During my days in academia, the stage became the place where I came alive. In fact I used to joke with my colleagues (who hated teaching) that for me, being in front of the room was living and everything else was just preparation.
So it’s not surprising that when I left the academic world I decided to build a speaking career.
Being ever the intellectual, I searched for places to learn the craft of building a speaking business. That led me to the National Speakers Association, where I became very active for number of years.
The more I talked with seasoned professional speakers and success I experienced personally, the more I came to realize that building a speaking business has very little to do with speaking.
The most valuable lesson learned?
There is a great deal of difference between being a speaker vs. building a speaking business.
Unless you know how to build relationships and engage in the right kinds of conversations, you’ll never get booked and have the opportunity to appear on a stage.
But there’s even more to it than that.
You see, I discovered that you have two options when it comes to building a business using your voice:
- Build a Practice — where you are trading your time for dollars, sharing your message from the stage, living in hotel rooms and out of suitcases, and creating drive-by impacts for those who hear you speak from the stage, or…
- Build a Business — where you are adding value to people through frameworks and systems they can use to solve problems and create lasting results.
Please don’t view those definitions harshly. But do understand what they mean.
There’s nothing wrong with having a practice, and you can make your practice very lucrative by booking more stages, selling products, and securing additional business from the people in your audiences. In many cases, the deeper you go on the latter two, the more you will move away from the practice mode and into the “business” mode.
The primary distinction between a practice and a business is the degree to which you are trading time for dollars.The difference between a practice and a business is in how much you trade time for dollars. Click To Tweet
Simply stated: you trade time for dollars in a practice, but in a business you build systems … even to the point of your products being delivered to clients (such as an online course, books, downloads, and so forth).
What’s my point?
Consider which of these two approaches appeals most to you, then build your long-term vision around that one.
That means getting comfortable with the degree of impact you’re seeking to deliver to those you serve. If what really matters to you is revealing insights the people that they can use to make their lives different, you can do that very easily in a practice while earning a great living.
But if what you really want is a great impact on a broader level and to know that you’ve made a difference, you’re going to have to head down the business path where you:
- Create content that guides people from where they are to where they want to be,
- Develop frameworks that others can use, and walk away after you’ve equipped them to succeed without you,
- Master the fundamentals of running a business, not just delivering a message.