If you’ve been in business for any time you’ve gotten the call or seen the ad online:
“Our attendees are having amazing results! After working through our workshop [Insert your favorite name: Jenny] saw her sales go up by [Insert multiple: 10X seems to be popular] in [Inset time period: the next quarter seems to be popular]. You need to come to our workshop. Just one more sale will pay for the fee to attend and the travel. It’s a no brainer.”
And how many “no brainers” do most business owners attend before their sales increase exponentially?
I wish I had the statistics but it’s probably a lot.
At one industry group I attend one of the past presidents wanted to make sure people started making money in the industry before they ran out of money.
The truth is it does take time, money and effort to grow. And it’s usually not just one workshop. Sure, every once in a while, a business owner goes to the right workshop that gives them the right answer to a current problem and results and huge and immediate. That’s what the workshop marketing Gods wait for. They can retell that story forever!
For most businesses growth is slower and we need to manage the new lines and the old growth lines.
I’ve lost a lot of money going to workshops and hiring advisors to grow my business. So let me share some lessons from my experience, from the experiences of the clients that are growing businesses and from some of my colleagues so we can all get smarter about this.
It’s Not One To One
The biggest fallacies is that there is some sort of one-to-one relationships between clients, workshops and masterminds and clients. There generally isn’t.
Going to a workshop today doesn’t necessarily mean a client today. Or next week. Or even this month.
In fact, there might be some workshops or masterminds that, if you attend once, will open a lifetime of client flows. Other workshops will have no client or revenue flow.
I see many workshops and events advertised with “if you generate just one client you’ll pay the cost” and it’s true. Often one client from what you learn from the workshop will pay the workshop bill. The issue is that that client is not guaranteed in any way, shape or form.
Growth Usually Takes Time
The corollaries all of this is that growth takes time. There is no one magic answer to building an amazing and strong business.
Through the course of hosting The Future Done Right(™) Show I’ve gotten to interview a number of successful business leaders. And all of them seem to have a similar story: struggle in the beginning, get a little momentum, and follow-up with big growth.
The struggle, and more importantly the learning from the struggle, is a key to growth. And it takes time.
The other common thing I hear from business owners that have grown is that they often have a “click” moment. A moment or event where their business just takes off. Everything comes together.
And it takes time to bring things together. This is important for planning for big growth. We need to allow time – and budget – for this.
We Need a Strong Business Behind Us
Growing a business is a lot like making a complex meal. Many of us have experienced this around Thanksgiving. We need to do this, that and the other thing to make the full meal. And somehow have all of it done at the same time.
We are cooking our side dishes, our turkey, prepping dessert and getting the table ready all around the same time. It’s really complex when you think about it.
And the same thing is often going on in our businesses. We are working on several things at once. All of them important.
They all have to be done to get to the completed project. So what can we learn from Thanksgiving meal prep? Some things have to be getting done while we are doing other things. Some things need to happen without us being involved every minute.
At Thanksgiving the turkey is often the central part of the meal. But you don’t spend every minute working on the turkey. Hopefully your reliable oven is taking care of that while you focus in on those hundred other things that need to be done.
We want the same thing in our business. We want our core operations running well while we focus on the growth. And this is where a lot of people miss something. They forget about core operations while they are doing their growth.
And it’s a common blind spot that is rarely talked about. We need to get efficient and our core before we try to grow too much.
Growth Should Be An Add-On
All of this leads to the fact that, in most cases, growth should be an add-on to your business. In rare cases a business will want to ditch one line of business to pursue another. That should be the exception, not the rule.
So to make sure we make the growth plan financially viable by attaching it to the existing business. We should be asking ourselves how do we bolt our growth into the business we have.
For instance, years ago I started doing public speaking I went through a journey of transition. Public speaking was a natural bolt-on to my existing law practice. By speaking I would be meeting new people, helping them, and showcasing my knowledge. It was, in a way, a new line of business. But it also attached to the existing.
We Need a Transition Plan
And as part of adding on the new component of our business we need to have a transition plan. I am always amazed when I drive down an interstate that is being reconstructed.
Those men and women that plan that – in most cases – are amazing. They have to keep existing traffic moving and also get ready for the road that is to be. Often you’ll be glancing out the side of your car and see the soon-to-be interstate being readied.
Then one day, usually in the middle of the night, in a few hours, they’ll move to the new highway. Suddenly everything is shifted, traffic continues on, and the plan moves forward.
And so should it be in our businesses too. We want to move from where we are now to where we are going in steps. Somehow we need to keep the traffic (customers and clients) moving while we build the new.
In most cases this requires careful planning and coordination. And it can be messed up.
I will say that I learned a lot from building my speaking and consulting business. I didn’t time these steps right and lost a lot of revenue along the way. Had I had it to do over again I would have made the transition more gradual.
Don’t Buy The Hype
All of this to say don’t buy the hype. Many a “guru” will come at you and show you how they can get you where you are going much faster.
And some can. But some will misguide you.
I’ve worked with both types of coaches and teachers. As Stephanie St. Claire points out in here article “11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business” there are three types of coaches The Guru, The Wisdom Advisor and The Connector. I then to work well with the Wisdom Advisors. They are the ones with experience that want to help you find your answer. But I bought a lot of lessons from The Gurus. It wasn’t a fit for my style.
So be careful out there. Do the steps. And work with the coaches that will really tell you the steps.
I lose a lot of coaching and consulting clients because they call up and I can’t promise immediate answers. Others are promising the moon and more than can be realistically delivered in the time frame. Unless you are calling me to deliver a speech on some topic of the future of business or some last minute training, there’s not much in my tool chest I can deliver that will have immediate impact tomorrow.
Good things take time to build. We can do amazing things in a year, or maybe even a quarter, but very little can be done overnight.
Take Your Time
So we have to take our time to grow over time. It’s going to take months, quarters, or perhaps even years to get that new business highway up and running. We need to make the plans that keep the highway running while the new sections are built.
Pacing yourself and having a long-term plan are key in this moment. Make sure you are getting there slowly but surely.
Plan for things to take time and don’t listen to the aggressive timelines of those suggesting miracles. I’ve lost a lot of money working with those types.
Within your plan you’ll need to adjust constantly. When I build my speaking business from my other business I didn’t think enough about the adjustments needed.
A few times I had one, or more, advisors and coaches helping me grow in areas I didn’t understand. For instance, I thought others would, through their business, market my speaking business. Not so! This was a big miss in my planning.
Although I was careful to have a plan and I could see how everything might come together I didn’t act carefully enough to stop and integrate lessons learned along the way. If I had it to do over again I would stop and pause along the way and re-assess my progress.
Make time to not only check your progress on your plan, but re-plan. In most cases you don’t know all the details of what’s next and what internal and external challenges will come. Don’t be afraid to update.
Watch Your Budget
It should come as no surprise that with unexpected events, adjustments and those pesky problems that pop up you should be watching your budget. Are you still meeting the milestones you had set?
The reality is most businesses have events that cause them to meet, exceed or fall below budget. It’s the rare business that can meet budget exactly.
Go back, constantly, and check your growth plan to you budget. Adjust timing and scope as needed.
Successful business pivot and they pivot for a lot of reasons. There is no shame in pivoting for budget reasons.
Know You Got This
I am a firm believer that those that put in the effort, are smart about it, and build the right team get to success. If you are reading articles like this, have coaches and advisors supporting you and are being smart about your work I believe you can get to success.
There is nothing magical about people that have had great business success. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of them and I hear the same stories over and over again. They all did the work.
And now you’ve got a leg up on most. By reading this article and others like it you are better prepared than most. I know you can do it.
Let’s make this happen!
What are you thinking? Do you feel like you have a map to growth? Are you afraid of growth? Join me in the comments below to discuss.
NOTE: This article is a piece develop a small portion of the content of the book Entrepreneur to CEO being co-authored by The Our Shawn McBride and Ann Gatty. If you want updates on the book including the possibility of joining our release team or getting one of the first copies please join our mailing list here.
By: The Our Shawn McBride, is the man you call when you want a keynote, training or a consultant to get your business ready for The Future of Business. He’s the host of The Future Done Right(TM) Show and a long-time business attorney. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.
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