How To Align Your Business With What’s Really Important

How To Align Your Business With What’s Really Important

Recently, I watched a TED Talk from a critical care EMT that put a lot into perspective about how we live our lives (and consequently, run our businesses).

This EMT gave some incredibly honest first-person insight into regrets people expressed when they knew they were at the end of their lives (and he gave them the gift of knowing it).

Those regrets broke down into three basic areas:

  • I wish I had made different choices. People facing death would invariably regret certain choices such as “I wish I’d spent more time with my children.” Interestingly, these regrets were not about getting more stuff or prestige, but centered around the fact that they had allowed “life” to get into the way of what was truly important to them.
  • I wish I mattered more. “There was so much more that I wanted to do with my life.” Life is so fleeting and the end invariably had people assessing how they made a difference. Having and pursuing a purpose was clearly at the heart of what mattered to them.
  • I want to be remembered. Think about the first two. We don’t want to exist in a vacuum; we want to leave a positive impact and to live on through those that we’ve touched. It’s that simple.

Why do I share this? Because I believe it’s incredibly important that as you build your business, you do it in a way that you don’t end up with these same regrets.

When you go into business for yourself, you have a unique opportunity to make a living fulfilling your purpose, making an impact, and designing exactly how you want to spend your time.

But, you already knew that because this is the reason most entrepreneurs start their businesses.

You begin with all the right motives – getting control of your purpose, your time, and your life. Yet, in the day to day of growing your business it can be easy to lose sight of your vision and end up with the same regrets.

So what happens to all of that freedom you hope for when you start your business?

As it turns out, building a business takes a lot of time. I tell my clients that nothing is free, either you’re going to spend time, or you’re going to spend money in order to accomplish what you want in your business. When you’re starting out, all you have is time and that’s fine, but as you grow your business you need to be careful you don’t fall into the DIY habit and never learn to outsource.

It helps to periodically reassess your business, the time you’re spending and what you’re spending it on to make sure you’re consistently moving toward your vision and not away from it.

To keep yourself aligned with your business and avoid regrets, you must do these three things:

1. Know what your non-negotiable are.

This takes sitting down and making decisions about what you truly want in your life. This isn’t about simple “FOMO” but if you were to continue the way you are, and look back 20 years from now, would you be happy with the choices you made?

For me, this means that I only work 25 hours a week. Periodically I may extend those hours for a week or two if I’m working on a big project, but as a rule I go against the advice of everyone that tells me to put my kids in daycare longer so I can free up more time because the time I spend with them is precious and non-negotiable to me.

If you don’t protect your priorities, they will evaporate in the “tyranny of the urgent.” Don’t let that happen.

2. Connect with your purpose.

In business it’s easy to go for the “low hanging fruit” that you perceive (or your mentor perceives) to be an easier sell instead of what truly called you into starting your business in the first place. I know because for 7 years I offered a service that was all wrong for me because I was afraid I couldn’t sell the service I truly enjoyed delivering. Once I rebranded, not only did the clients come, I also cut my workload in half (which has made my restrictive 25 hour schedule MUCH easier).

When you are serving your purpose you will feel more fulfilled, you’ll make a bigger impact, and you won’t look back years from now and wonder why you wasted so much energy doing something else.

3. Define your destination.

Bringing your vision to life doesn’t happen overnight, you need to keep your eye on the prize, and to do that you need to know what the prize is! Once you know where you’re headed, you can create the habits and systems necessary to sustaining forward momentum.

This requires making time to work ON your business and not just IN it. So many business owners make the mistake of creating their vision based around how many clients they want, and what programs they want to offer and forget to leave time for actual execution. This is a sure-fire recipe for frustration, so set aside the time to put the pieces in place that will continuously move you toward your vision.

Whether your time comes tomorrow, or 20, 30, 40 years from now, I want you to say “I did it ALL.” The only way for you to do that is to know what is important to you, and not allow your business to swallow you whole.

Three Ways to Raise Your Prices Without Fear of Losing Clients

Three Ways to Raise Your Prices Without Fear of Losing Clients

The thought of raising their prices sends most of coaches and service professionals running to the hills. “What if I lose clients?” “Will people really pay that?” “What if I end up making even less money?”

Chances are, despite the mind-numbing fear, you are still looking at your pricing and wishing you could charge what you really feel your services are worth.

Well, you are in luck because I have not one, not two, but three ways you can do just that. Plus, just in case you’d be concerned about flying without a safety net, I’ve got that covered, too.

The fact is pricing has got to be the biggest hullabaloo in business.

When it comes to coaching, you can take any number and make it work. It really is a mind game – whether you charge $5,000 or $500 for your month-long program, the difference won’t be so much in how other people see you but in how you see yourself.

Ever see those big-names offer “discounted” coaching programs ($997, marked down from $1997)? Put those prices out of your head right now. That pricing is completely made up, based on what everyone else is charging and industry “norms”.

You’re a trailblazer, “norms” are not going to serve you. Your pricing needs to be based on the true value your clients get, and not what everyone else is doing.

Your blocks around pricing are all in your head – but that doesn’t make them any less real.

There really is no wrong or right answer to how much you should charge, but that doesn’t keep you from agonizing over it.

If you hear yourself saying:

“How can I charge that much?”

“I give way more value than I’m charging,”

“Well so and so charges this and I’m so far (above/below) them, so____.”

And then there’s my favorite, “I really want to serve the people who really need me, and those are the ones who can’t afford me, so how could I raise my prices even though I can’t make a living this way?” (There’s one that will keep you running in circles.)

Here’s a Reality check – none of these statements are actually true!

These thoughts are just the crap that comes up when you start thinking about pricing, and all of them are extremely common and very limiting beliefs.

I’m telling you this because unless you get that, I could give you ten ways to raise your prices, and you won’t be able to get past all the objections that will pop in your head.

Our self-talk comes from our experiences and how we’ve processed them, and unless we’re onto it, it becomes our reality. So be aware, know you’re not alone, and understand you may have some of these derailing beliefs to work through as you grow your business.

Now with that all said, on to the main event.

Here are three ways to raise your prices I’ve seen that really work.

  1. Packaging
  2. Rebranding and repositioning
  3. The Stairstep Approach

Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Packaging

Packaging is not a new concept.

You may already have packages or have been told you need them. The last thing you want is an hourly mindset for you or your clients. It sets up a weird dynamic and ties you and your client to the clock rather than the outcome.

Really, are you selling hours or are you selling a desired result?

By outlining the start and end points and the steps you’ll take together to get there, you can price your services as a package and get away from the idea that your work together could somehow be condensed to “save” hours or be put in a position to commit to a certain number of hours to get the client to the fixed price they want.

Following a value-based pricing model that’s not based on the number of sessions or hours will free both you and the client to concentrate on the work and not the pricing. If you haven’t already, try it and be amazed.

If you’re finding it difficult to justify value with your current descriptions and how your program is presented, you may have a branding issue which leads me to …

2. Rebranding and Repositioning

Rebranding and repositioning can help reframe the value you’re offering so asking a higher price is not just an option, it’s expected.

Exactly who is your target client? How tailored is your program to that ideal client? If your program is more of a tent than a perfectly fitting garment, your client will shop elsewhere. Look at the wording you’re using to describe the problem and the results – do your ideal clients immediately “get” it? Also look at your graphics and the message they send about the overall quality and tone of your services.

When your program is properly positioned and presented and all is in alignment, your confidence and ability to ask for more increase.

3. The Stairstep Approach

Take raising your prices one step at a time. If your branding and packaging is humming along, maybe it’s your mindset that is getting in the way. If so, don’t beat yourself up, we have a method for that.

It starts with your intention. Looking ahead, where do you want your pricing to be? Then, it’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time. For example, if you’re charging $2000 for a particular package and you want to be charging $3000, raise your pricing by $250 every 5 (or any number you choose) clients until you reach that goal. It’s all up to you — intend, commit, and be confident. 

What you may find as you begin asking for more and see how doable it is and how, as long as the value is being communicated to your prospects, there really isn’t a difference in reaction to the pricing, you’ll be even more confident going forward.

Now that I’ve equipped you with these awesome strategies you may be saying to yourself “Okay, let’s do this! But, how much should I charge?”

So here’s one final piece of advice I’d like to leave you with. There’s a fine line between being unconfident and downright cocky in what you’re charging for your services.

Unconfident puts off all this tentative energy and your prospect will feel that and hesitate to work with you. On the other hand, when you’re cocky, you’re like a wall of aggression that pushes people away.

I like to use what I’m going to dub The Puke Principle to gauge when I’ve reached an appropriate price point. Your pricing should make you queasy, but fall short of being downright puke-inducing. Only you will know where that is. Remember, it’s all subjective – choose your spot and position yourself to claim it.

Who is responsible for your client’s results?

Who is responsible for your client’s results?

This question is a slippery one because depending on who you ask or what side of the equation you’re on, the answer can look a little different.

Of course, the client will likely assume you are responsible. They’re hiring you to get them to a result that was promised. 

However, if you’re a coach or other professional where you’re not offering a completely “done for you” service then you can’t guarantee an certain outcome.

Chances are there are actions outside of your control that your client needs to do in order to get their desired results. You provide the service or deliverable, but your clients need to do their part as well. You can’t be held completely responsible for what comes after you’ve done your part. 

But as we know, things in the entrepreneurial world aren’t always so cut and dry.

I like to simplify things and consider myself responsible TO my clients but not necessarily responsible FOR them. 

Let me explain.

I do my best to create the deliverables and set up processes, but if the client isn’t doing their homework and essentially not holding up their end of the deal, then I can’t be held responsible for the lack of results. 

But of course, clients want to know what they’re “going to get” when they hire you. They want to be promised something. 

So how do you balance this equation to make sure that both you and your client are satisfied with the results that is being created? 

Here are the 3 steps to follow that will help you create the balance you need.

Step 1: Only work with the clients you know you can help

This one sounds obvious, but can get tough, especially if you’re fighting the urge to help everyone out there. But the reality is, you can’t help everyone and not everyone is a good fit. 

Here’s a good example. When you’re in negotiations with a potential client and you’ve put together a package that you know would be great and they baulk at the price or some of the deliverables that are included and they start to ask about something a little less. 

It can be tempting to say yes and negotiate your package down, especially if you are short on your revenue goals that month. 

But what if you know that cutting things out or changing your package won’t get them the results that they want? By negotiating and settling for something lesser, you’d be fighting an uphill battle trying to get the same results with much less ammo. 

In this situation, it’s perfectly okay to let the client know that your package is firm.

It’s your responsibility to only work with clients that you know you can help in a way that allows you to do your best work, even if that means saying no to certain prospects.

Step 2: Set expectations and boundaries from the get go

In any business relationship, it’s important to have specific expectations and boundaries, and they start even before the engagement begins. 

The way you schedule consultations, the way you structure your calls, and how you propose projects, these are all examples of expectations and boundaries that will shape your future work.

Setting expectations early on is important because you’re only working with the information you have right now from a potential client.

As you go deeper and start working together, they might need or ask for more things. So you want to have those set boundaries in place before any scope creep can happen. 

From the very beginning, set boundaries for how things are delivered and what happens if they need to add things to your package so there isn’t any confusion later.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re using terms your client understands when setting expectations. Listen to what the client is asking for and always use their words. You may think you’re agreeing to the same thing, but if the definitions and vocabulary aren’t clear, you could have a different understanding than your client, leading to issues later down the line.

Step 3: Ask for feedback and take it into account

Feedback is a double edged sword. Good feedback can make you feel on top of the world, but it can also feel like a knife in the gut when someone points out a flaw or something you could have done better. 

But asking for feedback is one of the best ways to help you understand your clients’ expectations. This will help you determine disconnects in your marketing where clients come to you expecting something other than what you really deliver. 

You can ask for feedback at different points during your interaction or at the very end, in either case be sure to give clients an opportunity to give very honest feedback during your journey together.

To do this, ask questions that allow clients to highlight the positive such as: “What were you really excited about and why would you recommend this program?” 

Then allow them opportunities to explore what was missing for them like: “What could have been done a little differently? What would have made your experience even a little better?”

These questions will show you where you can make improvements, and future clients will benefit from that feedback (and surely sing your praises!)

As a coach or service provider, you are responsible to your clients TO help get them the results they are paying you for. But it’s so important to do the prep work before starting to work with someone to ensure that you can get them the results they envision. So only choose clients you know you can help, and make sure your boundaries and expectations are firm.

With these things in place, you will increase the chances that both you and your client will walk away from the experience completely satisfied. 

What is a Business Integrator?

What is a Business Integrator?

You may have heard of the term business integration before, or business integrator. But what do they actually mean?

Well, if you are a visionary entrepreneur, then you know the struggle of having a big idea and trying to get it into the tangible world.

A business integrator is someone who can help you do that.

What I do with my clients is help them take that big picture vision and then break down the individual components–the tools, the collateral, and the steps that it takes to bring that idea from vision to actual implementation.

So if you think about it, an integrator kind of works like a prism.

A prism takes white light and splits it into the colors, a.k.a. your big vision and splitting it into the components, an integrator takes your vision in all of it’s glory and splits it into the steps that will create the whole.

Now, I take things a bit further than just breaking down “what” you need to do in order to complete your project, and also help you figure out “how” to apply the strategy you’re implementing to your unique business.

THIS is usually the biggest sticking point for business owners, a strategy might make sense when it’s big picture but knowing which topics to use and how to make it work with what they already have at their disposal is where things get fuzzy – so they backburner the project in favor of something less overwhelming.

As an example, you could come to me with a strategy that you want to implement like a five part sales funnel to launch your next new product and I can help you break down all of the necessary components with a plan for how infuse your brand into them so that the end result is something that’s very authentically you.

This might look like helping you decide exactly what lead magnet topic is going to attract the type of clients you want for this specific program, or laying out what pieces of your collateral and intellectual property belong in each of the follow-up emails, or may be outlining your webinar that’s going to sell the program–all with your voice, your vision, your style and your message at every single touchpoint.

So if you want help bringing your big picture ideas into the real world, and you want someone that can understand everything you do in all of its complexity, very quickly, then we should talk.

You can schedule a compatibility call to see if I would be a good fit for you and your team, and we will take things from there.

Why Revenue Peaks and Valleys Are Good For Your Business

Why Revenue Peaks and Valleys Are Good For Your Business

Most coaches and consultants have heard of the feast or famine cycle that come with having a coaching business.

Most experts are teaching you that you need to eliminate those hills and valleys and create predictable, consistent income. And of course, I’m not going to argue with that.

You do want to create predictable and consistent income.

However, we want to turn those peaks and valleys which are a natural cycle of business to your advantage.

What we’re talking about are those peaks and valleys in your revenue, which are often called the feast or famine, the hamster wheel, whatever you want to call it. What these peaks and valleys actually are is the natural rhythm of business.

In nature, you will find that everything works on a cycle that there are seasons, there are phases of life, there are natural circles of life that have growth cycles and deaths cycles and your business is no different.

Once you can accept that these hills and valleys are inevitable in your business, then we can really take control and plan for them.

What we want to do is plan out your year by quarters where some are focused on creating a lot of revenue and the quarter in between lands on the valleys that are devoted to taking a step back, setting up for the next peak.

When you do this, you WILL begin to create consistent and predictable income, and while you will still have peaks and valleys your overall baseline will be higher and your valleys won’t be so worrisome.

In a valley quarter you might be working on your website, creating new product or program, delivering the product or program that you just launched and getting ready so that in the “peak” quarter to follow, you’re ready to hit the ground running again and create another income peak.

This begs the question, how are you making money during valley quarters?

.Of course you don’t want your income to stop, so there are a couple of ways to keep cashflow going even when you aren’t actively selling. One, if you’re doing payment plans then you’re going to be spreading out that income over a long period of time.

If you’re not doing payment plans and you’re getting lump sums of money, it’s up to you to be planning appropriately to make sure that you have enough money to cover your expenses, your salary, et cetera. This requires good upfront planning and knowing how much revenue you need to generate over the course of a year in order to reach your goals. Then divvying that up into two, possibly three peaks during the year instead of trying to create a steady monthly figure.

Two, as your visibility and authority grows, and you create more evergreen offers you will find that the residuals of your efforts extend well beyond the initial “push” and this is where true passive income is created.

What often happens for coaches is that they get stuck in one of two places.

Either they are stuck riding the peaks and they are in constant launch mode. This is where burnout happens. This is where you hear coaches saying, “I need to get out of the constant launch cycle!” “I need a break” “I need to not focus on creating something new in the next month”.

The reason that this happens is because they are so focused on making the next dollar that they’re not taking the time to appreciate where they are, get set up, take care of themselves, and they’re really they’re going to end up running their business into the ground.

The other place that it’s easy to get stuck is to be riding the valleys in perpetual set up mode.

Being stuck in set up mode is typically caused by that need for perfection. You’ll find both beginner coaches because they’re constantly redoing their website, or trying to create an entire program before they know if anyone is interested in buying it.  They are constantly trying to get things right so that they feel like they have the confidence in order to put themselves out there.

Where established coaches get stuck here is when they aren’t feeling quite so passionate about what they’re doing anymore. Maybe their business took a little turn in the wrong direction or they’re burned out and they need a break. So their brain basically shuts down and forces them into this setup mode where they’re trying to get their inspiration and their energy back.

We don’t want to get stuck in launch mode. We don’t want to get stuck in setup mode. Instead, we want to plan our peaks and valleys with the long view of 12 months from now, will we have made.

As an example, let’s start with the first valley being quarter one. Quarter one is a setup and quarter two is a moneymaking quarter. In Quarter one we might be booking a bunch of speaking engagements. We might be getting that program ready for launch, getting the sales pages or to get the getting the JV partners in order, et cetera, et cetera. Quarter two we’re executing, we’re delivering those speeches. We are doing the webinars with those JV partners. We are launching that product or program.

Then in quarter three we are delivering the product, we’re taking a break and then getting ready for the next launch. We are taking some time to get things in order so that our business does not get out of control. And then quarter 4 is another peak.

Now does this mean you always have to be launching?

“Launch” has kind of become a little bit of dirty word in the coaching industry and you don’t actually need to be launching big products or programs every quarter. You might have activities that are happening kind of like on an evergreen basis. So maybe you’re running Facebook ads that are going to an evergreen webinar and you’re selling some kind of product or program on a consistent basis. But then you also have more concentrated sprints where you are filling a high level mastermind or you’re going to do a speaking tour in order to build authority or launch a book.

I recommend that you set your 12 month goal so you know what your revenue needs to be. And then every quarter you look at the areas of your business that I’ll cover in a moment. These are the things that we cover in the Trailblazers Collaborative, every quarter.

I talked a little bit about what to plan for quarterly in another video, it’s fairly easy to follow.

Every quarter we’re looking at:

1. Revenue: How much money you made, how much money you spent, which investments were good investments, which expenses could be eliminated and then which products or programs were good sellers, et cetera. And setting your goal for the next quarter.

2. Marketing: Again, we’re looking at what did I do in the last quarter, what worked, what didn’t work, what can be improved and what am I going to create in the next quarter in this area?

3. Business Model: As in what programs are you selling, how are they delivered, and where is YOUR time being spent (and do you need more support). You’ll look at what’s working, what’s not working? Do I feel like I have the energy to sustain this? Do I need to make some shifts so that I can spend more time doing things I love? Those shifts might be shifting from a one to one to a one to many model might be creating a home study program. It might be hiring someone, might be training someone to do coaching for you. Those kinds of things. So what kind of shifts we’re going to make in your business model?

Then, lucky number 4:  what are the projects that need to be completed, broken down, step by step in order to make these three things happen.

So I encourage you to look at the next 12 months and decide what it is you want your create and then look at these three areas, revenue, visibility and business model. Then sit down every quarter and set your goals and define what works, what doesn’t work, it can be improved.

The more mindful you are about your business, the more you’re going to have satisfaction, the more time you’re going to be able to create. And of course the more revenue you are going to earn.

I hope this was helpful to everyone. Have an awesome day and I will talk to you soon.