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Break free of the clock

Continuing to learn from Dorie Clark’s excellent book “Entrepreneurial You”

In an earlier post I mentioned Michael Port’s book “Book Yourself Solid”. Let me share with you the changing ways Mr. Port was able to capitalize on his book’s success. After publishing his book in 2006 Mr. Port suddenly had a massive new audience. He now had the scale needed to build a group coaching program.

He started with teleseminars, most internet connections at the time were not fast enough to support video conferences. The cost for a three-month program was $1,200 and demand was strong.

Then he tried a yearlong mentoring program for $8,000 per person which entitled his clients to several training calls per month and three, three-day retreats per year. His initial program had 40 participants. Even when he increased his price to $12,000 demand remained strong attracting between 150 and 250 clients each year. But his participants found travel to the retreats pricey, and Michael Port found executing large live events, costly and stressful.

Like all good entrepreneurs he took the time to re-evaluate his program, even though it was delivering an excellent income. He completely changed his business model. He eliminated the three live events and reduced the cost from $1,000 per month to $89 per month.  For their money clients got access to 9 training calls per month, one conducted by Michael himself the rest by trained associates.  The revised program brings in less income than the early more comprehensive program but requiring much less of Mr. Ports time and with significantly less stress. And maybe in time the lower price point will attract enough sign ups to make up the difference.

Most of us will not be able to emulate the success of Michael Port but as your experience, knowledge and skills grow you will be able to develop a marketable program that you sell to multiple clients. Build it once, sell it many times. Webinars where you charge a fee to share your materials are an easy business option these days. A one-hour webinar at $19.99 when you attract 50 people will earn you $1,000.  That is one way to break free of the clock.

Another way is to systemize your approach. That’s what John Jantsch did with his marketing business. By working hard John grew his business until he reached the stage that without taking on more staff and overheads he could not serve any more clients. That would have been risky, he could not raise his rates as his clients were small businesses with even smaller marketing budgets.

That’s when he started to think about providing his consulting services more efficiently. He realized that it was difficult for his clients to buy marketing solutions as a comprehensive package.  Some folks sold SEO solutions, others blogging advice, but no one was saying “Here is marketing as a solution, We’re going to install a system.”

Initially it was a low-tech solution – a three ring binder with 200 pages which was mailed to his clients. He called his system Duct Tape Marketing. It was a hit, and its popularity grew when he started sharing his insights blogging on the internet. Eventually he was able to identify elements that everyone needed. By following the same discovery process with each new client, efficiency and profitability grew. He was able to move away from hourly pricing to monthly retainer fees. Eventually it reached the stage that clients were no longer buying John’s services, they were buying his system. It was I want that system;” “I want that approach” “I want that methodology.” Today Duct Tape Marketing is a highly successful business.

One way you could start to systemize your approach would be use the MVP approach we discussed in episode 39 of this season, taken from Sahil Lavinga’s book “The Minimalist Entrepreneur” As you start your selling cycle with your first customer, document each step of the process, so that with every consecutive customer you have a play book upon which you can build and improve. Sahil calls this your true MVP of your business. Here MVP does not mean your minimum viable product which every solopreneur is trying to build and launch. In this context MVP means Manual Valuable Process.  By recording the steps, you take to complete each sale you will be able to figure out what is working and what is not. Refine and repeat, this will be your guide on how to increase your efficiency

Generate Revenue with Premium offerings. Aim High from the get go.

When starting out on your coaching/consulting venture you may feel that starting small will lower your risk. You might consider selling an online course for $50 or an eBook for $2.99. These are fine options once you are established, consider Michael Port who took his premium $1,000 a month course and reduced the price to $89.95. But aiming for high volume low dollar sales almost certainly will not support you when you are starting out.

Instead consider offering a premium package from the start. That’s what Selena Soo did. Her initial offering was a $5,000 six month coaching program. As she says “With a $5,000 package its not difficult to achieve a six-figure business. Get ten clients to sign up for six months and you’ve got $50,000. Do that again in the next six months and hey presto you have made $100,000. Does that sound daunting to you? How can I ask that much? Selena had done her groundwork. She had established her network, developed relationships with established influencers. With those connections in place Selena started writing guest blogs for established industry players and appeared on podcasts; all of which increased her visibility. In other words, she followed the steps outline in Episode 45 and in Episode 38. (You can find those podcasts on my Radio Show Page)

Ask yourself this What high-ticket item could you realistically offer? Write out a description that includes: Who is your ideal client? What is the price point for offering? What will they get in return? What is the duration? Why will it appeal to them? And why should they choose to work with you?

From my observation most folks starting out undervalue their product, be brave. I do not always follow my own advice. I recently sold an 8-hour coaching program for $2500 to a large UK multinational. Looking back, I underpriced the package. But it does give me a good reference client and they do have several other employees who could benefit from the program. If they sign up for more packages, with the bulk of the work already done and, following the prepare it once sell it many times principle, it could be a nice earner. If you would like to learn whether I can achieve this success start to follow my blog – The Geriatric Entrepreneur – launching this month where I will share my journey in my quest to beat the tyranny of the clock. The beta version is up and running Ctrl+Click here to go to the site.

If you want to learn more about the ideas contained in Dorie Clark’s “Entrepreneurial You” please consider buying it from Amazon using my affiliate link. There is no additional cost to you and I will earn a small commission that will help keep this blog going. Thank you.

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