When Elise Grice ended up in the hospital with the West Nile virus, she and her partner Scott were three years into growing their successful branding studio Hey Sweet Pea in Austin, TX.
That’s when the couple and biz partners finally admitted that despite their growth and success, their dollars-for-hours revenue model was killing them physically and emotionally.
The silver lining in this case is that Elise and Scott were committed to finding a better way to run their business (get more of their story here).
In the coaching and consulting world, there’s no shortage of advice coming at you when it comes to getting clients and running your business. There’s oodles of information out there about packaging and pricing your offers, creating 6- and 7-figure businesses . . . and very little advice on how to do that without running yourself into the ground.
Because if you’re simply adding clients, adding to your workload, adding to your stress levels . . . how is that adding to your life? On the flip side, if you’re aware of protecting your “me time”, “family time” or “fun time”, growing your business can feel like you’re trying to summit Everest without an oxygen mask.
More or Leveraged?
I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve taken on a couple high-end clients who are getting the white glove service from me. They are great clients who I’m excited about. They’ve also made me keenly aware that because of the current state of my business and life (which are positive), I can only take on a limited number of “white glove” clients at any given time.
And when I learned about Elise and Scott’s story, a jolt of panic struck me.
What happens if I can’t personally deliver service to my clients?
I know several solo consultants, coaches and even small business owners who are facing down this same devil. Even when you have a team, that doesn’t necessarily mean your business is structured to run without you.
9 Revenue Models for Service-Based Business Owners
One thing I know for sure is that there is no “magic bullet” revenue model, just like there is no “magic bullet” marketing strategy (stop buying that BS). The model you choose depends on you, your values and your specific goals. That being said, if you’re a service-based business owner stuck in the dollars-for-hours hamster wheel here are nine revenue models to consider integrating into your core business.
- Licensing – you don’t have to be an inventor or software developer to license your intellectual property. Service providers often follow a process to deliver services. When you’ve designed that process, you want to protect it (so speak with an attorney who know IP law). Once you can prevent others from using your process without your consent, you can commercialize your IP so others can use the process for a fee. World-class branding expert Sally Hogshead and creator of the Fascination Personality Test combines this approach with several below. How can you leverage your process and intellectual property so others can use it to grow their business?
- Aggregator – Collect information on service providers in your industry and pull them under one brand. For example, if you’re a holistic health provider, aggregate a network of wellness practitioners. You have the option to charge providers a monthly fee to join the network, consumers a monthly fee to access the network or both.
- Subscription/retainer – How can you shift your clients into longer-term work? You can go more high-end and enroll clients into a Done For You style contract or mastermind for a year or more. If you have a team, have one of your star players facilitate or deliver the service. Or, you can make it low-cost, hands-off where clients access content or use a tool for a monthly fee (think Netflix for your business). Either way, what resources do you already have in your business that can provide you with recurring revenue even if you’re away from your business?
- Online Courses – Can your audience learn some aspect of your service for themselves? Turn it into an online course, like Elise and Scott. Create an automated marketing and sales funnel. It takes work and effort upfront to get all the moving pieces together but it’ll be well worth it when you see orders coming in even when you’re at the golf course, on the slopes or at the beach. You can even get others to help you sell your course if you’re willing to share a part of the revenue (see #9).
- Assessments – People love to assess things. If there’s some aspect about your business that requires your clients to assess their personality or their business, create a tool that allows them to do that. That’s what Sally Hogshead has done with her Fascination Personality Test. She offers a free version that gives a basic assessment and a paid version that goes deeper. The free version makes a great lead magnet so even if someone doesn’t take advantage of the upsell to the paid version the first time around, she can offer it again (and again). She makes money on this assessment by charging a nominal fee for a user to get the deeper assessment. She also makes money on it by licensing it to partners. Brilliant!
- Property – If you rent or own office space, do you need it all or can you use it in different ways? I know a business owner who has a gorgeous salon and photography studio. She rents it out to a national clothing retailer for fashion events. She also gets hired to photograph the events, do executive head shots, etc. She’s figured out how to leverage her many assets to inject some extra cash into her pipeline. She’s still pretty involved, but if you have property you can rent or time-share, it’s another way to make money without having to be present. What about personal property? One of my clients has a vacation property that she rents throughout the year. I own a condo that requires minimal management from me and provides monthly income. Your business doesn’t need to be the only way you make money.
- Employees – If you have a team, how can you loan them to other businesses? You could hire them out to run workshops, trainings or skills development that you already offer. It’s packaging something that already benefits your clients and delivering it in a different way.
- Books – You’re probably not going to get rich by writing a book, but it’s a great way to get your ideas and message to the masses, elevate your brand, promote your business, establish your expertise and yes, make some money. If you don’t have the time to sit down and write, hire a ghostwriter. Loral Langemeier told me she doesn’t write her books (she doesn’t have time). She dictates them then gives the recordings to someone else to pull it together and shepherd it through the publishing and distribution process. In today’s marketplace you don’t need to be a multimillionaire to model Langemeier’s approach.
- Affiliate/JV Partnerships – If you enjoy collaborating, get someone to help you market your services and share the revenue. Creating affiliate and joint venture partnerships is a leveraged way to get your intellectual property (book, courses, assessments, tools, etc.) to a wider market without you having to be there. Sally Hogshead licenses her Fascination Personality Test to a select group of service providers who align with her brand (these licensees are able to apply their brand to her product and keep a greater portion of the sales revenue, minus the licensing fee). She also allows affiliates to sell the test and earn a commission every time someone buys, without requiring them to pay the licensing fee. Who do you have in your network who would be willing to promote your services and IP to their community?
I know many consultants and coaches who love to work privately or in intimate settings with their clients (myself included). I’m not saying you need to abandon your core revenue model, but when you restructure or leverage some of the assets you already have, you can have more time to enjoy what matters most to you, or give yourself some cushion if (god forbid) something goes wrong.
If you’re ready to increase your client base, add leveraged income and simplify your business, apply for a complimentary consultation so we can explore what makes sense for you.
What other revenue models are you using to create leveraged income in your business? Let us know in the comments below.