Friday, March 08, 2013

W10.05 Case Studies: Kimberly Peterson in Chula Vista, USA. Part One

Kimberly is a mum - she doesn’t describe her time restrictions, but this says it all: “Somehow with a 7 and 2 year old I’d rather sleep or look at magazines.” Too right. However, building a business that delivers a real income takes focus - it can be done part-time, but it is not a “part-time” affair. Kimberly has to decide how serious she is about this, because if she continues the way she is now, she can only look forward to more of the same.


Step 1 – Recognize Success Drivers
There is an infectious enthusiasm bubbling from Kimberly which is refreshing, almost innocent. She uses the work for her own well-being and, just like a mum, loves to help those around her. But there is nothing to suggest she has the determination to move her work to another level. Of the 1,266 words that she wrote, money as a word never appeared. Nor did the concept of it.

Her success drivers are more personal “I am obsessed with feeling good physically and mentally” or “I also wanted to learn something that not many people new about so I could be different…” These are drivers all about “feeling something” rather than “getting something.”

Kimberly writes: “I light up when I explain its. This is why I teach it.” Kimberly’s got the passion part that’s for sure! Maybe she is already well provided for? I don’t know. I just know that the drive and strength she needs to move her work to another financial level is not evident to me. Weather reasons (feeling good) only work when you, well, feel good.

What is there to get you out of bed when you are no longer feeling good about what you do?

Step 2 – Find Your Niche
Kimberly: “I decided my niche has to be optimal posture and Alignment in movement.” What Kimberly describes is a category, not a niche. In some industries, “categories” are considered niches, but in our Alexander Technique world this does not work. Why? There is no community associated with “optimal posture” and to build a sustainable business over the long term - you need a community.

What Kimberly describes is a feature of a product, not a niche.

Step 3 – Location of Community
Chula Vista, USA is the 77th largest city in the United States - basically a part of the wider San Diego County - being only 11km from downtown, which in Sydney would almost qualify it to be inner city. Chula Vista has one quarter million inhabitants, the County itself around 5 million.

Kimberly says: “I come from a dance background, studying ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance.” So dancers - that’s a community. Are there enough of them locally to build a business?

Step 4 – Develop Service Product
Kimberly seems to be good at getting people to “relax” based on the many feedbacks of her students. In a city driven by the defense industry, uptight men holding on to secrets does not feel like an ideal match to me.

So what do dancers need? And more to the point: which dancers have the money to pay for lessons? The answer to that is usually the hobbyists - the people who already hold down a job, but love dancing for its creativity, challenges and friendships. They want to deal with problems and get better at it. Professionals are never usually our students - there is simply not enough of them.

Does Kimberly have something to offer dancers? What could that be?

It can be really tiny. There is an Alexander Technique teacher in London who is making a success out of teaching people how to walk in high heels. She has books, videos and its fun to watch her evolving business model. What she has, that Kimberly lacks, is a laser-like focus on a well thought out issue of concern that she implements with consistency, discipline and clarity.

Step 5 – Put Together Your Team
Kimberly lists one of her mentors as Eileen Troberman, whose Case Study I completed last week. There’s a relationship there - maybe they can help each other? One of the interesting assumptions that mostly goes unquestioned - why are you doing this on your own? Why not find some other like-minded teachers and make a conscious plan together? This may work better for Kimberly - or you - rather than trying to do everything alone? Like building a website “Which I just started and just figured out it is a lot of work. I do get help from my brother however he is busy too.”

Kimberly has recently joined a Pain Management team: “I finally started a new path working with a Doctor who started a program for people who want to rid themselves of meds and try psychology, nutrition , and me.” OK - that doctor has obviously got his niche worked out, and is focusing his energy there. But what has Kimberly got?

This blog is not for employees, it is for business owners.

Step 6 – Build Your List
Kimberly writes: “… I am not giving up yet. I do have a rented space and an on going group class. I am doing workshops and make flyers post emails etc... to hope have students who seek out this work.” And this is her problem.

What do her flyers say?

Based on her website, my guess is that her flyers sell Alexander Technique. Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless. As I have written before, that gives someone else the job of making them interested in Alexander Technique in the first place.

Would you book a session in the “Akaneous Routine” of Back Free Pain just because you saw a flyer about it on the wall of your local community centre? Most people won’t. People who respond to flyers about Alexander Technique usually respond because they have already heard about it. Once they have, Kimberly is there to serve them.

This works for a lot of professions, but not very well for ours, because hardly anyone knows us. Sad, but true. So if Kimberly persists - or you persist - in trying to sell your Self as a teacher of Alexander Technique, what history has shown that are likely to have the kind of ad hoc teaching life that Kimberly has now: zigzagging about from one unrelated group to another, none of co-ordinating together to create business strength. This will just on and on until you get sick and tired of putting in so much energy and not building anything that lasts.

TOMORROW: What Can Kimberly Do To Build A Practise That Lasts?

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CAVEAT: Remember what Alexander said: “They will see it as getting in and out of a chair the right way. It is nothing of the kind.” Is this case-study about the “right way” for Kimberly Peterson to go ahead? It is nothing of the kind. It’s intended to demonstrate a way of thinking, not a set of proscriptions, even when they read as proscriptions! My true intention with these case studies is to provoke you into finding another way to understand the same ideas.

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