The Power of Simplifying your Business

Image by Jess Bailey from Pixabay

Have you ever had the feeling that you are doing too many things in your business?

Maybe you are serving too many clients, wearing too  many different hats, feeling spread out all over the place?

In my last article, I shared a few reflections on how to simplify your life.

Maybe it is time to simplify your business too.

In this article, I will share questions that will help you simplify how things work in your business.

Read for insight, not for information.

Once you have your insight, resist the temptation to do a ton of research, or to read another article. You might even want to stop reading this article, and TAKE ACTION ! One tiny step.

You can always come back to this article later.

Here is one powerful question, that can change EVERYTHING:

If you could do one thing only for the next 6 months, that would guarantee that your business was 10 times more successful than it was for the last 3 years, what would that be?

Don’t read further. Answer the question.

Are you complete?

Stop reading and take action.

Do you want to go deeper?

Keep searching for insights:

1)   Clients

If you had to focus your attention, care and service on 1-3 clients, who would they be?

What could you do to astonish them? (If you are a coach, here are 5 ways you can do this)

What is the maximum level of service you would be happy to provide each of them?

Write it down on a 1 pager per client, and then, call them.

What are the 1-3 clients that drain you the most of your energy and resources?

What would it take for you to know that you could let go of serving them?

How can you make that happen in the next 90 days?

2)   Services

What is your Zone of Genius?

How could you offer more of it to your clients?

For more on your ZoG, read my article on Value and Talent.

What services are you offering that offer the highest Return On Investment (think in terms of money, energy,  and fulfilment)?

What services are you offering that offer the lowest Return On Investment (think in terms of money, time, energy, attention, well-being and fulfilment)?

When you design a service or evaluate it, here are important factors to consider.

Rate each of these factors on a scale from 1-10.

1 is a very poor score and 10 is excellent:

  • Preparation & follow-up:

How much prep work and follow-up does it need on your side?

In coaching, you want to make sure to shift the prep work to the client’s side so they get the insights. In consulting work, you might have more prep and follow-up.

(For more on this distinction, read my article on Coaching vs. Consulting.)

Score:   /10

1 is a lot of preparation and follow-up and 10 is very little preparation and follow-up.

  • Joy of delivery and energy:

How much joy do you experience delivering the service (and also preparing it and following-up with your client)?

How much joy do you experience designing the service for your client?

Score:   /10

1 is very little joy in delivery (and after delivery), and gives you energy and 10 is a lot of joy and energy.

  • Fragmentation of the service:

Do you deliver your service all at once (as in a 2-day intensive with your client), or is it fragmented (1 conversation every other week during 6 months) ?

What has your preference, and what is more suited to your clients’ needs?

Score:   /10

The score depends on your preference for intensives or for long term work. If the fragmentation does not matter for you, leave this criteria out.

  • Cashflow

How good is this service for the cashflow of your business?

Is it paid in advance, right on time, or paid several weeks or months after you deliver?

In this moment of my coaching business, I enjoy having a regular cashflow. I don’t need nor enjoy having all paid upfront, even though I give this option to my clients. I prefer to have a cashflow that allows for sustainability in our business relationship. What works for you, and what has your preference?

Score:   /10

1 is poor cashflow (for instance, paid very late) and 10 is cashflow aligned with your preference (it can be paid upfront, or even paid as the service is provided if this feels ecological and sustainable to you).

  • Admin and directness of relationship

How much admin does this service require?

Are you dealing directly with your client who pays from his pocket after an oral agreement, or are you going through a complex tender system, where you have to move through bureaucracy to get your contract signed and you have to be in touch with 4 different people for contract work, payment, and following where your invoice is in the accounts payable labyrinth?

Score:   /10

1 means a lot of admin and paperwork (think soviet union style) and 10 is very little admin and direct relationship to the payer and decision maker.

Add up the scores for this client or service. You get a total score out of 50.

Then, continue with the following criteria:

  • Alignment with your aspiration / strategy

Some kinds of work are in direct alignment with your aspiration and strategy, and some others are more remote.

For instance, last year, there was a non-profit that I deeply loved:

I loved their philosophy, we share the same spirituality and values, and the work they do in the world to grow a greener planet and plant trees based on permaculture is simply amazing. I was donating to this organization, and started to support it’s founder with coaching. That is when the concept of a 11/10 client came to life.

My definition of an 11/10 is a client who exceeds your expectations in terms of who you think you could serve.

It is a client, that, if they decided to hire you to work exclusively for them, you would say Heaven YES ! and be willing to let go of your whole life to serve them and their project alone.

What if you built a coaching practice/consulting service for 11s only?

Who would be an 11 for you?

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are services you deliver or things you do, that do not align directly with your aspiration or strategy.

For instance, I know of a remarkable coach in L.A. who was waiting tables part time as he begun coaching. Yes it built his sense of service, and he developed skills that would later be useful for his coaching career, but it was a day job. As coaches and consultants, sometimes we do things to get some quick cash,  in times when we need it.

What are some of these things you do that are not directly aligned with your strategy?

Let’s take two examples:

Example 1:

A coach has a client for whom he delivers different kinds of workshops:

Preparation & follow-up: 5/10 (it takes a little prep and follow-up)

Joy of delivery: 7/10

Fragmentation of the service: (these coaching sessions are spread out and the coach has no preference for that so we take it out of the rating criteria)

Cashflow: 2 (indeed, they pay 45 days after the invoice has been billed ! Maybe it’s time to renegotiate payment terms…)

Admin and directness of relationship: 4/10 (it is quite bureaucratic and the invoice goes through a maze before it is processed by the client.)

Alignment with aspiration / strategy: 7/10 (it helps the participants, but it is not yet full on deep inner work)

Total grade: 25/50.

That is an average service. The coach needs to progressively transition out of offering these types of service or serving these types of clients.

Example 2:

The same coach does 1-1 coaching with other clients too:

Preparation & follow-up: 7/10

Joy of delivery: 9/10

Fragmentation of the service: (these coaching sessions are spread out and the coach has no preference for that so we take it out of the rating criteria)

Cashflow: 8/10 (the client pays in instalments that match the delivery of the service)

Admin and directness of relationship: 10/10 (the coach is directly in touch with the director and negotiates payments directly with the decision maker who also makes the payments)

Alignment with aspiration / strategy: 9/10 (the final impact is a highly positive impact on society and the environment, and we share the same spiritual values.)

Total score: 43/50

That is a great service and client ! This coach needs to grow it.

One of the improvement points is prep & follow-up. How can this coach make the prep and follow-up lighter?

If you are willing to go deeper, here is a powerful question for you:

If your business consisted doing 1 thing only, consistently, for the rest of your life, what would that be?

3)   Finances

How can you simplify the finances of your business?

How can you streamline its cashflow?

Right now, I am experimenting with Michael Michalowicz’s Profit First approach. I can’t yet give you feedback on its effectiveness yet, as I am just getting started and my business is going through a lot of transformations right now. But it makes a lot of sense to me and you might want to have a look at it. You can check out the book, or get a glimpse of the approach in Mike’s Ted Talk.

To give you a key takeaway, one of the key ideas is to use separate bank accounts for your business.

Start by setting a bank account to receive all the income of your business.

Then, on a regular basis, you split the money to other separate bank accounts, based on fixed ratios that you set up in advance, based on your business and goal.

For example:

  • 5% to your Profit bank account
  • 25% to your Taxes bank account
  • 50% to your Owner’s Pay bank account
  • 20% to your Operational Expenses Bank account

These percentages are not set in stone and depend on your situation, the country you are in, the size of your business and other factors. Use your common sense to figure them out, and for a more precise approach, read Profit First.

Do you want to give another kick to your finances?

Read Rich Litvin’s excellent article: Money: a Masterclass in 6 lessons.

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