Have you ever felt bad for the size of your current business?
Have you ever stood in front of a wall full of business books that feature stairways or ladders or escalators or upward-moving devices and felt exhausted by the relentless climb?
Because I have.
I’ve been beating myself up in the search for scalability for years now, trying to get what it is that I do to translate to the masses. Only the parts that get left behind in the search for growth are my favorite parts: intimacy and 1-on-1 human interaction.
I fucking love my peeps. I love them when I get to hang out with them in person, when I get to chat with them by phone, or otherwise go ahead and love on ’em because I know their names and faces and their deepest dreams.
Those 1-on-1 interactions are the first to go when I’m trying to move scalable information products and classes. Instead of opening up 100 spots for a class, scalability says I should offer unlimited spots — 500, 800, 3,000, 12,688 — instead.
Except no. If I don’t have a chance to get to know you — you just bought stuff. And you have words of praise or words of concern or you’d like to ask a question and I still don’t know you, so it’s harder to care about you than if I’d kept that class to 100 peeps.
I like knowing people. Not just having access to their purchase histories.
I’m interested in their innermost selves and their revelations. I’m interested in getting people to tell the truth — the deep-down truth they hide from themselves. It’s not easy to find and it’s messy and it’s gorgeous when it shows up.
But that talent — those interests — aren’t scalable. 1-on-1 work is always…1-on-1. This is the demon I’ve been fighting for years — that my dreams should be based on selling more multi-thousand dollar products. I’ve been caught up in the push to be bigger and bigger with way more income and more products and more books and more classes and more events and more employees and more content creation and…are you tired yet?
Because I am.
I’m tired of pushing my business to grow when I actually really, really fucking love it at its current size. (Business is the opposite of the diet industry — we push for bigger instead of skinnier.)
Today, I’m pulling a Bill Watterson.
He created Calvin and Hobbes and was happy. Period. He never caved to endless licensing deals and offers, despite relentless offers. He could have had thirty times more money than he made simply making comics and selling books, but he was very clear about the way he wanted his days to look. He could have literally made millions with the single stroke of his signature across a contract. But.
He wanted to draw. He wanted to make. He wanted to be in charge of his characters. And his days dictated his business decisions.
So often, we let our businesses dictate our daily decisions.
We have blank slates that get jammed with…stuff…like e-mail and social media and client calls and product orders and customer care and making and editing and planning and rejigging and putting out fire after fire.
Only just like Bill Watterson, we’re in charge of our days. We don’t have to take that bright and shining offer just because it’s bright and shining. We don’t have to push our businesses to grow if we’re not experiencing a season of growth ourselves. We don’t have to say “Yes” because we “should” or we’re scared that a similar opportunity won’t present itself.
I’m shaping my days the way I would like, and we’ll see how business goes from there. Instead of the other way ’round. That means small classes and events on the horizon. More personal interaction. Less scheming up attempts to make a perfect $x,000 program that I convince thousands of people buy. (It just isn’t me, dammit. I’ve been plotting for YEARS.)
In other words, I’m pulling a Bill Watterson.
Artwork by the amazing Zen Pencils.