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Seven Ways to Start Leaning into ease

Seven Ways to Start Leaning into ease

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
~ Anne Lamott

 

One of my words of the year for 2021 is E A S E. (The other in case you are wondering is Health). The more we get into this year, the more I’m realising that in order to feel truly healthy (rested and nourished in mind, body and soul), the easier my life needs to feel, so leaning into ease is taking top priority for now. 

Why is ease so important for me (and potentially you)? Well personally I have a habit of making things harder than they need to be. What I’m realising is that somewhere along the line, I picked up the idea that in order for the things I do to be valuable or to have meaning they must require hard work.

It’s no surprise that these are linked in my mind. We live in a world that highly values productivity (output) and hard work so it makes sense that the idea I could do work I love, have a positive impact on others, make a decent living AND for it to be easy can at times feel like a pipe dream. Perhaps you can relate? 

Here’s the thing though. I absolutely know that it’s possible to have money, impact and ease because I’ve seen evidence of it in my own life and work. I can also see quite clearly how I get in the way of said ease. For me, it’s over-working – pure and simple. It’s staying at my desk, looking at the screen when instead I should be taking a break. It’s buying into the idea that working harder (instead of smarter) will help me to achieve more, which leads to nothing more than a treadmill type of existence. 

When I examine where this comes from, I think of my old 9-5 life, where presenteeism was a real thing, where it sometimes felt like the best way to demonstrate one’s value was to be “at your desk” – coming in early, staying late, working through lunch – all of which I did and more! Now as my own boss, I’ve come to see how I’ve continued this unhelpful pattern and the negative impact it has on real and sustainable productivity (and life!).

With all of this in mind, I’ve been looking at a combination of practical and mindset changes I can make to get back to a feeling of ease and calm with my work and as a result I’ve been making some changes around here. 

Commiting to ease

As simple as it sounds committing to having life be easier has been a game changer for me lately. In making the commitment, I’m not only taking practical and strategic steps (more on those below) to make this happen but I’m also signalling to my brain that I believe ease is possible even within my demanding schedule (busy full-time business + two small children + yearlong new home refurbishment project!).  

What that has looked like in practice is asking myself on a moment by moment basis, how can this be easier? This question can bring about the simplest changes to bring in more ease, which add up pretty quickly to a calmer and easier way of being. 

Carving out Focus time

My working days are very full, I have a full 1:1 coaching roster and group mastermind, which means I do lots of video calls on a daily basis. Because of this all of the non client facing work (content creation. marketing, product + service creation, business admin etc) I need to do has to get done between calls. Until recently I simply blocked these times out as “work” slots and they could be anything from 1 hour to 3 hours long.

I’ve long known about the power of time blocking but because of how scheduled my days already are, I had been resisting scheduling even more in my calendar. The negative effect of this is that oftentimes I have long periods of time at my desk without clear boundaries around what I am working on and when I can take breaks. Cue reduced focus and increased fatigue.

Lately, I’ve rejoined Focusmate – a tool that allows you to schedule 50 minute accountability sessions with another person to work on a specific task. These really help me to stay on task for a full 50 minutes after which I allow myself a break. Deeply focusing on one task for 50 minutes is far more effective for me than allowing myself 3 unstructured hours in which I aim to “get stuff done”. 

Making breaks sacred

The flip side to scheduling structured focus time is to also schedule clear opportunities for breaks. But if you’re anything like me, breaks often feel like the hardest thing on the schedule to stick to. As Cal Newport says in Deep Work (one of my all-time favourite books):

“Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.”

Something that has really helped me with this lately is reading. I’ve always been an avid reader but over the last few years since children came into play, reading has become somewhat of a luxury. 

In honour of ease and to support my commitment to taking breaks, I’ve started reading novels again and use my breaks to read for 15 minutes in between sessions or focused work slots. This is working for me on several levels, I now have an incentive to stop working and step away from my desk, I get to do something I love that I had previously struggled to find the time for and because I am reading books that I really enjoy, I get so engrossed that I am able to completely disconnect from my work during my break.

This is very much a win-win as it allows me to take a meaningful break and return to my work feeling rested and re-energised. 

Taking time off

Similar to taking breaks but different. My default for years has been to take time off from my work on an adhoc basis as and only when it feels absolutely necessary. This year, right at the off-set, I booked off all of the school, national and regional holidays. More importantly, I’m committed to being completely OFF work during those times. Recently was a great example.

Here in Spain, Thursday and Friday were holidays and school was closed, rather than do what I would usually do – i.e. juggle work and childcare with my partner and members of his family – instead I took both days off completely. Aside from liking a few posts on Facebook, I did no work whatsoever and it was blissful. Nearly all four days were spent either reading, relaxing in the sun on our piece of land or playing with my boys. 

Have I come back to an overflowing inbox? Sure! Has it taken me awhile to get back into the swing of things this week? Sure! Do I feel 10 times more rested than I did last week? Absolutely 🙂 

Repeating what works

Or put another way, don’t reinvent the wheel. Something I have been putting into place over the last few years is repurposing things I have already created. The temptation for me (and other business owners I’ve talked to) is to always feel like you need to create something new. I see this a lot and I recognise it from my earlier days in business.

What often happens is that we plough a ton of energy into creating something pretty darn good and we publish it, run it, roll it out once and then, without so much as a backward glance, move on to the next thing. What a way to make things harder for ourselves. 

As a fairly prolific creator, repurposing has become my new business besty. I’ll share a very recent and live example. I love creating and running free challenges and over the years I’ve created many. This year in honour of ease, I’m repurposing all of the challenges I’ve previously created. We recently completed my free 14-day content challenge and whereas last year it was an all-consuming event as I created all of the graphics, prompts and emails from scratch and to a deadline, this year all I’ve needed to do was make a few tweaks, schedule the emails and prompts and I was good to go. It’s amazing how good it feels to repeat something versus creating it from scratch. 

As I lean into ease I aim to do this whenever possible. 

Asking for help

As a recovering perfectionist/control freak, asking for help doesn’t come easily for me. Truth be told, I’m much more inclined to tell myself that I know best than to admit that I might not in fact know it all! This year I’m all about asking for help where needed. I’ve hired an assistant who is helping me execute my content plan (he does all of the repurposing for me!), I’ve joined a business mastermind so that I can get the business support I need (yes even business coaches can benefit from business coaching!) and have in the past responded to offers for complimentary coaching sessions on topics such as conscious parentingmindset coaching on letting things be easier and practical self care

It feels like such a gift to be on the receiving end of coaching rather than the one delivering it. I’ve had several coaches over the years but it’s been the longest while since I’ve had anyone supporting me. The insights and shifts I’ve already seen as a result of some of these sessions has been life-changing. 

Keep coming back 

Like all new habits, coming back to ease is a practice and to stay consistent with it, I need to remind myself regularly to do so. Of course, as is usually the way, the Universe has pointed me towards some resources to help with this. Annoyingly, I don’t recall who I got these questions from – I’m fairly certain I found them as I was scrolling through Instagram and now have them typed up, printed out and pinned to the wall above my computer screen: 

1. How can I let this be easy? 
2. Is there someone else who can help me with this?
3. What’s the simplest way to get this done?

Seeing and asking myself these questions on a daily basis really helps to make leaning into ease a daily practice.

And there you have it, 7 things I’ve been doing in my life and business lately to honour my word of the year. 

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The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

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How To Get Your Business Out Of The Feast And Famine Cycle

How To Get Your Business Out Of The Feast And Famine Cycle

“Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right.” ~ Jill Konrath

In this post, I wanted to talk to you about something I haven’t seen talked about too much online, but that is actually very common, especially amongst the kind of service-based business owners I work with and that is the feast and famine phase many young businesses go through.

You might know what I mean. One month you get a new client (or even 2!) and you have more than enough money — what a high! Then a few months pass by and nothing. If you have some lower priced offers, maybe you scrape by with a few hundred dollars or pounds but other than that you’re firmly in famine status. Then at some point down the line, bam a new client and all is well again. The only problem is that the income for this new client is needed to cover what the last few months of famine cost you and so you’re right back to square one again.

Before you read on, I want you to know that I’ve been there, several times in my years as a coach and business owner, and it’s hard. On one level we’re grateful to be getting any clients at all and on another, we can’t seem to figure out how to get to the holy grail of consistent and sustainable income. We have some idea how to get clients, but we haven’t yet reached that stage where we know deep down inside that if we do more of X, we’ll get more of $$$.

Getting clients still feels a bit hit and miss and, when we do, it can feel more like luck than by design. Having started two different business, one in life coaching and one in business coaching, I’m here to tell you that it is definitely possible and I’m going to share with you 3 key ways to make it happen in your business.

1. Identify what works

Despite the fact that getting new clients can at times feel like a lottery, if you take some time to examine how the clients you have already created came to be, you’ll see a pattern emerge.

For example, nearly every single one of my clients came to me, either because of a referral (someone else told them I was great!) or because of some outreach I did to deepen a relationship with a member of my audience. The bottom line for me is that no 1:1 coaching client I have ever enrolled was created outside of a conversation. Which means I know deep in my bones that if I need to make more money, I need to be having more conversations.

The key is to find your X. The one thing that you know if you do more of, will inevitably result in more sales. I’ll give you a hint, it pretty much always involves cultivating deeper connections with your audience, but the method can vary. For some it might be podcasting, for others creating videos, for others it might be virtual coffee dates, for me it’s complimentary sessions — there are plenty of ways.

2. Clear your paths.

We’ve all heard the term sales funnel. Personally I hate it, the idea of leading my ideal client through an increasingly narrow funnel — resulting in the squeeze (yes the squeeze is an actual marketing term!) is alien to me. The analogy I prefer to use (hat tip: Tad Hargrave) is that of a path.

Imagine your business as a house that sits in a thick and overgrown forest. In order for people to find it, there has to be one or several clear pathways to your front door and once people get there, you need a doorbell that works so people aren’t left on the doorstep wondering why you’re not opening the door.

How do you create and clear these pathways? You look at the journey people need to make from finding out about you to knowing and trusting you well enough to buy from you and you need to make sure that the journey (or path) is free of obstacles.

To give you one example from my business, one path that works very well for me is my content. I create, publish, repurpose and promote content regularly, which then gets shared and found by more people, as a result readers begin to engage with my content, which sometimes means they subscribe to my newsletter (which results in them receiving a welcome email from me with an invitation to have a complimentary session) or I see someone regularly liking and commenting on my content so I reach out to make a deeper connection, usually by offering my support which also will more often than not also result in a complimentary coaching session.

So can you see how I’ve identified my X (complimentary coaching sessions) and I’ve created several paths (content and outreach) for people to access them?

For more on paths, read this post: How Easy is it For Your Ideal Clients to Find You

3. Refine your business model

The third piece of this puzzle is to look at and refine your business model. To illustrate this for you I’m going to give you a concrete example of a change I made to my own business model early last year that has resulted in a huge increase in consistent income.

The income stream in question was my 1:1 coaching packages. 1:1 coaching was (and still is) my main source of income and something I had been steadily creating more clients in (as a result of working on 1 and 2), what I realised during the earlier part of last year is that as a result of my fixed length packages, I would see a boost in income for the few months while my new client paid their instalments and then that revenue would drop off.

This wasn’t working for me on a few levels. Firstly, the time I needed to truly help my clients make a difference in their businesses was significantly longer than the length of my most popular package (3 months) and I was only guaranteed income as long as I was enrolling premium clients every single month. This I realised was not only time-consuming but led to a lot of pressure to be constantly in conversation with people (something, that as a busy and introverted business owner, wasn’t serving me).

After a great deal of thought I switched to a subscription model. This is where clients subscribe to a rolling coaching program that (after a 3 month minimum commitment) they can cancel anytime. The price point is much lower but the income I am now generating from this service is dramatically higher. People are also working for me for much longer – on average between 6-12 months. A simple tweak to my business model (as well as some other key changes) has resulted in more consistent, sustainable and recurring income for my business!


So there you have it, three key ways to move your business out of a feast and famine cycle in 2021.

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Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

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Three Lessons I’ve Learned Since Launching My Business

Three Lessons I’ve Learned Since Launching My Business

 

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

In this blog post I wanted to take some time to contemplate what I’ve learned over the last 4 years of building and growing my current business.

I launched this business just as my maternity leave with my first son was coming to an end. It wasn’t something I had planned to do but I hadn’t been enjoying my life coaching business for well over a year and there was something about giving birth to my first child that made me determined to live my life with absolute integrity. For me working in a business that I didn’t love was the opposite of that and I felt deep in my soul that I wanted to model for my son that it is absolutely possible to do work that we love also pays the bills. What better way, I thought, than helping others to do just that.

As you’ll see, if you read the post, my business has evolved somewhat over the past 4 years. I no longer call myself a Business + Mindset Coach, I don’t remember when I changed my title but I have been referring to myself as a Conscious Business Coach for some time now. I no longer work exclusively with women and my focus on and understanding of doing business with integrity has deepened hugely.

I’ve also learned a whole heap. With my first business, I worked very closely with a coach for the first year and found myself operating under his influence long after we stopped working together. When I launched my second business, much of what I learned back then had definitely stuck, but I’ve also let go of some things (like being fixated on constantly raising my prices)

When I started this second business it felt like the training wheels were well and truly off. At first there were definitely wobbles, but the truth is that today as I reflect on my journey over the past 4 years, I’m excited to be in a position to say that I have a business I’m not only head over heels in love with, but one that is also financially, emotionally and intellectually sustaining and sustainable.

It felt apt to share with you a few of the big lessons I’ve learned.

It’s okay to start over

When I chose to start this business — I was in effect walking away from a life coaching business that was working. One that had seen me earn as much as $10,000 in a month. One that had nearly a thousand subscribers on its mailing list. One that had seen me coach hundreds of people. One that had a website with 100+ blog posts. One with several evergreen online courses and a Facebook Page with 1.3K likes. The truth is that Life is Limitless was doing well, I had an online presence and a growing audience but I was unhappy. There were days that showing up to that business had started to feel just as hard as it had when I was working in a 9–5 office job I hated.

You can probably imagine my dilemma, I wondered if I was mad to even consider starting over. For sure some of my audience were business owners or wanted to be, but the majority of my audience were there because they were interested in Life Coaching and my articles on personal growth. I knew that I would need to build my business and audience from scratch and in the end that’s exactly what I did. I eased myself in gently. I kept my life coaching website, Facebook page and Facebook group, but funnily enough the life coaching enquiries dried up almost over night. I had made my choice and the universe was responding accordingly.

Initially, I tried to engage my old subscribers a few times so as not to lose their attention entirely. I did a small amount of marketing for my old courses and over the years I have had a trickle of sales from that business, but with time I realised that I needed to let go and focus entirely on carolineleon.com. My old website is still live but mainly because I still do get traffic and the odd course sales on there but mainly because it’s a place that houses a lot of articles that document one of the most transformational and exciting phases of my life. I simply haven’t had the time or inclination to save them somewhere else.

When I launched my first offering in this business the, now retired, Female Business Academy, I had a tiny list of around 50 women. Women business owners from my old audience who had stayed with me. Not long after launching the business I launched a beta version of the Academy to those 50 subscribers and had just under 20 women sign up. That’s a conversion rate of around 40% rather than the usual 1–2%. I took it as a sign from the Universe that I was doing the right thing, that this new business was my path and that starting over was the right way forward. I’ve never looked back nor regretted my decision since.

Now I share this, mindful of the fact that I see many new businesses owners change their niche, title, business name over and over in the early stages of business and I would caution against this. I had been in business for nearly 4 years when I decided to make the change. I’d had a certain level of success, I had created and launched profitable offerings, I had a solid and growing audience as well as paying clients. I wasn’t quitting because it wasn’t working. It was working but I wasn’t enjoying it.

If you are in business and reading this is making you consider whether or not you should start over. Ask yourself this first: Have I given my current business my best shot? If not, might you be considering changing because you think you could be more successful doing something else? I didn’t change my business because I thought I’d make more money as a business coach. I decided to change because I thought I’d enjoy the work more and as a result have a greater impact and thus feel more fulfilled. In fact, initially making money was harder than it had been with my first business. I was starting from zero unlike with Life is Limitless which started out as a blog that I had been growing for 3 years before turning it into a business.

My recommendation, should you be considering starting over, is to do some soul-searching first and be honest with yourself about your reasons as well as your efforts thus far.

Sustainability must be a priority

When I started out in business, I never really considered my business model, I doubt I could have even defined the term business model for you. I read a lot online about all the different types of products and services an online life coach could offer and I simply cherry-picked those that sounded like fun to me we well as a few that I felt I should do.

I certainly wasn’t building a business with sustainability in mind. It was more a case of thinking about how many people I would need to enrol into coaching at what rate (premium prices of course!) to have regular $10,000 months. I was completely naive when it came to my business model and what a realistic rate of business growth actually was. I set ambitious, annual money goals like $100K because I had been seduced by six-figure promises and suffered the disappointments that came when I realised that desiring numbers like that and then working all.of.the.hours wasn’t enough to make it so.

So with this business I learned more about what it really takes to make a business work and I learned that simply copying other people’s business models without taking into account the life and business I wanted to have would lead to dead ends and disappointments. That’s why in October 2019 I made a significant change to my business model, as I closed down my Female Business Academy and launched my Conscious Business Mastermind.

I’ve also recently made another dramatic change to my business model as I’ve closed down my premium coaching programs to make way for a far more affordable coaching subscription. I had been offering this same service to existing clients as a continuation option after completing a program with me and people have been loving the affordability of on-going support, which despite being a fairly dramatic drop in rates has seen me bring in more monthly income than before. More on this new offering below.

Both of these changes have allowed me to have higher levels of recurring income from my business. No longer am I trapped in a feast and famine cycle, but have a business that brings in sufficient and regular income.

You can’t do this alone

One of the reasons I chose to work for myself rather than someone else is because I like to do things my way and I don’t like making compromises. What this meant for many years is that I shunned collaboration in my business . In my mind working with someone else meant making sacrifices that, given the choice, I’d rather not make. By the end of my life coaching business I had started to understand just how important collaboration is — I had been in a private mastermind for well over a year and I had opened up my website and newsletter to guest submissions — something I never would have considered previously and I was starting to see how much easier it is to be in business when you have support from others.

Even so, it really wasn’t until this business that I embraced and harnessed the power that comes from working with others. I even made collaboration one of my strategic priorities in 2018.

Since starting this business I’ve had many wonderful collaborations with other business owners. For example, I co-created The Business of Coaching, a 3-part workshop and eBook to support new coaches to master the art of making their coaching business work, with this wonderful woman.

I also grew my (now-retired) Female Business Academy by inviting guest experts to teach classes to my members. As well as the classes, I also interviewed many of these experts for my blog giving me lots of great content for my customers and audience.

But it’s not just about getting support from others. To build powerful and mutually beneficial business relationships you also have to be generous with your time and attention. As a result I’ve jumped in and taken the helm of a colleagues newsletter while she was busy preparing for a wedding, I’ve contributed to a community project. I’ve also shared the work of others extensively, even when it could mean that my audience might choose to work with them rather than me. All of this has allowed me to create meaningful and impactful working relationships with some pretty incredible people online.

As well as that, my newfound ability to collaborate has allowed me to serve my audience more effectively than I ever could have alone. By harnessing the skills and strengths of others, I’ve been able to deliver greater value to my customers.

So there you have it. The 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned since launching my business. I’d love to know what lessons you have learned as a business owner so if you feel called to, do hit reply and share.

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Five Stages Of Business Growth

Five Stages Of Business Growth

 

Growing a business is a journey, it’s a transformative journey that has various stages of growth, through which, we need to pass until we reach our own personal definition of success. Each stage requires us to do different things and with each stage we ourselves become different people. If that sounds scary, it’s because in many ways it is. Being a business owner is not for the faint hearted.

The problem with this fact, is that many business owners simply don’t acknowledge it. Which is, in part, because unless you’ve done the journey before, how would you know about these various stages and also because we are, more often than not, fed a very distorted image of what the business journey entails.

What we most often see online is a story of overnight success. Those that sell this story will speak of some struggle, for sure, because we wouldn’t believe it otherwise but then there is the big aha, the turning point, the moment when it all made sense and the right strategy appeared and from that day forth, money and clients poured in.

But it really doesn’t work like that — of course there is a turning point, a moment when things do start to fall into place but it’s far more gradual and nuanced than we are led to believe. In this blog post, I’m going to attempt to walk you through some of the stages you’ll inevitably experience on your way to success. To be clear, your success and my success are most definitely not one and the same thing so it’s important to be clear for yourself what some of the terms I use below mean for you.

This is what I call pre-business, it’s the desire to start a business, the idea behind it. I see a lot of people hanging out here without ever making it to stage 2. I myself quit a well-paid career in Program Management in 2012 with the idea of becoming a Life Coach, yet it took me 2 more years to really go into business, when in 2014 I got my first paying client. Why? Because I had no clue how to start or run a business, which left me stuck in procrastination and overwhelm. Eventually I hired a business coach to guide me and things took off from there.

Possible Pitfall: Getting stuck thinking about starting, without ever taking any concrete action. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in research at this stage and feeling pushed and pulled by all the competing advice we see online.
Suggested Focus: Avoid hanging out in this stage and get into action as soon as possible. Taking action on any strategy is better than not doing anything.

This is the stage when you move beyond thinking about your business and start taking tangible actions, you don’t yet have paying clients, but you have the makings of a business, you might have a product or service to offer and are ready to enrol your first client or accept your first paying customer.

Possible Pitfall: Taking lots of action but on the wrong things. Getting bogged down in the superficials of your business like branding and web design rather than focusing on the foundations.
Suggested Focus: Make sure that you are creating solid foundations for your business and taking action that will support your business growth in the long term.

This is where you really can call yourself a business. You’ve made a sale (or two) and now know that this thing is possible. In this stage your initial excitement of making your first sale(s) might be replaced by doubt as you struggle to replicate your initial success. You now know that it’s possible to make money and that your business idea is therefore viable, but you don’t yet have a solid system in place to bring in consistent and predictable income. Income that can sustain you over the long haul.

Possible Pitfall: You might find yourself trying out lots of strategies here. The temptation is to strategy switch until something sticks, never truly finding traction.
Suggested Focus: Focus on two key strategies that have stood the test of time: content creation and outreach to grow your audience, deepen relationships and increase your income.

This is where things start to feel easier. Your business is now covering it’s costs and your living expenses but there is little wiggle room here and if you lose a client or two, it could mean that you slip back and find yourself struggling to make ends meet once again. We tend to overwork here and, if not careful to manage our workload effectively, can end up in burn out.

Possible Pitfall: You might get complacent with your success here and take your eye off long-term growth or you might stop working on growth strategies simply because you’ve become so busy sustaining the client load you already have.
Suggested Focus: Here we want to streamline by taking a good look at your business model to remove activities and offerings that are a drain on your energy and replace them with offerings that bring in recurring income you can rely on.

This is the stage when your business does more than just cover your expenses. This is where you can really enjoy the fruits of your labour and breathe easier. It’s a time when you might finally be able to hire help, outsource, invest in your business, clear debt and/or start saving. You know how to make money, your business model is working for you and you can trust in a steady and predictable flow of income.

Possible Pitfall: You try to hold on to everything you’ve been doing thus far to grow your business. Meaning you struggle to outsource or delegate and end up working all hours to cope with your increased client demand.
Suggested Focus: Adjust your role in the business by putting in place the systems and support to allow your business to grow without burning you out completely.

And there you have it, the five stages of business as I see them. I’d love to know where you think you are or if there is anything you think is missing from this roadmap. I’ll be developing these 5 stages more in the coming months and I’d love your input so if you’d like to share or discuss with me, please leave a comment below letting me know.

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I’m learning about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

Is Your Business Model Missing This Crucial Piece?

Is Your Business Model Missing This Crucial Piece?

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”
~ Simone de Beauvoir

Over the past month inside the Conscious Business Mastermind, we’ve been looking at Business Models and how to create a sustainable one for your business and your life. As I pulled together the class for my CBMers, which included examples of sustainable business models from conscious business owners such as Tad Hargrave, George Kao and Susannah Conway, it dawned on me that a hugely important element of their business model is what they give their audience for free. 

I’m not sure why I was surprised by this. – I am a self-proclaimed advocate of generosity in business and I’m in no doubt that the success I enjoy today in business comes from giving my knowledge freely in my content and in my complimentary coaching sessions but still…All of the models I analysed had this same thing in common – hugely generous freebies.

Tad has published well over 600 articles on his blog and over 500 videos on his Youtube channel. I’m not sure what George’s numbers are but they must be similar if not higher – both are prolific content creators. Then we have Susannah Conway whose generous freebie (or one of them because she has several) is her world-renowned Unravel Your Year PDF, beautifully designed and even now translated into multiple languages. This PDF could easily be a paid product but she chooses to give it away for free. Why? Because she knows the power of a generous freebie.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been questioned on my advice to give so much away for free. I’ve had many clients and colleagues argue that my approach of gifting coaching sessions is potentially foolish and here is what I tell them every time.

You don’t get paid for marketing your business. Everything you do to promote and market your work to the world, you’ll do for free or worse yet you’ll have to pay for AND your marketing efforts are precisely what will move people from not knowing you to buying from you IF that marketing helps people to better know, like and trust you.

For me and so it seems for others, one of the best ways to market your business, cultivate trust, connect with your audience and demonstrate your expertise is to give lots of value for free – it also happens to be a lovely way to do business and creates a far deeper bond between you and your audience/clients than other more manipulative mainstream marketing tactics might. Personally, I like to do this with my content and free coaching sessions, others might choose to do a podcast or like Tad make hundreds and hundreds of videos.

Personally I would rather spend an hour coaching someone than I would trying to learn or keep up with the latest fads and trends on social media. I also find it far more effective. When I coach someone for free, more often they sign up as a client or onto my wait list and on the odd occasion they don’t, they go on to share about me to their friends and colleagues. More than once it’s happened that someone who had a powerful coaching conversation with me but who couldn’t afford to work with me, either bought one of my lower cost offerings or sent other paying clients my way.

Now, Just in case you’re sat there thinking but Caroline, I’m not even 100% sure what you mean by Business Model essentially we’re talking about how you bring money into your business. To help illustrate the point, here’s a diagram of a typical online business model.

Right at the top – the widest part of the funnel, you have free stuff – complimentary sessions, freebie opt-ins, free intro workshops etc. This is where the majority of your audience will be. This is where you create a safe way for people to engage with your business and get to know you better. In my business this is my content and was my complimentary coaching sessions (which I’ve had to put on hold due to time constraints). 

Next we see entry level products such as a $25 ebook or workshop or other digital product – generally here we’d be looking at something under the $100 mark. This is cheap and also creates safety for the buyer so that they can test you out without spending too much money. It should, if designed well, give buyers a chance to get to know you and your work better. This could be something that shares your point of view, the big picture of your work or methodology. In my business this is my Business Planner (which I’m actually thinking about turning into a freebie and then replacing this level with affordable group workshops). 

Then we have what can be called your core offerings. This is typically a group program, more expensive than your entry level products but cheaper than your premium offers. In my business this is the Conscious Business Mastermind. 

And then you have your premium offerings. This is the most expensive option and where the buyer typically gets the most access to you. It’s often here that we see 1:1 offerings and it’s likely that there is less availability here too. In my business this is my 1:1 Coaching Subscription. 

Although I’m not a fan of the “funnel”, when we consider our business model in this way, it becomes clear why your free offering becomes so important. When we spend all of our time on creating products and services but pay little attention to marketing them or creating generous freebies that will help us to reach more people, nobody even knows we’re there!

You might have the most amazing service but if you’re largely invisible, it won’t matter one bit how good it is.

Your challenge for today, should you choose to accept it is to give some meaningful thought to what you offer for free in your business whether that is content, intro workshops or a sample session and do what you can to make it as impactful for your people as it can be.

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