Choosing a membership business model that you initially feared can be a daunting decision, but it often stems from recognizing the potential benefits and opportunities it presents
Freedom seeker here.
In 2006 I was sitting at my ‘cool job’ in downtown Vancouver helping Canada’s largest corporations become more sustainable (yeah, right), thinking about my closest friend who was somewhere in North America on her fourth or fifth kiteboarding trip that year.
That prompted my next thought about my own measly three-week annual vacation. I couldn’t help thinking, “there’s gotta be more to life than this!”
Two years later, I was a freshly graduated life coach with fantasies of a rewarding future, meaningful work and lifestyle freedom.
I had no idea how hard it would be.
Let’s be real about why I’m here
I chose to work for myself for freedom. My sustainability career forced me to live in cities and work with corporations. And that simply wasn’t the right fit for an adventurer, grassroots traveller and mountain lover.
So working for myself seemed like the right option.
I was happy to make less and work less for a while until I realized that starting something quite general without any startup hustle doesn’t work out that well. Especially if we also crave financial stability/wealth.
Without a clear goal, purpose or direction, I coasted. I was afraid that if I did more and didn’t get more in return, I’d wasted my time.
“What if this doesn’t pay off, and I could fill my time with other experiences – adventure, exploring new hobbies, friends & family?”
I hated missing out.
But that wasn’t it. Truthfully, committing to the wrong thing was a consequence I feared more than anything.
So the push-pull of lifestyle freedom vs. success went back and forth for years, providing periods of simplicity and acceptance countered by bursts of clarity and excitement.
And then I got sick of it. Enough was ENOUGH!
Results don’t emerge from dabbling, they come from commitment
We commit to things, and those things give us feedback. Without going all-in on something, the data’s not reliable.
In 2018 my son turned 7, most of my brain came back and I knew I needed to opt-in to my business instead of waiting for someone to invite me. I was selling myself short by coasting and it became crystal clear.
I invested in an expensive business mentorship program, which didn’t help me with the business part as much as it pushed me through a personal block. That alone empowered me to start my podcasting.
I committed to launching it within three months. I needed a place to show up and share consistently and I knew podcasting would be easy for me.
The podcast hasn’t been a raging success from a numbers perspective, but I initially received so much validation from it. It has been a fulfilling way to opt-in to visibility, connection and sharing.
It’s also been part university degree via asking experts deep questions, and part formulating my own perspective during solos. Priceless.
Showing up. Check.
The second major commitment I made was simplifying my value proposition and business model, starting with one core offer.
I reduced my lacklustre $3,000/4 month Business Strategy package to a $1,150 Business Design VIP Intensive (I had no idea that it was a VIP day at the time and wouldn’t realize it for a long time after).
My clients were always thrilled after our longer intake session so shortening it to a half day was key.
And those sessions lit me up too! Business Design was my zone of genius. I could simply show up and we’d work out a value prop, core offer, messaging and visibility plan that felt so natural to them in just a few hours.
It took me two years to bump that price up to more than double what it started at but it’s been the most rewarding package I’ve offered to date.
Worth every lost penny in that year of 2019 because I tripled my revenue with the confidence gained from that offer in 2020.
Core offer. Super fans. Confidence. Check.
But I still wasn’t done. I didn’t have the niche. The focused outcome that would bring my message and skills together and make it clear and memorable to others.
Being so values-based, I needed it to be meaningful. I couldn’t just pick one that filled a need in the market. It had to feel genuine.
When the idea of coaching membership business model came out of a typical daily Voxer banter with my bestie Mel Richards, it felt right. Like this was a model I could get behind for a long time.
They are ethical, customizable and unique. And I quickly saw a lack of female leaders in this space, talking about them differently.
Interesting niche. Check.
But then I needed to ‘walk the talk’. For me to feel confident, I needed more than my track record as a business strategist for service businesses, many with memberships.
To own it, I had to create my own.
Committing to the membership business model starts with a leap
Finding our visionary model requires the most of us. It requires taking that big leap.
The leap for me came when I committed to niching down, reconnected to my core work values and those led to discovering my why.
Here’s how it played out.
In 2020, I was ready for a change. I wanted a group offer and by this point I knew it had to be a membership.
It took some time to shift from thinking I had to offer premium programs to allowing myself to consider a membership.
Premium programs were more inline with my more external success goals. Hosting a premium membership that offered higher value for less revenue initially and hopefully longer-term was more inline with my values.
A premium membership (higher-priced, lower volume) also felt like it was solving some core market problems (that irked me too) – mass marketers selling medium ticket programs to so many people at once, questionable sales tactics, BS refund policies and shaming customer service attitudes.
A membership also aligned with my desire to get results for clients ethically. Members can:
- Stay as long as they want; there’s no cut-off date
- Learn and apply the material on their own time and at their own pace
- Receive consistent validation and support
- Form long-term relationships
- Feel like they belong somewhere
I was now convinced, but I needed the right membership model.
My tippy-toe first membership offer
My first new offer in several years included starting a Follow-Up Membership. I talk about three types that live in different places in our models – Starter (lower-priced, higher volume, leads to higher ticket programs), Flagship (the business’ core offer) and Follow-Up.
A Follow-Up model felt the LEAST overwhelming because it could start tiny and be based on former private clients, adding one in at a time. The activity consists mostly of office hours to provide ongoing support as they implement their plan.
Of course I was still nervous.
Could I still be relevant to them in this format for a whole year? Just by bringing my strategic brain, coach training and business experience to our three calls per month? Without conversational prompts, fancy content, weekly emails?
Surprise, surprise! 6 months later they are still showing up for the calls. And even if they didn’t show up all the time, they’ve received their ROI in just a few months.
Small win. Check.
Plus, I love it. It turns out showing up for paid clients, even if not at a premium rate, is pure joy. They have to take the lead on showing up for support; I give them the best I’ve got in the time we have. Easy with 12 years experience under my belt.
It’s also more valuable for me to learn about the problems and opportunities they face through conversation, rather than scouring social media and groups for shared insights from people who might not be my ideal clients.
What now? Taking the commitment one step further
Now I’m going a big step further by launching a membership for women-led membership business owners. This membership was so obvious to so many people but it took me a while to accept it.
And it’s kinda going to be my main thing … likely for the remaining life of my business.
Big commitment. Check.
My business model now supports my strengths and skills, core values, mission and now my grande vision.
I still offer VIP intensives that provide people with personalized business models. I know and LOVE this work.
My new membership, the Scaling Deep Society, will foster movements. It will help people believe in themselves and others, while bringing everyone who wants to go with them to new levels of impact.
The Society will help member develop all the business foundations to grow a thriving membership site, even if they start small, by helping them:
- Design the model that’ll meet their revenue goals & fit with other offers
- Determine the structure that complements their zone of genius
- Choose pricing that will deliver value and create profit
- Niche down to create a more powerful & compelling transformation for members
- Create a customer journey to make content planning is easy
- Position to attract and bring in the right founding members
- And so much more …
Because of its unique combination of training, mentorship and connection, it will give members the best chance to get across the finish line and launch with confidence.
It also has the potential to help people create massive change.
This is the kind of vision WORTH committing to. It’s deeply fulfilling.
I had my vision. That was the missing piece. Before now, I could never find a niche where I could answer “Why does this matter?” with conviction.
Had I not taken the leap to go down this path and start this new Flagship program, aligned with my values, I would not be pursuing a clear and visionary business model.
Walking on the path was the only way I could see the destination and find the depth I was craving.
This was starting to look a lot like purpose
I spent many years of my life trying to find my purpose. I now realize that we don’t find it, it finds us.
It creeps up through learning from our commitments over time, rather than from a singular lightning bolt moment.
For me, it hasn’t been a grandiose meaning of life type of thing, but the purpose of a specific path ahead.
The purpose for my business is now clear because it finally encompasses:
- All my business values
- My zone of genius
- The bigger why
How does it feel?
It feels more in service which is not only more rewarding but it’s an emotion I trust. Like oxytocin vs. dopamine.
And makes me a little afraid of both failure and success at the same time so I know I’m on the right track.
How did I go from there to here – quick summary
- Putting my clients results first, before my own
- Willingness to ask myself “Why” when my initial answer was “No”
- Recognizing that playing safe isn’t really playing, it’s watching
- Reconnecting to my 20-something purist, value-driven me who never did anything for money nor status
- Finding my “Why” in my new model and being vocal about it
- Gaining inspiration from thought leaders, outside of the business world
And most of all, commitment. Gaining as much from the practice of commitment as the results from doing so.
This shift took being brave and showing up consistently and repeatedly for longer than I thought possible.
Truthfully, it’s been quite fun.
Who knew? It turns out I’m actually made for long-term commitments!
What business model commitments have you feared the most?
Want more in-depth training? Check out my free workshop “How To Grow A Wildly Successful Membership That Provides Financial Freedom & Fulfillment (without burning out from big launches & over-delivery!)”
It’s packed with valuable information and modern perspectives on memberships that you won’t want to miss!
Lisa Princic is a Business Strategist & Membership Expert who helps thought leaders & niche experts build wildly successful memberships while making a positive impact. She helps entrepreneurs scale with powerful positioning & profitable programs designed around their zone of genius. A staunch believer in simplicity, Lisa helps her clients accomplish their goals by focusing on what to do AND what to ignore.