Have you ever stopped to think why you choose to run your business the way that you do?
Most people have ended up with a business model based on one of two reasons;
- a business model based on what everyone else in your profession has
- or a business model based on what you’ve been taught to be the most profitable or easiest to run.
In the first instance, you may have the same business model as everyone else in your profession not because of choice, but because you don’t know any better. What you don’t know, you don’t know. There’s absolutely no judgement here. It is what it is. You may have spent a lot of time learning about marketing and how to get clients but the topic of how to design, set up and run your business is something you’ve probably never given much thought.
Doing what everyone else in your profession does has its upsides because you know what works already. Why re-invent the wheel? However, there is a big problem with this. Just because most of your colleagues or competitors are running their business in a particular way, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are all doing it the right way.
80% of your profession are doing it wrong
If we take the Pareto Principle, which statistically proves 80% of output comes from 20% of input, then we could theorise that 80% of the success that happens in your profession comes from just 20% of businesses in that profession. If we were to flip this the other way, we could also say that 80% of businesses in your profession are creating just 20% of the output.
Let’s just stop and think about this and wonder whether how true this is. Could we come to the conclusion that, no matter which profession or business sector you operate in, too many people seem to be struggling? Take a look around at the faces at your next networking event or industry conference; how many of those businesses would you say are flourishing?
The reality is that that many are experiencing one (or all!) of the following:
- Overwhelmed; procrastination over marketing initiatives and new product ideas because busy-ness is taking over the day-to-day and there’s no space to work creatively on projects that will grow the business
- Overworked; stuck in the never-ending to-do-lists and client delivery
- Underpaid; competing on price and charging by the hour or the time spent with clients which often leads to over-delivery and doing far more than originally promised to try and keep clients happy
I know this paints a pretty depressing picture, especially if you’ve come to realise that you may be in this average 80%!
What about the top 20% of your profession?
Are they creating 80% of the output?
There will be of course all sorts of reasons for the success of these top 20%, and yes, there is every chance that they are using technology to create huge growth advantage opportunities to allow them to stand out as leading experts in your profession. You’ve probably already seen colleagues and competitors create new ways of sharing their expertise. From expanding their offerings to serving groups of clients, large and small, through to creating digital content and cutting edge use of AI; the opportunities to do something ‘different’ and grow the number of clients you work with are open to you if that’s what you want.
And this leads me to the second instance where many of you may be; choosing your business model based on what’s been taught to you as the most profitable or easiest to run.
The internet became mainstream in the late 1990s and it changed our lives. Amazon was founded in 1994 being one of the first sites to sell products online. I started up my first business in 2004, ten years later, and email marketing and blogging were just starting to emerge for small businesses. When the doors opened up to mainstream social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, digital growth sky rocketed and advances in technology today don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. It’s no surprise really that the explosion in selling digital content since 2015 has led to thousands of marketing experts teaching digital ways of making money and growing a business from your laptop on the beach, particularly within the coaching, therapy and training professions.
Because technology has been the reason for the success of a lot of businesses which are very visible online, it’s easy to get sucked into believing that digital is the only way to grow a business. But this is simply not the case.
Many marketplaces are now so flooded with digital offerings that it’s hard to break in and claim your space, especially when so much of the content can be of poor quality, and your client base may already have begun to distrust this form of learning or support. I am sure you have already experience digital learning and zoom fatigue, particularly over the past few months!
You also have to consider that there will be plenty of businesses in this top 20% bracket who are running different or more traditional business models. Because you don’t get to see their marketing campaigns or brand presence on your Facebook or Instagram feed, you may not even realise they exist. I remember a client told me once that she was impressed by the number of people I would attract at my live training events, despite her not seeing much marketing about it. She wasn’t seeing it because I wasn’t targeting her; she was already my client. So be aware that there is plenty of success going on around you that you are not even aware of; because it’s not being marketed to you, you don’t see it.
Let’s get real about how it is to run a top 20% business.
You may have a business that, on paper, is well within your profession’s top 20%, especially if you are measuring its success on key performance indicators such as turnover, market share or social media followers. But, if you are regular reader of my blogs and articles, the reality of trying to run a business in the top 20%, measured in this way, is that it may be burning you out.
If you feel you may be getting burnt out by trying to run a business in the top 20%, you will probably be experiencing one or more of the following:
- You’re overwhelmed; you’ve stepped up and created your expert status, but you don’t like the visibility and constant pressure to perform.
- You’re overworked; you can’t seem to keep up with what you’ve promised your clients and can’t come up for air long enough to hire the right people to help you grow.
- You’re underpaid; your turnover may be six or seven figures but there’s not much left for you once you’ve paid your team, advertising invoices and running costs.
Again, another pretty depressing picture perhaps. But you won’t have been the only one to have created a business that is burning you out, because this practice of growing a business based on following someone else’s formulas and business model is rife. This is why I want you to open up your eyes and see the possibilities available to you on your path to creating your own unique True Profit Business Model. My mission here is to help you avoid following someone else’s proven business model and systems, just because they are telling you it works for them.
You have a choice.
It may be that you are still looking for a formula to follow because you really don’t know which direction you should be going in. But creating a formula for your success is what I want to help you with, based on a choice that gives you freedom to grow.
You have a choice on what business infrastructure, processes and team to have in place to give you the right business to help you achieve your creativity, purpose and money aspirations; for you to be your authentic self, do good in the world and make money in the process. You can choose the design, set up and how you run your business based on the choices you’ve made in your True Profit Compass, just the way you can decide on the right car to drive every day.
The reason why there are so many different types of cars on the road is that each and every one of us has a different reason for choosing our mode of transport, and at different stages of our lives. Starting out, you’ll drive any car you can afford; a small hatchback, or even stick to your bike, especially if you live in a city. Families may drive a big SUV. Some may like fast cars. Others choose their mode of transport based on environmental impact and may even decide they don’t want to own a vehicle, and instead use Uber or rental cars for longer journeys.
There’s no one car that’s right for everyone or for a specific profession. And so it is with your business model.
There are a number of different business models you can decide on, but that’s not to say you have to pick just one. There is a chance you’ll end up deciding you want a hybrid, the same way that many electric cars are entering the market. But a word of caution here; be careful of mixing in too many as you may be in danger of creating a convertible SUV that runs on pedal power; no matter how innovative that may be, you’ve got very little chance getting it off your driveway!
There’s every chance your business model will also change and evolve as you go on your business journey, just as a couple may swap their compact convertible for a SUV when they begin their family, or a city dweller who relies on their bike may realise they need a car when they move out to the suburbs. As you and your business grow, you may find yourself developing new skills or attracted to new marketplaces and audiences. You will also stretch your thinking over the years and find yourself imagining bigger and different opportunities as you grow in confidence and shift a lot of the limiting beliefs.
Thus it’s important to realise that your choice of business model becomes part of your longer-term thinking. You may even find you need to swap your small hatchback for that super fast sports car quicker than you thought if your business really takes off!
If you would like to know more and want help with how you shape the way you run your business, then a great place to start is with my free video course: Build Without Burnout. This short 3 part video series will take you through the process of how to step up and scale, without burning out.
In the meanwhile, I hope this has helped you take a step back from just doing what 80% of your profession does, or try to work hard to follow the latest marketing formulas and digital trends.
Has this opened your eyes to realising that you can decide to grow a business that was uniquely designed to suit you?
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a midlife leadership & business coach for entrepreneurs scaling their purpose & profit. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help you grow, without burning out.
The first step in discovering the True Profit in your business is to take the True Profit Test.