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August 17, 2021

125 | Part 1 – Phases of Business And What To Focus On In Each

phases of business with Annie Miller

Identifying phases of business is similar to identifying the season of business that you’re in. It helps us set realistic expectations and kind of gauge where we should be at that point. Or what we should be focusing on.

So that’s kind of my hope today, is to help you identify which phase of business you are in, and what your focus might be in your current phase in order to advance to the next phase.

If you have followed me for any period of time on Instagram or been to business pages of my website, you’ve heard me talk about phases of business.

Identifying phases of business is similar to identifying the season of business that you’re in. It helps us set realistic expectations and kind of gauge where we should be at that point. Or what we should be focusing on.

So that’s kind of my hope today, is to help you identify which phase of business you are in, and what your focus might be in your current phase in order to advance to the next phase.

I am unsure if I came up with these, but to my knowledge, they don’t exist anywhere else. If I need to give credit, please let me know. I just enjoy drawing parallels between business and the world of anatomy and fitness. So, here we are.

The six phases of business are:

  1. Pre conception
  2. Conception
  3. Embryonic
  4. Infant
  5. Adolescent
  6. Adult

Before we dive into each phase, I want to make abundantly clear that these are not black-and-white. Maybe you feel like you don’t fit perfectly into any of these phases. That is possible and that’s totally fine. What’s important for you, is to maybe define your own phase, and set some expectations for yourself in order to grow your business. So hopefully in one way or another this episode, and my phase examples help you do that.

The phases, just like biology, progress and build on one another.

First up is the pre-conception phase

In the pre-conception phase, you have no income. You have no business yet. But you have an idea or the pressure that something needs to happen other than what is currently happening in your life. And a business might be the long winded answer to that.

There’s a lot of discomfort, and dissatisfaction in this phase. And that’s met with, sometimes, a dream of some kind. There are only ideas and feelings in this phase I like to say. There’s not a lot of answers or even action.

Perhaps you’re training people in person. Or working 2 to 3 jobs. Maybe you’re contemplating a career path switch or pivot. Like I said there is a level of dissatisfaction here or an urge to do something other than what you were doing now. And there can be so many different driving factors here.

Just to use myself as an example because that’s what I can give you without fault. My pre-conception phase was after college, when I was very unclear on what to do with my life. For the first time, mind you.

I had definitely decided that I was not going to get my masters and be a college strength coach, but that was my plan for the last four years of my life. So I was left with a lot of questions, a lot of feelings, and no concrete answers. No sense of direction.

I would say that my pre-conception phase was probably 2014 and 2015 combined. I did start an Instagram account in 2014 or 2015 but with no real direction, no consistency, no hope to get clients. So I knew that I wanted to be online, but that was pretty much the end of the plan.

I got my business license in 2015. And that was for Fit Design by Annie, a fitness training and program design, which covered in person and online though I had no online clients.

This led into the conception phase

So if you haven’t thought about your preconception phase, whether you are currently in it or not, I want you to think back and just identify the feelings and what was going on in your life when you were in that preconception phase.

In the conception phase, we have made a business. Something is indeed happening. This phase to me, starts the hustle, and the overwhelming intake of information. You’re trying to learn everything you possibly can about running a business and working with clients, in this case in the online space.

Ideally in this phase you are generating some level of income. Or you are building out your offer and maybe don’t have income yet but you do, for sure, have a business.

Also I think it’s important to point out that there is no timeline on any of these phases. So one person’s conception phase could be three years long well another person’s conception phase could be six months long.

I know I’m not a big fan of boxes, and putting people in boxes, but use these phases as kind of a guide. In order to maybe find your own phases.

As far as feelings go, there’s probably a lot of excitement and nerves about starting a new business and needing to take in all of that information. There can be a lot of imposter syndrome and feeling like you’re not ready or like you’re a fraud in the conception phase.

Those feelings certainly don’t go away after the conception phase but they can be very prominent here.

For me, and my definitions, the conception phase is when you’re making $1,000 to $2,500 or $3,000 a month. And obviously to me that is based on the US dollar and American standards. So that might look different elsewhere in the world.

You likely have one offer and you have filled most if not all of your client roster for that offer that’s when we start to get into the embryonic phase.

So before we get into the embryonic phase. Let’s look at what you might focus on while you are in those first 1 to 3 years of business or during the time where you have started your business you’ve built an offer and you are attempting to fill that client roster.

The biggest focuses in my opinion should be on building an audience that is engaged with your contact on whatever platform you choose to be on, and having an offer that provides the results that you promise. If you don’t have an offer that you are confident in, you are not going to be able to sell it confidently, and that’s going to show up in your business with a lack of income and the lack of satisfied customers.

And then the biggest thing I would focus on here in the conception phase, which is not going to surprise you. Is knowing your ideal client like the back of your hand. Now, of course you are going to get to know your ideal client the further along you get in business. And that definition might even change and shift. But the sooner you can define your niche, the problems that you speak to, the vibe that your business brings to the online space, the better. You having clarity on your ideal client simply allows that clarity to cross over into your offer, how you show up in your content, and how you engage with your audience.

In the conception phase, building that engage audience, putting out consistent content that speaks to your ideal client, and really making sure you have a offer that you were confident about or by far the most important things to focus on.

Having these things in place is what’s going to allow you to scale into the embryonic phase.

For me, the conception phase was filling up my 1:1 roster, trying probably five different programs that I offered and seeing what stuck with my audience, as well as what made sense long-term for my business. I spent at least a year and a half doing it wrong. And then finally in mid to late 2017 and I figured out what the heck I wanted to do and who I wanted to serve in the space. And that revolved largely around the barbell, Quality movement patterns, education, and long term programming.

Once I filled my 1:1 roster, it was about at that 2500-4000 a month mark and then came up with Built by Annie. Please remember that before Built by Annie I had tried 20 day challenges, three different tiers of a six week transformation, a pull up guide and a macro guide. I tried it all.

So perhaps let’s add to the conception phase, trial and error. Very much so finding your voice, messaging, and approach in the online space. And again, maybe you already knew that when you came into the online space, so you’re conception phase might be way shorter than mine.

The conception and embryonic phases are when someone would take my fits pro Foundations course. Somewhere in those periods. If you’re interested, check out my free workshop I mentioned at the start of this episode.

Now, we enter the embryonic phase

In this phase, you were at your current ceiling in business. You can feel that pressure to enter the next step. But you are likely unsure what that looks like, or how to get there. What you did to get from preconception to conception is not what’s going to get you from conception to embryonic. And you’re feeling that.

In this phase of business, you aren’t quite a side hustle anymore, but you also aren’t making enough to where you feel like you could go full-time for yourself. Not comfortably. Maybe this is true for you, maybe it’s not. But let’s keep going.

With health and fitness, this is a phase where you’re looking to start scaling. You need to create more streams of income than working with 1:1 clients or launching a single course. If you want to grow that is. Plenty of coaches get to the embryonic stage of business and then they just stay there. And that’s totally fine as well. Not everyone has to scale, create multiple offers, or hire more coaches.

I think it’s very common in this stage, and I could just be speculating, to feel like you’re working harder than what your bank account shows you. And that can be because you started out under charging and some of your clients are still at that rate, or it can be because you need to delegate some tasks that aren’t fulfilling to you, and someone else could be doing for you. The idea with that is that then you would spend that time doing things that you enjoy or things that would generate more revenue in your business.

And that is the focus for the embryonic stage. Looking at where we can maximize revenue, create multiple streams of income, and delegate tasks in someway shape or form.

Again, for me that was the creation of Movement 101, followed by Built by Annie, followed by the Big Lift Audit. Essentially building out an offer pyramid that really serve the people who I wanted to work with.

And this is going longer than I wanted, so we’re gonna go ahead and make it a two-part series. After embryonic comes infant. And then adolescent. And finally adulthood. This, to me is where the water is get a bit more murky. Because even a small business generating under $1 million a year, can function with the professionalism and tactics of $1 billion company. Simply used on a smaller scale.

Perhaps that isn’t correct and I’m talking out of my ass, but I just don’t think every successful business has to be a massive business. I suppose one might say businesses just stop at the embryonic or infancy stage and never progress out of it. But even a business that decides to continue making $250,000 a year can still improve the way they function year to year. 

Who knows, maybe I will disagree with that and five years from now. I definitely reserve the right to disagree with myself – my future self with my past self.

So let’s just stick with that. Not every personal brand wants to become the next Tony Robbins or Charlene Johnson or Nicole Walters.

And to be clear, I would consider all of those people well into adulthood. Where they’re at least, in the eight figure club annually. If not more than that.

Let’s pause at embryonic, and we will dive into infancy, adolescence, and adulthood next week or the week after. Hopefully this episode helped you identify where you’re at in your business, and maybe some goals to work towards and some things to focus on in the future.

If you find value here, on The FitsPRO Podcast, then pretty please head over to iTunes, subscribe, rate and review the show. It means the world to me when you spread my message to more humans.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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