It’s fair to say that most small business owners have a general idea of what they’re doing, although it may be a fairly superficial idea, like “i am a personal trainer”. They’re often so busy working the hours to keep the business turning over, that they have no plan B; that is, no solid plans about how they’re going to go about evolving in to a thriving, self contained business that is both specific, but robust enough to roll with the punches when life doesn’t go according to plan.
You can read about Clare, who created IntoYou and is Burrell Education’s representative in Australia and New Zealand here. Unless you were on a course with us in 2018 or 2019, you may also not realise that Clare had rare cancer. But this is not a story about cancer.
This is a story about how IntoYou continued to function without Clare, and function well at that, recording their highest number of sessions ever in 2018! It is for this reason that Clare could afford to have rare cancer. When your illness is rare, the doctors are making it up as they go along. This means multiple opinions (at $150-$450 a consult), multiple scans (at $200-$650 each), multiple bloods (at $26- $260 a session), and participation in every research opportunity that there is (which is free, but costs time). In addition, Clare readily admits to losing her mind. She said “not know why this happened to me, or what causes Pecoma, meant that i saw “boogie men” everywhere… there were carcinogens in the sun, in our cleaning products, in our beauty products, on our food… literally everywhere. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and moderate depression“. She was admitted to a clinical psychologist, and required to visit every week at $268 a session…
In addition, she took up yoga (because they said she “needed” it), cleaned the house out and repurchased non toxic cookware, cleaning products, beauty products, organic food, and even replaced furniture.. Anxiety is an expensive illness.
Here’s the point… she could afford it, and it didn’t stop there! When she ruptured a disc in her back so severely she couldn’t walk for two weeks last October, she could afford physio 3x a week, she could afford the time off work, and the business continued growing without her. So here are the lessons that made this possible.
For a thriving niche business, you you can’t do without:
- A niche, or “market”: you need to know who you’re selling to and why, where they are, and who you’ll say “no” to. If you’re still saying “yes” to everyone, you’ll still be swapping time for money in 20 years, with no Plan B if something happens to prevent you from working.
- A plan: How are you going to insert layers in between where you are now, and complete and utter failure? If you broke your leg tomorrow, would your business continue? How are you going to insure yourself?
- Systems: systems are important by saving time and money, thereby “costs” in wasted effort. If there are procedures to follow for every scenario, and they’re automated wherever possible, this cuts the “noise” or necessary time, energy, and efforts. It also means that ANYONE can complete the tasks, or follow the procedure, WITHOUT YOU! Systems are such a cliche but oh so necessary if you want your business to thrive without you!
- Good people, or people you can trust with your life: because your business is your life, it’s everything you’ve worked towards and represents hundreds of hours of effort, love, and you! If you wouldn’t leave your baby with one of your people, you need to think seriously about whether or not they’re the right people for your business baby.
If you’ve already got all of the above, chances are that you’re already thriving and you can probably stop reading now. But if you don’t, exactly how to go about getting this is not very clear. Some people “find” there way, others get lucky and hit money and people very quickly. For the rest of us, it takes years, and a business coach can take years off that process. If you’re interested in some coaching, you can book a single session with Clare here.
Our Create the Ultimate Business Coaching pathway is designed specifically for sole traders and minuscule companies with less than 10 employees. This is how IntoYou became a thriving niches business that runs itself, and this process is simply another system by which we apply to all our businesses, including IntoYou Education (who represent Burrell Education down under!)
Do you know how much you need to take on your first employee? Or how much it would take before you could cut your hours? Where are you spending money or time where you don’t need to? Is it possible to reduce costs? and what is the current plan for “unforeseen’s”? From here you can work out what your “bottom line” is and compare it to what you’re actually making: factoring both actual dollars, time, and effort! Once you’ve got a clear idea of the dollars you need it is relatively simple to increase your price, hours, or offerings to meet it!
Step 2: Define What You do.
This has got to be the single most neglected step of developing your niche business, and it goes beyond “I am an personal trainer”. ANYONE can be a personal trainer. A prospective client can go to anywhere for personal training. The key here is to work out a) why they come to you, and b) why you want them to come to you. “Being” a personal trainer just doesn’t cut it! Defining what you do also helps you for Step 3, and will save you money, time, and effort by helping guide your decision making away from “yes” to everyone and everything! Defining what you do answers the question “why would someone want to train with me” rather than any personal trainer.
Step 3: Work out Who Your Customer is…
Not just the ones you’re currently seeing, but the ones you want to be seeing! Step 2 might mean that you need to say goodbye to a few customers, in order to focus on the ones that really reward you, and the ones that fit your definition of “what you do”. Once you know “what you do”, you can decide who your ideal customer is, then start looking for ways to reach them. This is marketing… Who is your customer? Where are they? What do they want or need? How can you reach them? What is working for you and what isn’t? What else is out there for your target customer? How much are other businesses offering for what?
Step 4: Systemise it.
This step is about the practicalities of the business, working out what your legal, physical, live, online, logistical accounting, etc requirements are, then making sure that they’re uniform and the same across the space that is your business.
What are you doing manually that could be done automatically? There’s truth to the saying “there’s an app for that” – go and find it! One of the best that we have found is Zapier. Zapier is free, and awesome, because it connects seemingly unconnected systems together in to one process. For example, our gym uses Google for literally everything. Which is fine when you’re in a google app, but as soon as you want to bring in another program, for example an eNewsletter, you’re back to entering the email address manually… not so with Zapier, who can use the google form as a “trigger” to add their email to the eNews service, and so on!
In addition, if we look at the numbers from Step 4, you’ll have an idea of what is working and what isn’t when it comes to marketing. This is your opportunity to clear the debris and focus on strategies that actually work!
Step 5: Write a Business Plan
The Business Plan is “connecting the dots” between all the steps above, and formalising them in to the one place. The plan is, in essence, the “system” behind the business, and will help drive decisions on what to do, what to cull, and what to say no to. The plan can include things like leisure time, holiday goals, Plans B, C, D, and E.
For the records. Clare is not better, but she’s better than she was. IntoYou continues to do good work in their little community space, where they aim to support people in their life’s journey; by providing opportunites, sharing knowledge, celebrating each wonderful individual that walks through their doors, and continually striving towards balance and happiness for both the trainer, the client, and the business.