Want to grow your business? Subtract, don’t add.

 

Growing your business seems kind of overwhelming, doesn’t it?

What stops a lot of people from leaning in to more growth is the belief that in order to increase revenue and audience, you must work harder.

I have talked a lot about it in terms of the Eye of the Needle growth phase.

This is that moment where you feel like there are far too many plates in the air, deadline pressure and often big things at stake like brand reputation, financial stability or business viability.

Many clients try to navigate this stage by doing what they have always done — either work harder or faster, or come up with a new “miracle offering” that will solve all your woes.

I have tried this myself, and it rarely works.

Streamline your business using Free Time

Instead, I have been deeply inspired by the strategic framework from Jenny Blake’s amazing new book, Free Time: Lose the Busyness, Love Your Business.

I listened to the audio book in preparation for our interview on The Widest Net Podcast (currently it is the most-listened to episode of the series so far!).

The core idea in Free Time is not to just have time away from business to do whatever you want, but to design the operations of your business so they only require you the human when there are tasks that cannot be automated. Then to choose the specific business offerings that will deliver both personal joy and fulfillment, but also maximize impact and value-based profit.

Where to start streamlining operations

One way to prioritize systems to streamline and automate is to use Greg Hartle’s question I quoted in  The Widest Net :

“What is bothering you (or your customers) most in your business?”

My team and I determined that we needed a shared space where we could all see, in a single glance, how many clients we had in each package, how many sessions they had remaining, and when coaching packages were expiring. We also wanted client notes and action items in an easily accessible place.

Prior to this, it took some research and multiple steps to get this information.

It bothered me, my team and my clients very much.

Since we have implemented this change by creating a central Notion board (another thing I am obsessed with!), I have a whole new perspective on coaching operations and will be making some big strategic changes moving forward.

We are so glad that we focused on fixing what wasn’t working first, eliminated unnecessary steps and simplified our software stack.

How to decide which services to offer

Business growth will bog down at a certain stage of growth if you don’t narrow and focus your offerings.

It can feel painful to stop delivering some services that have driven revenue in the past, pleased clients and given you intellectual and creative stimulation.

It can also feel creatively stifling to some business owners to not have unlimited options of projects and offerings.

This is where you can wrestle with some important strategic questions:

  • What problems can you solve with ease and joy?
  • What is your business community continually asking you for help with?
  • Where does your experience and credibility make you stand apart from competitors in the space?
  • What could grow at scale (generally involving either building apps, training others to do what you do, selling IP or licensing content)?
  • What is more important to you, unlimited creative freedom or more predictable, greater income and larger impact?

It is important to note that there is no right answer. These are really important questions to wrestle with so that you don’t either live in continual chaos or stall your income growth opportunities with an unwieldy business model.

See if these two books get your thinking activated:

Jenny Blake’s new book Free Time: Lose the Busywork, Love Your Business and Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain

Let me know how you wade through your decision-making.

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