Do you have a Business or a Practice?

Does your business survive when you are not there? Or are you the business? These two questions need to be answered as you assess your role in your business. Before you can answer these questions, we need to define what the difference between a business and a practice is.

A couple of years ago I was going to close down Achievers Group. The reason I was thinking about doing that was because as a business advisor and consultant, I could tell others how to build their business but I could not build my own. Interesting isn't it? It is like the plumber who has leaky taps in his own home. I came to this big revelation when someone came up to me at a seminar and told me that I did not have a business but rather that I had a practice.

You have to build a practice very differently then you build a business. Let me first of all define what a business is. A business is a commercial profitable enterprise that can work without the owner. Based on this definition, a lot of owners may not have a business, they have a practice. The difference in a practice is that your personality is part of that practice. You are carrying the practice because people are actually buying you. It is like the very famous plastic surgeon. You do not want just any plastic surgeon, you want that plastic surgeon.

If you are going to build a practice, you have to build it with a very different business model. Remember to put boundaries on the things that you do not want and manage your time brilliantly. Here are a couple of things that I am actually doing that have helped me.

Move from being a generalist to an expert.
You never want to be a generalist when you are running a practice because as soon as you are a generalist, you are considered as a commodity. Commodity service based businesses are going broke. Why? They are being outsourced to developing nations who have very good English skills. They are paying the MBA in India $15,000 as opposed to paying a MBA in Australia a $100,000. Global outsourcing is becoming a global phenomenon; especially in the areas of IT and consultancy. This means that you have to move from being a generalist to a specialist. This is the first phase.

Become famous in a niche.
There is an old saying, "Jack of all trades, master at none." Businesses need to remove stuff that they are not good at and focus on being an expert in a certain area where they can dominate a niche. Once that has happened, you want to become a celebrity.

Package yourself.
Another way I have been able to work less and make more is that I packaged myself into different vehicles such as when I published three books. When someone reads my book they think that I am a celebrity. I would recommend anyone who is in a practice to sit down and write a book. It is one of the most inexpensive and profitable business cards in a practice. As soon as you write a book, you are considered to be an expert. It creates a snowball effect. You will get asked to speak at conferences because people have read your book. Suddenly, you are not one of the guests. You are the leader of that particular tribe.

With social marketing, you add onto that. You start producing a blog site based on your personality. People start Twittering you and it goes all around the world because now you have become an expert. You have a Facebook fan page, you have a Twitter page. That is how you become a celebrity. What you are doing is to replicate yourself through intellectual property. You are also going to teach others on how to build your practice.

Say for example that you are a law firm. You could potentially show other law firms how to build their business. You could also do courses, seminars and workshops that others could go to. You are having a 100 people come to your workshop and you are charging them a $1000 a head.

Reduce costs through outsourcing.
Another way to build a profitable practice is to reduce your costs through outsourcing. Try to create a virtual office. There are so many ways to have a virtual office where you are still professional but you are actually working from home. People will not know where you are working from. We live in a virtual society. It is a very different world building a practice. It is a very exciting and fun world – but you must know how to crack the code. You just have to have fun in the process.

As a practice, you will not have a business to sell at the end of the day. No one would buy your business because you are the business. What do you have to do? "Make hay while the sun shines." Enjoy the journey. Sack all clients that you do not like. It is like marriage. Enjoy the clients you like and charge an insane amount of money because you deserve it. Take fierce amounts of holidays – like six holidays a year. Have a week off. You are effectively living your lifestyle through your practice. But you want a large salary and you may think that you can only do that if you work 60 hours a week. That is not true. Just work less and charge more.

At the end of the day, you retire gracefully and walk away with all the money. You enjoy the journey because your business is your passion. That is why your practice must be your passion. God help you if you do not enjoy your practice. I would strongly suggest that you get out.

Build your practice around your passion and then you will be turning your vacation into your vocation. People will be paying you money for stuff that you would be doing almost free of charge. That is the way you build a practice.

About Tony Gattari, Achievers Group

The author is founder and Chief Energy Officer of Achievers group. He is a much in demand passionate professional speaker, business educator, author and corporate, business advisor. He has worked with over 140 businesses around the world.

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