I live in a community, much like yours.
Within this community, we have everything necessary to provide for everyone’s needs. Whether you need a doctor, dentist, chiropractor, hair stylist, personal trainer, plumber, house painter, interior decorator, real estate agent, auto mechanic, car dealer … well, you get the point, you’ll find a variety of people available to meet every demand.
That’s how communities are formed. People gravitate to what they love, what they are good at, and they open up a business to offer a service to those around them. That’s the nature of small business. That’s the way its been done since the beginning.
That’s also the very nature of a traditional business.
Because when you live in a community, there are certain services you need that can only be handled by people within your community. When you need your hair cut, you run to a local salon and have it cut by a member of your community. When your toilet overflows, you call in a local plumber that can respond in minutes, and have the problem solved that day.
If you are a small business owner who runs a traditional business, you think of business in certain ways. You think in terms of community. You think in terms of now. You think from the concept of meeting with someone face to face, serving them in a way that meets their immediate needs through one on one action.
In many cases we will always need traditional businesses in order to live our lives as a happy and productive part of a community.
But in many cases, those traditional businesses also have another side to them; the side that allows people to stretch beyond the traditional mindset, and come up with another phase to their businesses altogether.
That’s where the traditional business ends, and the lifestyle business begins.
Yet it’s not something that’s easy to see. And for some people, the stretch is almost too large to fathom. But with a little bit of stretching, and a little bit of eye opening, it can be done rather easily.
You Have To Look Beyond To See Beyond
Twenty years ago, we started a photography business much like everyone else. We opened up a commercial location, brought people in to look through our albums, and visit with us before they booked.
Then we found the Internet.
Our online portfolio quickly grew to over 20,000 images. And we discovered most of our clients no longer lived in a radius where they could stop by after work and take a look at what we had to offer. We chatted on the phone. We sent messages through email. We attached files to get things done. And we never met our clients in person until the day of the event.
No longer did it matter if we had a commercial location; the only one using our office space was us. It didn’t matter if we had a space in an office complex, or a space in the basement of our home. (Except the basement home office was much, much cheaper.)
So we had to rethink business. We developed a business that allowed us to have a clientele that best suited our needs. And we developed it in such a way that we could work it from anywhere, at any time.
Have laptop and Internet connection, work from anywhere; that became our motto.
While most photography studios advertised to local clientele, pursued local venues, and sold with traditional marketing tactics, we thought about what it would take to grow beyond.
For example, you can’t say things like “stop by today” when dealing with a client 1500 miles away. You have to change your voice to say things like “instantly download our brochure” or “have access to our online portfolio”. Small details add up when you’re changing the way you communicate with your core audience. And it’s the best place to start.
Think differently. Think how you can automate your processes. Think about ways you can take “you” out of the equation. Because if you don’t have to be someplace specific, you can be anywhere at all.
That Won’t Work For Me
When I talk with a lot of service providers and teach the concept of moving from a traditional business environment to a lifestyle business environment, I get a lot of the same comments:
Sounds great, but that won’t work for me.
And if you’ve never thought in terms of a lifestyle business before, it can be difficult to make the switch. Yet in every case, there is some aspect of your business that you can convert and do in an exciting new way. That’s what the power of the Internet brought our way.
I worked with a personal trainer several years ago who had a small studio she was trying to fill on a regular basis. She focused on weight training, self defense classes, and overall health improvement both through nutrition classes and a regimented exercise routine. Her goal was to bring in a certain number people and have them sign up for a monthly ongoing package, something that would keep them coming through the door again and again.
Because she saw every customer as a turn of her doorknob, she couldn’t see beyond her traditional business to begin to build something that would allow more flexibility into her life.
Yet in today’s world, there is so much more opportunity than meeting someone face to face.
Lets say you have very specific needs and work out routines. Maybe you travel a lot. Or maybe you’re located outside of the country, yet you still would like to have a personal trainer that could provide you with a routine built for you.
How about working through an online service like Wello? It allows you to have face to face time with a trainer, even when you may be located hundreds or thousands of miles away. (Isn’t technology amazing?)
And of course that’s just the beginning.
Through brainstorming, we came up with all kinds of ideas:
- Writing books
- Creating cookbooks
- Selling nutritional supplements
- Creating a membership site for her clients
- Providing mindset training through coaching
Very quickly, she found potential well beyond her 1,000 square foot studio space, and began developing a business that would allow her to work from anywhere, servicing very specific clientele that existed all over the world.
If you have a client that loves what you are doing in your traditional space, there are many more just like him or her all over the world. The goal is finding out what they love most, and using that as inspiration to build out more of what you do.
Where Do I Begin?
Are you starting to see the bigger picture with your own business?
There are two steps you need to take to start down this new path:
One: Think about what gives you value
What makes you better than other businesses you compete with? What do you do better than most? What skills do you have that give you more value than your competition? What do you know? That’s where you begin as you develop your lifestyle concept.
Two: Think about who you want to be
In three or four words, tell the world who you are and what you do:
- I’m the reinvention coach
- I’m the weight loss guru
- I’m the do-it-yourself home improvement expert
- I’m the life after divorce coach
While you don’t have to use this in your marketing, it does make you narrow your focus down and see what you have to offer in a very specific way. It can help you define who you are and what you choose to offer your clientele in a unique way.
And with that in mind, let the lifestyle business changes begin!