The quest for more clients. It's a common, never ending journey for many small business owners, especially those in service-based businesses. While clients are vital, there are some nuances that you might be missing when it comes to scaling your business profitably.
You may think that clients are the cure to all your business problems. If you are just starting out, clients are vital to the longevity of your business. But as you progress on your journey, there will be a moment in time when getting more clients will no longer cure all the problems in your business.
Here are the 3 key signs that getting more clients isn't the answer you are looking for.
#1 More Clients ≠ More Money
There will be a point of diminishing returns in your small business, where more clients no longer brings in more cash. While your top-line revenue or sales may see an increase, no cash is making its way to the bottom line. This means that even though you're bringing on more clients, the money you bring in does not go in your pocket—in other words, clients start COSTING you money!
If you have ever had the 'busiest' month of your life and are fighting to make payroll at the end of the month, you are solidly living this business truth.
This happens because your pricing isn't geared to be profitable, which forces you to go 'get more clients' which is more work than there are hours to work. When this happens, the balls start getting dropped on project work, which leads to disappointed clients who don't want to work with you - meaning now you need even MORE clients. This is what we refer to as growing yourself out of business or growing broke.
Entrepreneurs typically try to spend their way out of this problem and go on the search for more clients. This begins to create a situation where the money is flying out the door faster than it is coming in the door. You gain more clients, but you don't solve the problem.
To break this cycle, you have to slow down in order to move forward. A critical review of pricing and packaging is the first step. The goal is to be profitable with the least number of clients, not the most.
#2 There's No More Time to Serve More Clients
Busyness does not make for a good business. Scaling a business is a constant management of your most valuable resources, time and money. This means being productive, efficient and leveraged in your use of time. Busy just doesn't foot the bill, but it is the bill of goods most entrepreneurs are sold as the only path or definition of success.
Compounding the problem is that 'MORE' is the go-to solution for most business owners, when it should be about 'BETTER'. If you've reached that point of knowing that you can NOT work any harder or any longer than you already do, you are not alone.
You could be looking at your $1 million dollar business wondering what you are doing it all for and whether you should just shut the business down and go corporate where you would make more and work less.
Don't despair, you can unravel the web that has been woven to create the busy trap.
First, your attitude needs to change about how the work is done and who is in control of your precious minutes.
Second, the factors impeding your progress in this area deal with productivity, systems, processes, leveraging time through automations, reproducibility and technology.
Most service-based businesses develop 'custom' solutions for their clients and therefore believe that each project requires a complete reinvention of the wheel.
However, even the most customized outcome can be generated by a process that utilizes strategies and produces a way to decrease the amount of time needed to serve clients.
The key here is doing more with less, getting more bang for your buck and leveraging your resources.
# 3 You Are Over Promising and Under Delivering
Have you ever felt like one of those performers who dash between spinning plates, trying to 'wow' the crowd by how many plates you can have spinning? What starts out manageable quickly becomes chaos as plate by plate comes crashing down to the ground.
Sustainability in delivery should be of the utmost concern when it comes to scaling your business.
Imagine you have a brand new Great Dane puppy. It is as cute as it can be. You pick it up, set it in your lap as you rub its head. Now imagine doing that when the Great Dane weighs 150 lbs and is the size of a small pony. The habit isn't sustainable.
Entrepreneurs can have the habit of serving in an unsustainable manner to try to prove their services are worth purchasing. In the early years, this becomes harder as you've likely been saying 'yes' more than 'no' to the client requests. (Insert spinning plates here.) The end result is projects are missing the mark, clients are unhappy, and you are discouraged and exhausted.
The best, and most profitable, businesses are simple. They do their one thing and do it with surgical precision. It's only after years of mastery that they even consider adding complexity. However, in the quest to solve money problems, business owners choose to treat the symptoms, not the problem.
This moment is when service based business should take a look at SaaS companies. These businesses do not launch with the creme-de-la-creme version first. They launch with version 1.0, get the bugs worked out and get to audience critical mass. Then they look at version 2.0. The lesson here for service-based business is not to add too much complexity too soon.
Your business needs to deliver the best product you can sustainably deliver at 10 clients, or 100 clients, and you need to stay in your lane while you master the ability to do so.
It's the fear (and sometimes the nearly empty bank account) that has you jumping on every opportunity and client that comes your way. This is a dangerous cycle to get stuck in. It is important to realize that not all money is good money in your business.
You need to question the opportunities and whether they keep you in your lane, or detour you off course. Follow the path!
If you are looking at what your business needs in order to scale richly, get the money right first. That is the first order of business. Positive cash flow puts you in the driver's seat and gives you freedom of choice. Refine your services and the way that work is done so that the delivery is sustainable at 5x your current operating level. That gives you profit and scalability. Stay focused in your lane for as long as it makes sense.
While you will always need clients in your business, they should not always be your primary focus. As your business evolves, your systems should be reliably producing clients in your business so that you can put your attention to scaling your business.
- The Right Way To Grow Your Business Through Social Media - Swaay ›
- How To Mold Your Million Dollar Business Through Instagram - Swaay ›
- From $600K to $6M In Revenue In One Year: Here's Exactly How I ... ›
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.