The Sustainable Success Podcast, Episode 022


I’ve heard it again and again: “I need to create a more scalable offer, because 1:1 client work is just so exhausting.”

Every time I hear a business owner say it, I… 

1 – Validate the exhaustion. That sh*t is real.

But also…

2 – Invite them to explore whether it’s actually the 1:1 work that’s exhausting and needs to be done away with, or if there’s something else happening within the 1:1 work that is in fact the root cause of the exhaustion.

Imagine you come to me saying that “working 1:1 with clients is exhausting.” When we probe a bit further, you actually realize: “I have mostly attracted clients into this offer that seem to want me to ‘fix’ everything for them and that aren’t actually doing what THEY need to do to see their intended result.” 

If that’s happening—as I’ve seen MANY times with business owners across so many different industries—then OF COURSE you’re exhausted. It’s a lot of work carrying responsibility for your own personal success alongside the success of your business, and now you’re trying to also carry a bunch of other people’s success. Goodness, even the weight of responsibility for one more person’s success is too much.

While it’d be easy to think that “that’s just the type of person who is attracted to this work,” what’s actually happening is that that’s just the type of person that you have been attracting into this work—very likely through the way that you’ve been positioning and languaging and marketing and selling the work. Which means: if we can adjust how you’re talking about this offer so that it actually speaks to a Right Fit client, you’re going to stop attracting clients into the work who aren’t ready or willing to carry their side of things, and start attracting clients who are so much “lighter” to work with.

Now, any time I support a client through this exploration, I don’t do it from the place of: “you can’t give up 1:1 work.” That’s not productive nor is it even my decision to make. We might very well go through this exploration process and discover that it’s not actually about the 1:1 work and yet still ultimately decide to release the 1:1 work.

The difference is that now the business owner is making a decision to release 1:1 work not from a desire to escape something painful, but rather to expand into something they’ve decided is more aligned. And that underlying motivation means that it’s MUCH more likely that they’ll be less likely to repeat the pattern in whatever else they move to.

Think about it. If you’ve been attracting wrong fit clients into an offer, and you simply shift the offer, you’re not actually changing the issue, you’re changing the channel for the symptom to show itself. Whereas if you get clear on what the real problem is—your words are attracting wrong fit people—and then you change those words, not only is the original “channel” of 1:1 work now clear, but you’ll be able to carry that newfound approach to messaging, positioning, marketing, etc to any offer you are selling. You’re able to actually solve the real problem, not just in the original offer, but in all of the offers.

Wrong fit clients are just one of the common reasons I’ve seen 1:1 client work being so dang exhausting. I share the other three common reasons as well as what you can do about them in todays’ episode of The Sustainable Success Podcast.

Episode 022. Why is 1:1 client work so dang exhausting?

Whether 1:1 client work is actually super exhausting for you, or you’re simply looking for ways to set your 1:1 client work up to be more sustainable, tune in today wherever you listen to podcasts!

This transcript has been automatically created and minimally edited/formatted. As such, there may be some errors in the text.

[Episode preview]

Is your one on one work, both supporting you financially to the level it needs to be and providing you extra time and space to do what you need to do to take your business to the next level. Could part of why you’re so exhausted working with one on one clients be because you’re spreading yourself so thin across other aspects of your business, especially in an attempt to be somewhere that you are not actually yet ready to be. When we get clear on what part of working with one on one clients is actually the thing that is so exhausting, then we can make informed decisions intended to solve the real problem rather than just running away from something only to then find ourselves experiencing that exact same issue. Now, simply in a different manifestation.

[Podcast Intro]
Hey, welcome to the Sustainable Success podcast. This is your home for honest conversations about building and running an online business that brings you as much joy as it does revenue. I’m Carly Jo Bell, the Sustainable Success mentor and your guide on this journey with self trust as your North Star and foundations under your feet, you’ll be able to look external for ideas, internal, for answers and build your business your way. Let’s dive in.

[Episode begins]

in the last year. I have heard from more business owners than ever before that they are interested in transitioning away from one on one work and doing courses, group programs, digital products, et cetera, which all of that is fine. And the reason that they are giving again, I’ve heard this from so many different business owners is that working with one on one clients is exhausting. Please hear me. When I say this, I am all for building a business that is sustainable for you. And if that looks like not doing one on one work or that looks like doing courses that looks like whatever it is, that is great. And I am also all for making decisions out of a desire to expand something great rather than from a desire to escape something not great. Mostly because when we make decisions from the desire to escape, we almost certainly end up replicating that situation that we were trying to escape in whatever new situation that we tried to escape to. So it’s one on one work is so exhausting. And then we’re like, oh, I don’t wanna do one on one work anymore. We say no more of that. We escape to something else and then we find that exhaustion happening in whatever the next thing is in creating the course, launching the group program in whatever it is and many of us will repeat this pattern where we experience a not great thing, then we escape it, then we experience the not great thing. Then we escape it. We just will keep going. Until somewhere along that journey, we realize that maybe what we thought was, the problem was actually a manifestation of a deeper problem. And until we get clear on what’s going on with that deeper problem and we begin working on that, we will always end up needing to escape. The same exact thing that we have been trying to escape. Now, I really need you to hear me with this. Like if you are someone who is saying Carly, I don’t want to do one on one work anymore. It’s so exhausting. That’s totally OK. And I am not over here like denying your exhaustion. I’m not saying that your exhaustion is not real. I am saying your exhaustion is real. It is very real. There is no doubt about that. But what I am questioning and what I’m inviting you to question and look a little bit deeper in is, is the source of the exhaustion one on one client work or is it something else within the one on one client work? Is it you’re working with wrong fit clients and especially in a one on one high touch container like that like yeah, that’s gonna be exhausting. Is it that you’re carrying responsibility for your clients success sometimes even more than they are Yeah, that’s gonna be exhausting. Is it that you maybe don’t have clear boundaries and expectations or you do have those, you have communicated them, but you haven’t been maintaining those boundaries and expectations gonna be freaking exhausting. Is it maybe they are trying to build things in your business that you would like to have three years from now, but do so today somewhat at the expense of allowing yourself to actually be present with the business that you have today and work your way step by step to that desired state trying to jump to the end. Freaking exhausting. When we get clear on what part of working with one on one clients is actually the thing that is so exhausting, then we can make informed decisions intended to solve the real problem rather than just running away from something only to then find ourselves experiencing that exact same issue. Now, simply in a different manifestation. If you’re working with wrong fit clients in one on one work, you’re very likely going to work with wrong fit clients in other work. If you’re carrying responsibility for your client success, you’re very likely going to continue doing that in all of your other offers. If you are not studying or maintaining clear boundaries and expectations, you’re very likely going to do that everywhere else in your business. And maybe even in your life, if you are trying to just skip to the end rather than going step by step through the journey, you’re probably gonna do that in other spaces as well. We don’t want to just stop doing something or even start doing something because we’re trying to escape something else. We want to expand. We wanna see what are the things that are currently working and how can I do more of that? Whether you are in a place where one on one work feels really exhausting and you’re ready to stop doing it forever or maybe you do really enjoy one on one work, but it is tiring or there are moments where you’re like, why is this so hard? Does it need to be this hard? And you’re thinking I wanna make this more sustainable and I really invite you to listen to this whole episode today because we’re going to dive into all of this so much more depth than just a moment. But what I really hope that you take away from all of this is that it very likely is not actually about the one and one work. It very likely is about an aspect of the one on one work. And if we can look at and figure out what that aspect is, we then have a real opportunity. And like, I really mean this, it’s a huge freaking opportunity to strengthen how we are showing up not only on one on one work, but truly in the rest of our business because just like if we don’t have boundaries and expectations in our one on one work that will follow us to other places if we do have boundaries and expectations in our 109 work that will follow us to other places. One on one work. Uh It’s something that I feel like it gets such a bad rap sometimes in the online business world, especially with like our seeming obsession with scalability and all of that. But when I’m on work is something that is so amazing and so valuable, not just in terms of, oh, I can charge higher price phones for it, but valuable in terms of one on one work is typically where we most rapidly discover the opportunities that we have to strengthen how we are showing up in our businesses. And not again, even beyond in just the one on one work in literally everything else in our marketing, in our lead generation, in our courses in networking in everything. One on one work is honestly like one of the most powerful catalysts that we could have to building a sustainably successful business because of how much it brings a mirror to all of the opportunities that we have to do things even better. So again, I want to dive into this, I want to look at those opportunities. But I do also just want to remind you that your exhaustion or tiredness or whatever it is that you’re feeling about one on one work is very real. I am not doubting that. And my hope is is that you will finish this episode today, understanding what actually is going on here and being ready and able to make an informed decision about where you actually want to be focusing some of your maybe inner work, maybe outer work, but focusing your energy on fixing that problem or really taking advantage of that opportunity rather than just saying, oh, this is so exhausting. I’m, you know, I just need to create a more scalable offer or I just, I just, I never wanna do when I’m on work again. Like nah, let’s move out of that. Come on, let’s find what’s really going on here and let’s deal with that. So let’s look at, you know, we have these kind of four core reasons why one on one work tends to be so tiring or even exhausting. And again, within each of these reasons for that exhaustion uh is a brilliant opportunity. Now, I am in no way saying that this list of four things is exhaustive. There might totally be something else happening for you. And if there is something else happening, like great, please use this conversation today to inspire that clarity and to explore for yourself. Well, if it’s not any of those things, then what is it for me? Because again, our goal is let’s actually figure out what’s going on here so that you can make that informed decision about where you actually do want to focus your energy, uh, your work. So that way you can, you know, really expand on the things that are working rather than try to escape the things that aren’t. Because again, I, we actually can’t really escape any of this stuff. It’s just gonna keep showing up. So we have that opportunity. Probably most commonplace that I see my own clients across a whole bunch of different industries done for your service providers, coaches, all the things, practitioners of all sorts, the number one place where I see this exhaustion actually coming from is that their clients aren’t true right fit clients, especially in the one on one work, which is high touch. Typically it’s also typically a longer container. Like if you are working one on one with someone who is not a right fit and a specifically a right fit for the work of that container and you’re doing it, you know, for weeks, months even it’s gonna be exhausting. Absolutely. It, it would just, it would be the same as being in a relationship with someone, a romantic relationship who wasn’t a right fit. It’s exhausting and trying to keep, go showing up for that and keep coming back and keep doing the stuff like it’s exhausting. I think we all can relate to that. So if you are working with one on one clients who are not a right fit, it’s going to be exhausting. I think one of the biggest reasons why this particular situation of working with wrong fit clients or even just not yet right? Fit clients in one on one work is so common is because we seem to have this like hyper fixation in the online business world with ideal client personas. And if you ever heard me talk about ideal client personas before, you know that I have a big belief that they’re like, almost useless. Not entirely, we still use them a little bit uh, here at HCO, but like, they really have the least amount of bearing on anything that you do in your business. Really? What an ideal client persona helps you do is start to humanize. Oh, I actually am like intending to work with a real person. Like that’s really what it does is it just helps to humanize and kind of opens the door for us to then explore who your true right foot client is when we are kind of hyper fixated on this ideal client persona. You know, it’s like, oh, this, you know, I had this discovery call and me and this person were just vibing. And so we had so many things in common and we had so many of the same values and whatever. Right. Like, and they’re, they’re looking for exactly the kind of work that I do. If that’s what we’re looking for, someone who kind of matches a set of psychographics and demographics, then we’re going to see that person, we’re going to think. Oh, yeah. Great like tick that box. This is the right person, but an ideal client, someone could totally match your ideal client persona and not be a right fit because they are not also best positioned to succeed in your work. They don’t have previous experiences that empower them to do well in your work or they don’t have like even necessary characteristics or even present experiences that empower them to do well in your work. One of the biggest examples I see of this is with done for you service providers where they have clients who kind of have this vision where if they just pay money, then like voila, the thing will happen. And yeah, it is done for you. So like there is an element of that, but you know, if you’re done for your service provider, you know that the clients who do the best in your work are actually to a degree involved in the process. Now, not over involved. That’s also another indication that they’re not a right fit, but they are present for the process. And they’re not just saying, ok, here’s the money buy now make it happen. Like that’s not what they’re doing because that actually isn’t how you’re going to be able to do your best work. Either you need them to be interested in what’s going on and connected to what’s happening and giving feedback. And again, in many ways, being part of the process in order to not only succeed with like the actual project, but just succeed with continuing to use whatever the things that they’re building, that you’re building for them. Right? So someone could be an ideal client, you could vibe with them. They could have similar values to you. They could have dreams and hopes and aspirations and fears that are aligned with your ideal client persona, but they might not actually have the past experiences, the present availability, the whatever to be able to be best positioned to succeed in your work. They also might not actually be purchased ready. I can’t tell you how many people, how many business owners try to sell to someone who needs to be convinced that they need their work. And I, I’ve done this myself, I literally, when I was a brand strategist, I have probably told this story before about how I spent a whole month. I was like, I need new clients and you know, everyone online says that you get clients by being consistent. So I’m gonna spend one whole month talking about why you need a brand strategy. Did I get any clients that month? No, because someone who has to be convinced that they need a brand strategy is not actually purchase ready. And so if I’m having to convince them, oh, you do need this. And then let’s say I did actually successfully convince someone and I have worked with clients actually where I, you know, in the past convinced them you need to do this and then they’re like, oh, ok. Yeah, I do need to do this and then we work together. You know what then ends up happening is that you have to as the business owner keep convincing them. No, I promise it’s worth it to keep doing this. I promise it’s worth it to take these steps. I know you want to just rush to the end, but I promise it’s worth it. You have to also think about is this person actually purchase ready and not just purchase ready in the sense of I’m going to fling money at this, but purchase ready. Also in the sense of I understand that yes, this is something that I need but also yes, I am invested in really truly getting the result of this. Not just oh my gosh, please get this result for me. No, like I am invested in doing what I need to do to get this result. Again, someone could be an ideal client, but they might not be physiologically ready to transform. They might not physiologically in their very body. Be able to do the things that they need to do in order to transform, they might be able to experience a momentary breakthrough may be able to, you know, like do some of the work with you. But when it comes to actually truly transforming and then sustaining a transformation physiologically, they might not be ready. A true right? Fit client. Is somebody who is sure, you know, we’re using the ideal client as an entry point, but a true right fit client is someone who is also best positioned to succeed, who is also actively purchase ready and who is also physiologically ready to transform. So many business owners have experiences of attracting wrong fit or not yet right fit clients into their work, especially in their one on one work. And many business owners will even attract numerous wrong fits into their work to the point where they start to think. And I again, I’ve seen this with so many clients. We’ve had this conversation to the point where they start to think. Well, anyone who wants this offer is just this way, anyone who wants to, you know, have me write their website cocky doesn’t actually know what their brand voice is. And so then we start to think, well, maybe I need to like, help them figure out their brand voices or anyone who needs to do life coaching doesn’t actually know that they want life coaching. And so I have to like, you know, do a free session with them, a free coaching session even after the discovery call to like convince them, no, I promise it’s worth it. Like we all have this experience or have had this experience and sometimes it’s really easy when we’ve had a repeating experience to think. Oh, it’s just anyone who wants this offer, this is a wrong fit person or this is just how it is, which of course, then if it’s like, well, this is just how it is, then, yeah, I might not want to ever do one on one work again. But the reality is that it’s rarely true that anyone who wants this offer or your work in general is a wrong fit client. Like it’s rarely true that like, literally no one could be a right fit rather. What’s often true is that you are consistently attracting wrong fits, which means that you now have an opportunity right? Here’s your opportunity to explore why you are attracting wrong fit or not yet, right? Fit clients. That ability starts by understanding who your true right foot client is. I kind of, you know, have spoken a bit to this already. This is something we also go a little bit deeper on inside of our free Master class, the Sustainable Success starter kit. I’ll link that below, but we have to start there with actually looking at who is your true right? Fit client. Once we understand who your true right fit client is, and we can differentiate between this person is a right fit. This person is a wrong fit. This person is a not yet right fit person for this offer. When we understand that or at least have a like an introductory understanding to that, then we want to look at the more forward facing elements of your business. We wanna look at your messaging, at your copy, at your marketing, at the way that you’re generating leads, even at your sales process, we want to look at those more forward facing elements and explore why are you attracting the type of people that you’ve been attracting? I’m gonna give you a couple of examples here. So many business owners are blind to the power that they have to quite literally define the types of clients they attract, which again goes back to why we start to think, oh, well, I’ve been attracting all these people who are this particular way. Like maybe that’s just how it is with this offer because they don’t realize no, they actually have power to define the types of clients theyre attracting. And if you have been persistently attracting people who are draining to work with, then that’s not actually an indication that those are the only people interested. That’s an indication that something about the way that you are presenting, your work is attractive to those people and not to true, right? Fit people. Let me give you some very basic examples here. Let’s say you are creating content about why you need to prioritize self care, right? You’re maybe you’re a life coach or I don’t know, like a rest coach or something and you’re creating content constantly about why you need to prioritize self care. Who are you going to attract? You’re going to attract people who need to be convinced that it is worth their while to prioritize self care. This person who needs to be convinced that it’s worth my while to prioritize self care. They are probably not going to be willing to invest a sustainable for you rate because they have to be convinced that it’s worthwhile. They might not even be willing to invest anything at all because they haven’t already decided themselves that they need to prioritize self care. So, yeah, you’re gonna keep attracting people who are like lowballing you or who are saying that’s too expensive or whatever because you’re speaking to people who need to be convinced that they need to prioritize self care or let’s say you’re creating content about, you know, speaking to people who are overwhelmed by all of their to do s who are you going to attract? You’re going to literally attract people who are overwhelmed by all of their to dos. No, someone who’s overwhelmed by all of their to do s actually is likely to hire you, especially if you’re like a done for you person, like a virtual assistant even. But then they’re going to be a little bit nightmarish to work with because they are so overwhelmed by all of their to do s that. Now they are adding one more thing to their plate working with you that is now another to do and that is going to entirely overwhelm them and now become yet another thing that they can’t keep up with or stay on top of nightmare for you, but also nightmare for them. If you created content about five foods to heal your gut, who are you going to attract? You’re going to attract people who want a quick fix for something that you actually know needs to be a holistic lifestyle change and can’t fully be fixed by eating five foods and changing nothing else. The person who wants a quick fix for something that you know, needs to be a holistic lifestyle change isn’t going to want to do the work that is truly required in order to transform. And it’s either going to leave you tentative to do your whole process or fighting to show them why they need to do your whole process or some combination of both your messaging your marketing copies, sales processes, the way you’re generating leads all of those external facing elements of your business are doing their job if they preemptively weed out wrong fit and not yet right fit people and allow the right fit people to filter through if they are not doing that. And your finding like it just seems like everyone who’s attracted to this offer or who is interested in this work is this kind of way that is exhausting for me and actually isn’t effective for anyone. If you’re finding a pattern there, then yes, start by getting clear on who your true right. Fit client is. But then also look at how am I presenting my work and am I presenting it in a way that is actually speaking to and attractive to the true right fit or am I maybe very likely without even realizing it speaking to a totally wrong fit client, as I was saying before, you know what I one work is where these problems, so to speak. But also our opportunities within those problems tend to really crop up because they are the fastest place for them to crop up, right? They’re the fastest kind of loudest space that will capture our attention, which means then that we have an opportunity to see. Hey, this thing is happening, I wanna do something about this. I’m attracting wrong fit people. I wanna actually get clear on why I’m attracting wrong fit people and fix that thing. And again, if we can kind of hold on to that opportunity and we can say, oh my gosh, like that’s what’s actually going on here and we can fix that then not only is that going to attract better people into our one on one that’s also going to attract better people across all of our offers even. And especially if you are saying I want to sell courses or I want to sell templates or digital products or group programs, you’re going to be more effective attracting right fit people in all of the places, not just in the one on one, our second kind of problem here that also has of course, an opportunity for us to strengthen how we’re showing up in all of our businesses. Not just one on one is, are you carrying responsibility for your clients success? And maybe even sometimes doing so more than they are. This is so huge. Like, I mean, maybe all four of these are huge. Maybe I shouldn’t even say which one of these is the biggest because I just see all of them so much. But this one is so huge. I met so many coaches and service providers practitioners in business. We carry responsibility for her client’s success sometimes even more than they are carrying responsibility for their success. Now, I just wanna name that sometimes this one is hard to spot within ourselves because frankly, it’s just so normalized like it is often one of those things where it’s easy to think. Oh, I don’t really do that. And then the more that we sit with it, we’re like, oh my gosh, actually, this like bleeds into every single thing that I do. So I wanna give you a couple of potential indicators that you might be doing this and now you don’t have to, you know, be experiencing every single one of these indicators. But even if you’re just experiencing one of them, I invite you to kind of again, use that as an entry point and use that to explore. Is there more here? Are there other manifestations or other things that I’m doing or other things that I’m not doing because I am carrying that responsibility. So one indicator that you might be carrying responsibility for your clients, success is that you can start to feel anxiety when a one on one client isn’t seeing results fast enough or really just when any client isn’t seeing results fast enough or maybe you see a client sabotaging in some way and you start to like really carry that and you start to be like, oh my gosh, like, how do I help them get out of this? How do I help them stop doing that? Like, what do I need to do where it kind of, you know, might even be like waking you up in the middle of the night or it’s just like sitting with you in other spaces or you’re thinking, you know, you’re kind of obsessing over, how do I help them? What should I do? Am I doing enough? Another indicator that you might be carrying responsibility for your client success kind of to follow from that last one is thinking about how you can help a client achieve their desired results at all hours of the day or at least at like random hours of the day. This might come as a surprise to some of you. Like I know it would have for me a few years ago, but you are allowed to only think about your clients when you are actually working on their project or when you are actually in a session or conversation supporting them. There have been so many times in my past as a business owner where I was, like, out and about maybe I was grocery shopping or I was like, at dinner with my boyfriend or whatever, like where I was just kind of living my life. But I was mulling over the back of my head, like, oh, what did I do to help this client or what does this client need to do or? Well, what if they tried this strategy or? I was just like, constantly thinking about it. Whereas these days, you know, with my one on one clients, I’ll be honest, I love working with them and I’m not in between sessions sitting there thinking, oh, what’s going on with them? Like, well, what if they did this? No. Sure. A random idea might like spark and that’s totally different, right? If I’m like, doing something totally unconnected to them and then an idea sparks, I might be like, oh, yeah, like, hey, that’s, that’s something I’m gonna bring to them. But I am no longer sitting there mulling over. How do I make sure that my clients are succeeding or what if they did this or why is that happening? No, if I’m not in a session with them or I’m not on boxer with them, I’m not really thinking about that and not in a cold hearted way, but just in a way of I’m trusting them to do what they need to do to come to me when they need support and if there is something we agreed to like follow up on or that kind of thing. Sure, I’ll do that, of course, but I’m not carrying it. Have you experienced any of these or even anything else? Have you experienced any of these indicators that you are carrying responsibility for your clients success? If you take one thing from this, I really hope that you’re hearing here, we are not responsible for making our clients succeed mostly because we actually can’t make them succeed. The only person who can make anyone succeed is the actual person. Now, other people can help, who can support, can speed up the process can like, be a catalyst, of course, but we cannot make anyone else succeed. Only they can do that. The analogy I consistently return to with this one is like, let’s say you wanted to run a marathon and you’re like, I’ve never run a marathon before. I’ve never even run a five K before, but I wanna run a marathon in six months. Whatever. I don’t know, I’ve never run a marathon. So I don’t know the right training schedule. And you’re like, ok, well, part of this, because I have never done this before. I’m gonna hire a running coach. So you hire the running coach and then maybe you’ll get to race day and you can’t finish the marathon if you cant finish the marathon. Are you going to say, ah, my running coach, they didn’t do enough. They didn’t yada, yada, yada, they should have done this. They should have done that. Hopefully not. Hopefully, what you’ll actually realize is, hey, you know what, all I actually did for the last six months was, ran in the two sessions a week with my running coach. Did I do any of the other stuff that I was supposed to do in between sessions? No. Ok. I’m taking responsibility here. I get to do this. Now, of course, the running coach in this example, they do have some responsibility, right? Like if you’re in month three and they’re like, hey, you’re not actually making progress, what’s going on here, then that’s gonna be helpful because at that’s the moment that hopefully you can be honest and you can be like, actually, I haven’t been doing anything else. I’ve been a couch potato for the other five days a week. I just literally haven’t exercised at all in between these sessions. Yeah, the running coach has that responsibility. Running coach also has responsibility for like being an expert at what they do and actually knowing how to put together a training plan that works and all of that, of course, but if you got to race day and you couldn’t finish the race and you hadn’t done anything other than just show up for those sessions with the running coach but did nothing else you can’t blame the coach. And really, even if like three months in the coach had that conversation with you, like, hey, I’m seeing that you’re not doing these things or I’m seeing that you’re not making that progress, even if they had that conversation with you and then you did nothing else with that. It’s still not their fault that you couldn’t finish the race because it still is on you to do the things that you need to do in order to succeed. Right? So we cannot, no matter how great we are at our work. Even if you’re done for a service provider, we cannot make other people succeed. Only they can do that. And in fact, it’s often by us holding the energy of I am responsible for making sure that my clients succeed, that we end up attracting wrong fit clients because wrong fit clients don’t want to carry responsibility for their success, not all of them, but some of them or we had checked, not Right fit clients because only really a true right foot client is ready to carry that responsibility for their success. But also by us holding this energy of I’m responsible for their success. It actually ends up disempowering the client. It actually disempowers them from being able to succeed. I shared a really small example of this in last week’s episode, episode 21 where I answered some of the questions that our expanded clients asked me in boxer office hours. But just to give you a brief overview of the example here and you can go listen to episode 21. If you want more of this, I was talking with one of my clients and expand and they were saying that they sometimes get caught in a start stop pattern where, you know, they come to box office hours, they leave so inspired, they’re so ready. And then a week later, they kind of fall in a hole and they kind of get stuck there for a little bit. And they go through this, then eventually they get out of the hole and then they’re inspired again and they have the momentum that they fall in the hole again. My first inclination when I heard this client say that was maybe I need to like do more boxer office hours. It was like, oh my gosh, like maybe I need to have more regular support because like, if, you know, I don’t want my clients to get stuck in a hole. And then I realized actually I could try to prevent our clients from ever experiencing a start stop pattern. But all that would ever be is a band aid because as soon as they stopped working with us, they would probably experience the biggest stop that they have ever had in their entire business because now they would no longer have me or our team to ensure that they don’t ever stop and they won’t have built up the capacity to navigate a very normal start stop pattern. I go so much more in depth on that. I talk about like what my responsibility is in that if I do hear a client going and start stop, I talk about all of that in episode 21 I’m not gonna go into that again here. But that just to give you an example here of by trying to take responsibility for a client success, it might work in the short term, but it disempowers them in the long term, releasing ourselves from carrying responsibility for our clients. Success is not really something that I can like lead you through 100% in a simple podcast episode. But the opportunity here is for you to start exploring maybe how caring responsibility for their success is not actually in service of them and then take that where you wanna go with it, right? Like again, we could work with this way more in depth if you join to expand or anything like that. But for now anyway, let this just be an opportunity for you to start exploring. I’m doing this because I very likely think that this is in service. I’m carrying responsibility because oh, I want them to succeed. That seems like a a good reason. And actually how is this maybe not in service of your right foot clients trying to make sure that they succeed. Our next kind of common problem here that contains an opportunity within it for us to strengthen how we’re showing up, not just in one on, on work, but also in all of our work is, have you clearly communicated and maintained your boundaries and expectations? OK. There is so much that I could talk about with boundaries, like so much I’m trying to decide if I’m gonna turn this into a whole other blog post or podcast episode or what if or when I do, I’ll drop it in the show notes below. But there’s so much we could talk about in relation to boundaries. I remember early on working one on one with clients, I would just get so exhausted, doing so again, totally normal kind of rite of passage. And in many ways, though I was dealing with both of the previous issues, some of my one on one clients weren’t actually right fits for the work. And with all of the clients to some degree, I was actually carrying responsibility for their success and both of those things are obviously exhausting enough, but I also didn’t have great boundaries with them. Nor did I ever really communicate any expectations. I remember with one client I had when I was a social media manager part way through our work, they hired someone else with the intention of me training that person, like they hired an in-house person and their intention of hiring that person was, oh, Carly will train them and you know, then that person will be able to take over this role and we don’t have to pay Carly anymore. No, that might rightly incense you. If you’re a service provider, you might have had this happen before me training. Their employee was nothing that we had agreed to ever at all. Right. We had a contract with a statement, uh, what is that called? Statement of war. I just totally forgot what that’s called. I haven’t had to do one of those in a while. We had very clearly like laid out in the contract. What it was that I would do training their employee was not one of them. And yet with this client, I had said yes to so many things beyond the scope of work previously. And without asking for any other money that I had built up a dynamic with this client where they just expected. Oh, Carly will say yes to literally anything that I ask. So of course, you know, from their side. Oh, it’s no big deal. Hey, we decided that this makes sense. We’re just gonna bring this in house. So Carly, you’re gonna train them was no big deal to them because I had not done my responsibility of setting a boundary which I did in the contract. But then actually maintaining the boundary when I had transitioned into brand strategy work. I was living in Australia at the time. One of my clients was a US based start up and I literally in like the three months that we were working together, it was like a we kind of intensified the process by shortening it. I would answer emails at 10 or 11 p.m. my time and then I would also answer emails, you know, at five or 6 a.m. the next morning my time because I was so anxious about, oh my gosh, like, you know, this client at the time, they were paying me the most I had ever been paid by a single client. And so I had all this anxiety like I don’t want to lose them. I need to, I need to answer these emails as soon as they come in. And so I would just spend all day basically right from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep looking at my email, making sure they hadn’t emailed me replying to them as soon as they emailed. Like I was so on edge for three months or however long it was that we worked together so on edge. And did we ever communicate? Oh, Carly will respond to all emails within two hours, probably even shorter than that. No, we did not ever communicate that but by not communicating anything about like expectations around communication. And then by me actually consistently replying in such a like short time span after receiving an email, what I actually was communicating was I will reply at any hour of the day instantaneously, practically instantaneously. I didn’t fulfill my responsibility as the business owner to set boundaries and expectations around here is how communication works. Here are boundaries around communication. Here is expected time frames around communication. I didn’t fulfill my responsibility there, but not only did I not fulfill the responsibility of setting that I also didn’t fulfill a responsibility of maintaining it. And actually, instead what I maintained was I am available at all hours of the day to respond to you right away. Like that’s actually what I maintained. Of course, that was exhausting. I could keep giving you so many examples. By the way, I have so many examples of areas where I just like, totally dropped the ball in my responsibility as the business owner to communicate, to set, to maintain these boundaries and expectations. I’ve worked with clients, you know, again across all sorts of different industries, you know, where they’re getting on a call real quick with their clients, like their clients are saying, hey, can we just like hop on a call real quick and they’re like, oh my gosh, yes. Ok. We’ll hop on a call right now like they would drop anything to get on the call right in that moment. Or I’ve worked with clients on their boundaries around their pricing, right? Where maybe they are in a discovery call with someone and they’re before they even see the price point already starting to think. Oh, well, I don’t think this person can afford it So I’m gonna give them a lower price point or I’ll say the price point and then I’ll say, but like if that doesn’t work with you, like, you know, we can negotiate it and find something else that will, like, that’s another boundary. I’ve actually worked with quite a few clients on, I worked with clients on boundaries around allowing themselves to set their calendar availability during the hours that work best for them rather than having their calendar open to anyone at any point just in case a time works better for the other person. Even though that time is not actually great for the business owner themselves. The key here is that boundaries or rather lack of them tends to be a huge energy drain, especially in one of a one on one client relationships. And again, it’s easy to think like, oh, well, one on one clients, they’re the problem like they just need so much from me. But actually, if boundaries are the issue like, oh my gosh, I think out of all four of these things, boundaries are the biggest experts at showing up in other areas of our businesses or even in our lives and causing bigger problems there. Now deciding what boundaries you need to set or expectations, you need to communicate, building up the capacity to set and communicate and maintain those boundaries. That’s actually a big part of what we do inside of expand through, especially our 20 plus opportunities. For in depth one on one support and truth be told, I I’m like, really trying to think, am I being honest with this? But I actually don’t know if a month has gone by for a while now, probably since starting expand or at least for the last couple of years when I haven’t had a couple of conversations minimum on boundaries with our expand clients. Like every single month, it feels like there is some conversation where an expand client is saying like, oh, this thing is happening in my business and what it really comes down to is they have an opportunity to set a boundary to maintain a boundary to communicate a boundary. I think this honestly, it’s so common is really what I’m trying to say here, it’s so common. And if you’re wanting to build a sustainably successful business, like actually having these boundaries, communicating the boundaries, having the capacity to maintain the boundaries are so crucial to being able to do so your opportunity here again, like this is such a deeper conversation we can’t go fully into. Here’s all the things that you can do with boundaries at the moment. But your opportunity here is to look at is there one place, one place and like it can be like the smallest thing but one place maybe in your one on one work or in anything but choose one specific place where you see that you need to have better boundaries or clearer expectations with a client. Let’s see if you can find one place to give you some examples. Maybe you need to stop going overtime in almost all of your client sessions or you need to set better expectations around how and when clients can communicate with you and expect a response or you need to set clearer expectations around late payments, or maybe there’s even a boundary that you need to set of charging price points that are actually sustainable for you to deliver your work at. Find one specific place in your business, in your work in something where you see, you know what I have an opportunity here to actually have a boundary. It might even just be to literally have a boundary. Like maybe you’re not even yet ready to communicate that boundary, but like to just own for yourself. You know what I would like to have a boundary there, choose one area get as specific as you can with that. And then however, you’d like to do reflection or inner work. I invite you to explore what is not holding this boundary or communicating this expectation doing for me what is not holding this boundary or communicating this expectation doing for me as just an example, let’s say you’re someone who consistently goes over time in your client sessions, maybe what that is doing for you or how that is serving you would be another way to say that is that it is ensuring that you don’t have to do something that feels uncomfortable, like interrupting a client. So you not holding a boundary of heres, how long sessions are, is actually protecting you from not having to do something that feels scary like interrupting a client. Or, I mean, this could even go back to the previous point where you keep going overtime in client sessions because you’re carrying that responsibility for their success. And so you’re consistently staying in the session longer than was agreed upon because, oh, but they need me to or you know, maybe you’re letting clients reach out to you and request support anywhere. So now you have like people emailing you and now they’re messaging you in Facebook in Instagram, they’re talking to Unb Boxer and how you have communication happening all over the place rather than just having, hey, here’s how we communicate. There’s like one designated channel for communication by not communicating that boundary. Now, you’re not having to face a fear of being disliked for not molding yourself into someone else’s preferences and or by purportedly having no preferences yourself. Again, there’s so much more depth that we could go to here around boundaries, around expectations, but I invite you to at least begin exploring them because again, if we can start to strengthen this in this one area that is going to have that knock on effect of it now being even easier to show up in the rest of your business even in the rest of the client container having boundaries in those places as well. Ok. This final place, this final kind of problem here, the thing that often can make one on one client work especially feel exhausting. But where there is truly another opportunity for us to strengthen how we’re showing up in our one on one work, but in all of our business as well, is this, are you building the business that you would like to one day have or are you building the business that you have today? Now? This one is a little tricky because there’s a lot of support in this online business world for. Oh, well, like, you know, you need to build the business that you want to have. And that’s true, right? Like, I mean, this even comes down to things like people saying, oh, outsource before you’re ready or I don’t even know if that’s the only one I can think of right now. But it, it’s, it is everywhere. I should have come up with more examples before I started recording. It’s ok. Here we are. So this though, it’s, it’s actually really like, supported in this on online business industry to try to jump to the end essentially. And what often ends up happening though when we try to jump to the end is that we skip over things that actually are like crucial experiences or even just like processes, we end up skipping over things that have to happen in order for us to be able to get to where we want to go, like, we can’t as with anything, we can’t just jump to the end and say, well, this is the business I wanna have. We can’t just be like, hey, I’m making, I don’t know, 50 grand a year in my business total revenue. And I’m gonna hire a team of 10 people because that’s the business I want to have. What is that going to do? Gonna freaking overwhelm you first and foremost, like becoming a boss is a totally different thing than becoming a business owner. Both are great, both are valuable. Both, you know, I would recommend both and it’s a totally different journey. So now, not only are you learning here’s how to be a business owner, but you’re also learning how to be a boss, 2, 10 people at the same time or even just two people, three people. That’s even, that is a big jump. And then also though you’re not making the revenue to sustain such a large team, you can’t just jump to the end there. You have to actually do the process of building up the business that can sustain the team of 10 people, right? Like you, you can’t just jump to the end there and trying to jump to the end is actually not going to make it faster, make the journey faster. It actually what it usually ends up doing is making the journey slower. I remember the first time that I turned to expand into a group program, I did so because I had bought into this belief that one on one work is not scalable and that I needed to be focusing on scalability. But let’s be real here at that point in time, at the point of time where I turned expanded to a group program, I was on my way to my first six figure year, but I had not yet had my first six figure year. And I also didn’t actually have real clarity on how to build a group offer that reliably facilitated result. And truthfully, the last thing I needed to be thinking about was scalability because I didn’t already have what I needed to scale. If we’re thinking about scalability, scalability happens when you’re taking something that’s already working. And you look at now, how do I like, you know, 10 X this basically like how do I turn this into a bigger thing? The thing that is already working, scalability is not about, oh, I need to create a Stal able offer so that I can scale. No, it’s what’s actually working. And then how do I take what’s actually working and prepare it to scale? I had just started offering expand a few months prior one on one trying to turn it into. Oh, it’s now a perfectly scalable program. I wasn’t ready for that. I didn’t know what I actually needed for it to be a scalable program. And I didn’t already have something that was working in terms of a group program. Like I need to get the group program working before I think about trying to scale the group program. So you know what I really needed at the time was thinking about how do I bring more clients and how do I become even better at facilitating reliable results? And yet I was thinking about scalability really more as a way to escape my present reality. I thought it was about, I want to build the business, you know, oh, I wanna have this like big business, whatever where I’m impacting thousands of people, right? Like that was kind of the thought. But actually what was happening was I was using, I need to scale as a way to escape aspects of my present reality that I was uncomfortable in. I was uncomfortable with selling. Well, hey, turn it into a scalable offer. They say with scalable offers, you don’t have to have discovery calls. Great. Now I get to escape selling. I was uncomfortable with bringing one on one clients in because I had had an experience where a one on one client got angry at me. And so I was like, ok, great, like, hey steal offer group program. Yeah, but actually it was let me escape one on one because I had a client who got angry at me. And that was really scary for me essentially. I went to thoughts on scalability as a way to try to skip over the uncomfortable periods of my business. I was doing that in an effort to get somewhere that I wasn’t actually yet or I wasn’t even ready for yet because I didnt wanna f experience the uncomfortable thing. I just wanted to skip to the end where it was purportedly good. I have a little bit of a news flash though. Business is always gonna be full of uncomfortable things and even getting to the quote unquote end. Right. Whatever that big goal is, you’re like, that’s what I’m working toward. There is gonna be uncomfortable things there, there’s uncomfortable things everywhere, trying to skip over the uncomfortable parts and get to the end already where things are purportedly easy, doesn’t work, you know, that’s my experience. But I’ve seen this with so many business owners where it’s, I need to, I need to, like, just be there already. I wanna have the scalable program. I wanna, you know, not have to do sales called, I wanna whatever it is, have a huge offer suite. I, I don’t know. I’m trying to think of all the things but it can be all sorts of different thing. I want someone else to do my marketing for me. Right. I’ve seen this with so many different business owners where it’s like, I just want to be there already and so they start to try to, like, make these decisions from that place. It’s like I need to build a evergreen funnel when they’re not actually bringing leads in right now in just like their day to day. And so they’re trying to jump to the end, but they have to go through the period in the process today in order to be able to do the thing at the end to the caliber that they actually want to do it, they have to be able to generate leads. Now, I’m just pulling on this example. They have to be able to generate leads now through their content, through having sales conversations, through whatever they have to be able to generate leads. Now, in order to have what they need the experience that they need, in order to set up an evergreen funnel that is actually going to work, we have to go through this growth process organically, we cannot speed ourselves up just because we know what we eventually will need or where we eventually will be. And often it’s when we think that we really need something right now, that’s typically not the time to get it typically because in that moment of, oh my gosh, I need this right now. I need to hire a marketing assistant right now or whatever it is. When we’re in that, I need it right now. We’re typically not in the right physiology to be able to make informed decisions, to be able to make informed decisions about what we’re actually looking for what we truly need, what we actually have capacity for. So bringing this back to one on one work being exhausting could part of why you’re so exhausted, working with one on one clients be because you’re spreading yourself so thin across other aspects of your business, especially in an attempt to be somewhere that you are not actually yet ready to be a really big clue that this might be happening is, is your one on one work if you’re doing one on one work, right? I’m assuming you are because you’re listening to this episode is your one on one work, both supporting you financially to the level it needs to be and providing you extra time and space to do what you need to do to take your business to the next level if it’s not. Right? Like if you’re like, well, no, I’m building a course so that I can make more money without having to spend more time. And I, you know, I need that more money or I’m automating my sales funnel because I just don’t really have the time for sales calls. If that’s actually what’s going on here, I need more money. I need more time trying to do this other thing. In addition to the one on one work is going to end up making it just really exhausting to do any of the things, including the one on one work, including the automating the sales funnel or again, whatever it is. So actually it’s not about I need to add this other thing in. It’s, hey, I have one on one client that’s working. How can I adapt that? How can I adapt the one on one work to support me to have the financial space, but also the time and the energy space to then expand into these other areas. I want to expand into like maybe eventually automating some sort of sales funnel, maybe eventually, yeah, hiring someone to do some of your marketing, like maybe eventually doing these other pieces. But can you take what’s already working to an extent and see how do I adapt this to provide me that space to that space, that time, money energy to be able to expand without like totally exhausting myself in the process. One on one work here in this scenario isn’t actually the problem. It’s that something about how you’ve structured, the one on one work isn’t providing you the space that you need to be able to do the other things or it might not even be the one on one work. It might be back to boundaries, boundaries around your time, around your energy. It might be about any of the other things we’ve already talked about. So your opportunity within this one is really like to look at if this is actually applicable to you here where you are maybe trying to jump to the end already. Look at what can I adapt in my one on one work? Can I raise my price point? Can I do less live sessions? Can I have better boundaries or maybe I only reply on Boxer four days a week instead of five days a week? Like, can I do something to adopt my one on one work so that I will then have the time, the space, the money to be able to expand my business in the way that I want to expand it rather than I’m trying to add all these other things in because, oh my gosh, this one of them work is so exhausting and now I’ve spread myself too thin and now everything is just exhausting. So I, I hope you’re seeing here one on one work is rarely actually the issue itself, right? If you’re feeling exhausted by delivering it, the one on one work is not necessarily the issue, the exhaustion is real. Again, let’s not get that wrong here. But it’s often one of these four areas of opportunity that you have to actually strengthen how you’re showing up in your one on one work and also then strengthen how you’re actually showing up in your whole business. So we talked about a lot here. Oh my gosh. We talked about so much. My invitation to you now is to choose at least one of these kind of four areas of opportunity. And c can you find at least one practical way to strengthen that opportunity, that one specific place in your one on one work.

[Podcast Outro]
Thanks for listening to the Sustainable Success podcast. You’re home for honest conversations about building and running an online business that brings you as much joy as it does revenue. I truly believe that these are the conversations we need to be having more of in our online business community. If you know too, would you leave me a review and/or share this episode with the friends?
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I’m Carly Jo Bell.

(Though you can just call me Carly.)

Carly Jo Bell is a business strategist and mentor, and fonder of Whole Co media. Through her courses and programs, podcast, and one on one coaching, Carly helps pulled-in-every-direction entrepreneurs create a business that brings in as much joy as it does revenue — by cultivating deep self trust, and solid foundations as the first step.

For more from Carly, and to learn about her signature “looking external for inspiration, and internal for answers” approach, join the conversation by signing up for her weekly email series, Carly's Couch.


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