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EP #101: How To Build A Business That Works For You

Your business should do more than make you money. It should be a source of joy, love, happiness, fulfillment, and excitement. If it isn’t, it’s not “working.” Dan Mendilow and Sophie Kessner break down their business models and show us how they do business and marketing, including the plans that they built to support their revenue and lifestyle goals. Noting that there are common pitfalls in building a business that can lead you to make money at the cost of happiness, they go into the most common ones we see in entrepreneurs so you can avoid them and build a business that really “works” for you.

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How To Build A Business That Works For You

This is episode 100, which means we are 100 episodes into this show. Because of that, we wanted to do something crazy to celebrate. We’re going to break down our business models for you and be extremely transparent about the way that we do business, the way that we marketed the plans that we built to support our revenue goals and our lifestyle goals. This will go in perfect conjunction with the previous episode where we’re talking a lot about lifestyles, the why’s and what you’re wanting to create. We’ve been in this game for quite a while now and we can enjoy the fruits of our labor. That being said, Dan, are you ready to dive in?

Let’s do it. It will also be interesting to see the differences because we do have very different perspectives. We come from different places. In many ways, we are on the complementary but opposite sides of the spectrum in the way that we do our business. This will be fun.

Let’s break it down. Start with yours and break down what that model looks like. What we can do is we’ll start by giving you who we work with, what we do, a basic overview and the way that we work with people. The model that we have for scaling, what that looks like.

I have right now as we speak two different sides of my business. One comes in through Yelp. It’s local and it’s been something that I’ve been building for a long time. It’s weird that life coaching on Yelp can work. I’ve made a killing off of it. The beautiful thing is I get a lot of people coming in. We’ll talk about how to filter through that with more of the model of it. On that side, I work with business owners and I search for people who are more on the spiritual side who are already somewhat successful so they’ve been in business for a couple of years now. They are generating at least $75,000 a year. Honestly on that, it’s the people I’m excited about working with. We find out that through the qualification steps and the sales call. Online, I am now cultivating something very fresh. I made this pivot to working with coaches. I’m looking for coaches there who are close to the six-figure mark or reached it and are looking to take themselves to that next level. What about you?

I have two businesses. I have my personal brand and I have a collaborative brand that I run with my business partner, Mel. Both businesses are focused on supporting female service-based entrepreneurs. Those women who can be in branding, web design, copywriting and coaching are specifically our core focuses. We have a few outliers. We’ve had some photographers. Photography has been the only real outlier aside from that. These women have businesses that have been established. They’ve been running them. They have an online component and they’re wanting to shift online and wanting to scale it through the concept of marketing, branding and embodiment. My personal brand people are a little bit more on the embodiment of marketing. The collaborative brand focuses more on marketing, branding and embodiment.

We’re in the transition right now where we are shifting the focus to be on our collaborative brand. I’m no longer allowing people for me to take them on as one-on-one clients. I’ve been creating this a little bit of separation and distance between myself and my clients because I want to establish a little bit more of that expert positioning in the industry, knowing how valuable my time has become as I’ve been in the space for a little while now. The only way that clients are able to work with me at this point is through the group programs that we run. Otherwise, it’s a much higher ticket to work with me one-on-one.

When we’re talking about our offerings, I have something similar. I have a group mentorship program that I run that is at a much lower price point than working with me individually. It’s the same thing, I am right around the corner from making another significant price increase because I’ve also been in this business for a while. The results are there. The testimonials are there and my time is very valuable. The demand justifies it. It’s getting to be harder and harder to work with me, which I’m totally okay with because I love my free time. The group program is also evolving. It used to be open for business owners of any kind, but I am about to do the very last round of that program ever.

I’m excited about that. I love this program. The Abundance Amplifier has been good to me and has been so fun with all the shifts that people are getting from it. If you’ve heard some previous episodes, you’ll see that it’s time to pivot. Sometimes you find that for one reason or another and it doesn’t have to be that things aren’t working. Things are working and I’m moving on to things that are even more exciting. Some changes are there definitely. We’ve covered who we work with and what we offer for them. Let’s give you some more details. When you work with me individually, it’s a three-month thing, one session for an hour every single week. It’s either in person or over video. I have a lot of clients who I have never ever met in person.

[bctt tweet=”Free content and lead magnets are applicable in building your business.” username=”iamsophiekessner”]

In the online program, I keep it to ten people or at least ten people per wave so that I can focus on everybody. It’s a three-month program as well with Learn At Home videos that are released every single week with a mastermind component over a video conference every single week, with email support and sessions as well. It’s shorter sessions, fifteen minutes to half an hour for those sessions that they have. For the previous offering, we’re changing things up now. For this next one, they’d have six of them throughout their three-month period.

You did one-on-one inside of your group container.

Yeah, just a little bit to make sure. It is a lot shorter because we don’t need it. The thing is I’ve honed my skills enough. If you give me fifteen minutes with anybody and doing change work, that is way more than we ever need. It’s easy for me. Fifteen minutes is nothing, but for my clients, it’s a big deal. I love to be able to offer real intense care.

Diving into the context of our offers, we do one-on-one with people. It’s only people that are already in place where they’re making multi-six-figures if they’re not already at six figures. Speaking of the price point and what they need to have in place in order to scale, inside of that, it’s typically around a 90-day sprint depending on where they’re at. I only do three sessions a month. It’s a total of nine sessions over that period. The reason why is because the work that I do with my clients is very action-oriented. I find that they need a little bit of a break in between months to be able to execute and implement everything that we are developing together. I don’t do anything in person for my clients. For me energetically, it’s not the best use of my time to get the community in or having people in. I prefer to be doing video or phone calls. I manage all my clients in a platform called Slack.

The one-on-one group, everybody is in Slack. It makes life a million times easier because I do a lot of review work with my clients, whether it’s copy, our images, our systems. Inside of that, it’s much easier to communicate. I have systems set up with that. It’s a way for me to track the progress that my clients are making. There are certain milestones that we hit based on their business and the curriculum. That way everything is like, “Here is the thing. Here’s that.” For the group container, we were running a four-month container, but we brought it down to three months because we condensed the content. This is a little bit of the pivot.

We were running it previously because all of the content had been pre-recorded and done where they had all access to it. There was the weekly group call that we were on and they have the Slack container. We’re dripping the content because we’re revamping all the curriculum we’ve ever created. We’re redoing the entire program except for this group. They’re getting all branding content and creating it week by week. It’s obviously a joke for them. After this round, it’s going to be all access for anyone that comes in and we’re converting our program into an evergreen model.

Up until now, we’ve run the model of the open-close moment, which can be great when you’re starting out. What we found is we want to create something where we don’t have to wait for people to start at a certain gate. We want to get out of having to do the launch, having to have these intense marketing seasons and we want to have a little more spaciousness and be a little bit more intuitive with our marketing. We’re stepping into turning it into an evergreen container. Anyone can enroll any time, but we’re setting it based on the client capacity window. When we hit our client capacity per round, we close enrollment until the students graduate and we have space. That’s how we’re running our model there until we build the team and we’re able to scale our ability to serve more people at a time and consistently run it that way.

The other thing that we’re in the process of building out right now is in a lower-ticket offer. Our group program is our mid-ticket and we’re working on building out something that’s a little bit different. It’s definitely going to be probably around the $500 price point. There are going to be a lot less touchpoints inside of it. It’s to give people an experience of who we are, what we do so that they can get a feel of that before making that giant leap into a multi-thousand-dollar program. Having that experience lead into our higher ticket program and the bigger vision is ultimately we want to step into retreats and have that be the core touchpoint for people to work with us.

MMM 101 | Building A Business
Building A Business: Look for an alignment to see whether the person is going to be a great client for you or not.

That’s the direction where we’re going. We’re scaling our group program to where we are inside of it, but in a limited way and building the team to support that’s going to be able to deliver the level of excellence that we’ve set as our standard. We’ll be making those retreats be the thing that we’re going to make the core focus of our business moving forward. On the back end, there’s a continuity program that we have that’s already running and active where clients can stay inside of our network. It’s not just you graduated and you’re on your own, but you get to still be in our world.

The continuity program and the intro programs are two things that I’ve been mulling around as well. After I complete the pivot online, those are going to be the things that I get after as well. Let’s talk lead gen quickly. For me, I didn’t have any lead gen for so long. It’s astonishing that I’ve been able to build a multi-six-figure business with no business systems or marketing or advertising. I built it and my only version of marketing for a long time was Yelp. It’s doing good work and getting good testimonials up on there. I tried Yelp ads and it made no difference. There, it was referrals. It was people searching for me.

I started building a presence online and up until this point, that was more like nurturing or support. People would go to Yelp. They’d Google me and they’d see all the things that I’ve done and read some of my stuff and that would help them make that decision. I am growing an audience and a following on Facebook and Instagram. I’m about to revamp my LinkedIn page and start posting there as well so that I will be able to have all sorts of social media channels. It’s not just about bringing leads in. They go to a landing page, whether it’s from Yelp or whatever to book a call. On that landing page, I have a video with a bunch of testimonials in it. I’ve got a bunch of written testimonials, a little bio on there. When they click through that, it takes them to a short application where I ask them a bunch of qualifying questions.

There’s also a video letting them know like, “I’m going to be checking this.” If we’re aligned, you get a free session with me, a free consultation where we feel each other out. I’m looking for alignment to see whether you’re going to be a great client for me or not. I don’t want to work with everybody. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay. We send each other off with blessings and no harm, no foul. When they fill out the form, it takes them immediately to a scheduling page that is linked directly with my calendar on my phone so that it is hands-off. I go with the idea that I’m going to let them schedule and check-in. If it’s not of a good fit, I’ll redirect them to either someone else or “Best wishes, but I’m not your guy.”

With lead gen, where do we start? All of our clients have come through Facebook and Instagram. Me and my business partner, we built a pretty great audience on both platforms. Instagram has definitely become our favorite. We did have a Facebook group that we were running, but we haven’t spent as much time nurturing it over the last few months because we’ve been going through massive rebrands and pivots. Our direction, to give you some insight, we’re on our third rebrand. I think this is going to stick, so fingers crossed. The way that we do it is a lot of content creation. We are very big on collecting data and testing.

Everything that we teach inside of our programs is the stuff that we’ve tested ourselves and our businesses. We focus on different types of content on different types of strategies, whether it’s running a free challenge, whether it’s doing Facebook Live trainings, whether it’s doing a Zoom training, things of that sort. As far as list building goes, list building will be part of the free challenge and our Zoom. If we do something along the lines of having a free piece of content like a lead magnet, that would go into the list building. Personally, I’m notorious for being terrible at nurturing my email list. If you are on it, I’m sorry. Aside from that, those are our core elements. We invested about $40,000 in Facebook ads and though it may have contributed to some organic conversion, nothing directly converted from paid traffic.

We have a little bit of resistance when it comes to paid ads because we invested in some high-level experts to support us inside of that and saw very little conversion. The majority of our growth in the $60,000 launch and the $40,000 launch that we both had was all through organic social media marketing, which was fantastic. What we’re building out right now is we are working on two different things. We’re working on building out and automating our free challenge and the nurture sequence that goes into that. Having that been corresponding with our lower-ticket offer that I mentioned previously and having that lower-ticket offer then lead to our higher-level program. From there, having that lead to our high-end retreats. We are contemplating this idea of a mastermind. We’re not quite sure exactly what that next level is going to look like. That’s the system that we’re building out right now for lead gen.

We have our lead gen. We have various forms of qualification, which if you have a business of your own, you’re generating leads, qualify them. Not everybody is going to be someone who suits you, who aligns with you. How do you do that?

[bctt tweet=”Working with coaches can be a big pivot for your business.” username=”iamsophiekessner”]

This is a fun one. We are very experimental in our marketing. This last round we tested doing a direct purchase on our sales page. We built out our sales page. I have the advantage of having my business partner who is a branding and web design expert. I create the copy. She builds the webpage. We get it done in two days. It’s pretty great. Inside of that, we still enrolled three women who all paid in full and I only had one sales call out of those three women. That was interesting to look at. In the past, we’ve definitely run the model of having people applied, go on an application and pop on a sales call. We were over the sales calls. We wanted to test not having to do them. It did work, but it was not as high volume as I probably would have wanted it to be, though I don’t believe that was necessary just because of the switch.

It was more so because of the marketing that we didn’t take as much action with. The direct sales page can work. The women that did enroll, they’re all good fits for the program, which is awesome. We did a good job of nurturing and pre-framing that through our social media marketing. One thing that we are adjusting to is we’re switching up the process a little bit. We’re still going to have the pricing on our page. It’s not jsut going to be on the sales page; it’ll be on the following page. We’re probably going to refine the application process and make it a lot less strenuous. We’re going to be hiring out sales. We’re planning on outsourcing those components. It’s not where either one of us enjoys spending our time or our energy. This is more so our model for scaling.

I still do sales calls. Eventually, I will have someone helping me with that. Right now my sales calls, believe it or not, they’re an hour long. It’s that long because I want to know and be totally confident that I can help this person overcome their challenges and achieve their goals. I fully understand them. They get where I’m coming from and they see the alignment, if it’s there or not. They understand why it’s not if it’s not. Looking to the future, I’m going to consistently build. All of this big pivot to work with coaches is moving towards eventually having my own academy where I’ll have my own certification and have other coaches coming through.

It’s almost like the Tony Robbins model of eventually I’ll have a bunch of coaches working under me, but instead of going for as many coaches as possible, I’ll be very strict with who I allow and have it be very hard. The model that I’m going to be going for is not the certification programs that you see. Whereas, “We certify everyone. This is how many people we’ve certified.” A huge number of mine is going to be certified twelfth. That’s it because I wanted to make it very rigorous and have coaches from various backgrounds or various schools who want to work with various different types of people. One or two of them, we’ll see how many, will be trained up to have a similar business and they’ll do my sales calls for me. That’s the vision of the future business model as well.

Are you planning on starting with the coach certification program and doing that first, then having that lead into you building a team? Is that what I’m understanding?

Yes. Through the certification program, I’ll get a chance to see who’s who, how do they learn, how do they work and all this other good stuff. That’s going to be their interview. If I see someone looking to have similar business, what a perfect lead-in? They get all these skills and very much as you did, get paid to learn how to do this business, get paid to be mentored.

You’re planning on running the certification training program. Is that what you’re building out right now then?

The early stages of it, yeah. All of this is moving to that big vision. This next program that I’m going to release after this one is only for coaches. It’s not going to have a business component because that’s not my field of expertise. At first, it will be a mindset for the people who already have their systems. They want to make them work better. They want to open up their channels to be even more successful with everything they’re doing. Later on, I may look for a business partner as well so we can expand it and include business coaching in it. We have the complete package and that is a natural lead-in to a certification program.

MMM 101 | Building A Business
Building A Business: Allow people to experience who you are and what you do before making that giant leap into a multi-thousand-dollar program.

I think of Sam Skelly, if you’re familiar with her, the program Hungry for Happiness is a similar model. She did all of that and built a training, teaching people how to do it. She certifies them and teaches them how to develop business as certified Hungry for Happiness coaches, which is epic. I love the model.

I didn’t know that’s what she’s doing but I love that.

It’s definitely that piece that I like to lean into it. For us it’s more so you want to show people how to build businesses the way that we build businesses. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s the way that we like to do it and what works well for us. The bigger vision is focusing on the embodiment component when it does come to scaling and marketing on getting beyond the six-figure mark, which a lot of people work so hard to get to, but how do you get beyond that and do it in a way that feels good, that is congruent with how you want to experience your life? That’s a lot of what I’ve been exploring right now and doing my research with potential mentors who are in the eight-figure and multi-eight-figure game. They’re playing at that level and looking for a different paradigm of business in the way that we’re going to be doing everything.

That’s the big focus. Other than that, my strategy moving forward is a lot more focused on video content. I’ve been toying with the idea of potentially starting a YouTube channel. I’m not 100% certain because YouTube culture can be very toxic in the comment sections of YouTube videos. It’s something that I’m exploring the possibility of, but hasn’t quite landed on. For me personally, one of the things that I’ve been pre-funding for a lot of clients is how important video content is going to be moving forward and being able to create beautiful high-quality content and making that the focus for clients and for your audience as far as consumption and lead gen go.

Is there anything else we want to unload? We gave you all of our business models, every single step of it and where we’re going. Both of us have thriving businesses and lifestyles. Sometimes I have these moments of this is almost too good to be a true lifestyle. I hope that you’re paying attention and getting some ideas, maybe comparing it to what you’re doing or what you want to do to give you some ideas. It’s not to say that what we’re doing is the right way. They are possible right ways for you, things for you to toy with and tests. Remember, you got to test it and see whether it’s right for you. Just because it’s right for us does not mean it’ll work for you or it’ll be right for you, but I hope that you got a lot of juicy information at that.

The biggest piece is you’ve got to figure out what works for you and be willing to experiment. That was probably the biggest lesson that Mel and I have had. It’s how much we’ve been playing with different ideas, exploring new possibilities and testing all of these different things. It sounds like you’re doing something similar where it’s testing this, testing that, exploring this, exploring that. You have a very surface-level understanding inside of this conversation. There’s so much more that goes into him, tilting all of this out and tying all these pieces together, which is the other piece I want to allude to. In regards to all these pieces, I hope you enjoyed this and let you get inside into what we’re doing, how we’re planning and scaling, what that looks like. For me personally, it’s a heavy emphasis on team, refining and optimizing our core curriculum for our program and our methodology and what we want to be known for. That’s what we’ve got to share.

If you got a lot out of this, please share it out. Take a screenshot, put it up on your Instagram and tag us or visit iTunes and give us those five stars and a review. We’d love all the feedback and all the help spreading this information.

If you felt in resonance with either one of us and you have questions or you want to know more about what we do or how we do it, feel free to reach out. We are happy to answer any questions and support you in any way. We’ll give you any references or any feedback that you feel you need. We’re sending you all so much. Thank you for tuning in.

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