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3 Stages of Business – Where do you fit?

No matter how long we have been in business for ourselves, we often trip up along the way. Sometimes this happens because we have missed a step. 

Oh boy. If my business coach was here right now, looking over my shoulder as I write this, she would be saying, “Yes, Janice and usually building your email list is the step that was missed in Stage 1.”  And the proof is there in our own journeys. How many business owners create a new product or service but have no one to sell it to right out of the gate? 

There are THREE stages during our online business journeys and in each stage, you can make money as a service-based professional, consultant or coach. Check off the boxes that describe you in your business today to determine which stage is the closest to your business now.

Which Stage Describes You Best Today?

Stage One: Skill + Service

⬜ You are experimenting with social media.

⬜ You have 3-10 clients and work with them 1:1 in person or online.

⬜ Your earning power might produce supplemental income but not full-time income.

⬜ You may have less experience than others in your field, but you are learning as you grow.

⬜ Your contact names are in a list in Google, Outlook or similar data management programs or apps.

⬜ You are testing the waters on your service delivery, i.e. your style, approach and expected outcomes.

Stage Two: Community + Branding

⬜ You have identified your niche.

⬜ Your network includes people who are not your clients.

⬜ You are confident with your skill in providing your service.

⬜ You are working on building a community and have a following on social media.

⬜ You have started adding names to an email service provider and send out occasional emails. 

⬜ Your earning power gives you a comfortable income to meet business and personal expenses, but you want more.

⬜ You are diversifying your income streams through 1:1 coaching or consulting, webinars, blogging, and affiliate marketing.

Stage Three: Scale + Growth

⬜ You are expanding your 1:1 services by adding group coaching programs, cohort-based-learning programs, VIP Days, specialty 3-day retreats, and unique services you have researched. 

⬜ You are considering or have started a course your audience can purchase and implement 24/7 while using software to provide customers with a service using online learning platforms, commonly referred to as SaaS, such as Kajabi, Teachable, Kartra, Gumroad, Podio, Thinkific, Wishlist plug-in, etc. 

⬜ Your marketing methods are consistent and produce results utilizing email marketing, social media, blogs, advertising, and strong networking and relationship building. 

⬜ Your earning power has reached your desired middle goal and you have found ways to scale your business without working more hours.

Make Money in Phases

Stage by Stage, Show Me the Money

In Stage One, it’s a lot of “door to door” marketing. This means referral, networking, events, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Your primary income source is one-to-one services. You have set your prices low and may be afraid to raise them. You are working your tail off and sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it.

When you’re in Stage One, and you’re still working face-to-face, one-on-one…

Because your priority in this step is to prove yourself.

Sounds simple enough right? 😉

The thing is, you want to be focused on acquiring your first 5-15 face-to-face clients…

And then start testing out your coaching on them.

$$ – Don’t leave your day job

Having your prices low right now is okay, but there’s a way to do it. Set your price to what it should be and then offer new clients a lower price (but not too low) if they agree to give you a recorded testimonial or, in some cases, serve as a case study.  

Your priority in Stage One should be the same… getting clients WINS.

Test your coaching or service delivery methods on them. Keep asking for feedback. Work with them to create the best outcomes possible. Remain open to changing your approach and listening to your clients well.

As they reach milestones, be sure to acknowledge and record their goal and outcome. You both want to celebrate these WINS and showcase them in groups and marketing materials.

What about Stage Two?

When you reach this stage, your priorities have to evolve, so you spend less one-on-one time. This means you must shift from focusing purely on your in-person delivery to building your first online program, a membership, or a group coaching program! 

$$ Stage 2 – Ready to go full-time
You’ll want to move entirely to online systems…i.e., Automate everything you can. 

    •  Use a super email service provider.
    •  Have your website up and running with great SEO. 
    •  Post blogs regularly and repurpose each piece of content in three different ways. (Blog, Newsletter, Social Media)
    •  Build your email list through a great freebie and sales funnel.

And the final biggie you’ll need to focus on…

Note what’s working well, what isn’t, and what’s getting the best results!

This was a crucial step when I pivoted to creating a membership and soon releasing a lower-price atomic mini-course product.  

And by the way – this is a good time to REVIEW your prices.

Do a fee comparison for your niche and, if applicable, geographically. Look at your business and client acquisition costs and add 10% to your final numbers.

Stage 2 Change-Maker

Decide on one new product at a time and commit to the launch stages:

⬜ Idea generation and outline

⬜ Preparation Stage

⬜ Pre-launch Stage

⬜ Launch Stage

⬜ Follow-up Stage (often left to chance – but not You!)

Once your “new thing” is sailing along, you will be ready to shift your priorities to stage 3.

Stage Three.

So here’s where you can scale. I know scaling is a buzzword now. Think of it as ways to increase your income without increasing your regular work hours. Yes, you need to put the time into creating products, but once they are up and running, the sales should be on autopilot. Depending what level of support you provide will determine how much ongoing time you will need to invest. Here are some ideas to ponder:

    •  Build online courses, cohort-based learning, along with evergreen courses…
    •  Use automated systems for things like booking consults…
    •  Set up a membership platform using Kajabi, Teachable, Kratra, Wishlist or Thinkific.
    •  Dip your toes in paid advertising… ONLY if you have done all the above, have an active email list, and established a YouTube channel.  

So what should your priority be for every stage?

I’ve got three words for you… Hire a Mentor or Business Coach.
You can reach your ultimate goals when you have a mentor or coach to work with you and keep you on track. 

This is your number one priority. 😉

Taking a do-it-all-and-get-it-done-approach… will lead to burnout. 

You got this!


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Janice Hurlburt Online Management


I help coaches and entrepreneurs shine their expertise online, by making the process of building their online presence fun, simple, and ready-for-success.

My digital agency will take care of the technology for you, help you shine like a star and get your expertise and efforts noticed. When you make me your partner in online management, I become the navigator of your journey, helping you map your success, attract the right clients, grow online and make more money.

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