There’s an interesting conundrum around creating a viable business, and that’s the difference between busy, productive and effective. Do you have a business, or a busy-ness?

Premise For This Article

Let’s start with a premise. That premise is this: without clients, you don’t have a business.

What is one modern definition of business? One definition of business is the production, distribution, and sale of goods and services for a profit. That profit cannot exist without clients. I appreciate that there are not-for-profit businesses too, but that doesn’t tend to be the definition that coaches have in mind when they start their businesses.

Business or Busy-ness?

It’s all very well me playing fast and loose with language, but what am I talking about? What’s the difference between business and busy-ness?

Business is the exchange of your coaching services for money and a profit.

Busy-ness is all the things a coach will do which won’t get them money or a client. For example:

  • You can have a limited company,
  • You may be registered for VAT,
  • You might have spent money on branding and website development.
  • You may have considered your pricing
  • You may have carefully crafted your coaching packages,

No matter how many of these things you’ve done, without clients, you do not have a business. You have a business structure.

Busy-ness Is A Comfortable Deception

The thing about busy-ness is that it feels like real work. It feels both productive and effective and at the end of a long and busy week, you can look back and say look at all the stuff I got done!

I have spoken to coaches who tell me that they’ve been in business for over a year and yet when I ask how many clients they’ve had, they say none. I was too busy running my business, they tell me.

When I press them to tell me what they’ve actually been doing, they always rattle off some version of the bulleted list above.

Let me be brutally clear. You don’t have a business is there is no exchange of money for your service. You don’t have a profitable business if that exchange isn’t enough to cover the costs of running your business and you don’t have a financially viable business if you’re not making enough money to cover your business costs, your personal financial bases and have some money left over for the fun stuff too.

Productive Is Good, Yes?

Sadly not. You can have a productive week without finding or servicing a single client, and therefore making no money whatsoever. Productive doesn’t mean profitable. Productive is the nice way of saying busy-ness. It’s a weasel-word that means I’ve been really busy with work, but I haven’t necessarily made any money.

You may be able to reach the end of the week and have a lovely new programme designed, or a new colour scheme for your branding. However, to go back to that definition of business, if you haven’t exchanged your service for money, you haven’t been effective in your business.

Effective Is The Goal

Being effective is making the biggest impact with the smallest amount of effort. What I mean by that is that you can spend 40+ hours a week being busy, or even more being productive. However being effective is making sure that you do the things that generate the enquiries that lead to the paying clients, in as few steps as possible.

If you can spend 3 hours a day and generate a client, great. What can you do so that you only need to spend 2 hours a day to generate that client? Or just one hour?

The difference between productive and effective is to measure your results. Testing one form of marketing against another is one way of measuring. The kind of testing that I’m talking about are things like testing different kinds of posts or articles, testing different headlines, different social media platforms and even different media altogether. You need a way to measure the outcome of each of these tests and then you need to learn from those outcomes.

Being effective means that you know what you can stop doing, because it’s not worth your time. Working effectively means that you know what you can do more of, because it generates enquiries. Just imagine if your working week involved only the activities that generate inbound enquiries – that’s not simply busy, or productive is it?

Effective work is marketing that leads to you actually having clients who pay you a professional rate for your coaching – a real coaching business, one that is financially viable and one that you will love!