If you’re planning for success in a service business in 2021, there are 7 dimensions you can use to identify your best moves for business growth. These are part of a framework I created called ‘iSuccess’ which is the engine in my core programme – the Leveraged Business Accelerator. This article explains what iSuccess means and how you can use it as a tool for growth.
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iSuccess is a 7-dimension framework for business growth, and over the years, people have asked me what is iSuccess – what does the ‘I’ stand for, what does success in a service business look like, is it something I can use in my business?
So in the last article (based on my New Year webinar and podcast episode), I promised I’d explain all about iSuccess and its 7 dimensions – the origin, what it means to me personally, how it works and how it can benefit you as a business owner. I’m excited for you to see how you can use it to get super clear on your digital transformation plans.
As we progress into 2021 with all our hopes and dreams and trepidations, I’m noticing a swell in the number of posts on social media and crazy videos and gifs all around us, it’s clear we’re all wanting this year to be a colossal improvement on the challenges, frustration and confusion of the year we left behind. But how can we make that happen for ourselves?
It’s all about leveraging YOU in terms of how you build your brand, your authority and your expert system and position yourself in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
In my 1st Jan post, I shared my business journey, including some leaps of faith and major channel shifts that have made a huge difference to accelerating my visibility goals in 2020.
Now, this year, it’s time to move things to the next level and for those looking for success in a service business, I want to bring you along on this journey with me.
Because for me, this year is all about (more visibility), engagement and impact! And for that, you need to know about process mapping and flywheels. Hold on tight 🙂
Why process mapping your expert system is a superpower move
Two years ago, I packaged up my expert business accelerator model into a framework I called iSuccess – in my book I listed a whole table of words that pack into that one little letter i. It’s not just one thing. So I’d like to unpack that a little bit, but also to share with you the iSuccess model and how it underpins everything we do in the iSuccess Business Academy.
I always ask my guest experts at the end of our interview, if you had one superpower you could use to create leverage in YOUR business, what would it be.
So if I had to answer that question myself, my superpower would be, and is, to help people clarify, package and scale a core offer based on their expert system.
How you help your client is a process, your “expert system” – it’s a way to package and present a “signature” programme as your method for getting people results. Think about the steps you go through with a new client and map them out.
Unless you’re just using an industry standard methodology, your expert system is always going to be unique to you, which immediately distinguishes you from your competitors.
Superb, that’s what we want right? So it’s a great start for how you market yourself J
I want to emphasise this – creating an expert system is an idea you should take on board as soon as you can. It actually took me a couple of years to realise I already had an expert system that worked brilliantly for my clients, I just needed to package it and promote it more blatantly!
In my consulting practice, I was intuitively mapping out a process in my head. Because what I found working with clients is that, at the start, they had a misconceived idea of the fundamentals. They only knew the symptoms of their problem and did not understand the root causes to see why a solution is a solution.
My core offer – the Leveraged Business Accelerator – is a digital roadmap programme based on this iSuccess framework. It’s what I use with my business mentoring clients and even when working with non-profit organisations in my consulting projects. So it’s tried and tested, and it delivers real tangible results.
I’ve revamped the programme to work with solo practitioners and we kick off in January – more on that later. So iSuccess is not only a representation of my vision and values for business success, it’s also my expert system and the curriculum for all the courses and resources to support my clients inside the iSuccess Business Academy.
In designing an expert signature programme, you’re forced to pin down what it is you uniquely deliver, to map out the process of how you achieve that specific result, and then package it within a structured programme. And this is how you then have the opportunity to scale the delivery of what you do.
How naming your expert system is a breakthrough move
Ok that’s one part of why I created iSuccess as a proprietary methodology for how I work with my clients that’s uniquely mine – but what about the name …I’m frequently asked how I came up with it. And how it links to my core concept of creating leverage in business.
It starts with why – that’s the title of a great book by Simon Sinek by the way …
Whether I’m working with an organisation, a team or an individual business owner, after our initial conversation about context and goals, my first questions is always this: what does success look like to you?
With my startup businesses I always focused on success – not only the end-goal but what it takes to get there – what success means to them, what personal attributes help achieve success, what are the major milestones along the way, and how to measure success when it’s not all about numbers, but about feelings and fulfilment and work-life balance.
First, I’d argue that those who achieve success in a service business have usually understood the need to put themselves as individuals into the equation. (So there’s one ‘I’ right off the bat.)
Quoting Tony Robbins: “Extraordinary accomplishment can result in failure if you feel no joy, self-acceptance or a sense of meaning.”
While we’re often driven by external notions of success, the actualisation of it is very individual – it’s about YOU, what you give and what you want. Independent client-focused businesses are more often than not driven by very personal ambitions. For the consulting services provider, I’d argue that authenticity, expertise and enthusiasm are all prerequisites for success. You’ll notice that only one out of the three is about your professional know-how.
For many of us, a client business is not just a job where we get hired to do something. It’s a representation of who we are and what we stand for. This is why I devoted a whole chapter in my book Leveraged Consulting to Leveraging YOU. It’s important to me we don’t lose sight of ourselves as individuals in the building and running of our business. So ‘individual’ is at least one of the ‘Is’ you can put into iSuccess.
Originally when I coined the term iSuccess, the intention was simply to bring together success principles for the individual with the practicalities and power of the internet to create a digital platform and system to support marketing and sales. However, as I began to work with clients from all kinds of industries, I realised the “i” goes way beyond these two terms as the table below illustrates.
|I (You as CEO)||individual||internet|
And I love how holistic, comprehensive and significant the ‘I’ then becomes when designing a business that achieves success, whatever that means to you – professionally, personally and financially – is it wealth, is it freedom or is it impact – or more likely some special blend of several success indicators.
I’m sure you’ll discover there are some common themes in how you think about and talk about what you do. Can you come up with a unique set of words for the why, what and how of your business mission?
How a step-by-step process provides clients with a clear pathway to success
Unless you are brand new and don’t yet have your working methods clearly defined, you will undoubtedly have some kind of system for how you deliver your service whether you’re aware of it as a tangible process or not. Having a “signature” programme doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible in your approach working with a client. But a customer wants to feel they’re getting great “value for money” – that is, when the value of the result you get for your client is matched with the price that they pay for it. So it needs to be specific and clear.
By packaging your professional methodology – including visuals, tools, templates, checklists and so on – you and your client have a clear and intentional step-by-step process and confidence in your ability to deliver on your promise.
iSuccess as a framework is intended to enlighten and educate so clients are equipped to know what to prioritise and can select and implement the best tactics to move forward without the usual stress, indecisions and overwhelm. For instance: say the problem a business owner tells me they have is poor sales, that’s quite a broad problem. The client may incorrectly assume that sales technique or team performance is the issue. If they went with that as a solution, they would be investing time and money training their sales team.
The 7 dimensions of iSuccess (and the 14 elements within it) can be used diagnostically to self-evaluate where you’re strong and not so strong in your business design architecture. This is the best first step to deciding on what you should focus on for your improvement and transformation work. It examines your business holistically, and helps you see where things are out of alignment, so you can readjust or reconfigure and get the balance and efficiency you want.
iSuccess is a critical component in the flywheel model in my book Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age – it’s even on the cover! It’s how you identify and fix bottlenecks to strength how you clarify, package and scale for next level income.
How to package your system as a compelling offer
For now, let’s turn to the first steps, and why the way that you articulate and present your offer is so important.
Bear in mind that your branding and positioning are more than the practical value of what you do or the things you produce. It’s also a representation of your core values, your beliefs and your personality – which is why clarifying your professional identity is the cornerstone of everything else. This goes way beyond typical business mission statements. Your business exists to solve a specific problem, but it’s also about making people feel a certain way as they interact with your brand as well as when they work with you.
I believe the raison d’être of a service-focused business is usually extremely personal to you as an individual – au contraire to the line in the Godfather: “It’s not personal, it’s business“. More often than not, what you do (for a living or otherwise) is something you are passionate about as well as good at.
Certainly, if you started in business to help people and have an impact on people’s lives, then success and a sense of achievement in your business is super personal!
Aligning with your purpose is a particularly important starting point that you ignore at your own peril, because building a successful high-end business starts with you. Whether you’re running solo or you’re started up as a small firm, as CEO, Director and Manager not only do you set the direction of the sail, you also must design the boat and steer it forwards.
And that begins by naming that ‘one thing’ you care most about in your business, that represents both you as an individual and the people you serve – your tribe and territory if you like – and what you stand out for.
The 7 Dimensions of Success & why you need them all in balance
In my iSuccess framework – there are 7 dimensions for success in a service business that help you create leverage – leveraging YOU, leveraged marketing, leveraged sales and leveraged delivery.
You can see the full “system” on the cover of my book if you hop on over to Amazon and search “Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age” – It’s a circular “flywheel” diagram that represents the full leveraged business system I teach and use in my work with clients and iSuccess is the engine in the centre that drives your business growth.
I’ve included that diagram in the show notes for this episode, so if you like to follow along with a visual picture, go open that up as you’re listening. I created a shortlink to it at flywheel.jayallyson.com.
Success in business is not all about improving just the operational mechanics – the marketing or sales process, or the delivery. With iSuccess, we look at the whole flywheel machine holistically. And from the inside out, it starts with leveraging YOU. That’s why we place the ‘I’ at the centre, because at the heart of your expert business is “you” as an individual. This establishes the “inner eye” or letter ‘I’ however you want to think about it!
And the inner workings are the 7-dimensions that drive the engine of the flywheel – we’ll dive into these in more detail in next week’s Q&A with Dr Jay episode. But here’s a quick overview.
The first dimension or LEVER that we need to start the wheel turning is the Aligning lever – this is all about clarifying your purpose, your why, your calling if you like, and we overlap this with the TARGETING lever which is all about the people you feel called to serve, to help and which groups are hungry for that help and willing to pay for it.
Next, we move to the POSITIONING lever, and ways to promote you as an authority in that specific thing – this is critical so people can not only find you but also see you clearly as the ‘go-to’ expert when they’re looking for that specific thing. And closely linked to this is how you show up to them and how attractive and relevant you are – for this we need the BRANDING lever.
Unless you need to pivot due to changes in the market, your highest priority is to define clearly your individual expert brand and craft your core message. After this, you can build on it, adapt or refine it, whatever is necessary for you to stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. This aligning, targeting and positioning effort will be of massive benefit to how you market and deliver “that thing you do” and will put you in a much stronger position to innovate on strategy and develop contemporary delivery models.
Once you’re aligned, targeted, positioned and branded, you can see how much easier it is to work on your PRICING lever. People find it so hard to decide what to charge when clearly you want to charge what you’re worth within the price range of what the market will stand. Think about the result you deliver rather than the activity you do. That’s going to really help you to set a “value for money” figure around your service or programme.
Now you have everything you need to take your product to market – test out offer-market fit – and if it’s good, you can work on improving your efficiency through the final two dimensions – the SYSTEMATISING and SCALING levers.
If you can visualise the iSuccess dimensions as a spinning top, each section is mutually reinforcing and creates a workable, dependable and sustainable business growth machine. When the top is spinning, if it wobbles we know we need to rebalance one or more dimensions. If it’s steady, we need to find ways to accelerate its spin or at least keep it in perpetual motion with a regular flick. Those wobbles are what things feel like to you if you’re feeling misaligned, stressed or overwhelmed in your business.
Why appreciating the wider factors at play helps improve your success
Working towards a leveraged consulting or coaching business requires you to appreciate the wider set of factors at play for you as an individual as well as the tangible elements needed to grow a purposeful, profitable and sustainable enterprise.
When working on business improvement projects, rather than operational processes or digital tools, many of my clients discover certain personal attributes are in fact what is holding them back – whether in their own work or as part of a team. And this often shows up well after the initial diagnostic is done. The bottleneck can be major or minor, but may stem from limiting self-beliefs, stuck assumptions and bias, blocks or stress around money or worrying about failure.
For some of my clients, releasing the bottleneck has been more about getting that vital clarity on their unique identity and ideals. They’ve then gone on to become more focused and strategic, and less overwhelmed with the day-to-day running of the business – even feeling a sense of liberation enough to take a vacation!
All of us have varying attitudes to risk or a tendency towards perfectionism, procrastination or overthinking. These all lead to a struggle with making decisions. And that makes identifying and focusing on the most important things incredibly difficult.
From Concept to Consulting – how iSuccess works in practice
Over the hundreds of business reviews that I’ve undertaken – whether in the private or non-profit sector – similar frustrations and problems come to light that have reasonably straightforward remedies with the right strategy, systems and support in place.
Both my consulting work and the iSuccess Business Academy have focused on helping organisations and small businesses to surface the root causes of these common frustrations and problems. We do a deep dive into the business design architecture, strategic planning processes and revenue models that are potentially limiting momentum or growth.
In some cases, the weak link is a lack of clarity around what they do. Even people in business for years can start to feel uncertain because when the market shifts they notice their lead generation isn’t as effective or it’s harder to get clients. And so from time to time, we all need to go back to the foundations and revisit those initial dimensions, particularly in changing times. For others, the barrier to growth is a poor sales process or inflexible service delivery model that’s limiting their conversions or the ability to scale.
Operational inefficiency may well be an area that’s holding you back, because it causes inconsistency in your client acquisition process, reduces your productivity, limits ROI and so forth – and ultimately that’s costing you money and creating headaches and stress. However, when you look at a deeper strategic level, it’s often a limitation in the business model manifesting as an operational bottleneck.
When revenue is down or growth is slow, consider whether the problem is an operational one or a strategic one.
My business growth clients often tell me “we don’t have enough turnover to hire new people or outsource” when actually it’s that their revenue model is limited or their gross profit is insufficient or their working capital model limits cash flow month on month.
Now this strategic review skill is actually my superpower!
When I first got started in my consulting practice, I built my business around my evaluation expertise where you look at aims and objectives of a project or programme of change, design an evaluation to gather data and analyse against the intended (and unintended) outcomes, benefits and impact (including social impact that’s actually quite hard to measure in many cases.)
And this helps you see what the programme and its constituent projects intended to deliver and set out to do. The work taught me how to dive deeper to uncover the relationship between cause (what was done) and effect (what resulted).
In many cases, I was asked to review operational processes or marketing activities, but more often than not, the underlying problems were strategic in nature.
So, what does iSuccess mean for you and your business?
- First, remember there’s no single fix or silver bullet as we’ve spoken about before. You have to look at your business holistically to gain new perspectives on the design, structure, co-dependencies, flow and key metrics of the business – as well as seeing change and innovation as a process of continuous improvement.
- Finding and fixing critical levers in your business is a strategic way to review your business architecture and look at where the constraints exist in each dimension of your business.
- Reviewing your business model on a deeper strategic level will mean better decision making on process improvements that identify the real root causes so you can open up your bottlenecks, let things flow faster and more consistently, in a way that supports your desired growth goals.
The secret to building a business that is not just surviving, but actually thriving and growing, is to move beyond only tweaking the day-to-day problems you see in front of you. It’s also about building the capacity to shift tack as the market changes. In the uncertain world we live in today, this is a major success factor to staying in business.
When you take a step back and look at your business in the wider strategic sense, you can see more clearly the influence of both local and global shifts in your industry. Customer behaviours, needs and preferences are ultimately what should determine why, when and in what ways you need to let go of older business models.
This leads us to ways of leveraging the real big opportunities in the consulting industry in the digital age today and staying in front of the wave in the perfect storm.
After years of writing articles and running workshops around the iSuccess principles and practices, I finally moved everything into a membership-based online education platform – which accordingly I named the iSuccess Business Academy.
And that’s now where I’m growing beyond my in-person, one-to-one consulting and virtual coaching work – and practising what I preach in my book, Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age.