Did you just add an online course, program, or membership to your menu of offerings? If you have, you are in good company!
It makes sense, not because it’s the “thing to do” or a trend. It’s simply another (wonderful) choice for many of us in a certain stage in our business and in our lives. It also gives our clients and customers more options.
But is starting an online business driving you nuts?
Many of you have spoken up about feeling uninspired, irritated, resentful, or frustrated at the process of making it all work.
I definitely understand.
My business went from a local, brick and mortar, to a combination/hybrid, to 100% digital/online in 2017.
It hasn’t been easy, but I’m grateful that I have more options than I had back in the early 2010’s. There are still some frustrations that even I have!
The main difference between selling time and selling a product (something that can be sold on demand, not necessarily a physical product) is that for the latter, we need to have a system set up in order to make it work.
I call it my “ecosystem.”
This blog is about some of the things that drive us nuts, and may even make us want to quit before we even get started…when choosing a platform or group of platforms (a system.) This can happen whether you consider yourself “tech savvy” or not. I’m going to politely call them “challenges.”
I want you to feel validated, and show you some ways I’ve found to make the shift from solely 1:1/time-slot based practice to selling a digital “thing” that can be sold at any time, from any place, while avoiding resentment, burnout, and frustration, starting with the digital platforms you are building your empire on.
Note: This is one of my more epic pieces of content, and it’s kind of like having 9 blogs within a blog. It’s skimmable, and I even included a downloadable version for you, which you can find at the end of this article.
Let’s get started with the 9 challenges!
Can you relate to any of the following? Because these are all things that I did, or felt, when I was first starting out. (and sometimes still do today)
The assumption that this is supposed to be EASY! Someone tells you that it’s all so easy, if you just _______. (fill in the blank for what they attribute their success to here)
What you’re really thinking is:
“Isn’t this shit supposed to be serving ME? I feel like it’s making MY life HARDER.”
And I think you have a VERY legit complaint here!
Let’s take a closer look at this one.
This isn’t necessarily about whether or not someone is good with “tech.” (although it could be) The real issue is that the thing that we thought would solve a problem may only partially solve that problem, leaving us to figure out how to fill in the gaps in our “spare” time.
In the case of a system that can handle hosting, selling, and promoting a digital product, there’s a lot going on. This isn’t about making the system more complicated, but about integration and a seamless experience for leads and customers.
This should be an intuitive process for you, and why software companies work hard to make sure that it is.
If you have ever been in a Facebook support group, you can get a pretty good idea of what is working, what still needs to be addressed, and what isn’t working and causing frustration for its users.
“How can I ______ so that I can _____? Help!”
I don’t like to blame the software developers. From what I see, most are doing their best to solve a specific problem for their customers, and they are paving the way to make this all easier.
However, some do continue to overpromise what they can deliver in their marketing, or don’t want to admit that their product isn’t right for everyone. These aren’t necessarily shady companies. In fact, some of them are the most recognized platforms in use today. (SquareSpace, Wix, MailChimp) The power of great marketing!
A few have almost nailed it, but there still is no perfect solution, yet.
When an expert or coach sends a message that it’s “really pretty simple” or that if someone has questions or runs into a major roadblock, they are “just making it more difficult by overthinking it” I get irritated, because this happened to me, about 10 years ago.
There IS work involved. There WILL be some trial and error, but a lot of it can be mitigated so that entrepreneurs actually have energy to carry on with the next steps.
Yes, some entrepreneurs do procrastinate and overthink to the point where they get in their own way. This also needs to be addressed. (I did, in this blog)
It’s also unnecessary to expect people to just figure it all out on their own or assume that they have ample time and money to spend on making mistakes that can be easily avoided and don’t really teach anything important about business.
We also need to be realistic about how much time or effort it will take to set up our ecosystems.
When we’re told that it’s supposed to be “easy” it sends a message that maybe there’s something wrong with us, that there is something that we’re not grasping, that we’re just not working hard enough, or that we’re “overthinking” it when the problem isn’t about a mindset shift, but a VERY REAL glitch or gap in the fabric of the system, which must be addressed.
I believe that the main reason why it’s not a slam-dunk easy-peasy process is because there still are very few subscription-based apps and platforms (SAAS for you nerd types) in existence, even today, that are complete. I recently did some extensive research and found that almost every single one had an important piece of the puzzle missing.
If you don’t even know what those puzzle pieces ARE in the first place, of course it’s not going to be easy!
This is something I go over in detail in the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit, and some of the a la carte workshops that I teach, but I’m going to give you some free tips in this blog, coming right up!
Sometimes, it’s not the learning part that’s hard, but making not-so-fun discoveries about the limitations of your system, especially during a critical time.
I would rather learn a system that is still elegant and intuitive but takes time to learn, rather than run into a brick wall when I discover I need to migrate my email list to another service or figure out a Zapier workaround or discover that I can’t follow up with post-webinar attendees the way I thought I could and end up losing a HUGE opportunity to earn some income because of it.
These are not “fancy-schmancy” options. A holistic ecosystem needs to have some flexibility. A system that aggressively puts limits on your options is probably not worth it.
These are the kinds of things you’ll run into if you don’t have all the pieces you need.
Solution: Look for experts who understand what it’s like to be in the trenches, without a support team. Look for those who offer a step by step process, so that everything required for the journey is considered, including what order the steps need to occur in.
Also look for those who don’t promise that ONE technique (SEO, manifestation, whatever) is THE key to success. This is hardly a strategic approach.
A little secret: marketing really isn’t about learning a few proprietary secrets. The principles and processes are remarkably similar among most experts, with maybe some differences in opinion about individual pieces like websites or social media. Find someone you resonate with and that you can trust.
TIME! Resenting having to spend so much time researching a platform and all the other “tech pieces” that go into a system, and then learning how it all works.
This is somewhat related to the first challenge, but it’s a little bit different. This isn’t about it the process being perceived as difficult so much as how much of a timesuck it can be.
If you have ever thought to yourself: “Where DID my day go?” you know exactly what I mean.
I hear ya! I do this task as part of my job, and sometimes I feel like I’m spending so much TIME on sorting it all out. We have more choices now, and systems are less “clunky,” but not every new app or platform on the scene is the best choice for everyone.
Also, there is no such thing as the “perfect” system or platform. As I mentioned above, almost every single one I’ve checked out has some pieces missing, including a few major holes that will need to be filled in order to have a functioning ecosystem.
So what’s the solution?
Solution: 1. Save time right out of the gate by narrowing down your search. There are a few systems that DO have all the pieces, but because of their robustness and flexibility, there may be a learning curve. This is to be expected.
Although I can’t choose for you, I have a method for quickly determining if a system or platform is worth investigating further, or not: My 7 criteria for choosing a platform.
These are absolute essentials for building a system that includes any kind of “on demand” product, such as a course, membership, or program.
If something is missing, the platform MUST have a way to integrate with another “piece” of the puzzle so that the end result is a seamless ecosystem, for both you and your clients and customers.
For example, if it lacks adequate email automation functions, it has to connect with something that will fill in that gap, such as Active Campaign or ConvertKit. (Although ConvertKit does have some limitations.. it’s not my go-to)
I prefer to avoid “duct tape” solutions or having to rely too heavily on Zapier.
I can’t even tell you how much TIME you’ll save by making sure that you don’t have any major gaps in your system, right from the beginning.
Solution 2. Set a realistic time frame. Don’t expect to get it all done in a few hours. If you break it down into small chunks, it will seem more manageable.
My perception of time is different when I set aside productive learning time, as opposed to unexpected time running into problems and obstacles or even researching/decision making. These are entirely different functions, and I advise keeping them separated as much as possible.
I personally believe in keeping the problem solving, researching, and decision making process limited. Hopefully, I’m able to help either from free content, paid workshops, courses, or even consultations.
Challenge #3: Wasted money: Spending either too much, or too little on setting up a system
And now, you may be thinking:
“Oh, no, here it comes. In order to get what I need and not pull my hair out I’m gonna have to take out a big loan.”
You don’t need to spend a ton of money.
It DOES help to start to think about time and money and leveraging and ROI a little bit differently now, since the equation may not be a simple matter of 1 hour of work = _______.
This is all about BALANCE. I’ve seen how both overspending (while neglecting to spend any time) and underspending (which almost always results in more and more unbillable hours) can undermine success.
Again, this is not anyone’s fault. How the heck can we possibly know, without any experience, how much we need to spend in order to save time, attract more leads, make for a better experience for everyone interacting with us, and yes, of course, make more money?
Aside from not being a cheapskate and not being in the habit of throwing money at every potential solution without thought, there is no ultimate formula. This is about something called profit clarity. I go into this in depth in the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit.
But I want to give you something right now, for free, to make this easier for you:
The first thing is to get a general idea of what might provide the best VALUE for you. Generally speaking, somewhere between “cheap” and “premium” works best for those just starting out.
I love analogies, so I’ll use one here. Let’s say it’s a hot day and you are thirsty.
You can spend $1 on a small glass of lemonade that will probably leave you thirsty for more, and likely spending a LOT more.
You can spend $5 on a HUGE container of lemonade that you’ll have to carry around with 2 hands and which you probably won’t finish. It will turn into a big, wasted, warm, sloppy mess
You can spend $2 on a “best value” size and still get a lot more than the $1 option, without wasting an extra $3 you may not even need. (or can save for an ice cream or nachos later)
Guess what most people choose, and why there’s a middle option?
Yet many new entrepreneurs either spend too much on something they don’t need, or (more likely) cut corners on freemium or $8 solutions.. so much that they end up becoming more frustrated and having to spend more money in the long run.
For example, I’ve seen entrepreneurs ultimately spending MORE time and money trying to save $12 instead of focusing on earning more.
Conversely, I’ve also seen some throw $500 at a solution and never use it.
I’ve even seen some go from one extreme to another.
Everyone is different, but if I had to throw out one “entry fee” that sounds appropriate today, it would be around the $50/month zone Here are some of the options in that range:
Note: The free versions aren’t worth it. There’s just too many gaps and missing parts. For example, with the free version of Practice Better, you don’t have the tools you need to send a welcome and onboarding email with a Zoom link to a new client or to customize an email. The calendar booking options also fall short. It’s definitely not designed for selling on demand digital products, and certainly not for promoting them, which is important.
This entire process needs to be automated, period. In other words, free versions really don’t provide much value. It’s like getting a shotglass of lemonade on a hot day.
For those who have a pretty solid concept for a digital product, OR are already experiencing the “Freemium Nickel-and-Diming Effect” to the point where their total costs are starting to reach or exceed $60, the best value zone tends to hover around $100 per month, because it will probably save you time and make it easier for you to promote and sell your offering.
That $100 or even $130 solution may cover everything you need (The 7 Criteria).. while that Frankensystem that started to look like a great value when you first started, may actually exceed the cost of the all-in-one solution. Not to mention that if an extra $20 per month saves you hours and frustration, it may be worth it.
Remember, this is about designing or purchasing a system for booking time slots rather than selling a “thing.”
Remember also, that as you begin to scale, you are creating something repeatable that someone can buy any time, from anywhere, on demand.. even at 3 am your time when you are asleep. Your ecosystem needs to be able to manage this.
After much research, I’ve found the best VALUE to be in the classic systems that also focus on marketing the product you worked so hard to create.
- Kartra (The best value option, in my opinion, as of this writing)
- Setting up your entire system on WordPress. I like having an ecosystem that I own. Personally, I use a combination of WordPress/DIVI and Kartra. I like having a platform that I own and control the narrative of. I also like that it makes it easy for people to find me in a search. But I DO love Kartra as the home base for all my “transactional stuff.”
You CAN certainly also create a website on most of these platforms as well. As long as all 7 criteria are met, you’re good.
Note: These solutions only provide value if you have done the foundational work on your brand and offering. I do not recommend investing anything at all until this work is done. This doesn’t mean you need to have course material completed.. in fact, I don’t recommend waiting until you have a fully completed and perfect course ready in order to start selling your BETA version. This is a different process altogether. Again, I go into more detail in my signature course that walks you through the process of creating an online offering in 30 days or less.
The key: Finding your own “Goldilocks” system without wasting too much time on solutions that don’t provide what you’ll need.
Solution 1. I recommend starting with some of the platforms I mentioned above, and checking out some free trials. Allow yourself enough time to research and test each one.
Solution 2. More research that will save you time and money:
I wrote a blog that lists the 7 criteria I personally use when putting together a system for an online business. If any of these are missing, it’s likely you’ll need to patch something together, or get stuck in a “Freemium” trap, which means that ironically, you’ll end up paying more for less.
Again, expect to pay at least $50 for a complete solution, which needs to include not just a place to host a course, membership, or program, but a way to automate the entire process of promoting and selling it.
This is simply the price of admission, unless you don’t mind having obstructed row seating.
Note: I’m creating a quiz that will help you choose where to begin as well!
Challenge #4: Making decisions about a business based on emotion.
Let’s switch gears.
I’m not talking about working “from your heart.” That I get. I’m talking about letting excitement, anxiety, self-doubt, and even depression or despair drive your decisions.
Again, no blame here. I’ve done this many, many times.
It’s important to analyze (without emotional attachment) what is and what isn’t working.
Making data-driven decisions doesn’t SOUND cool for a lot of creative entrepreneurs, but I’m going to go ahead and risk being uncool.. It’s essential to have not only subjective data to drive your next decision, but objective data as well.
Data is your friend, not the enemy.
This includes your KPI’s (key performance indicators) that give you insight about:
Traffic to your website: Are people finding you? If not, what’s the next step?
Clicks: Are people interested in your offer? If not, what’s the next step?
Course completions: Are students and enrollees engaged in, and completing your course? If not, what’s the next step?
There are KPI’s for every stage in the journey you take leads and clients through. These numbers provide INSIGHT that your intuition alone can’t provide.
In other words, if you rely SOLELY on your intuition and emotions, in the absence of objective data, you may miss an opportunity to try something different. Your intuition and feelings simply won’t give you enough information about the next steps to take, including what to change and what NOT to change. (the principles of forming and testing a hypothesis, or troubleshooting)
You may also end up quitting because something “feels” bad, when all is needed is a minor tweak and some time to test it.
You may even want to quit, without realizing that the numbers are showing progress.
This is something I talk about in the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit in detail. I do my best to make this fun, and we do not skip subjective findings, which have equal value. (For example, client feedback is subjective but very valuable)
Challenge #5: Doing everything manually, assuming that this is how to deliver more personalized, high quality products and services, or show that you care (which turns into major resentment)
Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
The person who made your custom bookshelves or brews craft beers in your neighborhood may have a talent for creating something unique and high quality, but in order to make it work and earn a profit, they also need systems in place to take care of their businesses, their customers, their employees, and themselves.
In addition, having systems set up to “catch” or “handle” minor questions or issues, rather than risking someone having to wait or fall through the cracks, or making it easy to gather enough information to get the process started, is a way to show that you care.
Another example: A clothing store that makes it easy to browse, place an online order, have questions answered, try something on, get measured for alterations, return an item, get alerted when a new item arrives or goes on sale, is going to HAVE to have some of these systems automated, whether it’s via technology or a process/procedure/policy or even the way the merchandise is presented in the store. There are employees who are hired just to set up and maintain these systems, and for good reason.
Can you imagine if they didn’t have anything set up, and started from scratch every day? This would mean irritated customers, unhappy employees, and lost revenue.
Can you imagine trying to do this all YOURSELF?
Once you start offering products and services that are NOT based on selling time slots, this becomes important. Of course you don’t need to be as advanced as Amazon, or even close. You will need to have the basics set up.
It’s not “impersonal or robotic” to sell something that someone can access at any time, from anywhere, but this is still a major barrier I see with some entrepreneurs who are just beginning to create on-demand offers that compliment their 1:1 services.
Here’s another perspective:
If you own a business and make it HARD for people to interact with you during any step, this isn’t a great experience for them or for you. Booking, making a purchase, a basic welcome message/confirmation/receipt email, and a basic onboarding process can, and should be automated. This helps people feel cared for, shows you have your shit together, and means that you don’t have to be responding to emails 24/7.
Obviously, if people have questions, you can answer them personally, after having a way to get the most basic questions out of the way, so that people don’t feel completely lost.
It’s also about taking care of YOU: You also should not be obligated to respond to messages or emails in your inbox at every hour of the day.
Also, people almost NEVER take a particular action the first time they interact with you. They need reminders and processes that make it easy for them to take the next step. This is not something that people resent, but actually appreciate, when done well. Remember that built in touch points is a service.
It’s not just HOW something is bought and delivered that can be automated.. The product itself can also be something that is created once and repeated, without losing any value.
I STILL encounter some who think that creating something repeatable is somehow “impersonal.” So I’m going to use one more analogy to illustrate my point:
If you write a book and distribute printed or digital copies, is this also a “less than” experience for your audience? What about those who are unable to see you speak live, or like me, probably can’t get a physical copy of your book because I live on the other side of the planet?
I have one more point to really drive this concept home.. Because I am such a firm believer in automation.
The process of creating something repeatable, without our direct involvement of time in order to deliver the product, is what separates the “passionate hobbyist” or a freelancer from someone who has something that can be sold independent of their time and manual involvement. This isn’t a new concept that I came up with or made up, but a common benchmark for determining the difference between a freelancer or solo entrepreneurship and a “business” in the technical sense.
The same could apply to those who build a clinical practice and sell it, choose to open up more clinics, or rent out space to other practitioners. (Repeatable processes that earn income independent of hours spent) This business model is also NOT based on the limitations of selling time.
There is nothing wrong with being a freelancer or entrepreneur who sells their time, of course. This is just something to consider, if you desire something different at some point.
As many of my peers get older, the desire to create something that we don’t need to have “all hands on deck” for becomes stronger. There’s nothing weird about any of this.. it’s why people buy rental properties and sell stuff that they only have to create once, up front, and it’s basically done, and spend time thinking about things like initial investments, profit margins, and predicted ROI’s.
Again, this doesn’t mean that 1:1 services have less value. They do.. And it’s where we all need to start, so that we can gain the experience we need in order to build something repeatable. In other words, writing a book about a topic without actual, “in the trenches” experience is indeed putting the cart before the horse.
Remember: You’ll still need some automated systems in place, particularly when it comes to booking. Making it hard to book online is a problem that is easy to address, yet many still don’t have this set up properly. (Don’t let this be you!)
The more you begin to offer “on demand” products, the more automation you’ll need for every step.. from attracting leads ..to promotional cycles ..to purchase ..to onboarding ..to follow up ..to keeping current customers happy.. to easily getting testimonials and referrals and affiliates.
The solution is more of a mindset shift than about any other process. It’s not about what we typically think of when we think about mindset, such as confidence, abundance, etc. It’s more about how to make the mental shift from thinking locally to expanding into new possibilities, if that’s your choice.. Because it IS different.
Challenge #6: Trying to be like someone else, and using their success as your own personal measuring stick.
This isn’t exactly news to most of us, but I’m going to cover it anyway, because it keeps us trapped. This mindset is NOT liberating. I’m even going to say that the time we spend reading about or listening to the people we admire in Forbes or as guests on Oprah may need to be limited, for the sake of our businesses and our mental health.
There, I said it.
It’s great to be able to see what is possible without limits from time to time, but I believe that a steady dose of this only sets many of us up for failure. We need to have role models that are only a few steps ahead of us on the journey as well.
Seeing another entrepreneur out there who is doing the same thing you are, who is killing it (or at least it looks that way) can set off all kinds of internal messages to our subconscious. It isn’t a flip that can be switched on or off, in my opinion.
It can feel as if you aren’t cut out to sell your offerings online, or even an imposter. Yep, this one is something I still sometimes struggle with. I mean, who am I to compete against the likes of Amy Porterfield?
There is of course, the internal work that is super important. I also want to point out a few external reasons that have contributed to their success:
- They aren’t, in fact, doing the same thing you are! Because of niching, (and doing the foundational work) no two businesses are ever going to be exactly the same. If this is true for a product like pizza or coffee, it’s most certainly true for your business. It’s not a platitude to say that you are unique.
- They were able to make data-driven decisions. There’s nothing wrong with using your intuition, but I stand by the notion that making emotional decisions when it comes to our businesses isn’t a great idea. That’s why we hire coaches and consultants and look at the actual numbers to tell us what’s really going on, or make it a point to continue to learn on our own. Believe it or not, this is a liberating process. When I have wanted to give up, and it’s been many times, OR when I get sidetracked by distraction, excitement, or fear, it’s good to have a grounded source of objective data or experienced opinion to turn to.
- They remained consistent. They didn’t constantly flit from one thing to the next, and didn’t quit 3 months into an endeavor. In other words, they gave it time to actually work. Even on days when they didn’t feel like doing the work, either by doing it anyway or setting up a process that allows them to take time off on those “off” days
- They took quick and decisive action when it was called for. In other words, they didn’t take 3 months to write a blog or a year to get their website done. They were also able to connect to the “big picture” enough to be able to prioritize tasks and projects, so that they weren’t just focusing on busywork, but on “moving the needle” in their business. (This is a skill that can be developed)
- They got help. The American tradition that says it’s your problem if you can’t make everything work out by “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is rather silly and needs to be retired or rethought. Again, I’m raising my hand.. I’ve bought into this notion as well, and it has NEVER helped me, especially as a single woman living abroad.
- They did the foundational work, without cutting corners, without “bypassing” the important (but not urgently compelling) work.
Did all of this painlessly fall into place for them from the start? Not likely. That’s why we share stories about our own personal journeys, so that people can be inspired by someone who is “one of us.”
This could mean that you don’t necessarily need to work with the top experts. (Although you can, of course) Just the person who is in a perfect position to get you from point A to point B, because they have been there and understand what it’s like.
Challenge #7: Inconsistency (and feeling pressured to remain consistent)
This one is very common.
If you are not consistent, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are lazy. Let me stress this: It’s not part of the job description to become a slave to our work, and by sheer force of will make it all happen, without fail. In fact, almost all of us will need a way to remain consistent without having to be “on” every single day.
It’s extremely unrealistic to expect ourselves to show up every day, in every way. For example, as I write this, I have a cold. It’s the perfect time to write a few blogs. I’m actually doing this in bed, which feels fantastic right now. Later, when I feel like myself again, I’ll use the content I write here for live broadcasts, trainings, or podcasts.
(Can you see now why I’m a fan of automation, and what it really means? Making it EASY on yourself!)
There are 2 types of inconsistency: Short term and long term. Let’s break them down.
Short term inconsistency
Short term consistency is about showing up, in whatever way works for you, consistently, without big gaps in which you ignore your business, your audience, your leads, and your customers.
An example of short term inconsistency: Me.. not showing up for the real people on my email list on a weekly basis, and not providing real value in those emails.
I struggle sometimes with remaining consistent with my email list. Did you know that ignoring your list and sending out only sporadic emails is just as annoying as getting inundated with too many emails in your inbox?
The first thought is: What and who is this? Why now? What do they want?
But when people see an email from you once a week, they tend to expect them and yes, even look forward to them if you consistently show up to provide value.
What works for me isn’t about beating myself up each week to make sure that I send that email. I batch and schedule so that I don’t have to feel as if I’m constantly having to come up with new ideas and content to write, and how to make it fit into the entire campaign I’m trying to create.
Automation isn’t just about the technical automation, but processes that I repeat on a regular basis that make it SUPER easy to follow.
For me, this means that I get inspired and full of ideas on a particular day. During this time, I capture ideas and even write some of my emails, including subject lines, calls to action, and all the links that will be included in the email.
To do this, I have my own slide deck that I scroll through that shows me every step in the process. I don’t expect myself to remember it all!
Automation is also about templates. Yes, I write from the heart in all of my emails, but sometimes, yes, I get a head start with a template. There’s nothing wrong with this. It can help you remember to include key points and the primary goal of each email, while still speaking in an authentic way. It’s just that you may have thought of the perfect authentic thing to say a few months ago, and today you are drawing a blank. Leverage what you already started.
This is something I go into more depth with in my email marketing bundles and in the Future Proof your Business Toolkit.
Automation is also about reusing and recycling. This blog is one of my “epic” pieces. It can be broken down (splintered) into 9 or more smaller pieces of content, which in turn, can become a live broadcast, a podcast, or a YouTube video.
I’ve got so much more to say about this topic.. But I already did! (haha!) as a workshop called “Creating Content The Easy Way.” It can be found in my Rebel Wellness Entrepreneur Membership.
Long term inconsistency
Long term inconsistency happens when you lack clarity and end up “floating” without any direction. This often shows up as a website that lacks clear messaging, or social media posts, landing pages, and checkout pages that appear to be thrown together without much thought.
This happens when people show up every once in a while with offers that are free, underpriced, or just all over the place. We’ve all seen this, and the natural inclination is to not take those who show up this way seriously.
This hardly inspires trust. I know where this comes from: Lack of confidence. As an introvert who just likes to cut to the chase, I know how hard this can be.. to just keep going and to keep showing up, and to keep working on our own story and refining value in order to attract our ideal clients and customers.
We may need to remember that consistency is more important than perfection. (Perfection isn’t even possible.)
Consistency isn’t just about time, but forming a cohesive entity that not only LOOKS trustworthy, but IS. This is one major reason why I call BS on running a business SOLELY by “going with the flow.”
Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. I didn’t start out with much consistency either. So don’t beat yourself up if you are not there yet. Give it time, but also take heart because the next thing I’m going to talk about will give this process a HUGE jump start. I mean HUGE. And honestly, STILL.. almost nobody in the health and wellness industry is doing this.
Another reason why the next challenge is so important to address, because the reason for this kind of “floating or lost” inconsistency has to do with:
Challenge #8: Skipping the Foundational work. This part isn’t about the “tech” pieces but about gaining clarity and refining a story, message, ideal client, offer, and branding
Note: What most people think of when they hear the word branding: Aesthetics, design, fonts, colors, and logos.
In fact, the logo part isn’t nearly as important as the rest of the foundational work.
When coaches see this foundational work they tend to bypass it, thinking of it as a “fun little exercise that may help.” They dismiss it as non-essential, or consider it homework/low priority busywork that business coaches and web designers give them so that they can charge more.
This is NON-NEGOTIABLE work.
In fact, it’s impossible for me to do ANY work for a client without this vital information. Otherwise I’m just creating another generic, digital brochure. I can’t guess what copy to include in a website, or guess what images and colors to use.
Yet the info and content I often get is a headshot, a dry bio, and a blurb about acupuncture, a standard hourly pricing guide, and if I’m lucky, a blog or two. Followed by expecting me to follow the “I’ll know what I like when I see it” approach. I make it abundantly clear that I do not work this way, and so should you! This is a terrible business model for someone who is creating a custom solution for a client. It means no boundaries, low pay, unsatisfied clients, and certainly not a product or service one would stand behind or put their name on.
It’s my job to guide a client through the foundational work, so that this doesn’t happen.
The same principle applies to health and wellness professionals and coaches. Your clients are paying you for solutions and strategies, not just to pull levers or dispense information.
Without doing the foundational work, what you are selling is a commodity: “I’ll take the 20 min 4 gates session and the aromatherapy for $40, please, thank you”
Now, sometimes this model works.
But it’s not if:
What you deliver is a result, or a solution to a more complex problem. Chances are good that in order to achieve that result, you are going to need a strategy, not just a favorite tactic or tool.
Skipping foundational work results in frustration, false starts, lack of focus, a product that looks like a commodity to an ideal client, undercharging, working with less than ideal clients, lack of results, not meeting expectations, a brand that resonates with nobody, and constant hustling on social media. Ultimately yes, this leads to resentment and burnout.
And this is probably NOT what you went to school for.
This foundational work is laid down FIRST, as an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process in both the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit and the Tell Your Story DIY Website Kit.
The good news is that this kind of work is the opposite of the “left brained” work, such as researching and learning new platforms. This work is mostly internal, and requires nothing more than a journal and a block of time set aside for reflection and creative thinking, doing some fun research, and setting up a few “coffee dates” with people that you would consider to be an ideal client. This does NOT make it any less important. In fact, it is one of the pillars of my approach: Systems, Strategies, and Foundations.
The even BETTER news is that this process can rapidly accelerate the awkward phase we all go through when we are still defining our message, brand, and offer. The fact that so many blow this off (not the superstars, though, they have done this work, I guarantee) ..will probably put you automatically way ahead of most of your peers.
Challenge #9: Burnout, resentment, and despair
All the challenges can lead to this ultimate challenge, when not addressed:
Wanting to give up, thinking that there’s something wrong with you, when there isn’t.
I hope that this rather epic blog helps you avoid getting to this point!
- It’s NOT always easy, even if some say it is. Those people probably have assistants that do all the grunt work for them, anyway. But there ARE ways to make it easier, I promise.
- It takes time, but you can avoid wasting time up front by narrowing your decisions about what platforms to use
- Find your “sweet spot” when it comes to you monthly investment, knowing that it will likely be between $50 and $100/month when you total up ALL your costs of running your ecosystem (meeting the 7 criteria)
- Data is your friend. Intuition + subjective and objective data + experience = insight. You may find that the data is telling you NOT to give up.
- Do the foundational work to differentiate yourself from the crowd, and don’t even worry about competing with the superstars. Some would rather work with you, because they will be more inspired by YOUR story.
- Find ways to remain consistent, even if you have to “cheat” a little. Nobody wants to spend hours each day on this stuff, and it’s unrealistic to expect it, but it is true that if we show up sporadically it can hurt our business.
- Automation is also your friend, not the enemy, because it makes it all possible, prevents burnout, and yes, shows that you care (instead of dropping the ball when life gets crazy!) It also helps you remain consistent.Do this, and you’ll find your own “sweet spot” to work within, and have time for what really matters in life, like hanging out with little dudes like this:
I’ve also woven a lot of resources into this blog, some free, and some paid, for you to check out and enjoy.
Find more time for the important stuff in life..
If you find that you are becoming a slave to your business and it’s not giving anything back to you.. it may be time to take a close look at your strategy.
Most service-based entrepreneurs are skipping absolutely essential steps, and it’s costing them. But you can get ahead of the “pack.”
Laying down a foundational strategy doesn’t mean more work, but less.
It’s also important to pay equal attention to the systems and workflows of your entire business, and how everything works together in a holistic manner.
This isn’t just for big corporations or even small businesses.. today, solopreneurs can benefit from affordable tools (NOT just tech tools) so that they can create something wonderful and sustainable for themselves and for their clients.