We’ve been talking at the Kitchen Table about how to get clients and customers.

About how long it takes to biggify your thing. And help I don’t understand what’s wrong how come no one is signing up for my courses and programs dammit.

So I wanted to talk about this here.

But I need to do some explain-ey stuff first about how I perceive business.

It might seem a bit yoga-teacher-meditation-ey at first.

If that’s not useful for you, use this as a map. A piece of my (admittedly yogified) philosophy of business.

Imagine a series of concentric circles. This is your map.

At the very center is a concentrated flow of rays of light.

Points of light. Converging.

It’s beautiful.

As the light radiates towards the outermost circle, it’s begun to diffuse.

It’s light enough to see. Light enough to get a sense of the quality of the light. Light enough to not be in the dark.

But it’s nothing like the clarity and intensity of the light visible towards the center circles.

What lives in the circles?

Starting at the outside.

The outermost circle, where you first sense the existence of the light — where you just begin to step into it — this is the first encounter.

This is where someone first hears about the fact that you and your thing exist.

This is someone mentioning you on Twitter.

This is someone googling random stuff until they click on you.

This is someone saying “oh, I think I know a person who could probably help you with that.”

Or saying something more like this:

“Ooh, if you like that kind of art, you’ll love the stuff my friend does”.

First encounters. Tiny seeds. Beginnings. A flicker. An inkling. A spark.

A website. A business cards. Where it starts.

The next ring.

This one is wider. Quite large, in fact.

It’s the largest, widest circle in the progression.

The light here is more palpable. Not bright, necessarily. But there’s a pull.

You can definitely feel that whatever at the center is real and powerful and … special.

This is where stuff gets shared.

It’s where people connect with the ideas, information, beauty, experience, techniques or whatever it is that you’re sharing with the world.

It’s what Mark calls the Second Journey.

For me and Selma (Pirate Queen aka Chief Eccentricity Officer of The Fluent Self and rockstar duck, respectively), this circle of light is the blog. And everything in it.

For you it might be a noozletter, or something else.

It’s the space or the way in which people regularly hang out with you and get a regular dose of you-ness. In the general orbit of your thing.

Where the light begins. Connection.

And moving inside.

Let’s skip — just for now — all the circles that make up the entire middle area between the outside rings and the center.

Let’s look at that inner-most space of concentrated rays of light.

That’s you. That’s your shining you-ness. That’s your place of safety and sanctuary — the canopy of peace.

No one gets to be there but you.

And outside of it is a semi-permeable membrane — a skin.*

* I got this membrane concept from Hiro, and it has made my life better in a thousand ways.

The job of this membrane is to let your light shine out into your world, while only allowing into your space the qualities that are useful for you (you know, stuff like grounding and support and sovereignty).

And it’s there to keep out anything that doesn’t help you feel safe, supported and loved.

The next layer out.

Just outside of this innermost layer of protection is where the circles of your business begin.

The circle closest to that center is where all the most magical things happen.

This might be your private coaching clients. Or a very tiny, very exclusive class. Or specially commissioned works of art that allow for total creative freedom.

It’s the stuff that involves the most you-time. And the most you-ness.

It’s the stuff that is the most expensive, the most desirable, the hardest to get.

It’s a small circle and it’s not for everyone.

This is where things go wrong.

When I’m talking with clients and students who have coaching or consulting businesses or who are artists in some form, here’s what generally turns out to be one of the main stucknesses.

There’s something missing between the inside and outside circles.

There’s nothing in the middle.

So you have your coaching at say, $200/hour. Inside circles. And a noozletter that shows up in people’s email inbox once a month. Outside circles.

Or you have a three month course that’s $900. Inside circles. And a freebie teleclass that you did once. Outside circles.

Or you have a gorgeous painting for $750. Inside circles. And your blog posts about your creative process and stuff you think about. Outside circles.

You’ve got great inside circles. And those are excellent outside circles. I love that you have them.

It’s just that all that no-man’s-land in the middle isn’t helping your people come closer to where the light is.

It’s too much space to ask people to cross.

Even if they’re drawn to you. Even if there’s a pull.

It’s just too far. Middle circles are a procession. An experience of coming closer. A way of testing how it feels to be in the presence of that kind of radiance.

To see how their light interacts with your light.

So you need stuff for the in-between.

If I’m going to hire you as my coach, I’d probably rather try a three-part class before I decide if you’re the one.

And I’d probably buy a homestudy of a class before actually taking one.

To have a way to connect with the stuff you teach without you seeing who I am or what my stuff is. Without having to be vulnerable or interact with other people.

And then when I am ready to work with you, I’d still rather try a, say, five-session package than signing up for some vague, amorphous, ongoing “until I’m done” thing.

If I’m thinking about buying your painting, it would be really great if I could pick up a print or a calendar or a something, while I’m saving up to have your art on my wall.

Obviously, these suggestions are EXAMPLES of possible middle circles. You don’t have to use these. The point is just that these circles of in-between are where everything happens.

Middle circles create spaciousness.

Room to breathe.

You don’t need a lot of them. In fact, just adding one will change the entire map.
And if things aren’t working, it’s a great place to start.


Comment zen for today.

Businesses vary. Use what works for you and skip the rest.

Remember that this is only one way of looking at things. And that since we’re always changing perspective, different things take on different shapes at different times.

You absolutely do not have to adopt my philosophy of business in any way. I’m not married to this. It’s just what works for me.

We all have stuff. And we’re all working on our stuff. So we tread gently with everyone else’s. Thanks!

The Fluent Self