There’s much talk in the consulting and coaching industry about leverage models and the need to create leverage in a service business in order to grow. This article outlines what we mean by leverage and how online programmes can help increase your reach and revenue.
Leverage essentially means putting in the same force but getting a much bigger result. For professional service providers like consultants, coaches, designers and so forth, the objective is to utilise your unique expertise to maximum advantage.
While investing in the operational efficiency of your business will free up some time on repetitive tasks of running your business, there are two essential ways to create leverage in a service business. This is important for consultants, coaches and other expert service providers who want to get past the income plateau of an unleveraged freelance model.
The two ways are leveraged marketing and leveraged delivery.
While I’ll touch on marketing first, I’d like to focus on delivery for this article. That’s because when you create leverage in a service business you’re solving a specific problem of the majority of independent solo professionals, one of overwhelm and burnout caused by working only one-to-one with clients.
When you engage with prospective clients one-to-many, whether through live events or online, you can promote your expert knowledge and attracting people to you in a far more leveraged way than one-to-one sales appointments.
Create valuable material and share it across the relevant social media platforms, automating your follow up processes with online systems. This way you’re not only able to reach more people and engage with them, you are able to educate and serve them in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re selling.
You’re demonstrating you can help people by actually helping them, which is a powerful marketing agent because it generates the know-like-trust factor necessary to enrol someone.
A natural progression from education-based marketing is education-based products, whereby you create leverage in a service business by delivering your expertise and supporting your clients in multiple ways.
Delivering services face-to-face and individually with each client puts a limit to how many people you can work with. When you shift some of this type of work into a one-to-many option, especially when delivered online, you can serve more people.
A well-designed, structured group programme or online course can produce great results for clients, who due to distance or budget may not be able to work you directly.
And it produces great results for you because it sets you free from the treadmill of traditional contract or daily rate delivery models.
The Trauma of Unleveraged Delivery
The problem with unleveraged delivery is it’s exhausting and limiting – it traps you in terms of your income, lifestyle and potential to grow.
Let me give you an example of the tipping point from my own experience. In the past, my consulting revenue has predominantly come from one-to-one client work, usually short 5-10 day contracts working with one organisation.
Doing 1-2 projects per month at £5-10k each yields a fairly decent 5-figure monthly income. However, with an unleveraged model, in any given week or month there’s a ceiling on how much time you can contract out even if you don’t burn out before then. At some point, or pretty fast if you’re good at bringing in new clients, your calendar is full.
With an average of 20 workdays a month (not withstanding any sickness or holidays), the most I could deliver is 2-4 assignments back-to-back. But I can tell you, after 2-3 months, mentally it’s exhausting. And if there’s overlap across several months and I’m switching from client to client and travelling from site to site, it’s both mentally and physically exhausting.
This contract-based done-for-you (D4U) model is great for your clients because they get a fast result. And it’s great for you in terms of income because it’s high-end. But it’s less great for you in terms of leverage, because it’s gruelling and isn’t a scalable model.
Unless you plan to create leverage the traditional way that consulting firms do by hiring more consultants or increasing your fees based on high demand, unleveraged delivery means you’re stuck at an income plateau.
Transactional & Transitional vs. Transformational
Notwithstanding all of the above traumas, these one-off D4U consulting assignments or DIY coaching calls feel a lot like surgery – you open up, fix the problem, and then close. You get paid based on the value of the outcome you help achieve. It’s transactional.
Likewise for coaching, you can invest a small amount of time on a bespoke coaching call helping an individual client figure out a solution, but thereafter it’s a “do-it-yourself” (DIY) model, and there’s a chance they won’t do it. Same goes for a stand-alone course. This is usually because the client doesn’t have all the insights and expertise you do, so when they hit a bump along the way they get stuck, or they implement things in a way that doesn’t work for them or the particular nuances of their business.
DIY is a great model for you because the initial work doesn’t take too much of your time, whether it’s a few hours coaching or a few days consulting. But it’s not always great for clients who get frustrated at the lack of on-going support to get them to the finish line. It’s transitional.
Personally, rather than expect a client to benefit from a quick fixI, prefer to help someone with a long-term health plan and stick with them while they implement it. This way it’s transformational. And the way to achieve this is with what I call a “done-with-you” (DWU) model rather than done-for-you (D4U) or do-it-yourself (DIY). Because you both have more accountability and interaction, you can give more of a guarantee that the work you do together will make a difference.
The Power of Digital Platforms
And the great news is that with digital platforms, while you can deliver this kind of one-to-many done-with-you experience online (as well as face-to-face if you prefer). With an online programme you can provide clients with the benefit of a mix of one-to-one and group support that is truly transformational.
(Incidentally, online programmes is exactly the model I use in the iSuccess Business Academy – you can take the course as a DIY product with group support or take the option of add on individual mentoring with me, such that it becomes a DWU service.)
With an online course or group programme, you can structure the journey for your client and he/she can follow the roadmap entirely at his/her own pace. A key difference from typical training courses is that along the way, your client-students can ask questions and get the feedback they need to learn and progress.
Creating a Transformational Experience with Online Programmes
A good online programme should provide the client with a transformational experience that produces a tangible result for them. It offers not only the ideas and inspiration, but it also the motivation and accountability that aids their success, but without you having to be there working one-to-one with them.
You can teach your students the fundamental principles and the step-by-step practicalities. You give them the tools and templates so they know exactly what to do it and how to do it as well as why they need to think about things this way. Depending on your model, you can add a group dynamic so they can learn from each others’ thoughts and experiences. As you learn what clients benefit from most, you can refine and improve your curriculum, your design and your engagement.
With a structured and supported online programme, you have a way not only to create leverage in a service business, but also to give the client a great experience. The results a client gets are just as good, or almost as good as if it was you doing the work for them, or if you were coaching them directly all the way. But this online ‘done-with-you’ approach keeps you free and it gives them the results you promise for them.
When you have a structured leveraged consulting programme you can offer to potential clients, there’s no limit to your reach and revenue. It’s transformational for clients, and it’s transformational for you.
When you create leveraged delivery in your business, everybody wins – great results for them and greater freedom for you.
Your Next Step
If you’d like to learn more about how to implement online marketing and structured programmes, I’ve made it super easy.
You can get your hands on the overview for my forthcoming book ‘Leveraged Consulting’ for free! Download the full 30-page introductory chapter and find out more how to create leverage in a service business – serve more people, make more money, and finally climb off the hamster wheel and live your life.