If you want to keep your business growing and evolving, you must clean off the barnacles periodically.
Well, they’re not exactly barnacles, but my colleague James Heaton used this metaphor on a recent podcast, and it really stuck with me.
You see, when a boat is kept in the seawater for a period of time, barnacles form on the underside. If you want the boat to function properly, from time to time you have to take the boat out of the water, scrape off the barnacles, and refinish the bottom.
But no matter how well you clean the boat, once it’s back in the water the barnacles will start to attach again, and eventually you’ll have to repeat the process.
The same is true for your business.
No matter how careful you are to keep your operation lean and tight, as your business grows it inevitably collects all kinds of barnacles along the way, including processes, clients, tools, contractors, employees, habits—and usually all of the above. These barnacles aren’t always negative, either. Sometimes they bring you more clients or streamline a process that makes your life easier.
But as you continue to grow, inevitably you will have to abandon old processes and dead weight in order to take your business to the next level.
Going From Good To Great - Example #1
Sometimes you need to get rid of barnacles because you no longer need them.
MORE FOR YOUWhy Faking It Fails And How To Start Banking True ConfidenceTop Investors Advice To Prepare For The Next DecadeThe Ultimate Guide To Starting A Side Hustle Part 1: Passion Is Not The WayFor example, I once created a quiz to bring in leads to my email list. I signed up for a quiz software with a monthly fee and built the quiz. But the quiz didn’t connect to my email service (Infusionsoft), so I also signed up for Zapier to connect the two.
I shared the quiz, people loved it, and I got a ton of leads.
But two years later, only a handful of people were taking the quiz because I wasn't driving traffic to it. I actually completely forgot about it for awhile.
When it was barnacle-scraping time, I looked at the monthly fee for the quiz software, plus the monthly fee for Zapier, and I realized I was shelling out $50 per month for something I didn't use anymore!
Sure, it was a good idea when I built it. It added a decent number of people to my email list. But two years later it was clear I wasn't going to start making more quizzes anytime soon, nor was I going to focus on marketing the original quiz, so obviously it wasn't worth the $600 a year I was paying to add a handful of people to my email list.
I had to scrape off those barnacles! They were doing nothing for me.
It’s Not Always Obvious - Example #2
$600 for 10 email address is an obvious waste. But what about when those barnacles are aspects of your business that are actually working well for you?
On another recent podcast episode, I spoke with Michelle Mercurio, brand strategist and co-founder of The Brand Scene, about her decision to get rid of good things to make room for great things.
And when I say "good," I mean Michelle had to let go of a service that was bringing in $8,000 per client! But it wasn't just the money, she actually enjoyed delivering this service, and people were interested in buying it!
But, like any service, it required time and energy.
And when Michelle asked herself what kind of work motivated her most, it wasn’t that service. It was something much more comprehensive. And in order to prepare herself and her business to offer this new iteration (at more than three times the price,) she first needed to let go of the previous service.
(Listen to the full episode here and get inspired to make room for something great in your business!)
It was then that she learned, as all business owners will eventually, that it’s incredibly difficult to let go of something that is making you good money.
But it can be necessary in order to free up time and energy to offer something better, bigger, and more aligned with what you want to offer.
Time to Start Scraping!
Cleaning off the barnacles is a big part of my job when I’m coaching entrepreneurs on building a profitable brand and business.
And it’s often the hardest part for entrepreneurs growing their business because it can be downright painful to let go of things that make you money, or you think could make you money in the future.
Yet that's often precisely what needs to be done if you want to find more ease in your business, while increasing your profits. You must scrape off the barnacles that are stealing your focus from what you actually need to work on to grow your business.
But that can be extremely hard to see from the inside, and even harder to do.
That’s why everyone (including me!) can benefit from working with a business coach.
An outside perspective from someone who has been there and has also dealt with the struggle of leaving success behind for greater success in the future.
In my experience that outside perspective can be the difference between continuing to struggle, and finally finding your flow in business.
And isn’t that what we all want?
If you're struggling to hit six-figures in your service business, and you want help cleaning off your barnacles so you can finally focus on what will actually get you there, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “six-figures in 2021” and let’s see how I can help you.
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