Don’t believe the hype. Well, okay. Believe it, but question it.
Let’s dip into business strategy today, shall we? Because this has been on my mind for sometime and I think this is precisely why I started this daily blog project – to get these honest thoughts out of my mind and out into the world.
I don’t have an MBA or eMBA. I don’t even have a high school accounting credit. But I have grown two digital businesses through a mish mash of trial and error, deep listening and knowing myself and what I’m good at.
So here’s what I see. And apologies for the very indelicate methods I’m using for backing into this premise – but here it is.
Trading time for money is the perennial challenge of a small service provider.
Why? Because there are only so many hours in a day and therefore only so much money you can make before burning out. Usually that cap comes at or near the six-figure mark.
Then, what I see happen – is they work with a coach or strategist and launch a ‘group’, which is a type of scale.
It’s taking your 1:1 business model and moving it to 1: many so you are leveraging time a bit better.
But here’s what is often missed. There’s A LOT that I see getting missed in this logic.
Don’t get me wrong, they are fabulous solutions for SOME people, but they are mediocre solutions for others.
Groups are great for things like singing and exercise; where 80 percent of the information will be the same for everyone regardless of where they are in their learning process and experience.
But for more nuanced and complex service providers? Graphic designers, photographers, even SEO specialists, podcasters, media relations… it gets more muddy to just throw all of your qualified clients into one big group together and call it scale.
And before you get up in arms, yes, everything can be turned into a great group program with the right consideration and time – ah, but there’s that word again, TIME.
Typically when an entrepreneur gets to this point, they are fresh outta time and money and energy. And to devote extra time and money and energy to perfecting a group program model just isn’t in their sphere of best interest – not as a stop gap solution, anyway.
If 80 percent of your knowledge base is not collected and curated? It will take you time, sometimes MONTHS to work out how to put it in a format that will great a banging group experience for your clients. And even then, your first foray will be an unproven test model.
And yet, it’s the common solution I see bandied about.
Having trouble scaling? Working too many hours? Apply a basic ascension model to your business and your problems will be solved.
Go from 1:1 to 1:many to 1: a helluva lot and wham bam, you have money in the bank and your life back.
And that’s just the first consideration.
The second is space.
Groups? They take up a LOT of space. In the facilitators mind and brain and, if they have a team, with the team.
They can be amazing for revenue, but for an entrepreneur who isn’t used to holding space for a bunch of people AT ONCE, group dynamics can be extremely draining.
Furthermore, if time isn’t tracked meticulously, it’s often a challenge to get a read on the true profit margins.
I learned this lesson the real and very, very hard way when I opened significant space in my calendar for a group program that I sold at a low-ticket price.
I loved the people IN the group, but the model of the group was draining and the profits? Well, let’s just say I lost money on a year long program and it left me surly. And this wasn’t my first rodeo! I knew better!
In closed ‘coaching’ circles, there is a growing aversion to launching a group. It seems to stem from a combination of Zoom fatigue, challenges with having to ‘be available consistently’, and to managing multiple, sometimes opposing personalities in the confines of a group container.
Here’s the thing.
You need to be lit up about the content of the program, the people you’re attracting, the timeline of the container, the price point you’re selling it for and you need to be ready to energetically hold ALL that space.
But the third consideration is back to my first postulation – that a group isn’t always the best answer.
I mean, I still have a group- but it’s small and exclusive. I don’t ‘launch’ it. I offer it only to women who I want to be with in that setting. It’s an off-menu item now.
Because for MY business – and for many others, a group isn’t the best forward facing solution to scale.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a hard pause to look at ways of changing your relationship with TIME.
Can you offer VIP DAYS instead of retainers?
This creates leverage like a group without a group dynamic.
I recently worked with a super talented copywriter and the majority of our work together was addressing her relationship with the clock.
That was how we found scale in her business that fit her life and her brilliance.
Do you have the bandwidth, both timewise and financially, to invest in building a passive income stream?
This creates time leverage on the back end of your project and can be a boon. But proceed with caution because getting this right can take more than a year and significant investment. Want real numbers? I’ve already invested well over $20,000 in mine and haven’t even turned it on yet.
Can you start showing up differently to, instead of attracting the same clients, attract a different type of client that will help you see if a group is really the solution?
Much like I’m now doing a blog and live stream per day, I’m not going to hide the strategy here. I’m doing this to attract new friends, new connections and to show a different side of me than I’d previously been showing.
By the way, the dynamics in my business are already shifting as a result.
And listen, maybe you are ready for a group to scale. But maybe there’s something else that will feel better for you and your business right now.
Believe the hype, but question it. There’s no one size fits all solution.