10 Years of Business Lessons–Chapter 6: Scale or Integrity–That Was the Question
February 23, 2017 by Lizabeth Phelps
On February 27, 2017, I will celebrate the 10th-year anniversary of the launch of my second business, Inspired Leaders’ Academy. This is a series of excerpts that tells the story of these ten years to help you navigate these same waters more easily and faster! Read chapters one here, two, three, four, five here.
And be sure to take advantage of the free resources I provide at the bottom of this post.
When we last left our now-5-years-into-her-second-business protagonist, she was whipping into shape the strategic business plans, brand concepts, signature programs and marketing language of solopreneurs: coaches, consultants and speakers. And she was doing it in her second proprietary program, 12 Sentences, where participants in her online class answered the 12 most challenging questions prospects ask (or at least think)—and did so in single sentences.
The question none answered to Lizabeth’s high standard was, “How is your business different from everyone else’s in your field?” (She preferred, “…everyone else’s, period?” but no one came close to satisfying her criteria with that one, though she knew it was possible.)
So, one day, she sat down for a reckoning, pondering deeply an idea she calls, “consumption capacity.” It examines the capacity of a targeted client base to consume material and it’s an essential question for those wanting to do their best by their clients.
The questions are, What form of learning will my market realistically consume, given their lifestyle? What form of learning will yield them the best results? Do we even care that they consume? To what degree do we want them to consume?
For instance, a prospect once spoke with Lizabeth on a free consultation about the new 6-week online course she had created in Marie Forleo’s B-School. It was on “engaging employees” for C-suite level executives. Instantly, Lizabeth saw three glaring problems:
1. No C-suite level executive is going to watch videos and fill out PDF worksheets. (Consumption capacity failure)
2. There would be inadequate results from this format (Consumption capacity failure)
3. There was absolutely nothing original in what she was teaching. Employee engagement?? (Marketability failure)
She hired me (we’re returning to first person now :-)) and I cleaned up the mess made from the course with consumption capacity issues she took (which is generally what I do now, clean up those messes) and we created a truly one-of-a-kind brand and signature program for her that she is rocking right now. It is for executives in a form they will consume.
I am a teacher and transformation artist at my core, and so I absolutely cared that my clients consumed my material and got results. I had no issue with students consuming my public speaking material in a training because that was actually the best form for learning it: they could watch me do what I was teaching, and they could practice. I have, in fact, never disseminated that material any other way because it is not consumed best any other way.
But brand development? Crafting a truly one-of-a-kind signature program with a proprietary process? Articulating the message with influential wording? Eh…cannot be done in a class format. Not to my standards anyway, and they are exceptionally high; I’m about as exacting as they come.
And that was a defining moment for my business. I could become a Home Depot of Original Brand Development with online products and classes that I know No. One. Consumes—and if they miraculously did, would yield them mediocre results because the conceptualization phase of a business cannot be done right with do-it-yourself programs or masterminds.
Or I could be a fine, master-carpenter, working with meticulous detail on the carving of an original work of art.
There was no question: a client would consume this, and do so easily because I’m handling the expertise he doesn’t have, and a client would have get results, the most crucial result for success: an original, highly marketable business that sells.
“Your integrity is going to cost you in the long run,” a colleague told me, who was developing a Home Depot business model for herself.
I nodded and said, “It all depends on the yardstick you decide to use to measure your success.”
For me, it wasn’t a choice. I must do right by people or I fail. Period. No, I don’t have the fame and seven figures that others have in this field, but if I had, I wouldn’t have my integrity. That’s a cost I could not abide.
Instead, I have clients whose hands I never let go of, and the mama bear in me succeeds each day because of that. I give them results, and the entrepreneur in me succeeds each day because of that. I am at my creative best, and the artist in me succeeds every day because of that.
And I offer what I truly believe is the best fine craftsmanship available in branding and creative communication—and my soul succeeds every single day because of that.
I asked myself the question years ago, “What is my market’s consumption capacity?” And it gave me the business model best for me because it’s best for them.
It’s a question I offer to you.
I hope your story is as gratifying as mine.
Only one chapter left: How did I structure my boutique business, what was is its signature program, and how have I marketed it? That’s posting Saturday. Tune in then also for a once-in-my-business’s-lifetime opportunity to work in my carpenter’s shop with me.
Here are free resources for today! You’ll get a great deal out of each one:
Unleash the Brilliance of Your Next Big Thing Workbook
The Sequence Secret