A practice depends—deeply—on you. Consulting, delivering services to clients, even writing books and delivering speeches.
A business on the other hand, is about much more than your presence. You can use all of the tools of a practice, but add even more options that leverage your time: digital training programs, assessment tools and live or virtual services delivered by someone OTHER THAN you.
A business isn’t always the right choice, but it does have one distinct advantage to you, the owner: it gives you options. The option to sell, to hire someone to run it for you (permanently or temporarily) or to take a break when you need one.
Those options rarely exist in a practice. Unless you have a killer evergreen book that can fund some time off, it’s hard to take a meaningful break in a practice without seeing a correspondingly meaningful drop in revenue.
Now not everyone wants—or is cut out—to run a true business (maybe you’re running a lifestyle practice that suits you beautifully). But if you’re ready to break away from the trading time for money model, you can absolutely make a few moves now to start creating that reality.
Determine your optimal business strategy—and work it. This is about consciously choosing to morph your practice into a business. Let’s say your long-term plan is to grow by developing products. What do you need to do to make that work? Is your current base of right-fit clients and prospects large enough to recoup your investment and build for the future? Have you tested your product ideas with some real live potential buyers? What’s the best platform to deliver your products? Will you need/do you have the right alliance partners? The answers all have implications for how to best structure your time and spend your resources, not to mention build your exit plan (tip: always envision an exit plan).
Invest a percentage of your time in building the business. A brilliant strategy poorly executed is worthless. One client—with a thriving business—was chuckling at a recent industry conference when his peers asked him if he wrote all his own books (he does). While they were scratching their heads trying to figure out how he got it all done, he was busy creating his empire.
His “secret”? Consistently, strategically investing about 10% of his time in growing his business and outsourcing everything he couldn’t or didn’t want to do. He spends that 10% investment time hiring and teaching new staff and developing saleable content for non-clients he’d never be able to serve directly.
If you backslide, find yourself some help. This could be as simple as getting yourself an ace assistant—virtual or otherwise—who can keep the administrative pieces of your life humming along. Or it could mean building yourself a small village: business coach, marketing/branding maven, PR expert, ghostwriter, editor, training developer, etc.
The bottom line is that you want to make the decision to build a practice or a business consciously.
I’ve built both and they each have distinct advantages. But when you’re ready to move on, there’s nothing like having cash in your pocket to fund your next adventure.
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