I currently run three businesses. One is a service business that is in more demand than I can handle. I have clients calling me and texting me at all hours for my services. I have built a solid reputation in the community. The service business is very exhausting work and I absolutely hate trading time for money. I can barely walk after a day's work as it can be brutal physically. Clients don't want to see my colleagues and specifically request me months in advance. My second business is a passive investing business that has been very successful, but I am not passionate about it. My third business is an online business I was most passionate about, but it is getting increasingly frustrating to run. There are other online competitors who are successful in the space and have been around for over 2 decades (making millions). My digital product works very well and has been tested extensively, but I am having a tough time getting sales. I have very limited working capital and time. I have reached out to some online business mentors only to be ignored and would really love some advice on what direction to take.
I bet if I repeat your same story back to you, you’ll see the bigger picture more clearly. I currently am doing three things. One, because I’m in the middle of the ocean, I need to tread water just to stay alive. I feel there is nobody around that can help me but have plenty of friends encouraging me to stay afloat. It’s very exhausting and I hate treading water as is so brutally exhausting. I feel I could die if I stop. Although, I did bring along with me a fishing pole. Occasionally I can cast out and grab a fish to eat. I wish I had more relaxing time to enjoy fishing. What I’d really like to do, something I’m most passionate about, is to build boats. I’m increasingly frustrated with trying to do this. I know there is a great need for boats because I can see millions of other people in the ocean all treading water like me. If only I can help them. If only I can stop treading water long enough to build me my first boat. Then I can hop inside, relax, cast a pole, and plan how to bring my new boats to my friends. Sure I know there are other boat makers, but I’m just as good as them … well I would be as good as them if my arms and legs weren’t so tired. I have very limited capital as I don’t make real money treading water. I wonder if you can help me?
Great answer, Tom!
I agree with Hugh that for your personal service you need to increase your price, perhaps dramatically, even semi-retire from the enterprise and only take clients when you want to or not at all. The difficulty with most service businesses is that they have trouble scaling. It typically requires more labor to provide more service, and even doing so doesn't increase profits.
Now ask yourself, are you in business to make money? It's a rhetorical question. You can still have a reputation, a mission, a passion, and be in it for the money.
The issue with your dream business is that you are to busy working in your (other) business to work ON your business. There's a reason it's not working, and you don't have the hours to figure it out and make the necessary adjustments.
Passive investing isn't really a business you can count on because it's not predictable nor does it have a reliable plan. There's intelligence and strategy, sure, but it's more of a lucrative hobby.
I like the way Tom reworded your complaint. But as for what to do, my suggestion is to retire from the service business very soon (run out your current book of appointments and take no new ones) and turn it over to your colleagues whom you will only supervise. Then put your attention fully on the enterprise you wish was doing better. I would bet that you'll get a lot further with #3 once you can give it the love it needs.
I have mentored many small business owners and I have yet to find one who is successful running three separate businesses? Just running one small business profitably is a full time challenge!My advice is to pick the one you have the greatest opportunity to generate succe$$! Focus is the key. Once you are successful and generated sufficient revenue , sell that business and focus your effort and resources on the one business that you believe is your passion.
It's very hard to give you firm guidance in the absence of specific details. Having said that, life's too short to hate what you do - and if you do something you love, there's the potential for a 'virtuous circle' of continually improving life and business.
So it sounds like you should work on the 3rd business, but to make it worthwhile, it sounds like you need be able to make more time and capital available.
In which case, I suggest you continue the 2nd business (to raise capital) and focus on transitioning the clients of your 1st business to other employees (to make more time available).
That's the most I can suggest on the information provided - I hope it helps and good luck for the future!
I have been in similar situation. When I was running my services business, i was very comfortable, but I lacked a sense of mission. When I transitioned my team completely into product business, the world turned upside down and I had a hard time adjusting for a couple months. But personally, I would choose the second scenario any day. So no regrets.
Answer to your question depends on your personal goal. You cannot ask someone else how you want your life or career to be. You can ask for guidance in tactics.
That said, there are a couple of things. First the fact that clients want to talk to only you - this has been my situation and I can tell you, I did not get anything out of it at all. You must get out of this situation ASAP.
Competitors in your online business who are over 2 decade old - that's a good thing. It means there is a well established market.
I personally suggest to go for third business and minimize time on others.
Hi (Anonymous) would help if we had a name...
First, your service business... if you're in high demand this is great, but you should consider increasing your prices - this hopefully will slightly reduce demand but maintain profits.
In addition, if you have travel expenses you should charge for this...
Often people think when they're employed that 'this is my wage = this is my value' but as you become more in demand you should be thinking 'this is my value = this is my wage'. In essence don't let your wage define your value, let your value define your wage.
If people aren't willing to pay then they can go and try to get the same value somewhere else..
Don't quit that job though, the best thing you possibly could do is taking 'what makes you so valuable' and starting a separate business of your own (taking your clients with you) and creating a culture around what makes you so desirable. Then teach and train employees to 'do what you do', you step away from the actual implementation and move into sales where you sell what you value and what makes you unique and desirable.
That said, it's a service business as you say and I'm assuming that it's not that scalable, that this lack of growth potential is niggling in the back of your mind 'Is this who I want to be!?!'
So, lets look at why your digital product fails to get sales... lets say for example that you're doing a CRM, the problem is here is that the market is saturated, but more troublesome to the companies who'd buy in is that they've got all their business data already in a competitive product. They can't pull out even if they wanted to, and if they did want too then how much time would need to be invested to train their staff to use the new solution. What kind of technical support are they going to get?
To put it another way, you have a car... it's an okay car, it gets you from A to B, does what it needs to do... sure we all dream of a Ferrari, but the maintenance costs are huge, if it breaks down or a part needs to be replace (which happens often) is horrific.
So how do you sell a similar or slightly better car to a person who already has a car?
Answer: you can't.
You can only sell to those who don't have a car or to people who's car has broken down. If a person has had a good experience with a certain brand of car (BMW) then it's almost impossible to sell your Mazda to them, no matter how cool it is in your eyes.
You have to sell to people's pain points and add value by saying 'how easy it is to switch'. You could offer incentives like a trial period, or better (like phone companies do) we'll buy your old phone from you or we'll give you £100 to switch, etc.
So, in summary, getting people to change behaviour is almost impossible.
If you increase your day to day prices then you might have a little more capital, but you can't replace time...
I'd personally spend most of my time upon getting an amazing 'best friend' business partner / co-founder... investors invest in people not products.
You're experience is what makes you valuable and your ability to get unpaid followers makes you unique...
Just look at Jesus, he got 12 apostles who believed in his ideas to go out, write and sell his ideas, eventually a book was compiled of the idealisms and a 2000+ year old business of ideals was created.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best of luck, Hugh