The Profitable Alternative to a Client-Based Business

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I started my first business at 19 years old. That business quickly grew to multiple six figures and half a million dollars by year two. While the business model itself is still an incredibly profitable option for entrepreneurs, that type of business was not aligned with my goals and ideals of entrepreneurship.

I sold that business in 2012 and transitioned into an online-education business model. I wanted to make money with my mind, not my body.

I’ve been fortunate to have grown this business to the point that it allows us to travel full-time. I’m writing this article to you from Nice, France. My wife and I have spent the last three months in Europe exploring cities, experiencing history, eating delicious food and all the while growing our business.

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In 2021, we changed our business model significantly, which has revolutionized how we spend our time. We decided to stop offering all forms of client work and fulfillment services. We transitioned to a model where we get paid for what we teach.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for 22 years. I feel like the thing that we don’t think about as entrepreneurs is how we want to spend our time. Automatically, the assumption is that you need clients to generate revenue. More specifically, you need to offer client and/or fulfillment services if you’re going to make real money.

There is an alternative business model to the client-based model. If you’re going to build a business that allows you freedom and financial security, you have to get clear on what type of model aligns with your future goals. Client services are not the only option.

The education-only model

A client-based business means a consumer hires you to do something. You charge a fee, and you deliver the work. That equation does not consider that there are several factors that lead to a successful result.

You can’t control every aspect of what creates a result, but when you offer a client-based model, you have to. A lot of the responsibility from a client-based business model falls on the entrepreneur. Does that work for you?

The alternative is an education-only business model. You get paid to teach something, and the implementation and result are the client’s responsibility. In other words, you show them how, and they decide if they’ll take action.

The education-only business model is more scalable. All of your time is not spent working on projects and delivering work to clients. You sell pre-packaged information online that doesn’t require your time to deliver.

You can sell e-books, digital-information products, online master classes and other forms of online training. Offering digital-information training means that you can put it behind a paywall and continue to sell it 24/7. The beauty of this model is that you’re not on the hook to fulfill anything. You’re selling online training.

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The challenge of client work is that sometimes the entrepreneur cares more about getting results than the person that hired them. In the education-only model, you’re giving consumers what they need to get a successful outcome, but they have to want it and take action.

You can supplement training with a private community or offer monthly Q&A if you want to add more value. You could give training and an outlet for consumers to get their questions answered. But how they take action and their consistency falls on them, not you.

Guarantees lead to working for free

One of the first questions you’re probably asked during discovery calls is if you offer a guarantee. Potential clients love guarantees.

More than a few consumers feel jaded for having been scammed or ripped off. Still, it’s important to understand that it’s not your responsibility to make up for every other lousy experience a consumer has had. Your goal is to deliver the best possible information and offer real value. But it’s not to be the savior of the internet.

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Guarantees will have you working longer and harder to fulfill something that may be outside of your control. There are dozens of factors that go into a successful result. More than likely, you don’t control those factors.

The education-only model takes you away from a situation where guarantees are wanted or expected. In the education-only model, you’re providing training only.

Think about how you want to spend your time

More than anything, the goal for many entrepreneurs is time, freedom and financial security. We want to wake up and spend our time in the way we want to spend it.

A business model where your primary offer is training means you won’t spend all your time on client work. It means you can record content, put it behind a paywall and sell it. Or it means you have classes scheduled for a specific time each month. Once you do the training, your time is yours to do what you want with it.

Service providers often work long, hard hours when offering client work. It’s not uncommon for a majority of your day to be spent on projects for clients. You have to ask yourself how you want to spend your time.

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We live in the digital information age. Billions of people log onto the internet and social media every single day. When your business is set up as an education-only model, your time can be spent creating content and sales posts that point consumers towards your training.

You can create lifestyle-based or educational content through podcasts, YouTube videos and leveraging other people’s audiences. Your time can be spent talking about things that light you up instead of always being on the hunt for projects to fulfill.

A client-based business is not the only option we have today as entrepreneurs. Your experience and knowledge can be valuable training packaged and sold in a semi-passive way to generate revenue. Building an education-only business takes time and a lot of effort, but it’s something that can be done and maybe lead to a better balance for you.

Client work may be for you, and that’s good. You should always do what makes sense for you. As a fellow entrepreneur, I want to ask you, have you thought about how you want to spend your time?

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