon Sinek. His book, The Infinite Game is my favorite of all of his stuff because business never ends.

It’s always ongoing and stuff. And if you’re playing it as a win or lose thing, you have totally and completely missed the point. Grit by Angela Duckworth is another fabulous, fabulous book. There are so many great ones.

CB. Already enough on the great list. Yeah. Yeah, the concept of finite versus infinite games is so fascinating, especially in today’s culture with such short-term memory, short attention span.

JG. Well, there’s so many people that are playing it as a finite game, win-lose, and It’s like, they think that there’s not consequences and I’m going, no, it always comes back.

Playing the Infinite Game: Leaving a Lasting Impact


[24:24] If you’re playing it as the infinite game, it’s like, what impact do you wanna have on the world?

How do you want to be remembered? How do you want people to view your company 50 years from now when you’re probably not running it anymore? Yeah.


[24:39] What do you feel like is the most fulfilling part of what you do?

Balancing Business and Family Life


[24:48] Seeing people build businesses that they’re proud of that fit in with their lives.

So one of the things I really love about working with my clients is yes, we are very much working on their business, but their business is part of their life.

And when we get them balancing everything, so for example, I work with a lot of a lot of moms and dads. And one of the challenges they have is they have an active family and young kids and the demands and all of this stuff. How do you balance all of that and working with them so that yes, you can have a good family life or in a lot of cases, improve the family life and build a business that is supporting your family and giving you the freedom and stuff that you that you want like I got fired, started my business at that moment, got pregnant within a couple of months, so I had to build my daughter. And hats off to anybody who repeats that process. I have one child for many, many reasons. Took 30 hours of mat leave and just kept going. And one of the many reasons why I decided to start my business is because my husband and I, we were talking about starting our family. And I’m going, I don’t want to get my daughter up at five o’clock in the morning so that I can get her to daycare so I can get to work so that somebody else is looking after her and.


[26:12] Hearing her first words and watching her take her first steps. I’m going, I want to set up a business so that I can be part of that. And that’s how I did it. And there’s been lots of changes throughout the year because my daughter’s 20 now in university. But I was able to be pizza mom and go on the field trips and work all around that stuff. And yes, I did have help and we, my husband and I juggled and we did different things, but I was able to be there throughout all the different stages. And now, like I said, she’s 20 and pretty independent. I’m a different stage in my business on what I can do, but I built my business to look after my life.

Mission to Improve Small Business Success Rate


[26:58] Yeah so interesting so interesting so when you think about the big picture the infinite game.

What type of legacy would you like to leave for yourself.

I am i am on a mission to drastically improve the success rate of small businesses like it breaks my heart, When i see a small business fail because very very rarely is it because there’s a problem with the product or service or the owner isn’t working hard enough most the time it’s just because they’re lacking the business skills.

And i want to fix that.

We can’t count on our corporation anymore all they ever do is jack up their profits pay out the dividends buy back their shares and lay people off.

Like if you want to be like if you’re not jeff bezos or or mark zuckerberg the only chance you really have Is to be building your own thing so let’s do it honestly let’s do it ethically let’s do it morally and, Let’s do it sustainably Like we need people doing things the right way for the right reasons, but if they’re not surviving we all lose So, Tammy, where can we learn more about you and what you’re up to?


[28:19] Best place to find me is my website, which is, or you can find me on Instagram at Great.

Tammy, this has been so great. Thank you again for being a guest, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Thank you very much.


[28:40] Bye. Bye.


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