What happens when you get to the top of a mountain? You climb back down.
In hiking this is called “summiting” in gymnastics it’s called “peaking.”
In competitive gymnastics girls begin training at a young age with the intention that they will “peak” near the Olympics at around age 16.
You’ll notice that not many gymnasts (especially from the U.S.) make it into a second Olympic Games, even if they’ve won multiple gold medals from their first.
When a gymnast peaks, their skill level either stays the same or they begin to decline. Some of this is from physical growth and limits (a body can only take so much) but a big piece of it is actually mindset.
There comes a point where the pressure is too much and instead of gaining confidence, they begin to lose it. Once they’ve lost their confidence, a gymnast’s brain will begin to work against them and prevent them from learning new skills.
This happens for business owners as well.
When you’re starting out trial and error is expected and failure isn’t really considered failure.
When you’re successful and have “peaked” at the top of your game, usually at the six figure or multi-six figure level failure is NOT expected and strikes a much harder blow to your self confidence.
And just like a gymnast, this broken self confidence can lead into a downward spiral for many incredibly talented coaches and service providers.
Here are 5 signs that you may have peaked in your business:
1. Revenue Plateau or Dip
If you’ve seen growth year after year and find yourself looking at your yearly revenue realizing that it’s plateaued or even begun to decline, you may have peaked. Over time you may find that the decline becomes more prominent until you’re fighting to keep your business going.
2. Solving the Same Problems
Problems like raising your prices, then slowly adjusting them back to what they used to be in order to keep clients coming in. Or, only being able to sell programs and packages at a certain price point. Another problem might be taking on clients that you know are going to drive you crazy because you need the money, then recommitting to never doing this again. If history is repeating itself, then you may want to take a look at what’s really going on and how you can break the cycle.
3. Less and Less People Signing Up
You used to have X number of people in your programs, and now you’re consistently getting less. Even though you are more skilled and have a larger audience than you used to, you seem to be converting less people. This is a sign of a peak, you’ve outgrown the business you started with and it’s time to up-level.
4. Your Peers are Surpassing You
This one is especially frustrating because not everyone peaks in the same way. So while you may have reached your limit, your peers don’t seem to be phased and are continuing to grow, charge more, get better opportunities which can make you feel like something is wrong with you.
5. You Feel “Stuck”
You have the same audience and same offers and any time you try to deviate (because let’s face it, you have more to offer now than when you started with this audience and those offers) you don’t get traction and have to go back to your “tried and true” which is yielding less and less. Not a fun place to be.
If you’ve peaked, it doesn’t mean your business is over.
What it really means is that you’re on the cusp of your next level of growth–personally and professionally.
You have the opportunity to take everything you have learned and built to this point and start your next chapter, better than before and aligned with who you are now.
P.S. Do you recognize that you’re at a peak in your business and want help figuring out what’s blocking you from reaching your next level?
If you are ready to answer “the call” and step into what’s next in your business, then I’d love to help.
What we can do together:
Get clear on YOUR new vision and what your business could look like within YOUR definition of success
Say “no” to blueprints and cookie cutter strategies and create a plan that only YOU could pull off
Show up as your most authentic self and change what you’re known for
Create real leverage in your business through creative business models and automated systems
Feel like a freaking rock-star because you’re confident in your decisions
Serve clients that inspire you to play a bigger game and grow with you
Remove anything from your business and/or life that isn’t serving you
Get to know yourself and where your patterns and pitfalls lie so you can overcome them
Know your numbers and where you stand in relation to your goals at all times
Step into your role as a business OWNER and take command like never before
Everything you send out in your business has an energy behind it.
Sometimes, someone with an expert eye can spot it in the words you’re using, and sometime the energy literally comes from how you “feel” when you push the send button.
This energy behind your marketing is equally as important as what that marketing actually has to say and goes a long way to determining who you attract (or don’t attract.)
For example – let’s say this month you’ve set a goal to sign on a certain number of clients into your new group program.
This goal is purely based on numbers – specifically, what you’re envisioning is what you will be able to do when you have x number of dollars.
But what about everything else? What does your business and life really look like when you actually have all of those clients?
Even in a “leveraged” group, an influx of clients takes a lot of resources.
Time for sales calls and answering questions before participants join
Administration rigamarole and getting everyone set up
Answering questions and problem solving when there are technical issues
Preparing for each of the calls (creating content, reviewing questions/assignments etc.)
Taking care of post-call work like getting recordings posted (or sending to your team) etc.
Answering questions between calls either via email or in a Facebook Group (which you also need to keep engaged)
Writing your reminder emails, getting webinars set up, and all of the other “tech” that goes with a group program
And the list goes on of course, running a group is more leveraged than working one to one in many respects, but it does take work.
Now, with all of this going on…
Will you still have time to market yourself to keep your cashflow going while this group runs?
How will this group impact your time for your other clients?
Will you still have the flexibility and freedom that you enjoy?
These are just some questions to consider when you’re looking at your goals, and notice if you feel nervous or overwhelmed before you even have the clients. If you do, then there there may be a part of you that is actually afraid of you reaching this goal.
Seems silly right? But it’s true, and this underlying fear can sneak into your marketing and keep you from being successful.
So, what can you do?
One trick to use when you’re dealing with fears is to actually mentally go through your “worst case scenario” or in this case your “best case scenario.”
Go through your schedule and what it will look like, envision your day to day and see how you feel, consider what obstacles might come up and pre-plan how you can overcome them.
For example, if you know that when you’re really busy serving clients your content creation falls by the wayside, maybe pre-fill your content funnel before the group starts or cherry pick pieces that you could repurpose and reuse to take less time.
Ask yourself “What needs to happen, or what can I do to feel completely comfortable moving forward?” and see how you can work that into your plan.
By becoming aware of your fears up front and planning for them you can eliminate the energy that could be blocking your success.
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.
Trailblazers are inspired with many ideas, which is both a blessing and a curse. You’re always pushing the limits, paving new paths and obliterating all that’s ‘cookie-cutter’.
The downside to this is that while you’re busy innovating, a lot of things can fall by the wayside.
This can unfortunately create a domino effect – you get halfway through a project, and get worried that maybe it’s not going to create the result you want, or you have another “better” idea, so you end up starting a lot of trails and leave them unfinished.
What’s worse, you might even start losing confidence in yourself and your ideas.
But how do you maintain your momentum and take your awesome ideas to the finish line without compromising the rest of your business?
The answer is ‘habit’.
Simply put, these are practices that might start out feeling a bit like an inconvenience or a tedious task, but eventually become second nature.
At first, you find it hard to fit it into your schedule, or you simply can’t be bothered – but eventually, these habits start to happen automatically, come hell or high water.
That said, here are four project management habits every trailblazer hungry for success should work on developing:
1. The Idea Book
Get a little notepad. As the idea pops up, jot it down, sketch it out – just transfer it from your head into a physical record. Then review your idea book periodically to choose what you want to implement or create next. This can help you prevent the quintessential “shiny object syndrome” and make more intentional moves in your business.
2. Take Time-Outs to Work ON Your Business
It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day activities of your business. Take a time-out at least once a quarter to assess your goals, progress, and review the projects you’re working on to ensure you’re on track.
As a trailblazer, priority number one should always be to maintain stability and create consistent cashflow in your business.
Once you have this mastered you can begin adding new exciting projects. Ultimately, you need to keep the big picture into perspective, while making informed and intelligent decisions about where you go next.
4. Breaking Projects Into Lists
The biggest productivity-blocker is overwhelm, which can be eliminated by mapping out what steps to take so you always know what comes next.
When the picture is too big, sometimes all you need is a little perspective. When mapping out a project, start with the big picture milestones that need to be completed, then break those down into individual steps. It takes about 15 minutes and will make ALL the difference when you begin to take action.
Being a trailblazer isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s not easy being awesome. Building great project management habits like these can help you to systematize your life and your business, so nothing gets lost in translation while you blaze new trails in search of success.
What are some of your own habits for getting your projects to the finish line?
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.