Ep. 177 Why you shouldn’t scale (yet)

why you shouldn't scale

In this week’s podcast, Anna looks at why you shouldn’t scale your business.

The attractions of scaling your business are clear – making more money and a bigger impact, with the same or even less time and effort. But what are the reasons why you shouldn’t scale – at least not yet?

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

Join the Outsiders Business Accelerator – An ongoing mastermind for service-based business owners, freelancers and online entrepreneurs who are ready to achieve success on their own terms. onestepoutside.com/accelerate

Why you shouldn’t scale (yet)


Hello. Hello. Welcome back to the Reimagining Success podcast. Now, last week, we looked at three ways in which you can monetize your expertise. So three ways to make money as an expert. And we talked about doing it for them, teaching them how to do it and guiding them on how to do it. Now, through all this there’s design idea, that’s very appealing, which is this passive income, which is the teaching people, selling people, something that you really don’t have to spend a lot of time on or any time. Obviously nothing’s ever PA not completely passive. Nothing’s ever completely passive, but you, unless some time front and then boom, you have this perfect product that you just sell in your sleep. And in fact, let’s look at why that is so attractive in case I need to explain that now I should already say, and you’ve seen this in the episode title that I’m talking about, why you shouldn’t scale, but let’s always look at the other side of it first.

So why should we scale now this idea of passive income?

Okay. So in terms of what you’re selling, that means, again, courses, eBooks products. You know, I have lots of people wanting to sell journals and pretty pens and planners and all sorts. Right. Which is lovely. So the appeal of that is that you design it these days. You can have it on, let’s say Amazon, uh, Kindle or some online platform. And it literally, it is just on demand, right? So you don’t have to have a huge inventory. Amazon will just print whatever orders come through and that’s pretty good. So it’s, it doesn’t require lots of upfront investment. And then, Hey, Presto, your earning money in your sleep kitchen, very attractive. The other side of the passive income is how are you selling again? You know, this is the automated webinars, the email sequences. So I don’t have to get uncomfortable.

I don’t have to get on a sales call with people. I don’t have to invest lots of time. There are some coaches that teach, you know, you do a call a two hour call with them and another call. And, and in months and months of sort of free content, I do so much, you know, I do my free escape plan and workshops and content Galo and my Facebook group on Instagram, LinkedIn, I’ve got this podcast, I’ve got all sorts of things going out, write the blog and so on. So the attraction of course, of not having to do that is this passive model where it’s all on recordings and automation. And it’s just rolling on in the background. And then again, catching plus apart from the financial impact, there is the greater impact. We’re all impatient to make a difference in the world. And if we scale, then we are reaching way more people.

We’re making a bigger difference in the world and that’s amazing and rewarding and fulfilling. So it’s clear why that’s attractive. And I’m sure if you did jump on this episode episode, you might be a bit triggered to think, Hey, why shouldn’t I scale? Of course I should be scaling. We should all be wanting to grow and so on. Okay. So that’s clear why it’s attractive in terms of making a bigger impact, making more money, making it more passive. And obviously let’s say the example of coaching. If I’m anyway spending an hour with people, then if I’m spending that with 10, 20, 50 people who are all paying me, maybe not as much as one person, but nonetheless paying that’s great. I’m leveraging my time much more effectively, right. And they’re getting an amazing group dynamic and so on. So there are benefits to that too. So why should you not scale yet?

Not knowing exactly where you’re on the process, but assuming that you are not years and years and thousands of clients into it, because you probably wouldn’t be listening to my podcast then, although if you are, I really appreciate that. You’re still seeing value because I do believe that there are insights to be gained at any level of your business. But when you’re first starting out, the, the most obvious thing is that you don’t have an audience. And I say this again and again, but the truth is it is easier to sell to five individual clients at staggered times. You know, one person’s interested today, another on, in three weeks, another one, four weeks. And I can just start working with them right away versus having to have 100 people at the same time. So if I wanna do a course and I, you know, I’ll need a hundred people to pay a smaller fee in order to get up to the same amount that I could have got with five people, let’s say paying a higher fee.

If I want them to come in as a cohort group programme, I need them all to buy at the same time. And that’s a lot of pressure. It puts a lot of pressure on you launching. It puts a lot of pressure on you getting all those people in, and that’s not a great place to be coming from that kind of desperate. I need sales, please, please, please join me right now. Um, so, so that’s the first thing you don’t have an audience, then let’s look at the, the building books in terms of what you’re selling you haven’t yet validated your ideas, your processes, and so on, right? So you don’t have experience of helping five people. Let’s say 10 20, let alone 50 or 500. So it’s all very well to be. And it’s amazing that you are passionate about your process and you’ve got a model and you feel like this is, you know, I done this or now I not want to teach it.

Now I wanna help other people. That’s amazing. It’s admirable, it’s LOL, but you haven’t yet validated those ideas. You don’t yet have the proof of concept in a way that people are actually helped by this. Maybe it’s worked for you. Maybe it doesn’t work for other people. So that’s in terms of what you’re selling in terms of how you’re selling. If you are struggling right now to sell to one or two, I have some people coming to me saying, look, I haven’t got a single client. Who’s paid me at least or not a single ideal client. Who’s paid me as much as I want. How on earth are you going to now sell to many people? There’s no point in learning how to do automated webinars and email sequences. If you haven’t, if you can’t sell to somebody on the call, you can’t sell to someone face to face one to one.

When you can completely listen, understand empathise probe, ask guide, adapt to what they’re saying, then how on earth you ever going to automate that and, and sell to many.

And then finally there are complexities that come with scaling. There are, you know, downsides to it. It sounds like, oh my gosh, of course we want to scale. But think about the customer service burden that will come from having hundreds, let alone thousands of people suddenly in your funnels and in your business. And so on, right? Suddenly they’re going to be asking for refunds. There’s going to be tech issues. You know, I have a handful of people in some of my programmes and there’s always, oh, I can’t download this or the payment didn’t go through. You’re going to need someone supporting all those people. Suddenly you are going to, if you’re alone, be spending a lot of your time dealing with those smaller issues.

But very important issue is because these are paying customers, right? So the complexities of the tech running smoothly of dealing with accounting, admin, all those things, not to mention delivering an incredible experience. So that’s just talking sort of the admin accounting payment side, but think of their experience within your programme. You want them to have incredible content in there. You want them to feel looked after and nurtured. You want them to get amazing results. Now, can you guarantee that? And I’m going to put my hand up and say, if I suddenly got 5,000 people now, I don’t think I could guarantee that they would have an amazing experience. In fact, I know that I wouldn’t be able to now. And I say that even knowing that I have years of experience, I have the validated processes. I even have the material. So maybe I’m being too tough on myself because maybe I could absolutely handle that.

And I just need to very quickly outsource and get support to, to help take a bit of that kind of admin stuff off my plate. But I really ask yourself, are you ready to scale again? I, I think I did an episode on this a few months ago. You know, people say, how do I get more leads? How do I get more leads? But ask yourself, can you handle more leads right now? Can you actually handle it? If you suddenly had a hundred people let alone a thousand people, 10,000 people, you know, maybe your website will crash when they land on there because you don’t have the hosting capacity. Maybe you just don’t have. And probably most likely you don’t have the systems in place to deal with all those numbers. I so as much as I’m all for having the strategy, thinking big, thinking ahead, designing that ecosystem for the future and where possible, of course, automating and systematising and documenting process and all these things.

So that you’re ready to scale. When you are ready to scale, I’d really encourage you to joy, being smaller, the enjoy the agility of what that allows you. And then as you start small, what you can, what can you do? Well, you can test, you can validate, you can deliver the most incredible experience to the handful of people you’re working with. And by the way, as a, as an aside, I think it’s really rude and disrespectful. Those people who are showing up, let’s say, you’ve got seven people on your webinar or one person, two people who’ve given you their money. It’s very, it’s pretty unacceptable. I think for us as the person, the business owner, the person who sold that service to be, oh, I don’t have enough people. I want more, you know, and forgetting about that person in front of us who has just shown up, trusted us and invested their money.

So it’s really about acting as if that one person in front of you is the only person who matters. And if you only have one person on your webinar, even then deliver the most incredible experience for that on the webinar, right?

Take the time to actually do something really individual for them, make it so memorable and incredible for them that they leave going, oh my goodness is the most incredible thing. And either they will inevitably buy from you now or later, or they’ll go off and be a complete ambassador evangelist for you and tell everybody they know about you, cuz you’re so incredible. You’ve given them such an incredible experie. So that word of mouth is so important. And then by the way, once you have those testimonials word of mouth validation, you can raise your prices. You can start scaling, you can create programmes and so on.

So again, I like to illustrate this with, in my own experience. When I started, I was coaching one to one and I had a model from my coach and I was using certain steps. But as I went, I would develop PDF worksheets in can for example, free tool, um, or briefing someone on fibre to do that. I would, you know, develop, okay, this is how you work out your values. And I started with a few exercises like that. Uh, then I gradual started recording audios for that and then ultimately videos and so on. Right? So as I did that, I realised, hang on a second. These people generally need to work through these steps, a B, C, D E. So that ultimately became my five pillars. I now have a beautiful graphic, um, that represents those five steps. I have a PDF tool for that, a an assessment, a business assessment, which is at one step outside.com/scorecard.

One step outside.com/scorecard. If you wanna see an example, I have that validated. I organise my programmes around that. I cycle through those pillars, defining success, cultivating confidence from resilience, choosing a business model, building your personal brand and designing flexible work, life integration. And so thanks to working one to one, getting those testimonials, getting the experience, validating, understanding their problems and how I could solve their problems. That allowed me to then launch my first group programme, which still exists in a different format in the business incubator. And that was and easing into getting to a place now where actually, yes, I have the website. I have the email sequences. I have the automated things in the background if needed, but I still want to deliver that incredible one-to-one experience and that’s still there, but I’m able to now I have that really strong foundation platform to leap off leap up, bounce off into a bigger business, into scaling.

Once I know I can deliver for two people, five people, 10 people in the accelerator, let’s say, then I know I’m ready for 2050. Now the good news is I’m probably not going to get a hundred people in one day. So as much as it’s frustrating and I can be impatient, the good news is that we can incrementally and hopefully exponentially ultimately get more people into the programmes, right? So there’ll be one new person this month, maybe two, the next month, maybe one month, there’s five suddenly. And before you know it, you’ve got a bigger programme. So it’s having a little bit of patience. It’s thinking of the long term, but again, ask yourself, are you actually ready to scale? Do you know what you are delivering? Can you deliver it to more people? Can you sell it to more people? Do you want to sell it to more people?

That’s another important question that we haven’t even touched on. And maybe I’ll end with that one in terms of your definition of six less, there’s a book called company of one, uh, company of one and the slider as well of a lifestyle business being that actually there’s a ceiling on how big you want to get. There’s a maximum income you want in a way. Now it’s hard to say what that number is, but basically I want to live the lifestyle, want to lead. I want to be able to afford the things I want to afford and, and not be stressed about money. I want to be able to only work three days a week, whatever that looks like beyond that. If it takes me working with a different kind of client who can pay more, if it means I have to work six days a week, if it means I have to travel more, whatever I can make the choice, then actually no, I’m putting a account app there and I’m going to obviously not rest on my laurels because you still have to keep learning and growing and evolving, but I’m not gonna keep pushing, pushing, pushing, scaling, just because we’re told we’re supposed to be scaling and so on.

So I think that’s the final, most important piece. Do you actually want to scale? Is that what you want? Maybe you love working with people one to one over long period of time through a deep transformation. Now it’s definitely possible to combine that with scaling, but inevitably there are compromises. You’ll be relying on a team and associates and things, delivering things that you’re not going to deliver yourself. If that’s something you wanna do, if you’re an incredible people manager and you want to be more behind the scenes and so on by all means. But for a lot of us, certainly at the beginning, at least we are the foremost expert. You know, we talked about that expert business last week. We are the, the sort of forefront, the personal brand, the face of the business as well. And I’d really encourage you to focus more on the quality of what you’re delivering, how you’re delivering, learning as you go.

Of course, being curious, learning from the inevitable mistakes, understanding how you can really deliver the most incredible experience, how you can sell what’s working and then how can you ultimately start scaling that? But again, I, I encourage you to think about, okay, are you ready? Is it something you want to do? And, and if not, you know, what can you do in the meantime to set yourself up so that in future you can, if you to, but not rushing to scale before you’ve even got a proven business model before you’ve got those clients who love you before you’ve even got the proof in the pudding as it were that you even know what you’re doing really. So I don’t want to, uh, undermine your expertise because I’m sure you know what you’re doing, but probably arguably you’re doing something different now than you are doing in your full-time role. In which case there is a steep learning curve. So enjoy it. That’s what you’ve signed up for. The challenge, the experience, bring back curiosity, enjoy getting over comfort zone, learn, grow, deliver experience. And then again, look to the future where you might be ready to scale. So I hope that resonates looking forward to your thoughts on that one. And I’ll see you back here next week. Bye for now.

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