Variety is the Spice of…Business!

Yes, I have been radio silent (blog silent?) for the past couple of months.

One reason is that I have been working on developing online, on-demand courses to help people improve their productivity.

I have invested in software, education, graphic design, and many, many hours. I’m fully engaged in this endeavor after “thinking about it” for the past eight years.

Why have I not created on-demand courses before?

  • I love the real-time interaction with participants from live sessions.
  • I make good money from in-person and virtual training sessions.
  • I can tailor my messages to each audience.
  • Delivering live courses is so much easier than developing online courses.
  • I felt “snug as a bug in a rug” with my existing business model.

It is time to be brave.

It is time to muzzle my inner critic who loves to tell me…

  • If you build it, no one will come.
  • You will never make enough money to justify the time invested.
  • Online courses will steal clients from your live ones.

It is time to remember the “radical trust in the perfect unfolding of my life” that began early in the pandemic.

 

Variety and the Business Owner

When you are a solopreneur, you are the CEO, COO, VP of Sales, CFO, and so on. You must want to run a business as much, if not more, than you want to practice your craft.

I love running a business. It appeals to my desire for variety.

Speaking of variety, don’t you just love my new coffee cups?

Onward…

In business, we often strive for automation and efficiency. That’s productive, right?

For example, most California wineries strive for consistency in their bottles year after year. The benefit to the customer is a predictable glass. Customers enjoy knowing what flavors are about to hit the palate.

By contrast, bottles from French wineries vary according to the “terrior.” Terrior is a French term for the variance in wine according to region, soil, traditions, climate, etc. Thus, the year and appellation on the bottle makes a huge difference in the glass. It is less predictable, but also enjoyable, especially for those of us who love variety.

I believe that my love of variety has contributed positively to being a successful business owner.

I also believe that my love of variety has led me to pooh-pooh the many requests I receive for online, on-demand, versions of my training courses.

It’s time to visit California.

 

The Tension between Variety and Consistency

Below are a series of video excerpts from an episode of The Customer Experience Podcast on which I was a guest recently.

You may listen to the full podcast episode here.

Here are some of the main points in the episode:

 

First, our customers want to feel seen and validated. You can arrive at this goal through either the California or the French approach to wine making, right?

 

Second, I believe that customers want personalized experiences. They want to be approached as an individual even when buying something that is produced en masse.

 

Third, content creators must balance efficiency and customization when approaching potential new clients. We must find that middle ground between sending 1,000 impersonal emails versus doing a half day of research on a single prospect.

 

The Marriage of Variety and Consistency

Because I love variety so much, I often manufacture it in my life. I will drive a different route home, even if it is a few minutes longer, just to see different scenery. I buy coffee cups that are all different colors, patterns, and textures (see above). I detest planning vacations and prefer spontaneity when I travel.

I was afraid that on-demand courses would be too…fixed.

However, I am learning that I can inject variety into this new product line through efforts such as:

  • Personalized outreach to students
  • Periodic updates to existing courses
  • Adding new courses
  • Trying new sales strategies
  • Challenging myself to venture into scary “terrior”

I will step out of my preferred comfort zone in France and joyfully serve the California clients.

This will be fun…and different!

 






Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.

9 Comments

  1. Sabrina Quairoli

    Congratulations on your new adventure. I think we all have some degree of those inner critic statements. Thanks for being honest.

    Reply
    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thanks, Sabrina. You can borrow my inner critic muzzle anytime you want! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Julie Bestry

    I don’t know what I love best, this brilliant post, the way your hair turned out, the fabulous purple shirt, or the mug in the front right, which I first saw during one of our Zooms. BUT I LOVE THEM ALL! This is a great post to add to my own motivation for embarking on a similarly spicy adventure. Viva la variété!

    Reply
    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Can you believe that loopy hair? I didn’t recognize my own reflection. My straight locks are pretty much the only thing I *don’t* like to change regularly.

      Reply
  3. Seana Turner

    Congratulations on putting this together! Yes, I do love your new coffee cups 🙂

    I’m not such a huge fan of variety. I love predictability, and I know this means I miss out on some cool experiences every now and then. I’ve decided I do well with a scene where most things are predictable, and may a couple are spontaneous and different.

    I have straight hair and always want it to be way. Sigh…

    Reply
  4. Janet Barclay

    I’m so excited for you making this big step! I need variety to keep me interested, but routine keeps me on track and grounded, so I totally relate.

    Reply
  5. Diane N Quintana

    Congratulations! I love your coffee cups (the one on the front right is my favorite). I like variety but also like consistency. Recently, I created a weekly schedule for myself so that I would have desk days each week, free time (what a concept), and days with clients. I like the consistency – according to the day of the week and the variety the different clients bring.

    Reply
  6. Hazel Thornton

    I do, indeed, love your new coffee cups, Melissa! As for variety in business, I do think it’s important to offer a variety of ways for clients to benefit from one’s expertise. But I also have always thought that everyone needs a “work hobby” — something, in addition to the actual work, that is related but also creative and fun. For me, although I loved working with clients in person, it was blogging and creating Clutter Flow Charts that provided variety for me. Good luck in “California”!

    Reply
  7. Linda Samuels

    What a wonderful decision-tree you shared how and why you decided to create an online course. So many of the reasons “not” to do it resonate with me. I’ve had those internal conversations too. I believe so strongly in personalizing the work with my clients, that a ‘fixed’ course didn’t appeal to me. But I love how you value that too, but have found ways to incorporate personalization.

    Recently, I shifted one of my procedures for how I manage the Zoom calls with clients. In my need to personalize the process, I opted for a flow that required more management than was really necessary. So recently, I started changing that process and it’s easier for me and my clients. I had to get out of my own way and let go a bit so that I could experiment.

    Lastly, love your coffee cup collection. My favorite is the one on the top right. Black with polka dots does it for me.

    Wishing you all the best with your new venture. I know it will be a tremendous success.

    Reply

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