Build a Business, Not a Job

Why Any Business (even yours) Can Scale

Many business owners say that because they’re selling expertise that lives in their heads, they can’t scale their businesses. This is especially true of the professional practices we coach. These doctors, lawyers, and highly paid consultants say, “David, there’s no way we can scale. We can see how what you teach would apply to other businesses, other industries, other models, but not to ours.

My response is to point them to examples of other clients of ours in their same industry who’ve substantially grown their companies and increased their personal freedom at the same time. I then ask them to create a short list of five other professional practices they know who’ve somehow managed to solve the challenges they are facing to scale their companies.

Generally the biggest roadblock they see to scaling is that the “know how” to produce their core service is an expert level skill that only they or a limited few other people in their company posses.

For example, with one surgical practice we coach the owner, who was the practice’s sole surgeon, said that it just wasn’t possible to find a qualified surgeon to do what he did. And that if he did find a surgeon they would be too expensive. For him we gave him the counter example of several other clients who were medical groups who we had helped solve these challenges to grow many times larger than the “sole provider” practice.

What is generally the case is that the real stumbling block is less about reality than about perception – the perception that no one could do their core expertise as well as they could, and if by some miracle someone could, they would be so expensive as to price themselves out of their reach.

But this is flawed thinking. When you find a way to package and “productize” your core expertise you can build a more valuable, consistent, scalable, and profitable business offering than one that informally relies on just you.

Take the example of my business coaching company, Maui Mastermind, which when you look deeply has had to face and solve the exact same challenge any “expertise based” business faces—how to replicate and scale in a profitable and consistently excellent way the expert-reliant skill of coaching a company to successfully scale.

The secret is that if you are willing to challenge the assumption that only you—the world class expert that you are—whether this be in medicine, or in I.T. infrastructure, or in accounting, or in law–that only you can help your clients get whatever results or outcome they came to you for, then you can find scalable ways to better serve your clients.

Two decades ago when I first began coaching business owners I was the coach. And I helped my clients get great results, customizing my approach to that individual’s business situation and needs.

Over the past twenty years we’ve captured our methodology in a concrete, comprehensive coaching system that works for a broad range of businesses. Over time we’ve taken the feedback from working with thousands of coaching clients to refine our core process. At this point we’re probably on coaching system 210.0. Not only have we had a large number of clients who helped us sharpen our methodology, but we’ve had dozens of capable, experienced business coaches who’ve helped us hone our system along the way. This large body of clients and coaching talent, combined with a commitment to build a scalable model that can serve thousands of businesses, has helped us get to the coaching program we have today.

While we’re not done improving yet, nor will we ever be, the program as it exists today is by every measure we track more effective and valuable to our clients. Our average client today enjoys an annual growth rate of 64.2 percent per year, double the annual growth rate we helped clients achieve several years ago. And at the same time our average client increases his or her company’s “Owner Independence Index” by 97.4 percent per year, 20 percent better than our success rate years ago.

And while I do keep a small stable of clients who I personally still coach, most of whom have been with me for years, the vast majority of our coaching clients work with our coaching staff to get these results. How is this possible?

Sure we found talented coaches, no doubt about that. But the real secret was to build the “secret sauce” into the system itself.

How many coaching sessions each month should we do? How long was the optimal session? What are the best coaching formats and interventions to make these coaching sessions produce maximum impact? What tools do we need to empower our clients to build a business not a job? What in-person, live training schedule leads to the best outcome? How do we best involve a client’s staff so that he or she has us coaching their team to implement these methodologies and strategies to improve their business? All of this is baked into the coaching system itself. Again, as I just shared, this is never going to be a “finished” product because we can constantly find ways to refine, improve, redesign, and enhance the program.

This is something too many business owners who have a business wherein they are selling their expertise don’t realize—the very process of systematizing your expert way of doing something helps you to improve the value you deliver to your client or patient, both by refining your methodology and by improving the consistency and quality of how you implement, apply, and transfer that value to your clients.

This is why when you’re building your internal structures – your systems and controls – you look for ways to choose scalable options. This also includes the strategic choices you make as to your business model, market served, staffing decisions, product or service lines to focus on, etc. By doing this you remove the past constraints to growth.

The goal of this article was to challenge your automatic thinking as to whether you can or cannot scale your business, especially if it is one that is based on expert skill in some area.

For more ideas on growing your business, including a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.