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Articles by Lynn SwayzeScale Fast

How to Get Unstuck So You Can Scale Up – FAST

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One of the biggest obstacles faced by my prospects and clients is the inability to free up time to do important work necessary to scale. So often, the solopreneurs who’d most benefit from foundational scaling steps – documentation, delegation, and productization – simply don’t have the time to do it! So they’re stuck not because they have a bad business, or their clients or bad, but because they’ve put themselves in a no-win situation they can’t seem to break free from.


If this sounds like you, then what you’ll read today may quite literally transform your life. In this article, I want to share with you the gameplan for getting “unstuck” so you can finally move forward and SCALE UP.


Why You’re Stuck and “Out of Time”


First, we need to be clear on why you’re stuck. If you’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed, it’s likely because you are what industry leaders call a “Visionary”, “Quickstart”, or “ADD Entrepreneur”. Simply put, you have entirely too many clear-as-day, full-color, rock solid business and project ideas than you can implement in any moment.


For you, it’s probably hard to “give up” any one of these ideas and focus on one. Focusing on one means giving up the 2, 5, or 10 others which are perfect and ready for market. What if someone steals the idea? What if you pick the wrong path? What if you COULD do both? These are the ideas which pass through the mind of the visionary entrepreneur.


Unfortunately, this is a no-win trap. Instead of guaranteeing you’ll bring one big idea to life, you hold on to two or three and successfully build none of them. Until you realize that one is better than zero, you’ll stay stuck in this no-win situation.


Step 1: Take Stock


For many of my clients, especially the “overpromisers”, their time crunch isn’t real. That is to say, the crunch is entirely in their mind or was created by their desire to please.


Let’s say you’re a service provider who consistently has “everything due at once”. Do you think it’s truly possibly that everything is always due at once, or that you prefer that type of setup so you can consistently prove that you’re a failure?


Let me repeat that: “Is it possible that you are consistently ‘too busy’ because you like being in no-win, guaranteed failure situations?”


This is huuuuuuuuge. 


If you continually set yourself up for failure, it’s possible that the deadlines really aren’t that severe… or if they are, there’s wiggle room.


First, it’s going to be necessary for you to talk to the client and set a more reasonable deadline that doesn’t leave you rushed. If you speak to each of your clients, you’ll probably find that most are reasonable and happy to get a higher quality product even if it takes a little more time. The ones which aren’t are the ones you will need to prioritize and then not work with again.


Once you’ve negotiated your deadlines with your existing clients, your next actions are multi-fold. First, rigorously remove any extra distractions and work keeping you from working on the most important items. Then, work on items one at a time until completed. Don’t worry about what isn’t due now, and don’t schedule 10 tasks for yourself in a day. Work on one or two in a day and be done… but make progress. Remember, one thing  done is better than NOTHING DONE. Then, moving forward, make sure that you always give yourself buffer room when taking on new projects. (Step 3 will help, so keep reading.)


If you do these well, you should finally have some free time to work on growing your business.


Step 2: Focus


The next step is to focus on the one core business, offer, and avatar you’ll focus on. This supreme focus is the core idea behind my “11P Marketing Formula”, which says that you need to have all your pieces in alignment to sell the ONE PRODUCT to a SINGLE AVATAR.


Because let’s face it, you’re likely out of time because you’re doing things like…


  • Working on too many projects of varying types and sizes, so nothing is standardized
  • Recreating the wheel every time to speak to a prospect, so you have to use up all your creative energy to deliver a product or service
  • Taking on too much “extra” in the form of training, “side projects”, creative work, etc which doesn’t relate to the building, selling, or delivery of your core offer
  • Over-promising what you can do while also engaging in the previous two activities
  • Under-charging for what you do, so you constantly feel the need to “sell more” to make up the gap


You will never be free until you focus your amazing creative talents into ONE CORE IDEA. No more doing 10 projects at once, running 3 businesses at once, or tailoring your product for each and every person.


(Note that there is a way to have a custom product offering, but you have to sell a different way. We can talk about that on a call if you’re interested in learning more.)


So right now, write down all your ideas and pick the one offer which has all of the following characteristics:


  • Is an offer which can be “productized”, scaled up, and has a portion of work which can be delegated to others
  • Is an offer which has a higher ticket price (e.g., over $1000 each sale)
  • Is an offer which fits with your valuespersona, and long-term vision for your life and career. Are you happy being known as the person who does this thing?
  • Is an offer which has had success in the past, or which people consistently ask from you or are particularly happy with
  • Is an offer the market actually wants and which can be sold relatively easily


The next step is to productize that one core offer.


Step 3: Productize


The third step, once you have time and have narrowed your work down to one core offer, is to productize that offer. “Productization” is when you take a complex service and standardize it into repeatable tasks, deliverables, and timeframes so that it’s as consistent as a product. This is important, because productizing your service is what will allow you to scale by documentation, delegation, and automation.


If you’re a visionary-type solopreneur, expect to face a lot of internal resistance about this step just as you probably did with the previous step. I find that even when solopreneurs are able to focus on one business, they then try to complicate things by adding multiple product lines. DO NOT DO THIS.

Stick to ONE BUSINESS and ONE CORE OFFER you can do well. It may take a bit of repositioning and playing with what you do until you can productize it, so give yourself a few weeks.


For example, let’s say you’re a copywriter who writes lead magnets. You could say that you write lead magnets, but that’s not very sexy or productizable. Instead, you could productize on something like, “Guaranteed Lead Generator”, in which you perform a consistent set of steps to give the client a lead magnet funnel which grows their prospect database. Now, you have something which you can estimate more effectively, schedule appropriately, and delegate portions of without a lot of headache. Remember – you want to GET OUT OF THE CONSISTENT “BUSY-NESS” CYCLE YOU’RE IN. Productization solves that problem beautifully.


One warning: It’s very, very easy to make this way too big.


For example, the first time I launched my “Scale Fast System”, I had over 100 deliverables and was charging 1/10th the fee I should have. It was a no-win situation for myself and my clients. Now, I’ve cut it down to the most efficient and effective components necessary for my clients to see success.


So it’ll be good for you to continually check yourself by asking, “Am I creating a no-win situation or guaranteeing failure?” Your natural inclination is to overwork yourself to please, which is why I suggest that when in doubt, reduce your offer deliverables and raise your price. 


Step 4: Know Your Why


The fourth step is to know your way. I previously wrote an article on this topic, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Basically, you need to figure out if you’re in business to experience freedom, have an impact, or grow a community. Which “type” you are will determine how much effort you put into each of the “5 areas” of business growth – documentation, delegation, automation, optimization, and conversion.


You can read that article here. 


Below, I’ll simply give you generic advice suitable for any of the types to help you get “unstuck”. These should only be undertaken once you’ve done the previous steps of taking stock, focusing, and productizing.


Step 5: Document


The next step to getting unstuck is to document what you do. That is, document the core activities and functions of this offer. What does the offer entail? Who is the best client? What does the client project look like from start to finish? What are all the deliverables?


Only when you know these components can you document, delegate, automate, and optimize what you do so you SCALE UP. 


So you’ll want to at least list… and then write or record… the following:


  • What are the components of the package you sell?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • What are the client journey steps from start to finish? (e.g., welcome call, research, writing, training, offboarding… etc)
  • What information is needed from the client?
  • What are all the tasks, both internally and for the client? (e.g., invoicing, adding the client to a project management tool, filling out a research document, etc.)
  • What do you find yourself teaching the client each and every time? For example, I teach my clients the 10/3/1/90/1 methodology each and every time. (This is one area you’ll automate, so you can spend your time on fostering the client relationship.)


Note: if you find that this is WAAAAY too much to document (we’re talking hundred+ docs), then your offer is likely too complex to start with. Scale it back and then revisit the list.


Once you have the list, document it. Do it by text, video, whatever you can at first. I offer my clients a template for SOPs for this. I always suggest that you make the person filling the role responsible for maintaining their role’s documentation.


Step 6: Delegate & Automate


Finally, you’ll delegate the tasks you’ve documented and which are “low level”. For example, you could hire someone to invoice the client, send the welcome email, add them to the client portal, perform basic research, etc. You can also delegate other tasks, like checking and answering your emails, scheduling meetings, and sending clients basic information. You can even outsource the sales process.


You’ll also automate what you can. I find that the best places to automate are things like:


  • Sales emails and lead magnets (templates)
  • Client-facing welcome emails and project messages
  • “Theory” trainings that used to be delivered one-on-one each time
  • Onboarding questionnaires
  • Invoicing and invoicing follow-ups
  • Prospect nurturing (e.g., email automation)
  • Content Marketing (e.g., my “Marketing for a Year” blog and social media process)


That’s it! From there, you’ll find that you’re able to have more time, earn more revenue, and get better results for your clients all at the same time.


Articles by Lynn SwayzeScale Fast

Know Your Why, Scale Your Business

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Houston, we have a problem.


Joe (name changed to protect his privacy) was knee deep in client work. His schedule was more jam packed than a clown car and Joe was STRESSED. And even worse, he had to maintain this monumental pace in order to take home desired income of $20K a month.


“I just can’t keep up!” he complained one day over coffee.


I nodded sympathetically. I’d previously helped him find more money in his existing contracts, so I was acutely aware of the time crunch he’d put himself in… and knew this was the next obstacle to tackle.


“What do you suggest, Lynn?” He asked.


I’m sure he was hoping for a quick fix would solve all his problem. In truth, I had several rolling in my head. But in order to give him the right solution, I had to know something important.


Truth is, it’s this “something important” that’s probably keeping YOU back, too, if you’re stuck at the $250K point in your business.


The question I asked him is the same I’ll ask you now:


What kind of business do you want in 3 years?


It seems simple, right? Yet the answers could vary widely.


For example, I had one client who wanted to stay a small team. He wanted to have flexibility and money without having to work more or manage a large team. His goal was closer to $300,000 a year, which he wanted to maintain without adding too many team members he had to manage. He wanted freedom.


Another client of mine wanted to grow to a humungous organization with a headquarters, several business lines, and millions in revenue. He wanted the full CEO experience, complete with the layers of formality, job roles, and HR departments. He wanted to have an impact.


And our pal Joe? He just wanted a team of 10-15 who formed a tight-knit group who could get work done. He wanted to grow past $1MM in annual revenue and he wanted everyone to be well compensated and involved in the company’s vision and direction. He wanted community.


Growing and scaling each of these businesses requires very different foundation steps.


For the first one, I’d keep process documentation to a minimum and instead focus heavily on focused productization and optimization, keeping his visionary chaos tendencies to a minimum, and increasing the value of the product so he could increase the price. For the second, I’d focus heavily on preparing to scale, including writing extensive SOPs and documentation, scaling team members by specialized role, and hiring with role growth in mind. For the third, I’d modify the second approach to help him build a business that could be profitable and feasible with a smaller team.


One size does not fit all when it comes to scaling a business… and anyone who says otherwise is simply shoving their business model at you.


If you’re stuck, it might be because you either don’t know where you want to be, or are using the wrong business model for your growth vision. Think about the three why motivations – community, impact, and freedom – and determine which you really want before you hire that next person or begin that next company overhaul.


And if you’d like some help discovering where you’d like to be, contact me today. We can have a quick 15-minute deep dive into your vision and goals, and identify exactly what your next steps should be. Simply contact me to get started.


Articles by Lynn SwayzeScale Fast

3 Operations & Project Management Mistakes Solopreneurs Make

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I regularly work with “solopreneur” and small team entrepreneurs who are building laptop lifestyle, remote-team business, often in the consulting or coaching space. And what I find is that these entrepreneurs make the same three mistakes when it comes to project management for their businesses. Fortunately, they can be avoided with the right system and team, but only once you’re aware they exist. 


Mistake One: Confusing Operations with Project Management


The first mistake I see solopreneurs make is that they confuse operations with project management, and apply the same habits and planning (or lack thereof) to both. 


Confused about the two? Here’s a handy way to tell them apart:


  1. Project Management is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result
  2. Operations are ongoing activities you need to do every day to run the business (accounting, client management, product/service fulfillment, ongoing marketing)


For example, launching a new marketing campaign is a project. Regular social media updates are operations. Client work can be operations or project work depending on how your business and product/service are structured. The pace, skills, and requirements for these two areas can be vastly different. Yet most of the time, I see solopreneurs try to hire one person who can somehow magically:


  • Manage the internal operations and day-to-day functioning (reporting, meetings, keeping CEO on task, internal ops management)
  • Manage the internal projects (marketing campaign, building a new website, etc)
  • Managing the external client projects (touching base with clients, doing client work)


… all while somehow avoiding burnout on a $15/hour pay grade. 


It just doesn’t work. 


In my Scale Fast System, I always recommend entrepreneurs start by hiring specialists, even if it’s part-time at first. So, you hire an internal project manager whose only job is to manage the internal projects. Or an external-facing Client Engagement Manager, who can help clients move through their project with a single point of contact. Or a Marketing Manager, whose only job is marketing. Or an Accounting Consultant, whose only job is invoicing and end-of-month and taxes. And so on and so forth. 


You can have a business where new projects are rarely done, however you can’t have a business where there is no operations. 


The ability to have one but not the other further illustrates that operations and project management are not the same function in your business. Treating both as the same thing, and then assigning those tasks to the same person, is a recipe for disaster. Which brings me to mistake number two…


Mistake Two: Reactionary as Status Quo


The second operations and project management mistake I see is that entrepreneurs act as if being reactionary is the only way to function. They’ll run around like headless chickens trying to get it all done, as if someone’s pointing a gun to their head and demanding they move faster.


Yet often, they’re the ones who make the unreasonable deadlines to begin with. I can’t tell you how many solopreneurs I talk to who say they have no time, yet when you press them, you find out they promised an unreasonable project deadline to the client they knew they couldn’t fulfill. Or they said “yes” to a project they could have postponed. Or they gave themselves some other unreasonable constraint. 


#ProTip: There is no good reason to continually create no-win situations for yourself.


Instead, find time to STEP BACK and FOCUS.


For my clients, this means creating a quarterly “Deliberate Direction” plan with me and taking at least a day to plan projects in advance. It means taking time each day to work on the 3-5 tasks which are most impactful, and letting tomorrow worry about itself. (Something we achieve with my “One Page”.)


It means foreseeing problems and fixing ineffeciencies, rather than constantly fanning the flames.


Here’s the thing: eventually, this constant doing leads to profit loss (either front-end or back-end) or burnout. So it’s really, really important to find some way to get out of this rut ASAP.



There’s no reason to let things get that bad! By taking the time to step back, BREATHE, and plan for growth, you’ll finally be able to have the “work life balance” you deserve… and scale your business the way you desire. 


Mistake Three: Ineffective Project Management


The third mistake I see solopreneurs make is that if they do have project managers on board, they’re wholly ineffective. The CEOs do this by:


  1. Hiring for inexperience. I can’t tell you how many people I see thrust into project management roles with no training or experience in that role. Often, this is their “right hand”, often an assistant or intern turned into project manager. Let me be clear: what makes a good “administrative assistant” is a very different skill-set from what makes a good project manager. This tendency usually results in sloppy processes and haphazard project documentation. (Which means, nothing gets done.)
  2. Dual doer and manager. The second mistake? They have the person managing the work also do the work. DON’T DO THIS. Separate the roles when you can, as soon as you can, because these are two separate jobs. 
  3. Paying too little. See #1, and now add on that in many circles in the online “internet marketer” communities, these poor PMs are paid as little as $15 an hour. Expect to pay at least $25, if not $125, for a truly competent Project Manager. Paying $50 an hour is a good start. (Again, you shouldn’t need “full time” when you’re beginning to scale up.)
  4. Disregarding the Project Plan/Deliberate Direction. When I work with my clients, I have them create a Deliberate Direction document which plans out the quarter’s projects which are to be completed on top of operations and client fulfillment. The biggest problem I see is that CEOs decide last minute to add some new project… or stop another already started project… or even completely change the company vision … in the middle of a quarter. At its most benign, I see a lot of surprise changes. “Oh, we hired this person,” or “we just bought this tool”… any of which could completely change the requirements, scope, risks, and assets available. Instead, let the quarter run its course before you change plans, and let your project manager do their job. 


What other mistakes do you make or have you seen being made by solopreneurs? What advice would you give? Comment below to share. 

Articles by Lynn SwayzeScale Fast

How to Build Congruent Offers that Convert

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It was the summer of 2016 and I was deep in the heart of Texas. My client, a software developer, had hired me to help him revamp his marketing and help him grow his business from a team of one to a team of five.

Like most clients who need marketing help, this client wasn’t quite ready for me.

For starters, he had two separate offers he wanted to sell to two separate and opposing prospects.

For example, he wanted to sell custom applications to startups.

He also wanted to sell custom end-to-end back-end applications for established businesses.

And he also thought that $90 an hour was too much to charge for his services.

AND he wanted to be able to sell all that with a contact form on a website.

Does anyone else see a few glaring problem here?

When I came on, I knew that I couldn’t sell all of that on a single page, let alone with a contact form.

I also knew that my client couldn’t sell all of that, all at once.

And if we tried to brand and market to one avatar – say, the organization who needed custom software, for example – we’d turn away his other avatar, the funded startup.

And don’t get me started on $90/hour!

Phew.

I find that most of the time, entrepreneurs with lead generation problems don’t really have a lead generation problem. They have an offer or an operations  problem.

And fortunately, the offer problem is the easiest to fix, so that’s what we’ll talk about today.

The 10 P’s of a Congruent, Compelling Offer

What I found is that most of the time, when someone has on offer problem, it’s not that they’re necessarily selling the wrong thing, selling it to the wrong person, or pricing it incorrectly.

Just like my software developer client who wanted to sell custom development to barely-funded startups

Alone, any of those components is as fine as any other. There’s nothing inherently “bad” about selling a $5 product or targeting newbies…. Or doing the opposite for that matter and charging a $100,000 for a single consultation call.

The problem lies in the alignment of these components.

That is, the problem is that many struggle because they’re targeting the wrong person for the product they’re selling… or pricing it wrong for the person they’re targeting… or positioning wrong to attract the right person. And so on and so forth.

In all, I’ve uncovered ten different components of an offer, all of which must be in sync in order for your marketing to work as well as it can.

Once you get these down, you’ll know exactly what to say in your marketing messages and why some of the marketing you’ve launched previously may not have worked as well as you’d hoped.

The Top 3 P’s in the Marketing Prescription Formula

The top 3 P’s are the most important to get right out the gate. While the other P’s of the Marketing Formula can be off, get these first three wrong and nothing will work as you hope. These three are Problem, Person, and Product.

P#1 – The Problem You Solve

The first P is the Problem. I list it first because it’s the most important… and also the one so rarely ever looked at. The problem is the reason your prospect (or Person) is going to buy at all. Let’s say, for example, that you sell Tylenol. You’re not selling to every man and woman over the age of 18. No, you’re trying to reach those who have a headache. The same holds true for what you sell.

I believe Gary Bencivenga said it best when he said, “Demographics aren’t markets – problems are.”

P#2 – The Person You Reach

The second P is the Person. This Person will have the problem you solve. This person has certain characteristics, of course, but the important bit is that they will resonate with all your other P’s. (Which you’ll learn about if you download the Marketing Formula Worksheet.)

P#3 – The Product You Sell

The third P is the Product. Now, the product is of course what you sell. It’s also the SOLUTION to the Problem You Solve and it’s the solution the Person You Reach would want to buy or be able to buy. Note that the Product isn’t what you want to sell or what others say you should sell, but the very thing which solves the Problem for the Person.

Now here’s the thing: each of these three must be in alignment with each other. If you change one thing – such as the Product You Sell – you have to change the other items to match.

Before you hire a copywriter or marketing consultant, I encourage you to get at least these three items fully fleshed out and in alignment. That way, you give yourself the best chance for your marketing investment to pay off.

And to get all 10 P’s to build your Marketing Prescription Formula, you’ll want to get the 10P Marketing Prescription Worksheet. You can download it HERE.

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