The following is a guest post from someone I admire a great deal. Chris Guillebeau is out there doing some amazing things in the world of helping others design lifestyle businesses. His latest book, The $100 Startup (amazon affiliate link), is worth grabbing, too!
â€¨â€¨It’s everyone’s fantasy. When you think about imaginary superpowers, you first wish for the ability to flyâ€”doesn’t everyone? Then you wish for the power of invisibility, the ability to eat as much ice cream as you want, your own Batmobile, and so on. Specific superhero aspirations vary.
But sooner or later you dream of another impossible achievement: the creation of a clone, who can work while you sleep or take on tasks in your absence. You have so much you want to doâ€”good things, not the unwanted obligations we all need to reduceâ€”and you wish you could begin more projects without killing yourself.
It’s not about scale for the sake of scale; it’s about growing your influence. It’s about creating more positive changeâ€”mixing it up and reaching more people in a different way. As a business grows and the business owner begins itching for new projects, he or she essentially has two options for self-made cloning:
Option 1: Reach more people with the same message
Option 2: Reach different people with a new message
Either option is valid, and both can be rewarding. For the first option, it may be helpful to think of the â€œhub and spokeâ€ model when building an online brand. In this model, largely popularized by Chris Brogan, the hub is your main web siteâ€”typically an e-commerce site where something is sold, but it could also be a blog, community forum, or something else. The hub is a home base, with most of the content curated by you or your team, and ultimately where you hope to drive new visitors, prospects, and customers.
The spokes, known as outposts by Chris, are all of the other places where you spend your time. These could include social networking sites, the comments section of your blog or other blogs, actual meetings or networking events, or something else. You can see how this works in the image below:
Credit: Mike Rohde
The goal for each of the outposts is to support the work of the home base, not usually the outpost itself. It can be a trap to spend too much time with any of the outposts, because things changeâ€”some outposts become less popular over time, for example. You also own the content and work you create in the home base, whereas most of what happens in an outpost is â€œownedâ€ by another company.
For example, I see a lot of great photographers on Instagram. They get hundreds of â€œlikesâ€ with each amazing photo. But for many of them, it seems they have no other homeâ€”everything is lost in the Instagram archives, which aren’t conducive to longevity. Don’t leave your followers on someone else’s site! Bring them to the hub.
You’re Only One Person… or Maybe Two
Hub-and-spoke is great for reaching more people with the same message. But there’s also another way to think of it. What if you could effectively clone or franchise yourself to work in totally different markets, with more than one hub? This isn’t just â€œdoing moreâ€; it’s about applying your skills, activities, and passions in a totally different way. The difference is that you take the time to be strategicâ€”just like Nathalie Lussier did.
Nathalie was an up-and-coming software engineer. Originally from Quebec, she had interned in Silicon Valley and then had the chance to take a big job on Wall Street. Her family said it was the job of her dreams… but as Nathalie thought more about it, she realized it was the job of someone else’s dreams. Turning down the offer, she returned to Canada and decided to pursue a different idea.
Nathalie had a personal success story of dramatically improving her health after switching to a raw foods diet. Eating only fruits, vegetables, and nuts sounded crazy at first, but the results spoke for themselves: in the first month, she lost more than ten pounds and suddenly had energy throughout the day. As she talked with her friends, Nathalie was a natural evangelistâ€”not pushy or judgmental, but offering tips and strategies that people could use to make real improvements, even if they weren’t ready to jump into a completely raw diet like Nathalie had done.
After relocating to Toronto, the idea was to build a small business helping other people make the adjustment to raw foods. Being a software engineer (and a self-described geek), Nathalie programmed a database, set up an app, and built her own website. The first incarnation was Raw Food Switch, which correctly represented the concept, but seemed a bit boring. One day Nathalie noticed that the same spellingâ€”and therefore the same websiteâ€”could be rendered as Raw Foods Witch, leading to a new theme. Dressing in character with a pointed black hat for photo shoots, she rebranded the whole business around herself. Nathalie created programs, one-time products, and individual consultation sessions in the same way we’ve seen others do throughout the book. Raw Foods Witch grew into a $60,000 business after the first year.
What’s not to love? Just one thing: â€œFrom the outside,â€ she told me, â€œIt looked like all I talked about was raw foods. No one realized I had done all the programming and really enjoyed the intersection of business and technology.â€
The second business came about unexpectedly, after Nathalie began getting tech inquires from her raw foods clients who were also creating businesses. She decided to create a separate brand for tech consulting, operating under her own name instead of the moniker she used in the other business. Raw Foods Witch is still a powerful brandâ€”friends and clients report that other shoppers have mentioned her in the grocery store when they see a cart full of avocadosâ€”but she restructured the business to run on 80% autopilot. It still brings in a good income, but now Nathalie spends her time building the second business. Instead of doing one or the other, Nathalie effectively franchised herself.
In your own business, you can hone your efforts, producing one killer project that changes the world and brings you a good income. Or you can indeed be in more than one place at a time, without killing yourself. The key to the latter is to be strategic, like Nathalie was, and to set up the right systems that allow you to divide and conquerâ€”if you want to.
Whatever you do, always focus your efforts on making a difference in the lives of the people you serve. This focus will ultimately determine your success.
How are you working to grow or improve your business?
Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The $100 Startup, provides a blueprint for creating freedom by building a business with no special skills and a small amount of money. Chris also writes for a small army of remarkable people at ChrisGuillebeau.com.