How To Build An Empire With Value
Money is great and all, but there’s more to running a business than just keeping your account balances cushy. Because let’s face it, if all we cared about was how much we were earning, there are plenty of high-paying traditional jobs out there that we could have. Sure, they’d be soulless and leave you feeling empty at the end of your 12hr day working for someone else…but the pay would be good! Look at that six-figure success! Weeeeeee!
Nope. Not a chance. You’ve started your own business because there are other things you value. Your time, your energy, your spirit, your ethics.
Those things are front of mind when we’re conjuring up our brand, or writing our blog posts. We like to let them shine through on Instagram or help us connect with our perfect potential clients during webinars and live-streams. But when we get down to the nuts and bolts of bringing in new business and signing on the dotted line…money takes center stage.
A classic example: I’m a negotiation consultant. Negotiation = money. Right?
That can be true. I can snag you great rates and shave down your expenses. But I can also help you find a way to work with clients that doesn’t leave you running on empty, even though your bank account is full. There’s more to value than just the dollars and cents.
You want your empire to have value…values…your values.
Here are 4 ways to get building.
Being able to set your own schedule and work at the times that are most convenient to you is a real perk of being self-employed. So if it’s important to you that client calls happen only after 10am, or that Tuesday afternoon is booked off for time volunteering at your kids’ school – that’s a value that you can negotiate with a client. The important element in winning over client support for your request is to demonstrate that they’ll receive the same – if not better – support from you because of the adjustment.
Pro Action: What are three things about working with clients that cramp your style when it comes to being the master of your own schedule? What would an alternative be that could make both of you happy? Now – go ask for it. Send an email to your client and ask to move that call time, change the day, or meet virtually rather than in person – go for it!
No matter how much you love what you do, when you’ve done it a million times it can start to feel a little tired. I’m sure even supermodels get a big ho-hum about all that jet setting and cat-walking after a while. Being able to work on projects that bring back that spark you have for your business is crucial to building an empire that will stand the test of time. Knowing that you’ve got a client that totally lights you up makes getting through ‘the usual’ so much easier.
Pro Action: Finding clients in new industries or different corners of your niche is a great way to bring up the passion levels. But you can also work with existing clients to up the excitement level. The next time you have an idea for how to push the boundaries in the work you do – maybe that’s a bold new tagline, mixing up the old logo, or trying out a new coaching technique – ask the client to grant you the space to try it out. Who knows, it might just light up the both of you.
I know I know…how do I have the nerve to follow Flexibility and Passion with the staid Stability? The thing is, incorporating this value into your work with clients has a spectacular side effect on your spirit. Specifically when it comes to stress reduction. Minimizing the swings in income, and smoothing out that feast or famine routine means less stress about whether it’s the electric or the cell phone that gets paid next month. We’re talking money here, but it’s not about how much you’re getting, but instead how consistently.
For a VA this could mean asking for a monthly retainer, for a graphic designer stability could come from having monthly deliverables mapped out (and under contract) for the year ahead, or for a coach this can take the form of having a 6-month package instead of a 6-weeks.
Pro Tip: There’s a truth to the saying ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. It may be worth taking on a stable client who pays a bit less, but that will cover a chunk of your monthly needs, consistently. If 30% of your monthly revenue was already locked in…how freeing would that be? Sweet, right?
Something that not a lot of people know about me is that even though I’ve got this super corporate background, and a shiny MBA…the specialization of that MBA is in Sustainability. Looking at ethical business practices, responsible supply chains and maximizing more than just the bottom line are hot topics for me. As a business owner you’ve got the opportunity to shape what style of work you do, and what impact you have, based on what elements of social responsibility speak the loudest to you. For example, if you’re organizing a retreat, is it important to you that your tote bags are manufactured locally? That a hotel has recycling bins available? That a living wage was being paid? Now that you’re in client mode, look for ways you can influence outcomes by researching options and leveraging your valuable business.
Pro Tip: You may get frustrated that some of the issues you hold near and dear aren’t being reflected by your clients or partners. But don’t give up! Focus on collecting the small wins (a recycling bin, fair trade coffee, non-GMO fruit at breakfast) and you’ll start to see the impact of your values grow.