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Build a life plan, not a business plan.

When I started my businesses I had a clear vision:

I wanted to build several companies, while not having to live accessible to them. These companies would ultimately have several tiers of management so that I would focus on new development and big picture growth.

{but here’s the kicker}

I wanted a typical week to include no more than fifteen hours work. Oh, and I wanted to bring in millions of dollars in revenue. Yes, I just put 15 hours a week work and 7 figures in the same sentence.

Raise your hand if you think what I just said is impossible, if not insane. Yup, I guessed that’s what most people work thinking.

Two years later, this is exactly what my company looked like.

Seven years later, I started consulting with other people’s companies because, well, I was lucky if I had 5 hours work on a given week.

And, this year, I’m on target to sell most of my companies for quite a lot of money {totally answer to prayer}. Add that to the millions we’ve brought in over the last eight and that makes me a very happy girl.

Most people would tell me that I am lucky. I agree. I think that these businesses have been truly blessed and I send up prayers just about every day thanking God for how this path.

But, I also think I built a business around the life I wanted to have.

You see, I’m not a typical business owner. My husband is in the Army, and the last eight years have brought 7 moves {considering we lived almost four years in North Carolina that’s 6 moves in 3.5 years}. He deploys regularly, which leaves me a single mom of a now seven year old away from family.

And, speaking of family, I am crazy close to mine. My grandparents, who were like a second set of parents to me, were in their mid-80’s when I started these companies and I didn’t want my mom, as an only child to be caring for them alone. I wanted enormous flexibility to be home in Louisiana, regardless of where we were living. In 2014 when we lost both of them, I made 9 trips home to New Orleans.

Maybe you’re saying, this is crazy…there’s no way I can do this. And, you’re right. If you don’t set your business up for the life you want to live, you won’t do this.

I have seen these results because every decision I have made has been based around my desire to live a life I have specifically chosen. You can build a business that allows for your dream life, but you have to know exactly what that life is going to look like and shape your business around it.

For most of my clients {and sometimes myself} the hardest part of this is envisioning our dream life. How do I want to feel every morning when I wake up or every evening when I go to bed? What do I want to build in my business? What are our passions? Where is our time for them? Who will we spend our days with? Where will we want to go? Do we want or have a family?

So that we’re clear on exactly what we want this vision to look like, let’s layout a big idea of what this vision looks like by translating it into a single day. This day should be the epitome of a typical day. It’s not a timeline, but the birds eye view of the day {and yes, our workbook will walk you through this step by step…just scroll down to the bottom to download it}.

So my most recent one looks a little like this:

In my perfect day I wake up refreshed and energized to birds chirping and green peering in through my windows. There are four children of mine sleeping in the house, along with my amazing husband. We are incredibly close to our families seeing them every day. I’m prepping for a few weeks of skiing and some vicious tennis tournaments with Pilates and yoga each day and my afternoons and evenings are filled with kiddos and best friends, parks and snacks. During the day, I am engaged with my team, who are located around the country, building a business that helps other entrepreneurs see amazing results in their businesses, but I’m finished most days by 3 PM in time for pickup. My nights always have long dinners around the table filled with laughter and love and bedtimes with my favorite books from childhood. I pickup my paintbrush most evenings because I’m prepping to show at my first major exhibit, the Sausalito Art Festival! My nights end quietly, with the stars winking in on me under a full moon.

Now, a few things you should know: I have one child right now, but I want to expand my family. I love to move and I’m happiest on a hike, on skis or with a tennis racket in my hand. I value super close relationships with some of my best friends and I need time with them each day. I love building people’s businesses. It’s a genuine passion that I need to fill each day and I’ve already started building an amazing team to do this with me. These elements make up my perfect day. And, if I get a few of them into each day, I know I’m blessed.

Your ideal day may look very different from this and that’s okay. The key is to understand what you want in you dream day, your dream life.

For example, many of our clients come to us as solo practitioners. They’ve been working 52 weeks of the year for far to long with no backup and zero vacation. When we build packages with them, we always ask, how often do you want to take off.

{Fact} They always start with one week.

But, as I dig deeper, I hear their kids are in travel baseball and it would be amazing to have four weeks a year to just have nothing on their calendar, but running to a tournament. Or, maybe their town slows down in the summer, so we based their packages around 9 months of the year rather than 12, which let’s them spend time enjoying their life when their clients are normally gone. Or, their spouse has just retired and they want to travel.

Each of these situations warrants a different type of business. We’re often stuck assuming we can’t make changes to the “status quo”, but with your business there is no such thing as the status quo. You can make it whatever you want it to be.

Your business may be based on 9 months or 11 months or 6 months of the year. That’s okay. It’s your business after all. The key is setting up the plan around this from day one.

How do you do that? Well, that’s a very good question. You see, when, I started writing this post, I had no idea what a rant, I’d go on….and since I’ve written a small book and I’m not done, guess, it means this will be my first two part blog. So stay tuned for next week!

Is it finally time to raise your rates?

Let me lay out a scenario I see far too often: My client {hereafter known as Tessa, simply because I love that name}, has been in business for three years. Her business has been very busy…she’s regularly booked solid, but when I look at her dividend payments, she’s making very little money. After paying babysitters almost as much as she’s making, staying up until midnight to clean her house and pay her bills because her days are so full, and waking up at 5:30 AM the next morning to start all over, Tessa’s done, ready to give up and move onward.

When I dig a little deeper and lay out all of her expenses and analyze her profit margins, they are a dismal 13.5%. And, while there are absolutely some major expense shearing I’d like to see, it’s not the big problem.

Her rates are.

She’s never raised her rates once in three years and is terrified of the idea that her clients that she’s earned by sweat and blood will disappear the moment that she hints at the idea of price increases. So she waits, underpriced and undervalued, drowning in her own financial flood.

Sound familiar?

After working with thousands of entrepreneurs and personally directing the transition to new pricing of over 100 businesses {including four of my own}, I can tell you it shouldn’t be this way.

There are key indicators that can tell you when it’s time to raise your rates and as my clients will attest, if you make a transition correctly not only will you keep your clients, you’ll increased their chances of seeing stellar results.

So, how do you know if it’s time to raise your rates?

1. If you {or any of your employees} are at 80% max capacity of clientele.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Pilates’ instructor, a graphic designer, a salon owner or a mental health therapist. If you consistently fill 80% of your max appointments for 12 weeks straight, you are due for an increase. Likewise, if your business has a team of individuals and you see one at 80% of their max appointments over a 12-week period, it’s time to create a new tier and move them into it.

This is simply the law of supply and demand. You have a limited supply of hours and a high demand, which puts you in a prime place to raise your rates.

For those who are wondering, “what does this mean for my current clients?”, the answer is simple. You guide them gracefully {and personally} onto the new pricing. This means you’ll work with them 1:1 to set them up onto the new pricing, without apologizing for it, but thanking them for their loyalty and relationship.

2. If you are now priced at the low end of your competition and are completely immersed in a price war.

I can’t tell you how often I find someone battling it out against a competitor whose main market angle is cheap pricing. Let’s be honest…unless you’re in a town of under 12,000 people, chances are at some point a low priced competitor will show up. They are generally well funded; therefore, marketing isn’t an issue. They scream their prices, but lack on customer service. And, their client will have an experience, albeit not one that will appeal to most people.

Does this sound like your business?

No, of course not. You own a boutique business, which offers a high level of customer service and an extraordinary experience that brings your clients great results. So why on earth are you trying to compete with these behemoths?

Instead, raise your rates and create a more extraordinary experience. The fastest growing sectors in any given industry are almost always the luxury segment and the low-priced giants. The luxury segment has fewer customers who are willing to pay higher dollars for extraordinary service. Having built one of these businesses, I can tell you when you make the turn for luxury, few look back, because they can offer so much more with so much less headaches and work.

3. If you have not raised your rates in a 24 month period. I’m a huge fan of small price increases every eighteen months to two years. These minor shifts will allow you to gradually increase your profits, margins, regularly raise the income packages of your employees or independent contractors.

What does a typically shift look like for me? Normally, no more than 3-5%. That means on a $50/hour service I would raise my rates between $1.50 and $2.50/hour.

Seem doable? Maybe it seems even a little bit on the low side?

Well, assuming I started at $50/hour and raised this every 18 months for six years while working a steady thirty hour week, I would increase my yearly pay from $78,000 in year one to 93,600 in year six. That’s about a 40% increase in pay in just six years…not too shabby considering it’s a graceful transition.

So here’s my question for you…is it time to change your rates? Are these rates holding you back? Is it time to finally move to the next place in your business? If so, what’s your next step?

Harnessing Primal Cues: Why Pleasure and Pain Can Fill Your Business to Waitlist Capacity Today

I am an extraordinarily happy person. I have been accused, more than a few times, of being too cheerful for my own good {except first thing in the morning—that has never happened}. I see the glass half full, the positive side, the best possible outcome.

 

Except when I meet a new client. Because while I can see the outcome that I can bring and I get excited about it I also know, one fact:

 

Pain sells and possibility retains.  

 

Pain sells more than any benefit, any remarkable change, any miraculous testimonial ever will.

 

Possibility keeps your clients going, when they are at their wits and wondering the next breakthrough is even possible.

 

My business clients are, generally speaking, horrified by the idea of any type of pain. I mean I get this…you’re saying things like:

“I don’t want to be depressing…I love what I can do….I can’t possibly talk about the bad side of things—they’re here to buy!”

 

Yes, they are here to buy. And, what likely triggered them to come wasn’t to gain the benefits you can provide…it was to avoid the pain they are already in.

 

And, if you can use your client’s pains and possibilities as you educate them you’re ten times more likely to see the results of your dreams and to watch your clients hit their goals time and time again thanks to their insane motivation.

 

So how do you harness these cues?

 

From a psychological perspective, pain and possibility are primal cues. The therapist’s daughter in me has always been fascinated that deep down, we’re often motivated by our subconscious brain that’s been around for a long time.

 

So let’s take a journey to our caveman past and imagine how, without the help of google, they managed to not just survive, but thrive.

 

Pain is an easy one for our caveman ancestors. In fact, my now 7 year old, was remarkably primitive as a 1-3 year old.

 

Hot fire=Hurts=Don’t touch.

 

Red Berry=Sick after eaten=Don’t eat.

 

Lessons are learned fast when pain is involved and we’re quick to adapt our habits to avoid that pain. Yes, that means that people will hire an assistant to avoid collapsing under too much work, call that graphic designer after they’ve beat their head against a computer for six hours or show up at the gym at 5 AM against all of their urges for sleep.

 

They’ve rallied against pain.

 

The problem is that while pain subconsciously triggers your clients to reach out to you, most haven’t really identified what this problem is really doing to their life. They sense they’re frustrated, they may have literal physical pain, but is it really that big of a deal? In order to drive them towards purchasing your services, you have to allow your clients to verbalize what that pain looks like.

 

Now, if this is sounding way too 50 Shades of Grey, don’t worry…it’s much easier {and less painful} that it sounds.

 

But before we get there, I can’t forget pleasure.

 

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, which is simply a disorder where your thyroid produces too much hormone. My mother also has Grave’s Disease, except 20 years ago it was an under diagnosed condition and after a year of heart problems, she finally had her thyroid removed with radioactive medicine. It remains one of the scariest moments of my life.

 

So, while I’d known something was wrong with my thyroid for two months, I avoided it like the plague. I was terrified of having my life change the way my mother’s had.

 

Once, I landed myself in the hospital with a 150 beat per minute heart rate, that fear changed….you’ve never seen someone get to a doctor faster.

 

The treatment plan was simple—medicine to slow the thyroid down—and a recommendation to see a functional medicine doctor. That doctor dramatically changed my diet, shifting me to a Paleo regimen that left this Louisiana girl in tears….no rice, no beans…had she ever been to New Orleans on a Monday?

 

But, after a week I felt good. After two weeks, I felt great. After a month, I looked like a different person.

 

And, when I stared down a KingCake or saw Peeps land on the shelf at Easter, my pleasure was so high in my body without sugar or wheat or dairy, that I was able to keep going.

 

Pleasure was my retention.

 

Your clients are the same way. Pain may drive them in, but pleasure keeps them going when they’re confronted with their greatest obstacles, their deepest desires and their strongest fears.

 

So…how do you harness these primal cues?

 

It all comes down to knowing your Core Client.

 

Many of you have created an avatar. If not, an avatar is not just a James Cameron movie. It’s simply an imaginary ideal client. If you could take all of your clients and combine only their similarities, you’d have your ideal Core Client.

 

You know how old your client is, their sex, their general demographics, maybe even what their days look like.  This is all helpful, but to really change your client’s purchasing

 

I need you to go a step further.

 

I’d like you to build 10 moments in your Core Client’s life.

 

What are the five worst moments this problem has led them to?

 

What are the five best moments they’ve had in overcoming it, in moving beyond it, in living without it?

 

And, where do you fit into to having them leave behind those worst moments and live in the best?

 

Now, if you want to dive in a little bit more, I’ve sat down with my amazing counselor mother {who ran a few insanely successful businesses in her day} and built out a workbook we use when we’re building these top ten moments in our Core Client’s lives. We use these moments in all of our marketing, in the questions we ask our prospects and even when we’re dreaming up new programs and services to offer. It’s that important. Click Here to Download Your Copy Now

Leads, Levers and Long-Term Clients

Why do I need a lever?

Let me paint this scenario: A client comes in. They are incredibly excited. You educate them perfectly. You have them prepped to become a long-term customer. And, then they hesitate.

That hesitation means one of two things.

1. You have the wrong package.
2. They are waiting for you to sweeten the deal.

Sweeten the deal? Yes…some clients just need to feel like they got an extra special deal on their services.

And, you need to make sure that they purchase {and prefer it to happen today, since your odds of making them a client will drop with ever day they don’t make this choice}.

Cue the lever {aka the carrot}.

Now, since I have a 7 year old and a whole lot of clients who need encouragement, I operate under the principle that most people need carrots or sticks. Carrots are the good that pulls them forward. Sticks are the bad the drives them ahead. Whether I choose to offer a carrot or a stick comes down to the client in front of me and what I feel that need.

That said, while a stick can repel some people, a carrot encourages most.

A lever is simply the small incentive you offer out to your client to have them complete the sale. I don’t use this with everyone. In fact, since our closing rates are quite high and we know how to educate our prospects well, I use this rarely. But, I always have that lever in my back pocket in case I need it.

If you’ve ever seen a high-pressure lever {hello used cars and crazed gym salesman}, please erase that memory. This is not what I am going to ask you to do.

Instead, I’m going to ask you to read your client’s interest levels and if you find yourself stuck with an interested client in the midst of analysis paralysis, to have something ready to move them forward gently into the sale.

What does a lever look like?

1.Value Add Service: If you’ve heard me chat about sales, you know I don’t do traditional sales…I educate my clients on what they’ll really need to reach their goals. And, often times during this education, I’ll share additional services that might be great for them.

If I reach the hesitation mark, an ability to add a small service that I know would be ideal for their end goal is a no brainer {it’s also the best way to transition them onto this for the long-term}.

For a Facebook ads expert, this might be having a Facebook cover designed that matches the campaign.

If you are a chiropractor who offers massage services, this may be a 30-minute starter massage.

And, for a yoga studio, this may be your first yoga mat…remember, this value add, doesn’t have to be a service. It can be a tangible object that your client will use during your time together…even if you’re a virtual provider. One of my all-time favorite value adds, was a customized Moleskine journal with my name on it.

This is my favorite lever…it works, it keeps my value high and typically leads my client to bigger services.

2. Payment Abatement: Before I share payment abatements, I want you to understand that this is a tricky option and works best if your service is not high ticket.

Your client is likely paying for a set number of sessions. One way to encourage your client to begin immediately is to provide the first week or two weeks of services at no cost or at a highly discounted cost. Their payments begin one week or two weeks in and they receive that complimentary time.

The only negative to this option is the question of whether or not your client will make their first payment. Generally speaking, we’ve screened our clients so well that this isn’t an issue, but I’d still be leery of offering any expensive services without a payment.

3. The Discount: Then, there is the most common lever—the discount. Don’t get me wrong. This is highly effective. People love a discount…it’s why sales work so doggone well.

The problem is that it sets you up to undermine your value before you’ve ever gotten started.

If I’ve gotten you excited about levers enough that you’re ready to try one, you can download our Lever Design Package today. These are some of the most common levers our clients love ready to be customized and printed (Yes, we love fiverr for this kinda thing)

Click Here to Download Your Lever Design Package!