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The more you do, the less you make.

That seems opposite, doesn’t it?

the-more-you-do-the-less-you-makeAfter all, the more services you sell, the more revenue you generate, right?

Yes, but!

The but refers to the costs of delivering on those services. You might actually be costing your business money by offering too many services.

And if this is happening, the more you do, the less you make.

I was speaking with a new business coaching client this morning and she was sharing all the things her business does. She’s a healer, but also offers coaching, training, teaching, creates products, and paid speaking. All this in addition to providing service, marketing her healing business, and trying to have a life.

As I asked her what she was looking for from our work together, she shared that she wants to increase her income (good goal, and yay!), and that she wants to work less. She, like many of us, puts in very long hours, and these hours sometimes come at the expense of other things in her life, like sleep, exercise, and time with her family.

When I asked her how she had earned money last month, she told me she had earned “some” money offering healing sessions, “some” money coaching other healers, “some” money teaching a class locally, “some” money from a few products that she sold.

When I asked her which of these sources was responsible for the bulk of her income, she didn’t know- but felt that each had contributed about equally.

So then I asked her where her costs were highest in terms of delivering these services. She said that her costs were high when she delivered in-person healing sessions, because she had to rent an office. She said her costs were a bit high (relative to the price of her products) when she created products, because she had to pay for graphics, design, layout work, and also technical help in terms of getting her products online for sale.

Where her costs were less were teaching a class locally- all she had to do was show up- and in coaching other healers- as this was done by phone and email, which she was paying for anyway.

So what I offered to her was this- if she dropped in-person healing sessions, and maybe offered only remote ones, if she bumped up her coaching practice, stopped creating new products, and then taught a few more classes locally, she’d be making more money with less work.

Now, of course, this took some time for her to digest. Since it was only our first session, I didn’t ask her to commit to making any changes, but, instead, to just try on the idea and see how it felt over the next week or so until we met again.

It is paradoxical and counterintuitive, but oh so true- the more things we do, the less we make, especially if we are the main energy in our business. We only have so much rocket fuel to go around, and we can spend it all in one big liftoff, or we can spread it around to have tiny liftoffs of lots of things. I’d say that this client was having tiny liftoffs of lots of things.

There is a cost to adding on new services that you sell. Let’s say, for instance, that you offer lawn mowing services, and that is going well. Then you start thinking, “hmm… lawns connect to driveways. Maybe I can offer driveway sealing services too.” This is a solid entrepreneurial thought. However, if you decide to offer driveway sealing, you also incur new expenses- you have to stock the sealing product, perhaps hire new people to seal the driveaways, and maybe you need some new trucks or other equipment.

It might be worth doing, or it might just be easier- and more profitable- to bring on three more lawn-mowing clients in the same time it takes you to set up a new arm of your business.

In the virtual world, it feels easier to set up new businesses, because technology is inexpensive. But I am noting, more and more, that the ease of setting up online businesses is resulting in a loss of focus around the core business and a sense of confusion about where to invest more fully.

I’m applying this same examination in my own business, as I, too, have a few small projects which are only getting tiny liftoff. I’m looking at the best combination of services which are profitable and require little overhead.

By doing fewer things, I expect to make much more.

What about you? What can you focus on in your business so you make more by doing less?