Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked for and received scores of questions related to rapid revenue acceleration. I addressed as many of these as I could during a recent Q&A webinar, but lots of additional questions continue to pour in.
So I’m going to start responding to these questions by turning them into topics for the Freedompreneur blog.
Here’s this week’s burning question related to how I created a 6-figure revenue stream in 73 days: Linda, one of my readers asked: “Did you have high-end products? What’s the first thing to do if you start out with nothing?”
When I first started out, I did not have any products, such as a book, CDs or other information-based training programs, that were either downloadable or in physical form. Instead, I offered a high-end coaching service at $1,500/month. Essentially, I “pre-sold” my coaching program, because I had never delivered my coaching services for a fee before.
If you’re just starting out, like I was, you have three basic options for what you could offer:
1) Create and offer a product.
2) Create and offer an educational or training program.
3) Offer consulting, coaching, or some other type of service.
Let’s take a look at each option…
Create and offer a product.
For the service-oriented entrepreneur, a product typically consists of content that exists in downloadable format and/or physical format (CDs, DVDs). The advantage of offering a product is that you have the opportunity to leverage your time, effort, and energy.
The potential disadvantage is that it takes time, effort, and possibly money to create an initial product.
If you choose the route of creating a product, my recommendation is that you “pre-sell” the product before you ever create it. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing time, money, and energy into creating a product in forever search of buyers. By pre-selling, you have buyers who pay you before you build the product, so you then have the funds to create the product and support your business operations. And you have greater confidence and real-world proof that there’s a place for your offering in the marketplace.
Create and offer an educational or training program.
By my definition, a program has a specific starting and ending point. And typically, there’s a particular core approach upon which such a program is based.
If you’re looking to create significant revenue as quickly as possible, offering a program of some sort can certainly work. However, just be aware that, like creating products, creating a valuable program requires significant investment of time and effort.
And just like products, I recommend that you “pre-sell” your educational or training program.
Offer consulting, coaching, or some other type of custom service.
I like this option because once you’re working with a client, you can customize the services you provide as you are working with the client. You aren’t locked into a particular approach or areas you can address. In other words, offering a service gives you the greatest amount of flexibility and adaptability in delivering value while best serving your client’s needs and wants.
The distinct disadvantage comes only if you’re not comfortable customizing the nature and delivery of your services as situations and needs arise. And if that’s the case, I strongly encourage you to create frameworks and models for the content/material you plan to offer to your buyers. In fact, I recommend this even if you are comfortable with customizing services for clients “on-the-fly!” I’m referring to mapping out your basic “Core Client Process” or “Signature System,” which I’ve written about elsewhere.
Based on my experience and observations…
If you’re just starting out, no doubt, one could make a strong case for offering a product or program; you can certainly generate signficant revenue in a short period of time by doing so. However, my preference is to offer a custom service of some sort.
Offering a service gives you more latitude to create content “just-in-time” and, potentially, shortens your “time-to-market.” That means you have a chance to generate significant revenue sooner than later.
And you can turn the information you create and deliver to private, high-end buyers into programs and products that you can sell at a lower price point to buyers who aren’t ready for your premium offer.
I didn’t have the time or confidence to create a product or training program when I first started. But I did have my experience of turning my practice around and I had confidence in my ability to share that experience by offering business development advice. So that’s what I did; this strategy worked out extremely well for me, enabling me to get of to an incredible jackrabbit start and sustain that through a consistent stream of high-end clients. And now I’m working on developing programs and products for people who are interested in what I have to offer, but aren’t ready to commit to the high-end, big-ticket services that I have offered over the past seven years.
So my choice was a rational, logical one. But what about trusting your intuition? Well, there’s certainly a place for intuition. So if you feel called by your heart (and not your head alone) to create a product or program, instead of offering a service, I’d recommend listening directly to your heart (I say “directly” because it’s possible for your mind to fool you into thinking that you are listening to your heart, when instead, you are rationalizing your choices under the guise of listening to your heart.)
Introducing the 6-Figures Fast! Community…
Creating your services, programs, and products is only one small part of rapid revenue acceleration. There are lots of moving parts! But the key is to know what to truly focus on and where to invest your time, energy, and efforts. Based on 100’s of specific requests, suggestions, feedback, and questions we’ve gotten from readers from around the world, we’re planning to create a virtual community of like-minded, like-hearted entrepreneurs who are committed to contribution, first and foremost, and rapidly boosting their revenue.
Stay tuned for specific details early next week.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written about the practical skills that any entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire into their business. Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1 and Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2. I wrote about the first six, which are listed below, and provided recommended resources. I’ve since refined that list and added one more: Turnkey Systemization.
- Time and Productivity Management
- Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
- Verbal Presentation Skills
- Written Presentation Skills
- Visual Presentations Skills
- Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
- Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
- Turnkey Systemization
Today, I’m going to describe the remaining three critical skillsets:
- Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
- Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
- Turnkey Systemization
Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
Today, there are more resources than ever before in the history of mankind for obtaining information: the internet, Amazon, Audible.com, TED talks, and so on.
But all the information in the world has never made any difference. A few years ago, I wrote a blog called “Information Is Interesting, but…”
My point of the post is that information and knowledge are NOT power. That’s a myth. Information is, well, information. It’s what you do with the information that makes any difference at all.
Here’s my advice when it comes to reading books, listening to podcasts, viewing videos, and attending workshops, seminars, and trainings: Ask yourself, “How can I practically apply this information?” What do I need by way of resources to be able to apply this information?”
And if you are a provider of information, ask yourself: “How can I make the information, knowledge, and wisdom I have easier for others to learn and implement for themselves?” While I don’t have a specific resource for you here, try adopting this mantra:
“Information is interesting, but application means everything.”
Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
A lot has been written about “team-building,” “leadership,” and “networking.” But in this section, when I refer to “team-building, collaboration, and network development skills,” I’m referring to a new paradigm, one yet to be created and innovated.
A while back, I wrote an article called “The Collaborative Advantage.” In the article, I described how collaboration among kindergartens was more effective than the attempts of high schoolers to work together.
If you recall the adage that “necessity is the mother of invention,” we now have the presence of compelling necessity for mothering invention. And in the emerging “new global economy,” it’s the responsibility of entrepreneurs such as ourselves to innovate new solutions for solving the multi-faceted problems that we face today.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a practical recommendation for a resource that blends “team-building, collaboration, and network development.” But I’m currently involved in a collaborative project where we’re developing a program designed to catalyze various models of collaboration. If you’re interested in learning more as we progress, I invite you to add yourself to the Collaboration Catalyst Special Interest List
A lot of people, including “gurus” write and talk about business systems. But it’s a “wastebasket,” nebulous term that has lost its meaning.
I’m curious: What’s your own definition of a business system?
This is my working description of a business system:
A business system is a collection of steps, procedures, and processes. (In case you’re wondering, a procedure is a collection of steps and a process is a collection of procedures). In addition, a system provides a framework for producing reliable, repeatable results. A system must be documented with enough detail and clarity so that someone with a baseline level of experience, skill, knowledge, and expertise can follow the system and produce acceptable results. The system must be readily accessible and documented with sufficient detail that minimizes the effort required to learn the system and for developers to support the training on the system.
Still with me? So here’s the problem. When I ask most entrepreneurs what percentage of their business is systemized, they don’t really know, but a lot of them have told me it’s upwards of 50%. And when I’ve asked these numerous people where the system documentation resides, they sheepishly point to their heads. Enough said.
“Turnkey systemization” means that you’ve documented the critical aspects of your business – the areas that are most critical for the sustainability and profitability of your business.
I’ve read a lot of material about the theory and concepts of systemization. But I’ve rarely seen any programs that truly teach you the “how-to’s” of systemization. Unfortunately again, I don’t have a readily available resource to recommend here.
However, I’m currently involved in a collaborative endeavor where we are currently developing a “Turnkey Systemization Toolkit for Entrepreneurs.” If you’re interested in being one of the first to hear about it, once we’re ready to release it, put your name on the Special Interest list here:
In case you missed it, here are the links to “Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1” and “Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2.” I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on “Practical Entrepreneurship.” If you have any other areas that you think are practical skills that entrepreneurs need to develop, please post a comment and let’s share in our collective wisdom.
When I operated on a patient as a surgeon, I couldn’t just deal with the various anatomical and physiologic systems as if they were magically isolated. Indeed, the health of the underlying vascular system dictated where I could make surgical incisions in the skin and where and how far I could rotate skin, fat, and muscle to reconstruct a body part or close a complex open wound. I had to consider multiple factors, including the limitations and consequences of the factors individually and collectively. Clearly, integrating and adhering to fundamental surgical principles and “best practices” increased the odds of the surgery being a success – a life is saved, a limb is salvaged, a face rejuvenated.
In the business world, we deal with multiple, complex, and changing variables as well. But traditionally, instead of saving lives and limbs, the ultimate measure of success in business has been to ever increase the single bottom line of profit. To our great detriment, this goal has frequently been undertaken with an attitude of “success at any and all cost.” In large part, this mindset has contributed to the global economic turmoil and ecological endangerment that we find ourselves grappling with today.
As various parts of the world have dominoed into economic and social turmoil, I’ve felt an inner calling to contribute ideas and energy to lead and encourage fellow entrepreneurs to be part of the solution. A couple of years ago, I started hosting an interactive conference call series entitled, “Conscious Leaderpreneurship Conversations.” These calls were inspired by my desire to experiment and expand the blending and showcasing of spiritual awareness as the cornerstone of success and fulfillment in the entrepreneurial world and expanding the depth and breadth of how we, as entrepreneurs, can blaze trails into a new era of prosperity.
Inspired by these conversations, I’ve outlined five fundamental business principles and practices that I collectively termed the “Exponential Bottom Line.” In contrast to the single bottom line of profit, this term refers to five business practices that reflect how a business:
- Enhances the quality and duration of the lives of People today as well as future generations to come.
- Restores and renews the resources and ecosystems of our Planet.
- Generates Profit sustainably, fairly, and responsibly.
- Promotes Prosperity locally and globally.
- Models and perpetuates Peace through its values, mission, vision, business practices, and ultimate impact on society.
While the specific practices and principles that I outline are nothing new, the context is. In fact, the “Triple Bottom Line” of “people, planet, and profit” has been championed for years. But to me, those three elements alone are still too “stingy.” It felt as though something was missing. So I added the elements of “prosperity” and “peace.” I assert that these five elements constitute a fresh, holographic, and integrated approach to how a “prosperity era” business makes its mark on the world.
Here’s my challenge to you
Embracing the mindset of the “Exponential Bottom Line” is one thing. Applying it in the real world is another. Under economic and a myriad of other pressures, existing mindsets, practices, and habits tend to persist and “die hard”.
Yet, consider what might be possible if we adopted the notion that rather than the singular focus of profit at any and all cost, we focused our entrepreneurial endeavors on playing a bigger game – one of challenging ourselves to define what each of the parameters of the “exponential bottom line” means to us and our particular businesses. The next step would be to apply and fold these ideals into our daily business activities in creative and innovative ways.
To play this game, it would take a commitment to reinventing our business models and practices. It would take a willingness to tell a different and bigger story about ourselves, what we stand for, what we’re willing to fight for.
If adopted by even a fraction of businesses and consumers worldwide, the practice of the exponential bottom line” ideals could synergistically shift the dynamics of commerce to effect lasting change and transformation in our global economy, ecology, and sociology.
Now, isn’t that a game worth playing? In what ways will you take this on challenge?
As promised, I’ve been developing a Resource Kit for you. And I now need your help…
You see, I’m not the kind of person who can develop ideas in a vacuum, sitting in front of my computer.
Instead, I feed off the energy and enthusiasm of others.
So here’s the thing:
I’ve got elements of this Resource Kit strewn across my computer. And I figure that the only way to get the various parts put together is to make it into an event.
So we’re going to turn this into a virtual “Value Pricing Resource Kit Building event.” This is how I see it working:
We’ll schedule 75-90 minutes of time for a web-based group gathering, using GoToWebinar. Then I’ll show you the material that I have put together so far on the principles and best practices of pricing based on value, rather than erroneously on other misleading factors.
Then, I’ll need you to tell me, what else you need to know to apply this in your business.
Fair enough? And we’ll build this thing together.
So, I’m thinking we do this on a weekday at 10am Pacific; that way, folks in Europe stand a better chance of participating.
To get the ball rolling, go to this blog post and post a comment to let me what you think of this idea. And while you’re there, let me know what challenges you face around pricing. Maybe mention so of the approaches you’ve tried. What has worked? What hasn’t? What has really backfired?
When it comes to pricing based on value, rather than erroneously on “what the market will bear,” or “hourly,” what are the challenges you’ve run into? What approaches have worked for you? What hasn’t worked?
These days, it seems that everyone knows someone looking for work. Savvy job seekers prepare their resumes, polish their interview skills, and network like maniacs in the hopes of “getting hired.”
As a service professional, “getting hired” is no less a concern for you! No clients, no paydays. You may have finely honed your skills and abilities as an independent business owner in your chosen field, possibly obtaining degrees, certifications, and undergoing many hours of practice. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good you are at serving your clients if you can’t get clients to hire you.
It’s actually very simple (though not necessarily easy) to get clients. First, you have to develop marketing strategies to attract prospects. Next, you need a reliable way to convert those prospects into clients, customers or patients.
One popular way to convert prospects to clients is through initial sessions. These could be free or paid introductory sessions, strategy sessions, or consultations.
There are ways to dramatically increase your chances of converting a prospect into a long-term paying client at an initial session, just as there are ways to dramatically increase – or sabotage – your chances of getting hired at a job interview. Nobody in their right mind would show up late in dirty jeans to an interview with a wrinkled, misspelled resume in hand. Similarly, you want to give yourself the best chance of “getting hired” by your prospects.
The process of converting a prospect into a client is often thought of as “selling,” or “closing the sale.” However, the real secret to success is getting clients to sell themselves… on hiring you! (more…)