When it comes to life experiences, there is a near endless supply of things you have lived that your children will never know:
They will never load film into a camera.
They will never call the local movie theater to find out what’s playing and when.
They will never put the milk back in the fridge despite the fact that I have told them a thousand times that I’m not made out of money over here and … Where was I?
Further, they will never hear one song finish and, without any mental effort, instantly sense which song is coming next.
That’s because unlike you and me, our refrigeration-indifferent offspring did not grow up listening to complete record albums, in order – over and over again.
So, for example, I know that when Springsteen’s Thunder Road ends, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out is coming up next.
I know that when Boz Scaggs’ What Can I Say ends, Georgia is right behind.
I even know that when Bread’s Baby I’m-a Want You finishes, It Don’t Matter to Me is close on its heels. (Sorry, some things are hard to forget.)
The point is, over time, it wasn’t just the songs that we learned – we learned the order of them, too.
Albums were a story – a complete package. Not just a random selection of one-offs.
And while it’s true that you could have jumped up after each track and played whatever you wanted in whatever sequence, there was a sort of musical inertia at play that had you listening to the entire thing from start to finish.
Your Business Needs Inertia, Too
I didn’t plan to specialize in email newsletters when I began working for myself in 2000. It was kind of an accident.
And I definitely did not realize at the time, that in doing so, I had stumbled upon a business model that would keep me going for the next 20 years. But I had.
That’s because the fundamental problem when working solo is managing the peaks and valleys of client work.
Sometimes the phone rings off the hook. Sometimes you go a month (or two or three) with nothing.
So, you live in a feast or famine world – working like crazy when the projects are there, listening to old record albums in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon when they are not.
And, of course, since the money closely parallels the work, it’s hard to do any planning or budgeting, let alone take your foot off the gas and relax.
Newsletters don’t work that way.
They are published over and over again (usually monthly), continuing out into the future until somebody says “stop.” Which means, as you’ve no doubt guessed, so does the associated revenue.
That’s superman-level powerful.
And while clients don’t last forever (although I’ve had three whose newsletters exceeded 15 years), and if the benefits are not there they will most certainly leave, like listening to a record album, there is a certain inertia that keeps things moving steadily forward.
Find Your Inertia
In his (fabulous) book, The Automatic Customer, John Warrilow makes this bold assertion:
“Companies in nearly any industry, from home contractors to florists, can build subscriptions into their business. Subscription is the key to increasing cash flow, igniting growth and boosting the value of your company.”
It need not be 100% of your business (it probably won’t be).
And it need not be a literal “subscription.”
The idea, though, is that if your business model requires lining up one-off projects, such that one begins as the last one ends, you are adding a level of complexity on top of the already difficult task of finding clients in the first place.
A better, more lasting approach, is to do what your financial planner, executive coach, personal trainer, lawn service and countless others are already doing: offer services that repeat, over and over again, continuing indefinitely until somebody says “stop.”
You’ll spend less time chasing the work, you’ll bake more certainty into your cash flow, and you’ll end up with predictable, ongoing, wonderful clients.
Now go put the milk back in the fridge and finish your homework.
Work From Home Assignment:
Do you offer a “subscription-type” service as a part (or all) of your work?
Tell us in exactly 10 words (extra credit if it rhymes), below.