Last week I wrote about the challenges of success when you are a service provider. The frame I like to use for understanding this are moving through the first four stages of business. These run from just starting out, through making roughly $200,000 per year with steady income, first from clients, then from multiple sources of income. The first two stages involve working closely with clients. Typically moving out of stage two into stages three and four and beyond, requires a quantum shift in thinking, self perception, strategy, and business structure.
Challenges arise for the successful service provider when she wants to increase her income, because she’s already maxed out her time working with clients. Yes, you can raise your rates, and I often recommend that. But even then you hit a wall for a variety of reasons. As long as you are using the same business model you can only raise your rates so much – plus you only have so many hours in the day and the week.
This is the situation in which I often begin working with my private clients because the shift that is needed at this point is different in kind. You cannot move forward from here by becoming better at what you are currently doing. You also cannot move forward from here by adding another modality or certification to your toolkit (a common strategy – you’ve probably done this). I have seen many very talented people, and heard from many more, languishing for years caught in this dilemma.
If you want out, you have to shift the whole “nine yards” as my in-laws would say!
That means moving from having a practice, to having a business. In order to do that, you have to leverage your expertise. That means getting your expertise out of your head, heart and hands, into something outside yourself so that you can work with it.
Typically this is done through writing, teaching and/or voice recording. Once you have your expertise external to yourself in this way, you can use it as the basis of all kinds of things: programs, workshops, books, webinar series, video training programs, home-study courses, and on and on. Obviously there are a lot of pieces to this – and I want to give you a really tangible set of exercises to do to get started!
Your first and most important task is to identify your implicit wisdom and your implicit system. To do this, step back from what you are doing and really take a look. It’s very likely that you are so close to what you’re doing, that you don’t know how to explain what it is. But I bet you have implicit wisdom, and an implicit system that you use.
So the first thing to do is track what you do with clients. At the end of your day (even better is after each session) take a few minutes to write down or voice record what you actually said and did with your people.
After a week or two, review what you’ve collected and take note of how you have made whatever you’ve been trained in your own. How have you combined, morphed or advanced what you were trained in to do what you do?
Identify the key categories, pillars, or phases of your system. Create an image, mindmap, or simply write them down. Then fill out those categories with ideas, practices, insights, strategies, and tools that you routinely draw upon. Also include what is less common, but that you use and place into the appropriate category. You may find each of those categories further breaking into 2-3-4 different sections. Allow this to unfold for awhile within your writing or drawing and see what happens.
Once you have a shape or form emerging, take note of the relationship between the parts. Is there a sequence? Are there stages? Do you see an order emerging? Play with how it fits together. Think back over your experience with clients. How has it worked for 10 or more of them? What are the themes, trends, and commonalities? What are the less typical situations, and then the exceptions?
Now try it with your current clients. Test it out. Take note of the feedback you get from them, and then refine the system. You may well find that it breaks out into several subsystems that you put together in different situations for clients with different needs and desires. If that’s the case, then do this same process with the subsystems and see what you get.
Wow, I’m impressed!
Take a moment and appreciate yourself. Appreciate your wisdom, your creativity, your insights and intuition. Appreciate your years of experience developing your expertise, working with clients, and refining your approach(es). Put one hand on your heart and the other on your belly, and breathe in all that you are, all that you do, and all the people you have served. Incredible!
Moving out of stage two, into stage three and beyond begins with knowing your expertise and bringing it into a form or forms through which you can leverage it. You may find as you do this process that you have plenty of material for multiple programs and several books. Isn’t that exciting?! Refuse any tendency to feel overwhelmed. Instead relish your wisdom, knowledge and experience, and know that therein lies the key to your financial freedom formula! More on that in another article. Stay tuned –