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Your growth plan
The following is an extract from Strategy Sprints.
Do you have a reliable and predictable cash flow coming in every month?
This is a question I frequently ask business owners who are interested in working with a Strategy Sprints coach. This is important because when the answer is ‘no’, then they’re never sure where the next client is coming from and how they’ll pay themselves or cover their expenses from month to month. That can lead to engaging in deals that are bad for them, and ultimately, they could possibly burn out. Because of this, our coaches work with all our clients to create reliable and predictable cash flows.
However, not having predictable revenue isn’t usually a problem business owners are aware of. The notion that revenue can and should be predictable often sounds quite unfamiliar to business owners when I bring up the idea. When they think there’s no alternative to scrambling to chase dollars and leads every month, they get stuck in a culture of ‘the hustle’. When you’re running your business like a hustler, every half-baked idea from your team gets implemented – kind of – and you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ out of fear or anxiety. Even when you might have some wins along the way, hustling isn’t a sustainable way to grow a business over time. And I bet you already know this.
What if, instead, you make all your decisions because things do or don’t fit into your Growth Plan? What a novel idea. If you said ‘no’ to my question that opens this chapter, then like the business owners I often speak with, there is likely a hole in your business through which money and opportunity are leaking. Fortunately, there are several ways you can patch the hole or, even better, completely transform your business into one with a healthy growth model. In this chapter, I share the four ‘Growth Levers’ you can pull in your business to increase revenue.
Four Growth Levers
When their business isn’t growing fast enough or in the ways they want it to, most business owners start trying to do different things to move the needle and increase sales. In many cases, due to fear and misunderstanding the problem, business owners throw money at solutions like marketing, SEO, sales training, etc. Those all can be important aspects of running a successful business, but they miss the point of the biggest areas of opportunity in the business – the Four Growth Levers. These are:
- Lever #1: Price and packaging.
- Lever #2: Sales time and sales rate.
- Lever #3: Systematizing.
- Lever #4: Exponential productivity.
In this chapter, I teach you how to use each of the Four Growth Levers, alongside real-life examples from our Strategy Sprints clients who were struggling to grow their businesses until they decided which lever to pull and focused their energy accordingly.
Lever #1: Price and packaging
From the outside, Lara seemed to be killing it. She was a fully booked product design freelancer. She commanded $8,000 per day and was well respected in her field. But she was running out of energy. ‘I’m burned out, and I have no more fuel in the tank,’ she said in her first mastermind session.
She was tired of trading time for dollars. Tired of booking too much work in one month and still being afraid of not having enough work the next month. Because if she started to turn down work, clients would go find someone else they could hire immediately. Nobody waits for months nowadays. She took jobs that left her drained and miserable because she could never be certain that next month would bring more, steady work. This is the typical feast-and-famine cycle every freelancer experiences. My advice to her was, ‘Instead of working one-to-one, you need to shift to one-to-many.’ And it was like a lightbulb turned on in her business. Two days after that mastermind session, her membership site was born. With that model, she could serve many more people than she did with one-to-one services, and the monthly subscriptions to her site provided consistent income. Lara won her life back.
Her income became steady, recurring, and reliable. Other mastermind participants shared how they calculate and manage the churn rates of their subscription cohorts. She now not only had a predictable sales system for the first time in her life, she also had a predictable cash flow, and that made it possible for her to make the first key hires. And that changed her game completely. She now had a business that was fun to run. She packaged her offer and started charging upfront.
In two days, you can improve your business model
To consider your price and packaging, refer to the ideal client brainstorm you did in Chapter 1. For that one client, do you have a single offer packaged at one price? If not, create one like Lara did. To create your single offer, here are some things to consider:
- What’s your bestselling offer?
- Is there a cluster of services the same clients frequently need?
- What’s the timeframe to deliver this offer?
- What’s it worth to your client to get this help from you?
- What do you need to charge for this offer to be profitable?
- How can you build this value into the package to price it well?
Congratulations. You’re well on your way to create your price and packaging. That’s just Growth Lever #1, and you can already see the impact.
Lever #2: Sales time and sales rate
Tom, a copywriter, had a problem. He was working his butt off creating authority content about copywriting on YouTube every day. His offer worked quite well, as clients would pay him US $7,500 per month for his services. The problem was that people would faithfully watch his videos for eight to ten months before calling him. Despite his amazing following on YouTube, he was running out of cash. He messaged me and asked for help to reduce the amount of time leads were following him before they became clients.
I introduced him to the best growth hackers available, and he connected with a Strategy Sprints coach. They dug into his numbers and found that his sales calls were closing at quite low rates for people who hadn’t been watching his videos as long. This tip led his coach to dig into Tom’s sales call script. The coach gave careful feedback on every word in the script, and Tom’s sales technique improved. He got better every day at closing Zoom calls. His conversion rates went from 13 per cent to 47 per cent. Also, the timeframe from people watching his videos to hiring him went from eight to ten months to three weeks.
In essence, by getting better at handling sales calls, he closed more business with brand new viewers who weren’t already 100 per cent sure they wanted to hire him when they got on a call, unlike his longer-time content viewers who were ready right then to do business. Tom was smiling again. This win called for appropriate celebration, and he booked a long vacation with his wife and two kids.
Within two weeks, decrease your sales time and increase your sales rate
This might be the ideal Growth Lever for you to pull now. Often, when clients think they need more leads, what they really need is to improve their sales systems for the leads they already have. Here are some questions so you can determine where the area of improvement is in your sales process:
- Do your customers hear your offer and immediately want to buy?
- Do you know the time it takes from when someone finds you to when they hire you?
- What percentage of your sales calls become clients?
- Why aren’t more of your calls converting?
When you close more of your leads and do so faster, you pull a massive Growth Lever.
Lever #3: Systematizing
Hasan was employed in a big consultancy firm making $120k a month for 80 hours per week. But his online course side hustle had started getting traction, and he decided to take it seriously. Just one problem: where would he find the time needed to grow it? Having kids to support, he wasn’t going to leave the firm before the side business was creating predictable revenue. So, he had only two hours a night to focus on developing the online course. Adding this time to his workday, he was working 90 hours per week. We worked together, and I helped him build a team to handle the online course, which skyrocketed that business. His first key hire took on tasks, some of which Hasan thought he couldn’t delegate. Then, he did.
We also eliminated time-consuming activities that had a low impact on his bottom line. We focused on the highest-leverage tasks, deciding each week which bottleneck to solve next. Today, Hasan is a full-time entrepreneur, running multiple profitable online courses in just 35–40 hours per week. His income is higher, as is the time he has with friends and family, which created the freedom and happiness he was looking for.
Systematizing takes three months but scales long term with your key hires and key systems
When you feel lost in the day-to-day running of your business, the issue may be that you’re doing things others can do for you. Brilliant idea, right? Then, you must conduct those hires and onboard them in a strategic way. Here are some questions to help you decide if this is your next step to grow your business:
- Which tasks give you energy, which ones take energy from you?
- How many hours are you working this week?
- Do you have team members who handle all the nitty-gritty tasks you don’t enjoy?
- Could you sell your business if you wanted to?
- Can you schedule a four-week vacation without feelings of guilt?
- Which role should be your next key hire?
- What would a new CEO do if they were to take over today?
If answering these questions feels overwhelming, I have been there, and so have many of our Strategy Sprints clients. We will tackle these issues one at a time.
Lever #4: Exponential productivity
It’s impossible to grow your business when you are exhausted. People will turn away from a leader who is overworked and grumpy. I know. I used to be that leader. But I was lucky to find a mentor. He shared his daily practices with me, and my life changed. They are simple, and I apply them every day. I even built templates for my team and my clients to make sure we are always high-energy and upbeat.
You cannot lead anyone if you cannot lead yourself
It might be ideal if all the Strategy Sprints business advice was about what you can do on the outside, but there are also Growth Levers within yourself. As you become the best version of yourself, this radiates beyond you to your team, the customers or clients you serve, your loved ones, and so forth. Here are some questions to find ways to become more exponentially productive:
- Do you wake up excited to build stuff?
- Do you create more than you consume?
- Do you waste time in travel or meetings?
- Are you moving the needle forward every day or just being busy?
- Are you eating well, sleeping well and exercising well?
- Do you have a strong WHY driving you?
The Growth Levers are excellent places to look for ways to increase revenue and investigate opportunities that are right under your nose. However, for predictable revenue, you don’t want to always be looking over your shoulder. It’s far better to create a forecast with a plan you can count on to deliver results. Your Business Growth Plan is essential in achieving success in your business. Then, you can share the documented Growth Plan with your team and lead them to implement it.