Summary: Do you feel like you are constantly having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in your small business? There’s nothing more frustrating that being caught on the hamster wheel of having to re-do and re-create over and over. What you need is a way to find leverage in your business, even if you have serious doubts that it can be done. Let us show you how.:
Calling all service-based business owners today. Would you believe me if I could tell you why your business isn’t growing — yes, even if we’ve never met and even if I don’t know anything about your business?
I’ll take a wild guess. Your business isn’t growing because you do custom work for each client. It’s almost impossible to get traction. Am I right?
That’s the best excuse in the book because it’s absolutely true! You are not leveraging your business. You haven’t yet realized those hypothetical “economies of scale” because in the world of a service-based entrepreneur, every client is unique and you provide a custom solution to every problem.
Now, the reason I know this is because I’ve seen this too many times to count among the service-based business owners I coach, and I used the same excuse myself when I owned my interior design business.
But today I’m urging you to look again. It may be time to leverage your business if you are able to predictably generate new clients, yet you are still not growing.
The Floating Syndrome
I call this the floating syndrome and there are a couple of ways you can determine whether this description fits, and whether you should even keep reading at all. Do you still have cash flow problems? Are you leaking efficiency somewhere? Are you really savvy at what you do, but you’re using that seemingly awesome talent as your only excuse as to why you’re in a dissatisfying holding pattern when it comes to business growth?
I totally get that. Your ability to serve such a range of unique clients means you’re constantly reinventing yourself and your service to suit them.
Today I’m going to share three simple ways to break that pattern you’ve established.
Stop “Reinventing” yourself for each new client in your #smallbiz! Check out these 3 steps to make it easy to get leverage and scale your business.
Step 1: Identify Your Niche
The first is by identifying your niche service in one of two ways described in the business classic Good to Great by Jim Collins. In your service-based business you set yourself apart by either
- The product or service you provide, or
- The way you solve a common problem.
Your niche is either the solution, or your niche is the process by which you offer the solution. Not both.
This was a revelation for me as the owner my first business, an interior design firm where custom work was the norm. (More on that later.)
Your delivery may look wildly different for each client or customer, but in a service business where you succeed at helping people with a creative solution, you’re repeating the same old steps.
The way you serve is the same each time.
You have a process, even if you don’t know it yet. There is some way your mind works that is coming up with a solution for each unique client.
You may not even know this precisely because you’ve done it the same way so many times! Your automatic system or solution is what makes your business niche worthy in the first place. That’s the second way to break the pattern of non-leverage, and the inability to grow.
Step 2 – Document the System You Use By Breaking It Into Steps
It can be difficult to see how you do what you do. However, I assure you, you have a system you are following.
A core aspect of my service as a business coach is listening and watching the patterns you display as you go about serving your clients, and then showing you where your core competency lies so you can document your unique process. Once you’ve done that, you can market this process and show how you’re different, serving a niche no one else does.
I believe that most business owners are unconsciously competent. There’s a whole iceberg of competency floating there. You do things unconsciously because you know what to do. You don’t have to think about it in detail.
I liken this to driving your car. When you get into your car and drive to a place you know very well, like work or school or your church or gym, you don’t even have to pay attention. Your car practically drives itself.
But if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, it’s Google maps all the way. You’re paying attention to the navigation, watching ahead for lane changes and how many blocks until the next turn, etc. You are attentive to every detail of the navigation until you arrive safely at your destination.
This is exactly what a good service-based business coach can help you with. Think of me as the navigation map for the “voodoo you do so well.” I show you the veritable feast of your competence and help you describe every morsel. I help you document the awareness you’ve lost precisely because you’re such a natural at what you do!
With fresh eyes, I see patterns you might overlook. I see processes as easily as a bird’s eye view of a map.
While many business owners are just walking their path along the ground. Patterns just naturally pop out at me, which is a core competency in what I do, too!
If you can’t see it yourself, the revelation of having a unique process will change your business so that you can finally leverage what you do. No more excuses that you are customizing for every step for each client.
Instead, you will be able to explain to prospects, employees, or anyone else how you are different.
A leverageable, niche system is one that is easily navigable by you, naturally formed to your skills and talents, and intuitively practiced regardless of the client you’re serving this month.
Now that you’ve got this system in place and sketched out, the last step is to document it in the least complicated way possible.
Step 3. Document the System and Remember KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly)
I have a super simple way for documenting your system, especially if you’ve never done this work before.
(Wow, this one tip is probably worth the price of a whole year of the coaching. Just implement this one, and you’ll see!)
Sit down with an employee or contractor, or someone else who knows what you do, but doesn’t really know HOW you do it. Go through each relevant step verbally with this person and ask them to take notes.
Have them go off and document the steps the way they understand them.
Once this documentation is complete, review it with your team member.
You’ll immediately see where your unconscious competence serves everyone around you because you’ll notice gaps where you forgot to explain what you were thinking along a certain sequence of steps. It will be glaringly obvious to you and you won’t be able to let it slide because it’s an important part of your process.
Isn’t that wonderful, when you can teach, learn, and get stuff done all at the same time with this one tip?
Now that you have the three steps, and some ideas for how to implement them, let’s talk about the benefit of doing this work.
Increase Your Capacity To Serve
Remember my a-ha I told you about as a new business owner of an interior design firm? Let me share the results after I tackled this process and defined our systems once and for all.
Once we defined our system in an articulate manner, we determined that an average project might take about six weeks. Even though my team’s work was highly customized, we were able to compress several jobs and stagger the work according to the resources and time we had to work. While some weeks were freaking crazy, others were comprised of a lot of waiting around (for materials, design sketches, etc.).
Once we knew our steps, we were able to budget time and resources to do multiple projects simultaneously, and keep our clients on track to boot! The system documentation gave everyone some much needed calm and productivity – and was worth every minute it took to draw it up.
We stopped guessing and started using time, communication skills, talent and vendors with much more ease and efficiency. We all breathed easier and were able to serve more clients and make more money. It was miraculous.
Increase your capacity to serve without increasing the human power that it will take to do so.
Think of what you could do with a similar system documentation project.
First, you can stop believing in the lie you’ve been telling yourself that you need to reinvent yourself every time a new challenge confronts you.
Then, you can judge where the intensities lie. Not every step in the system is going to be a 10 on the difficulty scale. Certain steps will be fun and easy, Some will involve passing work on to an outside party or putting the lion’s share of the legwork back on your client. Sometimes you will be intensely involved one-on-one; while other weeks, it will be a waiting game.
You can fill that free space with personal projects, business-building projects, or take on more clients. But you’ll never have the excuse again that you need that time to put out fires.
Best of all, once you have your systems and everyone’s on board and knows their role, you will enjoy filling the pipeline with more clients. The fear and uneasiness will melt away with practice and you’ll be able to further fine tune your process.
More time on your hands? Time to live the life of freedom you envisioned when you started your business!
Leslie Hassler is a popular author and speaker who spends much of her time coaching business owners on how to run their growing businesses by their rules. Delivering high-touch, personalized service, Leslie works with her clients as a partner, not just a consultant (who would pop in, tell you what to do, then leave).
Leslie teaches her clients a structured way to decide what to do first, second, next — and never – in their businesses, so that they can learn to do it for themselves.
Leslie lives in Dallas with her husband and two kids, so she knows it’s not just about growing the business – it’s about getting the business ship shape so it grows and you can be home in time for dinner.
Leslie speaks on topics such as business leadership, prioritizing the business owner’s To Do list, and how to create and implement a strategic plan for growth.
If you’d like to have Leslie come speak to your group or organization, or present at your event, inquire here.