During the time we are in right now (I write this on Sunday 19th April 2020, as the UK enters the fifth week of lockdown due to the coronavirus), I am so very grateful that I am able to run my business online. I can continue to make money and continue to sell. The reason that I am able to remain clear on what it is I do and how I achieve results with clients is that every quarter I return to my purpose, my big why, and strip away anything that I offer that doesn’t feed that purpose.
In this blog, I will show you how easy it is to streamline your business. Recently I hosted a free challenge in which we went through three specific steps that you can do to free up your brain space to spend more time doing what you love and less doing what you resent. There are so many things that you can streamline in your business, but here I just want to concentrate on what can enable you to make more money, clarify your messaging and give you an intentional business at every turn. Of course, there are other ways that you can streamline and implement, but if I went through every single one I probably would still miss some out! There are three areas that I want to look at – your income sources, your lead and communication channels, and how you persuade those leads to work with you. Although it might sound like gibberish right now, I will explain myself! It also might seem like a backwards order to do things but it does make sense when you get to the end!
Firstly, let’s have a look at your income sources. The reason that we do this first is because it will inform every single thing that you put into the world in a business sense – the way that you make money, the way that people can pay you, the way you serve your clients – it has to form the backbone of anything you put in place to streamline. We do this first so that you can cut away every single thing that isn’t serving you, isn’t making you money, isn’t bringing you joy, and concentrate on the things that you really really love. I do this every quarter or every six months, and it doesn’t have to be a massive process but the first time that you do this it probably will take a little while, but once you start to do it more regularly, it will take less and less time each time you sit down and work out where you are.
Have a think about every single service or product that you offer. Anything that people know you for, anything that people come to you for help with. I want you to sit with each one of them and a little bit like Marie Kondo, you need to think about whether that service product activity is serving you and your joy. Is it getting you to your big why? Is it going to create a future that you love? Is it going to be something that you are happy to do for years and years and years to come? Can you see a path that is going to get you there by using this service or product? Can you see that this is going to be instrumental in building the business that you want to run? If you’ve answered no to any of those questions, you really need to think about whether this income source is one that you want to concentrate on.
To give you an example from my background, when I started out I was helping people with the back end of their website. I am not an expert in websites. I am very good at WordPress and I know how it works. It’s not something that I enjoy, it’s not something that I’m an expert in and it’s not something that I would ever advertise. I know how it works but as we probably have all done at the beginning, I would take on those jobs that weren’t in my zone of genius, I would end up hating the job because it wasn’t something in which I was really, really confident and it wasn’t something that was serving me well, although it was paying good money. It wasn’t something that I even wanted to expand my knowledge in, because there are other people that were a lot better than me at backend of websites, and they should be making money from their expertise. Why shouldn’t I be making it from mine?
Think about the things that you are doing. Maybe you are a photographer who covers weddings, branding shoots, family, lifestyle, newborns – all these different things. But actually, it’s the family and newborns that really, really floats your boat. Weddings are too stressful. Branding doesn’t really get you excited. Products, definitely don’t get you excited.
Consider this as an extreme form of niching, how can you be the number one person in your circles for the thing you want to offer? Have a look at how much money that this service or product has brought you in the past three – six months and consider what you charge at the moment. Is this something that is sustainable? Is that something that can bring you the type of income that you want to make? If yes, and you’ve got the bookings coming in, brilliant! You don’t need to do anything else. If no, have a think about your pricing and you’re positioning yourself within the market. Is there a need for the amount that you will have to do to sustain your business and your lifestyle, or do you need to raise your prices?M
Once you streamline all your income sources, I want you to be left with no more than 3. I know that might sound scary. However, for each service and product that you offer, you need a system in place. There will be cross overs, but there is a set of steps you need to consider for each, and the more income sources that you have, the more systems and that you have to create. As soon as you have more than one income source, you immediately double the things you have to create, three sources is tripling the time and resources needed – making sense? Three different enquiry forms, three different packages, three different deposit systems. This can be really overwhelming when you start to build systems and processes. If you strip it back to three or less, you can build from there.
Number two, you need to look at all of the places that leads can find you. How can people get in touch with you? Where do most of your enquiries come from? On the flip side of this, think of all the places that you are visible. This means all of the social media that you utilize, is there an enquiry form on your website? Is your phone number readily available? Is your inbox open for people to get in touch day and night? List them all.
Take each of these options and think about how much you are serving people. How many of these different options have resulted in enquiries, and how many of those enquiries have actually converted to a booked client. This will give you a clear picture of how successful each of the enquiry sources are. Just like you did with the income sources, cut away any that aren’t serving you well. Any that haven’t resulted in a paying client. Currently, you are spending time having to cover all these different places and it can get super exhausting! One of my clients had SEVEN different ways that enquiries could get in touch with them! She had to be switched on from 7am to 11pm, because in the modern world people expect a reply straightaway. Every minute that you aren’t replying, you are losing some faith and trust from that enquiry.
By cutting down your lead sources down to one to three again, it means that you are not having to cover all of these different places. I realise that this might be different advice to what you have heard before. Everyone is individual and how they work is unique to them. But honestly if you can free up your brain to concentrate on up to three sources, it’s going to give you so much more space to work on the rest of your business and to NOT feel like you have to be switched on all of the GD time.
Number three is thinking about the way that you persuade individuals from enquiry to client with ease. It is the golden journey that everyone will go on. And here is what I want you to do. Pick one income source and a corresponding lead source. Write down every single step that people have to go through to get from an initial conversation in the DMs to paying you a deposit, and the collateral you need to have created to move them along the journey. How are you going to communicate with them, do you need a contract or a scheduler in place how many emails are required for the booking process, can you take payment online?
Then take each step. Can it be combined or eliminated? Are you making hard work for yourself by including things that don’t need to be there? Cut out all of the unnecessary pieces and write then out in a client journey and how that is going to look for you. This will give you a clear idea in your mind of how they move through from stranger to client. Also, consider the tech that needs to be in place – an online calendar, a way of taking card payments online, how will they sign a contract – lots of things to inform your chosen systems.
Think about all of the things that you find really annoying as a consumer and make your process one that you enjoy going through. It’s going to affect your marketing, your messaging, your website – everything you put into the world to communicate with anyone that is a potential lead will be affected by this. Also, when it comes to converting a client if you have a really clear path of what is happening, it makes the process slick and professional so the client also knows that YOU know what you are doing! This can be invaluable when it comes to booking clients because no matter how they feel, professionalism goes a long long way when thinking about presentation. And ideally, this will mean that you get booked more and make more money!
I think it’s really important that all of us see ourselves as CEOs and business owners rather than someone who just helps people for a living. We need to treat our businesses like businesses. And if you look at massive companies in the UK, there is no chance they don’t have standards or practice in play. So S.O.Ps, handbooks, employee handbooks, things like that of how to conduct yourself by putting these things in place. You’ve got the beginning of standing operating procedures here. You’ve got the beginnings of a handbook, you’ve got the beginnings of having systems in place which eventually are going to allow you to scale. And surely that’s something that all of us are working towards, being able to scale up businesses, take a step back, have a team on board who are running our business underneath us. Streamlining your business means that you get to spend more time doing what you enjoy and less time on the admin, less time chasing people who aren’t going to become clients.