If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you started your business so you could get OFF the proverbial hamster wheel of corporate life and have the opportunity to do the work you love on your schedule. In other words, you started a business so you could make your work fit your lifestyle (NOT the other way around).
But too many folks find, once they get into the running of their business, that isn’t the case. In fact, oftentimes their business ends up running them instead of the other way around. And before they know it, they find themselves slaving away, 50+ hours per week, in the seemingly endless pursuit of signing enough clients to keep the doors open. In essence, they’ve replaced their corporate job with their own private prison.
I have definitely been there and done that, and in honor of the Independence Day holiday, along with my own anniversary of leaving a full-time job to work for myself 8(!) years ago, I thought I’d take a few moments to discuss 3 top components of a business that is truly freedom-based.
Freedom-Based Business Rule #1: Set Clear Boundaries
When I first started my business, I was working full-time during the day, so evenings and weekends were fair game for business ventures. Which meant that I was spending most of my evening and weekend time searching for clients, servicing my clients, and taking care of all those other necessary business tasks. Once I quit my full-time job to work my business full-time, those lines remained blurry in the early days. I was so desperate for clients that I would drop everything, including time with my husband and young daughter, if someone contacted me about a copywriting project.
It’s Friday afternoon and you need a promotional email written by Monday morning? Sure, no problem.
You’re calling me on a Sunday afternoon to discuss changes to your web copy? Yep, I’m free to chat.
And so on. I was at the whim of my clients, and my personal life suffered. It felt like I hardly ever spent time with my family, but I wrote it off as a necessary evil. As in, Mama’s gotta put food on the table, so guess that family movie night’s just gonna have to wait!
Until one day I realized that my life was passing me by, and that no amount of financial success would replace the day-to-day moments that were floating away like dust in the wind. So I made a decision, right then and there, to set clear working boundaries, which for me meant no emails/phone calls/client work past 6 p.m. on weekdays or at all on weekends. Which means that if a client calls or emails me at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, they’ll get a response first thing Monday morning. Period.
At first, it was tough, but you know what I discovered? I found that when I cut my working hours and actually gave myself time off to enjoy my personal life, I was able to return to my workday refreshed and excited to get back to work. I realized that my 24/7 approach has been quickly leading me to burnout, and that taking time off helped me be more productive, more successful, and happier overall.
Freedom-Based Business Rule #2: Give ’em what they want, what they really, really, want
The second component of a freedom-based business relies on packaging your products and services in a way that gets readers excited to do business with you.
All too often, business owners focus on what they know their clients need, rather than focusing on what their clients want.
For example, a nutritionist might be passionate about helping people create a healthier eating plan, because she knows that eating healthier foods leads to weight loss, increased energy, and better overall health. So she packages her service as a “Meal Plan Makeover.”
But the problem is that by just focusing on the meal plan, she might be missing those folks who don’t realize that their current meal plan is directly to blame for their fatigue, lackluster skin, etc. They just know that they feel tired and bloated, and a meal plan makeover isn’t what they’re looking for as a solution.
So after a few months of having absolutely no takers for her Meal Plan Makeovers, the nutritionist hires a copywriter and together they repackage her service as a “30-Day Weight Loss & Energy Boost Plan.” And by focusing on what people know they want (less weight& more energy), she’s able to give them what she knows they need (a healthier eating plan).
In my own business, I spent many years trying to teach entrepreneurs how to be better writers. Then I discovered that many business owners don’t have the time and/or desire to learn how to write effective sales copy, so I started offering fill-in-the-blank templates and swipe files full of use-as-you-wish examples to drastically shortcut their path. Sales of my products soared, because I was offering people what they wanted (the ability to sell more of their products and services without having to suffer through writing page after page of sales copy or shell out $1000s for done-for-you copywriting services).
Once I was able to sell more of my products, that meant I could spend less time in one-on-one client work and more time with my family, while still giving my clients the resources they needed to grow their businesses. Double score! 🙂
Freedom-Based Business Rule #3: Grow a community of your ideal clients
Last but most definitely not least, the final component to a freedom-based business is having your own community of folks who are interested in what you have to offer and have given you permission to market your products and services to them. This is what marketing guru Seth Godin has termed “Permission-Based Marketing” and it’s by far one of the most effective methods of growing your business that I know of.
In case you’re not sure, here’s how the process works:
1) You offer potential clients something of interest to them, like a free report/webinar/audio CD/etc., that either addresses a concern they have or helps them solve a particular problem. In return, they give you their contact information and permission to send them relevant information and offers, most often by email (but sometimes by snail mail as well). Once they enter their name and email address, they’re added to your newsletter list.
2) You deliver the promised information, which not only address their concern/solves a problem but also positions you as someone who can help your prospects reach their goals. They receive a special offer to work with you right away, if they’re ready to move forward.
3) You continue to reach out to the prospects on your newsletter list through regular email newsletters that provide additional valuable information while further positioning you as an expert in your field. By doing so, you begin to build a relationship with your readers, many of whom will, over time, begin to trust that you are someone who can help them solve their challenges and get the results they seek.
4) When applicable, you present your readers with special offers, in the form of discounted products, free consultations, group programs, etc., that can help them move toward their dreams and goals. Because you have also been providing them with valuable information, you will find that more and more of your readers will take you up on these special offers, which means that they get the help they need while you grow your business. Talk about win-win! 🙂
So there you have it, the 3 essential components of a freedom-based business that allows you to do the work you love while also living your ideal lifestyle.
If you feel like you could use a hand in any of these areas, check out our special Independence Day sale, which offers $74 off the Pay-in-Full option of our 2 most popular products:
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How to claim your discount
Be sure to enter coupon code july74 before midnight EST on July 5th to claim your $74 discount. Here’s to freedom for us all!