Building the business you really want


When was the last time you gave yourself permission to just stop and dream really big about the business you want to create? And I don't just mean "I wish our clients had an extra £300 to spend with us" type thoughts; I'm talking about the sorts of radical dreams that have the power to transform your business overnight.

An example from one of my clients

A couple of weeks ago I had the complete pleasure of working with a design duo who were looking for my help in creating a set of robust processes that would gain their clients' respect and introduce a bit more balance back into their lives. In their own words, they were "working and being treated like dogs". Things needed to change.

In the first of several days we are spending together we talked a lot. About the sorts of projects they'd worked on, the clients they had and what they really wanted to be doing. Their current client base, were lovely, we established, but many were just thinking too small. Many didn't value the duo for their creativity: more as a convenient way of carrying out a technical task they didn't have the software for.

Undervaluing their own skill, battered and bruised by clients demanding more for less, the pair had set themselves a seemingly impossible task. They just hadn't given themselves enough time to do a good job; their portfolio didn't demonstrate what they were capable of; their pricing attracted the wrong sort of client and repelled those with serious money to spend. It was a vicious circle.

We started to talk about the sorts of projects the couple would be doing if nothing were standing in their way. These two are a super-talented, highly experienced and mature team with strong backgrounds in lifestyle PR and graphic design. The more we talked the more we began to pull out some exciting threads.

We started to see a boutique agency with a select number of clients that could complement each other. Clients would come to the girls for a complete experience in both creating and launching an aspirational brand. But more excitingly than that, the more we explored what the girls really wanted to be doing, the more we hit on something really big. Something so big that totally blew our original plan out of the water.

Something that meant that they could go from chasing their tails to just one, high value and highly creative project a month. Something that would give them their dignity back and their pride in their work. Something that would ignite their passion for their business and put fire in their belly.

I'm afraid I'm deliberately not going to be specific about what they are going to be doing because one day I hope to feature them as a case study and I'd like to maintain their confidentiality! However, there are a couple of really important takeaways for you to come out of this story that I'd like to explore.

Dreaming big and building the business you really want

Fiona-Humberstone-9410-5 2

Firstly, by identifying where their true passions lay we started to identify the sort of work they really wanted to be doing. You can totally do the same. This isn't about being restricted to what you've done but focusing on where you want to be. You can fill in the gaps later - give yourself permission to dream really, really big first of all.

Secondly we looked at what this duo offered that no one else we knew did: an integrated PR and design offering; a wealth of experience and contacts in the lifestyle sector and a whole bunch of commercial experience. What do you offer that makes you different to others in the market? How can you hone your offering to create something overwhelmingly compelling to your dream client?

Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, we looked at the sorts of dream projects they would be working on if nothing were standing in their way. This took several attempts. Starting with a couple of 'this would be nice' sort of stories until we got to the goose-bumpingly, spine-tinglingly interesting stuff that has formed the foundation of their route forward. Tip: if you're not overwhelmingly excited and inspired about your new direction, your clients probably won't be either. Keep thinking, keep dreaming until you get there.

Next, we looked at what their offering should be. What sort of deliverables, service, process did we feel these sorts of dream clients should experience for this dream project? (grr, this enigma is getting frustrating - I hope you're keeping up!) Look past what you're doing right now; look past what you think your clients will pay for and focus on what you think it takes to do a really exceptional job. What steps would you take? What would your clients get as part of the project? How do you want to run your business? After all, this is your business: run it the way you want to.

Following on from that, consider what each step requires in terms of your time and any expenses. This will give you a good idea of what each project will cost, what your dream client will need to spend and what sort of person will invest in what you're offering. Don't be afraid to set a confident price. One of the most important things I've learned over the years is that as long as you offer value, there will always be a market for what you do, whatever your price. So charge what it takes to do a really great job and focus on demonstrating the value in what you do.

Finally, think about this: what does this dream client need to see in order for you to be the only choice for your dream project? What changes do you need to make to your business to get to where you want to be? This might mean changing everything, it might simply be a new website and a little streamlining of your portfolio. No one is suggesting you need to do all of this overnight, but once you know where you want to be, you can start to make things happen intentionally.

Good luck! And let me know how you get on...