There's a saying that's going around the internet at the moment 'Hustle with Heart'.
I have a bit of a problem with this mantra though. Yes, I'm a big believer that there should be a whole lot of heart and soul in your business, but I'm also a believer that the whole 'hustle' idea can just add another unnecessary level of stress to your already busy schedule. (Sorry Gary V, we're just going to have to disagree on this one!).
I've seen too many business owners struggle in the early months (sometimes years) of their business, because they're feeling the need to do all the things, be all the places and help absolutely EVERYONE in the process.
Over my own business journey, there's been many signs and occasional roadblocks that have led me down a path to creating a business based on the way that feels most aligned with the way I want to work. I know this is 100% possible for you too!
This post is designed to help you identify the ways that you want to work, the ways that feel good to both you and your dream clients, so that you can build a profitable and sustainable business through aligned income streams.
Your Passions & Skills
One of the first pieces of advice that new business owners are given, is to 'get to know your ideal client'. We create 'customer avatars' that are meant to describe every facet of our dream clients (but more on that over here). However, we forget one absolutely essential ingredient...
What are YOU passionate about?
Building a business that feels good (and sustains you in the long-run) isn't all all about your clients. In fact, it's equally about finding the ways that you love to work and playing to those strengths.
For example, perhaps you're a life-coach that craves the flexibility of being able to travel while you pursue your dreams. Building a client-base of solely local, face-to-face clientele isn't going to help you fulfil said dreams.
Soon enough you'll be feeling just as trapped by your own business than you were in your regular ol' 9-5 gig.
So how do you find that sweet spot of working to pay the bills, in a way that lights you up???
With a passions & skills audit - writing a list of all the things that you're passionate about AND those that you're great at (hint: they're not always one and the same).
Us women can be particularly horrid at not wanting to seem like we're floating our own boat and bragging about how wonderful we are, so we often take things to the other extreme, forgetting to acknowledge all the things that we're actually kind of amazing at! So if the idea of writing down all your skills gave you a cold sweat, it's time to enlist the help of some business besties who can help you make a list of all your greatest qualities!
Take a pen and paper and get writing - making sure you include everything you're awesome at. It could be that you're great at empathising with others, you're a great listener or you've got a brain that's magically programmed for marketing.
This list doesn't have to be published anywhere, you never have to show a single soul, so list everything and anything that comes to mind!
The work you love vs. the work you don't
As you write out your skills and why you do what you do, I encourage you to focus on the elements that light you up - the things that you're MOST passionate about! Because if you're in this business for the long-haul, you want to focus as much as possible on doing the things that are beneficial both to your bank account and to your soul.
Remember: just because you can, doesn't mean you have to!
Often it's helpful to write out a list of things that you're great at, but take that same pen and cross out all the ones that don't light you up.
The type of work you like
Ensuring that you're creating aligned income streams means becoming aware of the kind of work that you actually enjoy doing - so it feels less like 'work'.
For example, I know of many graphic designers that start their business because they love the idea of taking their creativity and applying it to someone's brand or business. However, a couple of years into their venture they feel like their creativity has been all used up, they're tired of designing to someone else's brief and are ready to just let their creative flag-fly. So they turn to creating digital products, or physical products or selling their artwork in order to regain some creative inspiration for themselves. The lesson here is to get clear on the types of work that you love to do as early on as possible.
The same goes for life coaches, nutritionists and yoga instructors (just to name a few!). Finding the ways that you love to work, whether that's in-person, online via skype or through digital e-courses/e-products is integral in creating an aligned business and income streams.
The amount of work you like
Most of us don't start our businesses with the idea that we'd like to burn out in 3-6 months time. Instead we dream up the way we'd love to work. We dream of having that beautiful mindful morning routine, jumping on client calls that leave us bouncing with enthusiasm afterwards and having plenty of time to nourish ourselves and our relationships.
Identifying the amount of work that feels good to you, is the key to working in a way that feels aligned. Because when you're full-to-the-brim with client calls, overflowing inboxes and social media notifications left, right and centre things can feel a little overwhelming.
So it's important for us to work out the amount of work that feels good to us - so we can show up in the best possible way for our clients and customers.
How your client likes to work with you
Marrying the problem you solve, the way you love to work and the way your client loves to receive information is the first step in creating a 'sales funnel' that nurtures you and your business.
In chatting to fellow female entrepreneurs, we generally see two different responses when we mention the words 'sales funnel':
The first is 'oh I don't want a sales funnel, they're so masculine and sleazy'. Or 'Oh that's been on my list to do for a while now'.
Sales funnels don't have to be scary, and they don't have to feel sleazy. In fact, they're a great way to create aligned income streams that meet your client where they need it most. As an added bonus to you - it can also curb the overwhelm that comes with feeling like you have to create and market 7,000 different products.
Creating aligned income streams can allow you to solve the same problem, but with different products for clients that require more access to you. This might mean you're offering the same product, in multiple formats, each diving in a bit deeper on the topic and giving them more access to you.
Your own version of aligned income streams however might mean that you're working with your dream clients on a deeper, on-going basis - helping them to solve an initial problem, and then dive deeper into the next problem and the next. This way you can develop a really deep relationship with only a handful of clients.
Or perhaps you and your dream clients are extreme introverts and are best suited to collaborating behind the computer screens through the use of e-course and e-books.
Whatever way you like to work with your clients, it's important that you're taking them on a journey, that shows them each step of the way that you understand their needs and you're there to support them on the journey. Now that's what we call an aligned sales funnel!
So take a moment, or three, and get clear on the different ways that your dream clients might like to receive the information you have to offer (remembering to match it with how YOU like to work).
This is just the beginning of how you can go about building a sustainable business model that can keep on running, while you're off getting that massage (because an aligned spine is just as important as aligned income!)