Are you ready to think about what your business could be rather than what is?
Since you clicked my link saying Shift to a Semi-Retired Lifestyle, something is going on in your mind. It’s never too early to start planning to move your business into semi-retirement.
If you are anything like me, you might be saying you will never retire from your business. That has been my mantra forever. I am passionate about running a business and helping other women succeed in theirs. But there comes a time when we say, oh – not so much. Time and work that is!!
Claiming my semi-retired lifestyle came a little sooner than I planned. It just made sense when we were fortunate to be able to move from Tucson, AZ. to Kauai, why try to work full time? Yes, it’s a little tricky financially, but we’ve worked hard to give ourselves room for options in the money game.
“Now if you are hesitating reading on because you have not yet created a sustainable income that would allow you to semi-retire, you might want to follow my other link on Surpassing Your Tipping Point.
But if you have a successful business that you would like to figure out how to make some changes, so you are not working full-time+ and fretting about going on a vacation because of work, stay with me here.
3 Crucial Elements that Allow you To Scale Your Business Down (and get off the Treadmill of 24/7)
Most business owners think about scaling up, and yes, I talk about that a lot. We have to scale up before we can find the success that allows us some freedom from always running our business.
I remember in my first business, wearing all the hats – you know what that’s like, right? And it was a service business with a product, namely, container gardens in a desert climate, so that entailed utilizing a field staff. Before I brought on my first staff members, I did it all. Sales, admin, shopping, installation, designs – the whole nine yards!
Once I brought on my first staff members, then I could think about how to scale.
However, many of my clients are in professional practices, mainly in health fields, from physical therapists to psychologists, coaches. With them, there is no physical product except for some retail items, so scaling takes on a different picture.
No matter what the business, I believe it comes down to the three P’s. Product, Pricing and Positioning.
As you think about scaling back, you’ll hear me use the phrase, Niche Down. By that, I mean that you hone in on one product, one pricing structure and one fundamental way of positioning yourself in the marketplace.
By doing this, you will be pulled in fewer directions and be able to craft your business and success in a way that works for you.
As a reward for reading all the way to the end, you will have an opportunity to learn how I have succeeded in running my business in a 12-hour work week.
If you want to jump ahead now, fill in your name and address in the box below and I will send you a series of emails that share with you how I came up with the 12 Hour WorkWeek in my own business. I will then outline the steps you can take to make similar changes in your business.
Meanwhile, follow the three elements to scaling your business back so that you can consolidate it into fewer hours.
It’s Not Always Easy
Some of my clients would say it has not been that hard to move from running a 24/7 business. One who comes to mind ran a large accounting practice and was consistently working 80 hours a week. She thought she would never be able to change that.
Talk to her today, and she would say, “It wasn’t that hard.” But we worked together for over two years as she instituted change in her business including staffing structure, operations processes and even the type of clients she brought on.
Yes, she does have a staff which may not be your case, but I remember our first appointment where she said, “All my clients’ needs are different. There is no way I can systematize my processes.”
I remind her of this, years later as she catches up with me on her life and she bows her head and says, “I know…”
Many of the mental health professionals I’ve worked with say something similar. Every patient is different. I beg to differ. We need to find the similarities.
When I say One Product, what it may mean to your business is one problem. What is the one issue that you would like to help your clients solve? What is the one thing that you can work on continually without always being pulled away by the next shiny object or even the next needy person who inquires about your services?
I’ve also wrestled with this issue. For years, I’ve worked with business owners from a variety of industries. Our approach was to look at the health of the entire organization and make a plan to improve the weakest areas on a systematized plan. However, when I claimed a semi-retired lifestyle, I’ve struggled with how much time this approach takes both in marketing and sales and in coaching time and attention.
I write daily in my journal, and as I read back through the past years, I see my repeated complaints that I had too much going on and I need to narrow my niche. Those entries kept circling and circling me as I looked for the solution.
Therefore I encourage my clients to find the answer to this question. What is the one problem that you want to help clients solve? In addition to this, if your target market is too broad that you have to work countless hours to get your message out, then what segment of the market would you most like to reach?
For example, a mental health practitioner may help athletes overcome their limiting beliefs that are holding them back on performance. That is a significant focus (in my opinion). However athletes come from many market segments. There are high school and college athletes, semi-pro and professional athletes, athletes in international championship competitions as well as weekend warriors. You could also focus on a singular sport.
In one case, a client chose to work with local high school athletes attending private schools. In that market space, there is a very focused area to market to, solving just one problem. The message becomes clear.
Can you apply this method to your practice?
You might be saying, this is easy. Yes! It can be but, I’ve seen too many practitioners have a myriad of pricing methods. They have the 50-minute model, the package model where the client buys x number of sessions for a reduced price. (Really? Giving a discount to people when you are in a Professional industry? Does your doctor or lawyer do that?) Ok – back off one of my soapboxes.
One of my clients was working to streamline her appointment scheduling. She turned to my favorite online scheduler Acuity and tried to set up her appointment types. I think she even surprised herself when she realized she had more than 30 different kinds of appointments which means that many of these appointment types had a different price attached.
Pricing matters for two reasons
Correct pricing drives more money to your bottom line.
Smart business owners understand how to include all costs of doing business as well as their time as the foundation for setting prices. Too often when I have reviewed a business’s P&L and pricing structure, especially when their bottom line is weak, I have found that they are not charging enough because they are only thinking of their value and what they want per hour.
Most often they have not included things they decide to invest in or purchase during the year such as training programs, outsourcing work that they were doing before, and the cost of business licenses and taxes.
If you are not sure if your pricing structure is adequate to cover expenses AND make you real money, then be sure to have an expert go over it with you. Your accountant could help, and I would be happy to review your pricing with you. (email link)
2. A Single Price Model is Most Efficient
Focusing on a single pricing structure for a unique product – let’s be honest here. It is going to save you tons of time. Your brain will thank you for it! You will have
— One thing to talk about when you are networking in public
— One message for social media
— A single focus on your website and your branding
The Third P of Scaling Back to Semi-Retirement – Positioning
Compared to One Product and One Price, I believe Positioning is the most difficult. In this age of online marketing and new platforms and social media, there are so many options that it is a challenge to choose just one method of positioning.
You strategically position yourself all the time. Let me explain.
You do it all the time in a grocery store when you choose your checkout line. You quickly calculate the length of each line, the quantity of items in their carts and if possible, the speed of the cashier
Another example is a little more complicated.
You’re driving down the street which is two lanes wide. You know within a couple blocked you are going to make a left turn so you position yourself in the left lane as soon as you deem it safe. Then you are precisely where you need to be when you get to the street.
You can see from these two examples that positioning can include almost every decision you make. In the case of taking your business into semi-retirement, your choices directly will positively impact your business.
Positioning with a Single Focus
You have probably been doing this already for your business but what you need to do is focus on your One Product. Keep the message of your One Product front and center in everything you do.
- Where you choose to go
- Who you socialize with
- What you say to who
- What organizations you join
These are all choices we make every day.
For instance, depending on where your perfect client hangs out you might choose to shop at an organic market rather than the food chain. Or, you may select a speaking engagement for the local BAR (lawyers) association rather than a city senior citizen center. Thinking lucrative populations here, mind you.
Online, you want to be active on social media channels where your perfect client hangs out, be active in groups that further your connections and post on your and others pages where “your people” hang out.
So yes- this is more than one place. But your focus is singularly directed. And when you do talk, you put on your helping hat and your smart connections hat and do just that. Help others meet their needs, help others make the connections they need, be vocal about what you do when it’s appropriate.
And be secure in your message. By that I mean to be clear in what you do and who you help. If you’ve decided to help high school athletes break through their performance barriers and someone says they have a middle school age child who is having a bullying problem, be empathetic and help them find a referral source for that.
When they seem surprised that you, as a therapist are not able to help them, explain that this is not your expertise and while you appreciate their trust in you, you feel they will be better served by someone who specializes in bullying. Follow up with your practice specialization – i.e., high school athletes with performance issues because you never know who they might know that has that need.
Top Tips for Positioning Your One Program
- Practice your story – who you work with and the one problem you solve
- Choose a few places (locally and online) where you are most likely to meet your potential client both professionally and socially.
- Talk to people who have a direct relationship with where you can reach more potential clients (your connectors)
- Create a list of 20 of your best connections and follow up with them repeatedly.
Summing It Up
When we think about moving our business into semi-retirement, there are many considerations. But, let me say this – it’s worth it once you get there! I am living the life of my dreams on a tropical island, working when I want to, traveling and greeting each day at the beach for sunrise and journaling time.
Yes, it’s been a long road to get here. What I haven’t told you is that I have figured out how to run my business in a 12 hour work week. No Kidding!! If you would like to follow along on this journey, fill in your name and address in the box below and I will send you a series of emails that share with you how I came up with the 12 Hour WorkWeek in my own business. I will then outline the steps you can take to make similar changes in your business.
Don’t miss it – you too can be enjoying your ‘later years’ life and still have your business, a good income and follow your heart.