You’ve bought into the dream: doing what you love and making money from it. Seriously, good for you! Unfortunately, in the whiz-bang world of follow-your-passion commerce, you probably missed a very important lesson: how to find your sweet spot.
What’s your sweet spot?
Your sweet spot is the right combination of do-what-you-love work and integrated business strategy that allows you to play as hard as you work and reap rewards as well as you serve. Your sweet spot is where the effort required to deliver BIG – for your customers and for yourself – is minimized.
If you’re like many of the business owners I talk to on a daily basis, you got into business for yourself by working one-to-one. That might mean one necklace for one customer, one hour of coaching for one client, one website for one organization. Your effort-to-results ratio is 1:1.
This is, by far, the easiest way to start experimenting with business. And since just getting started is the hardest part, you’re already well ahead of the curve! But once you’ve done this 1:1 dance long enough, you start to get frustrated. You start to get busy. You get worn out.
You wonder why the rewards just don’t seem to be adding up the way you thought they would. The answer is that you aren’t operating from your sweet spot.
Many of the entrepreneurs I speak to regularly have one of two reactions to moving into their sweet spot:
1) I’m afraid of damaging the experience my customer has.
2) I’m afraid mass-producing my work waters it down.
The truth is that those possibilities exist! I’m not one for sugar coating. But when you take into account 3 key aspects of your sweet spot, these fears are alleviated.
Before I reveal those 3 key aspects, let’s examine the fundamental principle by which commerce functions:
For a transaction to take place profitably, the effort required to deliver the product to the customer must be less than the price of the product. And for a transaction to take place satisfactorily, the customer must value the product (and its results) more than the price of the product.
Both of those conditions must be met or someone will be disappointed.
- Is the effort that you currently put into creating or delivering your product or service less than the price of what you’re delivering?
- Does your customer value your product (and its result) more than the price of the product?
You’re probably pretty confident about the answer to the second question. You understand how to over-deliver. You know how to create fantastic customer experiences. You create amazing results. Your customers gush over the quality or beauty of your product.
But is the effort you’re putting into it worth it?
Many times, the answer is no.
And that’s where the frustration comes from.
So the goal in any product development strategy is to minimize the amount of effort you need to put into it while maximizing the customer experience. That’s what “leverage” is. Your product becomes the “mechanical advantage” you need to create the business you want.
Okay, what are the 3 key aspects of your sweet spot?
1) Your sweet spot is based on what people pay you for, not what you produce.
How’s that for cryptic? Don’t people pay you for what you produce or the service you provide? Nope, not hardly. People pay not just to possess things or even just to experience things but to save time, save money, connect with people, declare their status, reinforce their vision of themselves, make things easier or more convenient.
Your product or service delivers on at least one of those categories. Dig deeper and you can describe what people are really paying for with specificity.
Knowing what people really pay you for allows you to liberate yourself from the product or service you’re used to selling and innovate something that delivers the same results but requires less effort on your behalf.
Here’s an example. Danielle LaPorte used to offer 1:1 Fire Starter Sessions for $1000. The session was an hour long and required a bit of prep time for her. So let’s say she was producing around $500 per hour. She had a wait list a mile long because customers valued that hour of time spent with her and the ideas she would generate with them much more than $1000 – and rightly so. DLP could have sustained a lucrative business with this offering alone.
But she knew she could leverage a better effort-to-results ratio. She could deliver similar results (what people were really paying her for) with less effort on her part. The answer was to take all the learning, ideas, and insights she had formulated over the years and put it into a multimedia program. That program could be sold over & over again to deliver stellar results without requiring additional effort on her part.
So the digital Fire Starter Sessions was born. That digital program, and the movement that accompanied it, allowed her to further leverage her learning, ideas, and insights into a traditionally published book. Now, even more people could benefit from the work, at a lower price, and DLP wouldn’t have to expend additional effort once the book was published and launched.
Danielle decreased her effort-to-results ratio by honing in on what people were really paying her for: insights on life and business that took years off their learning curves.
2) Your sweet spot is based on your process.
Many business owners – coaches, writers, artists, designers, etc… – like to tout their “intuition” as a major benefit of working with them. While intuition is something to be honed and followed, it isn’t a benefit to you in creating a business that works.
The problem with relying on intuition to do what you do is that it means you aren’t in control of the work you’re doing. You are relying on the muse to guide your process.
Fortunately, even when work begins as intuitive, you can be sure there is a process beginning to take shape beneath the surface of your work. What happens if you bring attention to the questions you ask, the phases you work through, and the cues that guide you?
I bet you’ll start to uncover your process. Your process allows you to codify your work. When your work is codified its easier for you or others to reproduce. It reduces the effort required to deliver results and it ensures that results are delivered more consistently.
Here’s an example. Many years ago, Tanya Geisler, a woman I am thrilled to call my coach, needed to make a big change in her career. She gathered colleagues, mentors, and friends and had a sit down. What were her strengths? What were her weaknesses? What vision did each of them hold for her? The experience was eye opening and led to her becoming a certified life coach, a vocation she has excelled at.
Soon others asked her to reproduce the experience for them. Not long after, the Board of Your Life experience was born. Tanya codified her process to the point where she could facilitate the experience for others. However, the effort-to-results ratio was not yet maximized. She was convinced she could help more people with Board of Your Life and do less work doing it.
So Tanya worked to better understand and communicate the process behind Board of Your Life. Earlier this year, she released the Board of Your Life kit as a DIY experience. Customers can purchase the kit, download the contents, and create their own Board of Your Life experience facilitated by a friend or colleague.
Now more people were benefiting the experience and Tanya was putting in minimal effort.
3) Your sweet spot is based on elevating your value.
Another tendency among business owners (anyone, really) is miscalculating their value. Yes, this applies in terms of numbers, prices, and earning. But, here I’m talking more about the value that your product or service has in someone’s life.
Because you’re naturally gifted at what you do, it’s easy to ignore just how big a difference your work makes in others lives. Even if they’re telling you, even if they’re shouting it from the Twittertops, it’s likely you’re ignoring their cries.
Look for the big, big ways your product is changing lives or helping your customers to become the person they aspire to be.
Here’s an example. Megan Auman, designer, sexy metalsmith, and my best friend, creates a line of steel jewelry. It’s inspired by nature and industry. It’s easy to wear, not hard to afford, and incredibly durable. Those are all selling points. But they’re not the selling point.
Megan elevates the value of her jewelry by drawing attention to what it equips her customers to do: make a statement everyday. As a Megan Auman fangirl, I can tell you that that’s exactly how you feel when you wear her pieces. I feel ready & able to be my best self, to do my best work, to really make an impact on the world.
Megan shifts the value from being “handmade” to being about something her ideal customer really desires and it makes her work infinitely more valuable. Her production line is extremely profitable and can be produced by an assistant instead of only by Megan’s own two hands.
Megan elevates the value of a reproducible product and thereby minimizes her effort-to-results ratio.
So where’s your sweet spot?
Your sweet spot is where you are focused on what people really pay you for, reproducing a process that works, and elevating the value of the product or service you create. When you’re operating from your business’ sweet spot, you are delivering exceptional experiences, creating immense value, generating sustainable wealth, and leverage your time & talents. Without a business model that does that, you’re hurtling toward dissatisfaction and frustration.
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