January 10, 2023
I originally planned to kick-off this conversation about clientflow in a completely different way. You were going to tell me clientflow sounds like a “nice-to-have” focus, and I was going to respond with a big ol’ list of all the ways you can identify clientflow is a problem in your business. Then I was going to lay out how your lack of clientflow costing you more than you think, and what you need to do about it.
We’ll get to that.
After a recent conversation with a friend over coffee, I realized we need to talk about something else first. Why, rather than thinking to yourself, “I get what you’re saying, but I’ll focus on clientflow when I have the time, and that’s not today,” when I challenge how you think about clientflow in your business, that you sit up at immediate attention instead. Small business trends may come and go, but clientflow is forever.
But what the heck is clientflow?
Clientflow is the entire experience your client has with you and your brand — from the moment they land on your website and convert (or call), through every touchpoint they have while working with you, all the way to when they offboard after a completed purchase or project.
On its face, clientflow sounds like something too complicated to deal with right now. Or, at the very least, something you may feel you’ve got a handle on. Sure, you may have to send a few, “Thanks for your patience!” emails now and again, but when you’ve got the time, you’ll look into automation platforms or hiring that second set of hands to help you out when things get busy.
I get why you feel that way, but you’re wrong. And I need you to understand why …
When we’re talking about clientflow, what we’re really talking about is your life and how you spend the majority of the finite amount of time you have on this pale blue dot “suspended in a sunbeam”:
This is something we lose sight of in our day-to-day lives. The occasional client having to chase us down and manage us, instead of the other way around (as it should be), isn’t the end of the world. A lost half an hour here and there doesn’t feel so awful.
But you will spend more time in your business than you will with the people you care most about. And while that 30-minute period you spent on that manual task that you “don’t have time to automate” (assuming you only have one) doesn’t feel like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, that adds up.
It is, though.
Let’s say six times a week, you fall down a 30-minute rabbit hole, because you don’t have the right clientflow automations setup within your business.
That’s 180 minutes (3 hours) per week, 810 minutes (13.5 hours) on average per month, and 9,360 minutes (156 hours or 6.5 days) per year.
That’s almost one week per year — assuming you’re ONLY wasting a half hour per day — you could be spending with your friends or family, or doing anything that lights you up that isn’t your work.
Now, do you really think you don’t have an hour or two to spare to shore up gaps in your clientflow? Is that week of freedom (or likely much more) worth it to you?
For years, I kept my benign brain tumor a secret as I built my business. But just shy of six years ago, I underwent neurosurgery to have it removed.
Before I went into surgery, my doctor talked me through all of the complications that may arise during or after the procedure; which, of course, any surgery comes with a risk that something could happen. But when you’re dealing with the brain, and all of the very small blood vessels that are so incredibly fragile and essential to life, the likelihood increases that something could go wrong.
One of the risks they discussed with me was that I could have a stroke during surgery. After they left, I Googled what life might look like following a stroke, and I realized there was a chance I wouldn’t come out of surgery the same way.
Yes, I knew I was incredibly lucky, that my prognosis could have been so much worse. Still, I had to accept there was a chance I might come out of this, but would never be me again. And you know what? At that moment, I didn’t want more money. I didn’t want more Instagram likes. I didn’t want to answer more emails.
I wanted more time.
I remember wishing so hard that I could just … push the surgery a little further down the road. If I had known that I wouldn’t be myself two weeks prior coming out of this, I wouldn’t have given my time away so freely to things that felt so critical at the time, but didn’t really matter at all.
I would have said “yes” to so many things I should have said “no” to. I would have been more aggressive and cutthroat about anything that took me away from my husband or my kids or my mental health or my friends or anything I truly love to do as a human being.
It’s time, and I’ll argue that with anyone, any day of the week.
We think about how we quantify the success of our business, we usually point to revenue. Yes, revenue is incredibly important, but behind that number, how much did you pay in time to achieve it? How many minutes, hours, days, weeks, did you give away freely that could have been spent with your friends or family … or heck, even with just yourself?
Each of us has a ticking clock that is counting down to zero every second of every single day. I remember reading this quote one time that said, “How differently would you treat someone if you could see their ticking clock?”
Now, think about your own clock. If you could see your own, how would you spend your days differently? What would you do differently? How would your priorities change?
Let’s go back to those numbers I shared earlier; the time you lose if you’re wasting only 30 minutes a week in your business due to poor clientflow:
That’s only over one year. On average, people work for about 48 to 52 years of their lives, but let’s be conservative and just call it 45 years. Over the course of that time, those numbers change.
What if I told you that, at the end of your life, I could give you almost a year back? A year you could spend however you wanted. You could live life to its fullest, devote more time to loved ones, explore the world, stay in more, say “yes!” more … you could do whatever you wanted.
If you’re losing an hour a day, instead of only 30 minutes, those numbers double.
I love HoneyBook and I champion it for a reason. But honestly, I don’t care how you address clientflow. Use HoneyBook. Use tiny, automation-ready, AI-powered falcons with caps on their head … whatever you need to do to leverage technology to make clientflow happen, just do it.
What’s maddening is that so many of us have developed a reflex to defer or delay digging into what’s broken in our businesses, but those seconds, minutes, and hours are so much more precious than many of you realize.
This is your life we’re talking about.
You are being robbed of your time — almost a week, at the bare minimum, each and every year you work. This is time you’ll never get back, so you need to stop making excuses and do something. You can always make more money, but you can never create more time.
Trust me, I know how hard this is. You’re afraid to relinquish control. You’re afraid automation may dehumanize your brand. You’re afraid the theme isn’t exactly what you want. You’re afraid you won’t be able to be as vulnerable or authentic or whatever. You’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t show up or you take a step back.
I am right there with you.
I understand how deep this battle is within ourselves; that letting go where we need to in our business can hurt. I’ve felt the gut-wrenching pull between my family and my career more times than I care to admit. I’ve felt sick to my stomach when I’ve knowingly made the wrong choice in this regard.
What’s interesting is I’ve never regretted when I’ve chosen my family first or honoring myself first.
It’s easy to give away our time in the moment, though. Seconds slip through our fingertips like sand. And then when someone comes along and asks you to look at your clientflow (me, I’m that someone), you’ll still sigh and say, “Sure, get back to me in a month … when I have more time.”
My friend, you need to make the time now.
Time is the only thing you have worth fighting for.
© 2023 Natalie Franke