How to grow your business and stand out from the crowd in three simple steps

Posted by Stuart Hinds on

Lets face it: anyone can start a business. All you need is to register a name and have a solid grasp of the fundamentals - and some people don't even bother with that. 

But the best of us will always ask ourselves: how can we stand out from the crowd? How can we build a business that brings in the clients, that has a unique offering, and lets us really shine? 

Finding that intersection between your best work, your top clients, and a unique offering is a challenge that not everyone is up for and truthfully can be too big a question for many to even start. But we can find that sweet spot and this article will help you do it by helping you analyse three things: your clients, your commandments, and your business. 

1. Rank your clients

For many people, this process is going to feel cold, calculating, and mercenary. But our clients are actually a fantastic way to help us understand what's important to us a professionals: what we value, what our skills are, and what about our business is slowing us down - or is dead weight. 

Be honest! You don't have to share this sheet with anyone, but you do need to be as objective as you can. I've noticed that many people in the health and therapy professionals look for the best in people out of a desire to serve and help everyone. It's a brilliant outlook to have, but it won't help you build a business. Right now we're talking about your life, your dreams, and your goals and looking at the bright side is not going to help you overhaul your business. So: face reality, and be 100% honest about your clients and your values. 

Open up a new spreadsheet and make a list of your current clients. Then remove the ones that are the most problematic - the ones who, when they call to make an appointment, make your heart sink. 

Next, we're going to rank them. Add five columns for the most important ways these clients interact with your business: 

  • Pays on time
  • Is a repeat customer
  • Refers other clients
  • Has good communication
  • Lets you fix mistakes 

Your first job is to grade each of your clients, from 1 to 6, according to each of these categories. 1 is the best: always pays on time; makes their next booking immediately after their last one; lets to fix problems without getting hot under the collar, and so on.

Next, add columns for the values that are less crucial overall, or are personally valuable to you: 

  • Opportunity (that is, working with them provides opportunities you might not have otherwise had)
  • History

Again, rank client from 1 to 6 for each of these columns. 

Finally, create a final column and tally the totals for each row. The rows with the lowest numbers are your ideal clients: the ones who work positively with you and your business, who present opportunities, and are most likely to share your values. These are the kind of people you need to be looking for in new business and the kind of people you should make your business the most attractive to. 


2. Write your personal commandments

Your business is a direct reflection of you and your values - whether you choose for it to be or not. It's in the way you talk to your clients, it's in the way you decorate your rooms, and in the way you direct your admin team to interact with clients. 

It might seem anti-intuitive to build a business based on your personal values, but the best businesses are all built on values that are shared between everyone there. Think about the restaurant you've visited. You can always tell which ones are run by people with a clear idea of their values because every part of the experience is consistent - from the booking, to the food, the decor, the staff. 

Your personal commandments are how you build a business that everyone on your team believes in - and keeps the clients coming back. Simon Sinek calls this the "why" of your business - as in, why do you keep coming in every day? Why do you care? 

This is going to take some time, so be patient and don't worry about making it perfect the first time. Going deep and really interrogating the things that are important to you is not something you get done over a single glass of wine - or even a whole bottle! You will probably end up revisiting these commandments over the course of a few days so give yourself the headspace to make them crystal clear in your mind. 

After all, once you've set your commandments, you're going to have to live by them!


3. Analyse your business

So far we've thought about the kind of clients you want to attract and the values you want your business to embody. Our final step is to put those things together and think about how you can re-tool your business to help you attract those clients and live your values. 

You might have already thought about ways you can tweak your business to prioritise your best clients through price adjustments on your services, eliminating the services that don't attract the clients you want, or even identifying the training you need to offer new services. 

One of the most effective ways to attract the clients you want, though, is to under-promise and over-deliver. 

These are the simple (or perhaps not so simple) ways you can unexpectedly delight clients in a way that's true to your commandments. I love telling this story about going out to dinner because it perfectly demonstrates how you can over-promise and under-deliver. 

I once had a lovely meal with my family in a quiet little restaurant. We were delighted with the ambience, the food, the service, and even the price (no doubt they had a very clear idea of their personal commandments!) What could be better? 

After we settled the cheque and were about to leave, the owner presented us with a box containing one of their house special apple pies.

So there we were, having had all of our expectations met completely, when suddenly the business owner exceeded our expectations. We have revisited that restaurant many times, and have recommended it to tons of people. It goes without saying that we also took the time to leave a great review on their website.

So what are the little things that you could do that would exceed your clients expectations?

If you happen to have a spare room, try turning it into a "calm space" where clients can go and relax for a short while after their treatment. Not everyone has access to the space required for this, but if you do, it's a terrific way of exceeding your clients expectations.

Small gifts are a wonderful way to show appreciation. Many trigger point therapists give simple massage tools to their clients for self-help. This a wonderful way to exceed the expectations of your A+ clients. Massage tools are relatively inexpensive, and they last for years. So it's something that you only have to do once. I know one therapist who keeps a big bag of shiny new tennis balls in her room. She gives these out to her clients together with a small leaflet showing how effective a tennis ball can be for self massage.

Try to record or remember some of those special individual requirements that many clients have. For example, there are those that might always ask for the window to be opened slightly. Next time that client visits, exceed their expectations by pre-empting the request and having the window open just as they like it. Many client management platforms include a space for notes about your clients, so you can easily record the little personal details. Think about how good they'd feel about you business if, when they go to book their next appointment, you can also ask them about their plans for an upcoming birthday or anniversary!


Now - put it into action!

By now you've got a list of the clients that are most valuable to you, the commandments to base your business around, and the ways you can really go the extra mile (or kilometre) for your clients. 

The next step is putting all into action! Use everything you've written down here to create an action plan for how you can develop your business over the coming weeks and months. It might be investing in new software to help you better manage your clients, or redecorating your waiting area, or investing in training for you and your team. It might be buying a bunch of branded caps to give away to your best clients - you'd be surprised at how much loyalty a $2.50 cap will buy! 

Whatever you plan is, it will take courage, commitment, and time. But the best time to start is now - so get started! 

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