Ahh the lifestyle business. The dream company where we keep expenses low, profits high, get to work from the beach, or spend all day in our PJ’s. The dream might look a little bit different for each of us. But the number of entrepreneurs who are foregoing the big teams, fancy conference rooms and billion dollar revenue marks in order to spend more time building a lifestyle is on the rise.
I am a lifestyle entrepreneur. I value lifestyle and impact over status and big infrastructure. And yet, we have managed to grow our business consistently over the last 4 years.
I’ve learned that if I grow the right way, I love it. If I grow the wrong way, I find myself hating the growth that I just worked so hard to create!
Here’s 6 strategies to expand a lifestyle business without losing the dream.
- Take the Profit First approach to ensure that you are always profitable and are growing your business at a healthy rate. If you haven’t read it yet, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz is a game changer in how you approach business growth. And he has specific tips depending on your business revenue. Perfect for a lifestyle business. http://www.mikemichalowicz.com/
- Growth = team. There’s no way around it. If a lifestyle business wants to grow, and you don’t want to end up the slave to the company, than you MUST build a team. The beautiful part is that you have more options for your team than ever before. You can manage a team of independent contractors that work on a project basis. You can have a virtual team. You can have a small in house team. But to scale and grow, you will not want to do it all on your own. Lifestyle business does not = I do everything all by myself. That would create the exact opposite of the lifestyle business you seek.
- Balance out your quick converting marketing strategies with your long term growth strategies. Marketing is one of the most time consuming parts of my business. I recommend that my clients have 7-10 marketing strategies they are using on a regular and consistent basis. That takes a lot of time. And I frequently see lifestyle entrepreneurs chose marketing strategies that are slow to convert such as blogging, seo, being on podcasts, writing articles for submission in larger publications, TV appearances, and billboards. I do a lot of those same activities, so I’m not saying they are bad. But you need to balance them out with the marketing activities that can bring you results quickly! Like referral programs, speaking gigs, events, and product demonstrations. And I recommend that you keep your marketing in house. That doesn’t mean you won’t bring in a consultant from time to time. But in general if your business is doing under 1 million in revenue, your most cost effective marketing can be managed with a small in house team.
- Build a sales team. Pretty please build a sales team. I’ve been preaching this one for years and the number of people that actually take me up on it is astonishingly low! I can almost always double a company’s revenue simply by building a small sales team, (like 2-6 people for a lifestyle business.) The sales team is so in line with the desires of a lifestyle business because it allows you to be on vacation and making money without having to keep your cell phone and laptop handy. Don’t know where to start to build a sales team? I’m dying to teach you. Check out one of our CEO Circle’s and I’ll get you moving in the right direction.
- Don’t focus on size as the determining factor, focus on right. A small business can be unmanageable just as easily as a larger business can be completely manageable. Size isn’t the determining factor for the lifestyle business. The true determining factor of a lifestyle business is making decisions based on what creates the life you want. So get clear on your values and boundaries. I was talking with a good friend of mine once about how often I am willing to travel and speak. He said, “Come on Amy, are you telling me if you got invited to the perfect group, that you would say no because you’d already traveled that month?” I really thought about that question. And it caused me to get VERY clear on my boundaries before I started pursuing more speaking gigs. If you make the decision ahead of time, you don’t have to worry about getting off track in the middle of growth.
- Understand that every seed you plant grows into something. Two years ago, I planted a garden for the first time in my life. It didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, but for some reason we were swimming in jalepenos. I do not particularly like jalapenos, nor do my family members. I was frustrated with the abundance of a vegetable that made me want to cry with every bite. They were also WAY hotter than the normal jalapeno. But the truth of the matter was that I planted those plants. I should have thought through what they would grow into. My clients come to me with ideas regularly that I can see will grow into something they don’t want to run. Here’s the question I ask to help them determine if they should pursue this idea. “Would you like to manage that if it had 1000 people in it?” If the answer is no, you may not want to grow in that direction.