So you’ve set a financial goal for your business.
With your eye on the prize, you’re committed to doing what it takes to get there.
“Sure, I can pick up a few more client projects, no problem!”
But…can you REALLY?
And will those extra one or two clients actually set you up to meet that goal you have in mind?
The truth is…
We often overestimate (aka overcommit) what we can do in a week but underestimate what we can do in a year.
It’s time to play the long game and not get sucked into committing 25 hours of a 24 hour day to take on more work and more projects.
Instead, let’s rely on some simple math to guide the way (even if you’re not a numbers person, YOU can do this, I swear).
If you’re wondering, “how can I meet my financial goals in my creative business?” I’ve got you covered.
Randomly increasing your prices, throwing more options onto your services page, or hustling to try and bring in more and more clients might SEEM like the right thing to do.
But, you may actually be self-sabotaging!
Trying to reach your financial goals the way you’ve been doing things is kind of like riding a bike…
If your bike has a tire out of alignment, you’re probably pedaling real hard to keep your momentum going. Yeah, you might reach your end destination, but it’s going to take a lot more effort to get there!
On the other hand,
If you’re on a bike that’s all tuned-up: the tires are inflated, gears are all working, and everything is in alignment, you’ll get to your destination with less effort, and probably much faster than you would have on the rickety bike!
I’m here to show you how to “tune-up” your business so that your capacity is in alignment with your money goals.
You’ll be able to reach those goals faster and easier without feeling winded and exhausted!
If you’re struggling to meet your financial goals, but can’t quite pinpoint the problem…
you’re gonna want to listen up!
I believe you need to take a step back and evaluate how your goals can be supported by your actions instead of blindly hoping that the more you do, the more money you’ll earn.
You need to make sure your money goals add up.
And if they don’t (yet) I’ll model how to calculate your capacity so you can set yourself up for SUCCESS by strategically restructuring your offerings, pricing, services, schedule, and products to make sure your money goals make sense.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
You set a financial goal for your business and…
You’ve looked at your pricing, your time, your schedule. You feel like you’re doing everything “right”, but it still doesn’t add up to the results you’re looking for.
It can be incredibly disheartening to do all the things, work SO hard, and still be left wondering WHY you aren’t hitting your goals.
The problem isn’t YOU, it’s that despite your best efforts, you haven’t gotten to the root of the problem.
Instead of looking at each of these elements in isolation, look at them TOGETHER to calculate your true capacity.
Let me walk you through a client case study. You’ll see how she learned to calculate and respond to her capacity in a way that helped her consider all of the factors so that she could clearly understand what it would take to finally reach her financial goals.
I recently had a call with one of my 1:1 coaching clients.
Our meeting was focused on financial goals for the year.
My client shared her DREAM of hitting $75k!
YES, girl! I am so here for it!
So, we started to dig into the details to see if and how this would be possible.
I walked her through some simple math (seriously, even if you’re not a “number’s person” I know you’ve got this).
I always like to make sure I understand my client’s goals clearly before we begin this process. My client had set a financial goal of $75k. But, I needed to know if this was a REVENUE goal or a PROFIT goal.
What’s the difference?
A revenue goal is the total earnings for your business before expenses.
A profit goal is the total amount you “take home” after expenses.
It’s an important distinction because while her business could hit $75k in revenue, after expenses like bills, materials costs, and paying team members, she might only walk away with a profit of $60k once everything’s said and done.
We defined $75k as her profit goal so that we could factor in her estimated expenses and make sure her business really did “add up”.
Part of reviewing your financial goals includes getting clear about WHY a certain number has been chosen. I asked my client:
Where did $75k come from?
Did you pull it out of thin air?
Is it symbolic of what “success” looks like to you?
Are you saving for something specific like a vacation or a home renovation?
Here’s her response:
“$75k in profit would allow me to live a secure, stable lifestyle. This number will let me provide for my family and my kids in a way that feels good.”
We defined this as her “enough point”.
We even set this amount apart from her “profit” and defined it as her “take home” number. I think this is really important to note because it can be easy to fall into the trap of always pushing for MORE in business.
Your “enough point” will help you understand what it’s going to take to ensure you aren’t constantly living in a fight or flight state. When you know what’s possible, you won’t be left wondering, “should I just go back to my secure 9-5?”
When you define what is truly the “enough point” for you, it is aligned with your why and values making it more sustainable and meaningful.
What’s a time audit?
A time audit is simply documenting, evaluating, and interpreting where your time goes in a week. This week represents a snapshot of your work and time habits so you can observe trends, calculate time spent, and notice time available in your schedule.
The time audit allowed us to see firsthand where her time was going.
COO Tip: When doing a time audit, you should know there will always be a reason why this week is “different” than an average week, but I encourage all my clients to commit right away regardless. No excuses!
She tracked her time spent on both “sellable time” (aka “billable” time in corporate lingo) like client projects as well as “non-sellable” time (aka “non-billable” time) such as internal tasks like marketing. I also encouraged her to track time outside of work such as spending time with family, exercising, and watching TV. This gave us the big picture of how much time was available for client-facing work, internal tasks, and personal life.
With her time audit results handy, we evaluated her overall work schedule. My client designed her schedule around a 4-day workweek. She was committed to working 8 hours each day for a total of 32 hours each week.
While she preferred not to work on Fridays she absolutely wanted to have evenings and weekends open to spend time with her family. This schedule was really important to her. It was a non-negotiable boundary.
At the time, her business had one offer. She was selling this high-ticket service for $5,000.
If she had other offers, we would have also looked at them, including things like courses, products, or additional services at this step.
Each high-ticket service took her about 3 months to complete from start to finish.
When calculating capacity, I always recommend my clients start with an 80:20 ratio of client work to internal tasks. A time audit can help inform each individual business’ needs, but 80:20 is a solid, general place to start. It’s an average over the course of the year that can help you get started with a holistic approach.
As a business owner and CEO it’s important to realize that you cannot sell 100% of your working time. There will always be internal tasks that you need to carve out time to tend to in order to be successful.
To evaluate my client’s capacity, we looked at her Time Audit. We started with her 32 hour workweek and then applied the 80:20 Rule. 80% of that time, or about 25 hours, could be allocated to client-facing projects. The time audit revealed that each high-ticket offer took her 12.5 hours per week and lasted about 3 months (12 weeks total) from start to finish. So, we determined she could take on two offers every 3 months.
At this rate…
There’s no way that $40k can equal $75k.
The $35k difference isn’t just going to magically appear.
(And this was just focused on revenue, not profit)
Something would need to change.
Realizing your financial goals don’t add up is a BIG BUMMER.
But you know what’s REALLY discouraging?
Blindly spinning your wheels, working so hard, forcing your business to work instead of letting the numbers guide the way.
When my client understood this key piece to reaching her profit goals…
Finally, the numbers gave my client an explanation for the frustration she had been experiencing all along!
Instead of feeling exhausted working towards her money goals, she now felt empowered to take aligned action. Knowing the numbers in advance made all the difference.
The same might be true for you!
While it may be impossible to meet your monetary business goals within your CURRENT structure…
the good news is:
YOU CALL THE SHOTS.
This means you can do something about it!
That’s exactly what my client did!
With the cold, hard facts in front of her, my client and I designed a plan. I offered her several options to choose from that could help her make the adjustments she would need to reach her financial goals.
I call these CAPACITY LEVERS.
Capacity levers are things that can be adjusted within any business to optimize time, energy, and revenue potential.
You can move a lever up, down, and within a range. The objective is to get all of your levers lined up in a way that supports your goals.
A word of caution before we jump in:
Every time you pull a “lever” there is a benefit and a sacrifice.
Essentially: something’s gotta give.
With each lever you adjust, it may also mean you need to adjust other things such as your marketing language, your ICA, your expenses, etc.
Let’s explore each of the levers available to business owners that may help expand capacity.
If you find that your current capacity doesn’t add up to your money goals, you can explore adjusting your schedule as a way to expand your capacity. If you work an abbreviated workweek but want to increase your profits, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons. Adding another day or working additional hours may allow you to take on more projects.
Keep in mind, your time is a precious and limited resource, and this lever will only get you so far.
All 24 hours of your day cannot be for sale.
If you choose to pull this lever, definitely keep the 80:20 rule in mind so that at least 20% of your working time, on average, is focused on the backend of your business. The remaining 80% of your work capacity can focus on client-facing or “sellable” work.
COO Tip: You can also explore ways to work “smarter not harder” in your business. Things like automating repetitive tasks can close a certain gap. While they may add a little bump to your capacity, it is unlikely that these changes can close a large revenue gap.
The most common way that entrepreneurs tend to adjust to respond to their profit goals is to increase their pricing or change their pricing model (i.e. going to value-based vs. project-based or hourly).
While this can work, it is important that you change your pricing intentionally.
In the online space, we often hear the phrase, “increase your prices” as if it’s something everyone should be doing all the time. While the intentions are good (they want you to charge your worth), it can be misleading. Often this advice is offered in a vacuum without considering other factors.
If and when you choose to increase your pricing, be sure that your ideal client can bear the new cost at their current stage in your customer journey.
Your rates will also need to be aligned with the industry and market so that you can feel confident that your prices are fair. It’s about charging your worth but doing so in an ethical way that makes sense.
COO Tip: A great way to do this is to consider adding more value to your offer to account for the price increase. How can you enhance the experience and overdeliver for your clients?
I just mentioned expanding the scope of your offers to justify increased pricing, but another option is to reduce the scope of your offers. Instead of increasing your pricing (and potentially creating a barrier between your ICA and your solution), you can scale back on your offer and keep the price the same.
Streamlining your services will cut back on the time you spend per project which can increase your capacity and allow you to take on more projects at the same rate you were originally charging. You’ll open up more time and increase your overall capacity. This may help you take on more work which can, in turn, increase your revenue.
Just be sure the transformation you promise is still feasible for your clients with this simplified offer.
COO Tip: You can also explore creating passive offers (just know you will need to adjust your capacity lever when you carve out time to create, test, and market this new offer) or even scrap offers that aren’t providing the return you’d hoped for.
*Also, consider that sometimes selling more low-ticket offers can actually be more profitable than selling just a few high-ticket offers! We will dive into this even more in the next blog!
Sometimes it’s not a matter of earning MORE, but spending less! This is why focusing on profit goals over revenue goals is so important. Revenue can be deceiving.
Instead, compare your revenue to your profit and see how much you’re spending. Is there anywhere you can scale back or cut costs? Reducing your expenses may allow you to take home MORE with the same exact revenue.
Hiring a team member or outsourcing is an excellent way to increase your own capacity and the capacity of your business as a whole. Your time audit will often help you assess the biggest time eaters in your business so that you can strategically hire the right person for the right position.
When you hire this team member, your capacity increases, and your business can take on more client projects. Without changing anything else, potential revenue increases (and depending on the cost of your new team member, profit may or may not change).
When you hire a team member, other levers will have to be adjusted in response.
Naturally, your expenses will increase to pay your new hire. You may choose to increase your rates to offset this investment, or you may realize that you can keep the rates the same but increase how many offers you sell because of this newfound capacity!
Align your goals to your current state. If you find that your original profit goals were quite out of reach, it can feel manageable and empowering to set a more realistic goal that still stretches you without overwhelming you.
You may also learn from this exercise that your goals are more focused on time, freedom, or another asset aside from money. Your business can offer “wealth” in many ways. It’s up to you to decide what you value right now, and understand that this can and should fluctuate over time. As a result, how you engage with your levers will reflect what you value most in your business at any given moment.
Each lever can be increased or decreased to fit your needs and they will likely impact at least one or more of the other levers. As you tweak each of these, look to find a balance that serves you best as you work towards your financial goals.
Let’s see how my client navigated levers in her business.
My client was firm about the boundaries that were important to her.
So we decided to look at her work week, pricing, offers, her goals, and explore the possibility of growing her team.
Let’s explore the thought process for each of these levers.
First, she decided to add an 8-hour workday on Fridays which upped her weekly work hours from 32 to 40.
My client had the option of using her Fridays to either take on 2 more projects annually OR take on 1 project annually and build out her course.
She ultimately decided to only take on 1 more project (for a total of 9 projects per year) and work on her course to leverage her increased capacity.
8 of her hours each week (20%) would be reserved for backend tasks required to run her business. That left about 32 sellable hours per week IF she were to book out 100% of that time, which we acknowledged is not realistic or typical.
Without even changing her prices (which she planned to do in the next step) this would increase her potential revenue significantly.
Remember: She originally had the potential to bring in just $40k for 8 projects each year. Now she could bring in $45k for 9 projects already increasing her revenue by $5k.
*We considered hiring a team member but decided to table this lever, for now, to see if it was possible to reach her goal without this option.
Next, we looked at her pricing. She hadn’t increased her prices in over two years!
It was time.
We did some market research and compared her rates to competitors in her industry. We decided the market could bear it if we increased each of her project packages to $8k instead of $5k.
9 projects at $8k per year totaled $72,000 in revenue.
She had now increased her potential revenue by an additional $27k.
Between increasing her capacity and her pricing she had increased her revenue capacity by a whopping $32k! These two changes quite nearly doubled her revenue potential!
Now, we looked at adding a new revenue stream. She had been talking about creating a course FOR. EVER.
After seeing the numbers, she decided that this could be a good long-term investment of her time. Although creating the course would take about 3 months, she would be able to promote and sell it for the last two quarters of the year.
She set a goal of selling 25 courses at $300 each adding an additional $7,500 in revenue.
Plus, once the course was up and running, it would bring in even more revenue for years to come!
By the end of this process, my client had made some sacrifices but decided that the outcome was worth the investment of her time and energy.
Her business now had the potential to reach a revenue of $79,500. We realized that after expenses (we estimated this would be about 20% based on her current expenses, or $15,900) her profit could feasibly be around $63,600.
This was a significant increase.
BUT… it was not quite her goal.
Back to the drawing board we went!
(P.S. This is a process! It requires trial and error, tweaking, and playing around with options to find a good fit. I share this with you to give you permission to iterate and explore what could be possible)
We had explored the lever options my client was open to. I showed her that with these changes, she was well on her way, but still, her goal wasn’t quite attainable at her current capacity.
She had two options:
She could adjust other levers to reach her original financial goal OR change her goal to reflect this more realistic profit.
Option 1: Commit to her original goal of $75K and explore other levers to pull to get there.
We explored bringing on a team member to take on twice as many projects at her new rate of $8K/project. Her business would now plan to work on 18 projects per year (she and her team member would take on 9 projects each) instead of just 8 on her own, helping her reach a potential $144k in revenue.
We did some research and decided to estimate that this team member’s wages would likely cost about $40k annually.
If she also allocated about 20% of her revenue for expenses, she could still aim to profit about $75,200 just from high-ticket offers alone.
Hiring a team member, plus her course, and her expanded capacity set her up to exceed her revenue goal with a potential of $151,500 and an estimated profit of $81,200!
Option 2: Stick with the original plan and re-adjust her profit goal from $75K to about $63K.
Her Choice: She decided to go with Option 2!
Since this new increased profit would still allow her to maintain her boundaries, we explored resetting some more realistic goals, grounded in numbers. Her profit goal was now $63k if she booked out all of her sellable time.
She felt like while it still wasn’t her ultimate goal, she didn’t feel ready to take on a team member just yet. She acknowledged that the additional profit potential would also come with more responsibilities such as training a new hire.
Plus, she would be setting herself up to meet or even exceed that goal next year because her course would become a consistent revenue stream in the future! She had a clear plan in place to hit that profit goal of $75k+ next year.
Simply knowing what was possible and what it would take to get there made all the difference!
Not only did she have a clear plan, but she also felt grounded in her value-based decisions. She knew that her goal was feasible in the future and that she was steadily moving towards it without compromising her boundaries along the way. This process helped her feel motivated to work for her goals with her eye on the prize!
Through time audits, capacity calculations, adjusting your “levers”, and structuring your offers intentionally you can move from victim to victor when it comes to your financial goals with a clear vision of where you want to go and how you plan to get there.
My goal of this blog was to open you up to the concept of capacity. I hope you experienced an “AHA” moment along the way that will propel you to get curious about how you can strategically set yourself up to SUCCESSFULLY reach the profit goal you desire!
Not only will you feel more confident in the steps you need to take to reach your profit goals, but you’ll also find you’re not hustling or working as hard to force everything to fall into place.
When your business truly adds up, it can offer you so much more ease and alignment.
More is on the way…
In the next blog, I’ll walk you through the details of going through your very own time audit. Then, I’ll give you the step-by-step prompts I explore with my very own coaching clients to help you truly calculate your capacity. Last, I’ll offer suggestions to help you decide what you can and are willing to adjust to meet your financial goals.
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