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Productivity

‘I want it all!’ – How to make the hard decisions when you run a hybrid business

You have amazing talents! You are a yoga instructor, life coach, nutritionist, and you design websites… all great business skills and you want to offer them all to your clients. So what could go wrong?

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I received a call last week from a client who was super talented in a number of areas, from dance instruction to mindset coaching to health and nutrition consulting. She booked a call and as we went through the discussion, it was clear that she could not clearly describe what her business was. She could explain the various skills she had and services she could offer. She also wanted to offer them to her clients in one single agreement to cover all possibilities. But she could not actually describe what her ‘business’ was, only her variety of services. If she could not do this, how would her potential clients understand what she was selling or what they were agreeing to in a contract for that matter?

After some discussion, we agreed that she needed to focus her business on one core service and the best way to present her business would be to offer the other skills separately or as complementary services where there was a clear fit.

This type of business model is a newly emerging trend of multiple skills business services within one business and is known as a ‘hybrid business’. It is becoming more popular as business owners are learning additional skills and seeking to find ways to attract more revenue for their business.

You might think you are good at everything (and you might be!) or you may be one of these business people that wants to help everyone and do it all. But if you don’t know what you are best at and want to offer a number of services, you need to start by deciding what services you want to sell and how to present them. Otherwise it can be confusing to your potential clients and visitors to your online business.

So how do you decide what to sell in your hybrid model and where should you start? I am a big believer in the old standby statement of the Elevator Pitch Rule of Thumb: if you cannot explain your business and services in the time it takes for a trip in an elevator with your potential client, then you have to make some hard choices and clear the confusion.

It often means making some hard and fast decisions about your business model.

The ‘hard’ decisions you need to make:

1. Keep it clean: Make sure you can clearly define your services. If you offer different services, keep them separate and concentrate on the strongest ones. If you offer complementary services, then offer examples of how you can help with more than one issue potential clients may have and how your services can work together to assist.

2. Keep it short and sweet: Don’t try to put all your terms for your services into one long agreement or contract. It may be too confusing, too long and not legally effective. You may be a graphic designer and an SEO expert, but your graphic designer contract needs to cover different items like how many revisions clients are permitted, the cost of variations to your project and other important items that an SEO expert does not. An SEO expert would need different terms to cover disclaimers for guarantees around no increase in business, profits or revenues that a graphic designer would not. Unless they are truly complementary services, you should keep the client terms directly on point to the service you are offering.

3. Stick to your strengths: Don’t try to do everything and offer everything to everyone. You may find you are spreading your talents thin. And clients may wonder if you are skilled in any one area: a virtual ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. Work out what your strengths are, where the market demand is and find a business model that reflects your strongest service offering. Otherwise you may be watering down your core skillset and confusing your potential clients about what that skillset is.

4. Protect yourself: We all have a tendency to take short cuts when we are starting businesses. It’s not worth the risk: to your personal assets, to your reputation, to your business to not have legal terms. Spend the money upfront and ensure you keep your terms up to date with your latest service offerings. You may otherwise waste a lot of time and money trying to sort out non-payment, disputes, liability, and lose your house and business in the process.

Ultimately the decision is yours to make about your business model and what services to focus on but set up your priorities and don’t try to include every possibility. Test your business model, descriptions and elevator pitch on your friends and family as well as any new clients. They will be your best judges!

Vanessa Emilio

is a Practice Director, Lawyer, Founder and CEO of Legal123.com.au, a legal website business with easy-to-use, inexpensive legal templates, forms and agreements for everyday Australians as well as lots of useful information.

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