How to Transition Into a Full-Time Business
Question from a reader:
No, it’s not wrong to make a full time living from a spiritual practice. We live in a capitalist society and all of us have to make money to survive, unfortunately. But how you go about doing that as you are building your business has to be done ethically, and most of the tactics being promoted by business coaches involve scarcity, emotional manipulation, coercion, and predatory business models. This is specifically the problem for all of the people who are doing hard selling. They aren’t making enough money to survive, or barely are, so they get scared and desperate and they sell harder, they get more pushy, and they push people away or prey on them in the process.
“One thing I genuinely struggle with is the part about financial scarcity and if you’re pressured to need to get money from this work then it loses integrity. Is it wrong to make [spirituality] a sole source of your income?”
More on my thoughts about charging for a spiritual business.
A lot of the business coaches tell you to “leap” but they don’t tell you what you’re leaping into.
They tell you to prioritize making as much money, as quickly as possible. That advice is for someone who didn’t plan ahead and dove into the deep end of the pool without their swimmies on. Now they’ve got themselves in a shitload of trouble and they’re going to have to paddle like hell to get to the edge of the pool –– and in their floundering, they’re going to drown a whole lot of their clients in the process.
This advises people to jump straight into one-to-one coaching because you can charge the most money for it –– but what if you’re not equipped for that yet? What if you don’t feel comfortable with it yet? How is that being authentic and true to yourself? How do you feel about charging a premium price for a premium service that you don’t feel ready for yet?
Sink or swim, my friends. These are the kinds of situations that cause people to go into heavy scarcity mode and risk traumatizing themselves and their nervous system, and slip into high-pressure sales tactics which are emotionally coercive and manipulate the trauma of their clients.
How to Transition Into a Full-Time Business
The reality is that building a business takes time and you have to strategically plan transitioning from working full-time for someone else to working full-time for yourself. For the most part, expect at least two years to build a full-time business that can support you. That might mean having some savings in your account to cover what you’re not making as you transition. That might mean working it as a side hustle until you build enough momentum to transition. Or maybe you’re lucky and you have a spouse that makes enough to support you both until your business gets going.
When I started my own business, the only reason I was able to do it was because I was married and my husband made enough money to support both of us while I built it (and he actually encouraged me to do it because he saw how toxic the job I was currently in was and what it was doing to me). We also received a $50K cash gift every year as a Christmas present from his father.
Point being: I had extraordinary privilege. Most people don’t.
In year one of my business, I made around $18,000.
In year two, I made $69,000 (more than I had ever made working for anyone).
In year three, I made $80,000.
(All before taxes)
No. Not everyone can just quit their job and go start a business — unless they are charging absurdly expensive prices right out of the gate and engage in predatory business practices.
Also, I wasn’t coaching, I was freelancing and consulting on marketing strategy, but the gist is that it takes luck, time, and planning to build a successful, sustainable business. That dream you’re being sold that “you can quit your corporate gig and become a coach and it’s easy peasy” is a fucking fantasy. It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s anxiety-inducing. And that’s the plight we all face unless you’ve got a ton of money in the bank to begin with.
There are ways to work your way up strategically, but if you are doing this online (I wasn’t) and you have no audience to start with, it’s going to take a while. Be prepared for that.
Step one of an authentic, sustainable business: have realistic expectations, a long-term business plan, and a short-term backup plan.
One of the opportunities that the pandemic has presented is working from home. You can squeeze client calls in during your regular working hours and build your business on the side.
You can also create digital offerings like ebooks, paid email subscriptions, and recorded online courses to build passive income while you are working full-time and building your audience. This also allows you to thoroughly plot out and document your full philosophy around what you intend to sell so that you know your offer inside and out before you jump into one-to-one coaching.
Ultimately your goal is to build a steady stream of business off of quality service to clients.
Word of mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising and it will do more for you than anything you could possibly pay for.
My business was local, and it just so happened I was pretty much the only person doing that kind of work in the St. Louis Metro Area, and STL just happened to have a burgeoning startup community, so it was a sweet spot. All of my business came from people searching on LinkedIn. I never even had to advertise.
That’s the real reason to “niche.” To find gaps in the market where there is a demand for services but not enough people offering them. I’m filling one of those gaps right now. And to be honest, I tried this in 2018 and no one was interested. They needed some time to realize what a shit show it all was. The pandemic probably helped.
You want to find the overlap between the need in the market and what you have to offer, and then you want to figure out how to reach those people and deliver the highest quality service possible at an affordable rate. That’s the recipe for success.
PS: If you found today's topic intriguing and you're an entrepreneur or practitioner who offers services to others, I would recommend checking out my articles on conscious business and subscribing to get notified when there are new posts. Learn how you can work with me here and be sure to check out my new online course, Ethical Entrepreneurship.
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