In case you missed Part I of How to Start a Lifestyle Business, you can check it out here!
Without further ado, enjoy Part II of How to Start a Lifestyle Business
Establish personal connections and a reputation for excellence. I alluded to this earlier when I mentioned local group training, but networking is about building relationships with your clients in addition to peers. After almost five years of operation, my company still gets over 70% of it’s business from direct client referrals. This all stems from positive impressions made when my company was in its infancy. By building rapport and trust with these “early adopters” I was able to turn them into advocates.
Key takeaway- Nurture relationships with both clients and peers.
When you have more clients than time, build a team that shares your skills, knowledge and values. Don’t build a team until your schedule absolutely forces you to do so. You still want to maximize the amount of personal connections you can make. When opportunities are turned over to team members, you make less money, but more importantly, you have minimal interaction with the client and decrease your chances of having them advocate for your business. For this reason, ensure you only bring people onto the team who will properly represent your business. The costs associated with a negative business interaction far outweigh what you would miss in a single contract. Absolutely DO NOT cut corners when it comes to adding team members to your company.
Key takeaway – Continue the hands-on work to maximize customer engagement. Only accept team members who you can trust to positively represent your company.
Break into the market by offering higher quality at a lower price. We’ve already established that you should only bring highly qualified individuals onto the team. Highly qualified people are usually more expensive, so you have to operate under razor-thin margins in order to offer a lower price. Your company is still in the growth phase and you’re turning a profit through your own work, so it’s not essential to bring in heaps of money from other team members.
Key takeaway – In the growth phase, measure success in terms of market share, not profit
Outsource more work to your team and focus on your brand. As your company continues to grow, it’s now time to step back from doing the hands-on work and focus on your managerial role. This is done so you can still maintain direct communication with all your clients and team members. However, you shouldn’t ever remove yourself from the hands-on work entirely since it’s important for you to stay in tune with all aspects of the industry. As the owner of a newborn care agency, I manage the operations, but still individually take on a few clients a year.
Refine your business to improve quality and efficiency. This is where you analyze your own processes to determine where you can save time and money. Evaluate your team to ensure customers have a high level of satisfaction and analyze your processes to find where you can save time and money. Large companies hire consulting firms for this, but it’s something that most can do on their own. We’re living in a golden age of open-source software that allows small business owners to easily analyze their data and determine how to better run their business.
Key point – Friends and clients are usually more than happy to provide feedback. You don’t need expensive software to maintain a lifestyle business
Maintain low overhead and outwork the competition. As a lifestyle business, this is your competitive advantage. While other companies get bogged down with investor relations and complex budgeting, you get to focus on your team and your clients. The lack of overhead allows you to maintain competitive pricing and weather any potential market hiccups. Of course, this also means you have to wear multiple hats within the company so be prepared to work.
Key point – Resist the temptation to spend more. It doesn’t always equate to business growth.
Keep your team happy with great pay and career development. At Hush Hush Little Baby, we pride ourselves in hosting quarterly training events and offering discounted education through the Newborn Care Training Academy. Recently, we’ve begun highlighting team members on the company website as a way to elevate their profile and showcase their knowledge and personality to potential clients. Great pay is important, but communication and career development is crucial for team success.
Key Point – Ensure your team knows they have a direct line of transparent communication with you at all times. High performers will always seek to expand their knowledge and expertise. Facilitate that as much as possible.
Continue responsible growth to ensure the quality of your brand. It’s tempting to jump at every opportunity and rapidly expand across the globe, but quality is rarely associated with expansion at that size or speed.