I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a webinar (web-seminar) I watched the other week. It was about how to get your business to a place where it’s ready to sell, but main underlying message was that you company needs to run well without you (in the event that you do sell and don’t stay on). Having a business that can run without you means one thing: freedom. I’m guessing that no matter why you went out on your own, one of the sweeteners was the freedom it would give you: freedom from working for someone else and their rules, the freedom to work your own hours and schedule, the freedom to do what you really want to do.
However… any small business owner knows that this is a pipe dream, for the first few years anyway. In actual fact, you probably work longer hours than you would working for someone else (even when you have a day off, your mind is still at work), and your schedule is based on what your customers want, not what you want. There are so many great things about owning your own business, but a definite downside would have to be how handcuffed you can be to your business… if you let it be that way.
This webinar about how to get your business to a saleable state shared eight key takings (I don’t have the space to get into them here but email me if you want to know them all – they’re truly on the money and will get you thinking). One of the standout points for me was how you can grow your business without spending any more time working in it – no small feat when it’s a small business that mostly relies on you, such as a mechanic, a photographer, a florist. So, how can you grow your business when you personally carry out so much of the work and there’s only so many hours in the day? Don’t sell more stuff – sell less stuff to more people.
This webinar talked about the Trifecta of Scaling. It’s a way of evaluating the products and services you sell to see which you should proritise and spend the most time on. The first task is to evaluate how “teachable” each service you have is (ie how easy is it for others to learn or do). One of the hardest things about being a business owner who specialises in their field is how to delegate responsibilities and how to grow the business without keeling over in exhaustion yourself. Of the services you offer, is there one part that you could teach others to do for you? Secondly, looking at each of your services, which is the most valuable to your customers? It’s no use teaching someone how to do something if none of your customers want it. It must be of value to your target market. Finally, how repeatable are they? The best sort of income is the repeating type – the less effort and money you have to invest in constantly finding new customers, the better, so find a service that will give you repeating custom. So that’s the Trifecta of Scale: do you offer a service that someone else in your team could be trained to do, is it something that your customers want and are willing to purchase, and is it something they’ll need more than once? Draw yourself a wee graph – put “valuable” up one axis, “teachable” along the other. Plot the services you offer and see which sits highest for both, then eliminate any services which do not repeat. These are the services you should focus on and spend time growing (that’s not to say that you should stop offering all of your other services).
The very good example the presenter gave was a photographer he worked with. One photographer went through the work she did to see how teachable her services were. Weddings? Teachable, yes; valuable, yes; repeatable, no (hopefully). Baby photos? Teachable, yes; valuable, yes; repeatable, yes if the customer could be convinced to do regular family shots, but you couldn’t count on it. Then she put forward school photographs, which met the trifecta: teachable, valuable, repeatable (every year). Now it’s one of the largest photography companies in the UK. Selling less stuff (no more weddings or baby shots) but to more people.
The less teachable a business is, the more person-dependent it is (the more YOU dependent it is), the less saleable it will be.
For products, it’s about what service you can offer around the product. He referred to it as the service wrapping paper you wrap your product in. He talked about a shop that sold running shoes – yet they didn’t see themselves as that. They said they were selling how to run. They offered running clinics, they shared with customers how to train for a half marathon, their first marathon. He got his store managers to teach customers how to run (teachable), and it was repeatable because after people had done their first 5k clinic, they came back for the 10km clinic, half marathon, full marathon… This guy clocked on to what was valuable to their customers: the staff’s advice, their expertise, their ability to help customers attain their goals. Rather than people thinking of them as a shop that sold shoes, they thought, “This place can help me run my first marathon. And provide shoes, socks, running shorts…” They added a teachable, valuable, repeatable service to their product offering.
Get in touch with me (email@example.com) for business coaching and advice to see how we can apply the trifecta of scaling to your business, to help it grow, to make it saleable and to give you more freedom aka more time doing what you love.