I recently spoke with an online business owner about the creation of her ideal service business. She wanted to establish a practice with a higher-end clientele who can easily afford to pay her fees. She said that she had a hard time visualizing what a high-end successful practice looked like, because she had never seen one. I responded by telling her that she knew exactly what that kind of business looked like because it was her ideal business — and the vision of that looks very different to each online business owner.
For some online business owners, the ideal online business might be one in which the owner is spending much of her day working with 1:1 clients, interspersed with a few information product sales. For others, the ideal day might consist of implementing Internet marketing strategies to sell many information products, and only a small amount of time spent with high-fee 1:1 clients. The bigger vision to wrap your head around is how do you want to spend your day — your week — your year — your life? How much money do you want to make? How do you want to spend your time — with family, traveling, completing hobby projects, in relaxation, or working in your business?
There are no right or wrong answers here. The great part about being a self-employed service professional is that you have the freedom and the tools to create the perfectly designed business for you — to become a lifestyle entrepreneur, or lifepreneur, in which your life and your business work together in harmony so that you have adequate time and energy to devote to both. And, if that vision changes at some point, you can make changes accordingly.
For my business, that vision includes working many days in my bathrobe, spending time on the phone with hand-picked clients in 1:1 sessions where I get as energized as they do, writing content for additional information products, designing additional revenue streams for my business, enjoying a relaxed lunch while watching Samantha Brown’s travels on the Travel Channel, and spending time with my fiancée when his schedule allows.
You won’t find me taking lots of exotic vacations or throwing wild parties or bragging about the new expensive car or house or clothing I just purchased –that’s not a part of who I am. I love the creative process I find through my work, and I find my work to be fun, so I treat my business as others might treat a treasured hobby. Flexibility is also important to me, as is being able to conduct ALL aspects of my business from my home office. I find myself becoming annoyed at even having to go to the Post Office to check my mail!
If your business isn’t developing the way you initially thought, take a long, hard look at your business vision and check to see how close you are to the picture of your ideal business. Syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd says it best: "If you settle for less than you deserve, you’ll get even less than you settled for." So, If you hate the travel component of your business, brainstorm ideas of how to take your information to your target market from your home office. If you’re burned out from working with 1:1 clients, strategize the possibilities of working with them in a group setting. If you want to take more time off, assess some passive revenue possibilities for your business. If you hate in-person networking events, discover where your target market hangs out online and develop relationships there.
Running a successful business isn’t easy — if it were, everyone would be doing it. And, it doesn’t happen overnight — many "overnight successes" have 5, 10, or more years of work that contributed to that "overnight success". You deserve a full, thriving business — don’t settle for less!
To make sure your online service business is on track, conduct a regular check-up of your online business, including:
1. Your service fee structure. Begin with the end in mind here in terms of what amount of money you need to live on for the year in way you’d like to or are accustomed to living and determine what you need to charge to live your life in this fashion. In a service business, your time is precious and should not be squandered. What is the client value of working 1:1 with you? Are you charging adequately for that privilege?
2. Your passive income strategy. What percentage of your business income do you want to derive from passive income streams? Have you devoted time during the course of your work week to develop these passive income streams?
3. Your invoicing and payment policies. Are there multiple ways clients can pay you (check, cash, debit/credit card)? When do you expect payment for a contract? How do you deal with late payments?
4. Your hours of operation. Are you working around the clock, or do you leave time for yourself to enjoy your life? What about vacation and family time? Are there procedures for dealing with clients who want you to work outside your scheduled work hours?
5. Your ideal client profile. Include descriptive adjectives of the characteristics of your ideal clients as well as more statistically-oriented details, such as what industry they’re in, what do they read, where do they hang our on- and off-line, what professional associations do they belong to, how much money do they make each year, what are their most pressing business management concerns. Do your current clients fit this profile? If not, you need to clean house and find clients that are a better fit for you and your business.
6. Kind of work you love to do. Don’t waste your time with tasks that aren’t fun or don’t tap into your special talents/gifts that come easily to you. Do what you do best, and delegate the rest.
Once you’ve reviewed these checkpoints, create an action plan that helps you move forward toward your ideal business vision. The president of the college where I once worked had this motto he established for all the administrative staff, "If it is to be, it is up to me." You are the creator of your destiny, of your business, of your quality of life. If you are to have a successful online business, it is up to you to do it in the way that works well for you, brings you joy, and permits you to make a decent living in the process.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.