The Nitty Gritty:
- How Jennie scaled her high-touch, human-centered service business (and what mistakes she learned along the way.)
- How she made a seemingly unreplicable service like book coaching… replicable.
- What encouraged her to adjust the Author Accelerator’s initial pricing model from affordable and accessible to high-price and high-touch.
- What Author Accelerator’s hiring process for book coaches looks like.
- How Jennie moved from being a writer to a book coach and, now, an entrepreneur.
- Why it’s 100% OK to say no to a creative idea (even if it’s a really good one.)
Today on Power. Profit. Pursuit., I jam with Jennie Nash, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Author Accelerator, a book coaching program that provides feedback, accountability, and support to writers so they can finish their books—and finish strong.
Jennie believes that people have a story to tell, whether or not they’re a writer. This belief is what transformed her career as a writer to book coach: to help people finally write that book. That excitement and passion eventually turned into a business. Despite being high-touch, human-centered work at its core, Jennie figured out how to scale the book coaching process and grow her team at Author Accelerator to over 25 employees.
Listen to this episode to hear exactly how Jennie scaled Author Accelerator, what mistakes she ran into, and her four requirements for all new employees.
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On scaling a high-touch, human-centered service business
I really resisted it because I thought you can’t scale a high-touch, super human-centered system. Book coaching is so inefficient. It’s about the human touch. It’s about people’s hearts. It’s about their souls. I had this really deep aversion that the two things couldn’t connect. And he (Matt Sand, her business partner) kept insisting they could — and that I’d already done it.
It took years for Jennie to accept her now-business partner’s offer to scale her book coaching process into a full-scale business. Why so long? Because she didn’t see a way for someone else, like an employee, to learn her high-touch, human-centered process — and do it right.
But what Jennie found, once she said ‘yes’, was that it was possible: she could teach others her book coaching process. Scaling this business model wasn’t an instant success, as she uncovers, but more of a test-and-tweak-along-the-way to find the right model and pricing.
On how to hire, and retain, top-notch employees
This was the roadblock: I kept saying there is no way that we can get the level of talent that we need to scale this. We can’t get them at the price that will work. That’s what I thought.
Finding and hiring the right people was Jennie’s biggest roadblock to scale her book coaching business. But once she found a formula that worked, Jennie was able to grow her team to over 25 employees around the world. In the last 4 years, only 3 employees left Author Accelerator to start families, leave for their dream job, or start their own business.
So how do you craft a team that’s in it for the long run? Process. Process. Process.
Jennie determined what skills and personality type would thrive in the position — and she didn’t make exceptions. Everyone needed mechanical editing and narrative design skills as well as the ability to think strategically. They also needed to be nice and compassionate. This was a requirement. Even if someone had all the skills, if they weren’t kind, they didn’t make the cut.
This hiring process is so successful that Author Accelerator is launching a book coach certification program in 2018.
We’re really proud of the retention of our coaches and how we train them, the ongoing masterclasses, and oversight. In fact, we have become so sure of our process that in 2018 we’re going to launch a book coach certification program which is a whole other arm of our business. We had so many people who we didn’t hire ask how they could learn what they needed to know that we decided to do this.
On pricing a high-touch service
We made a lot of missteps, as every business does. We just completed year four and at the beginning of this year, we finally hit on the right combination of how to do it, how to price it, how to make it work, and we very quickly started to see a lot of growth. It was clear that this was the right way, the right system, strategy, and process. It was so exciting. Now we’re really starting to see that scaling happen.
Most business owners struggle with properly pricing their products and services. It’s not easy! After 4 years, Jennie found the right pricing for Author Accelerator — but it took many changes along the way. At first, Jennie wanted to offer an affordable program despite being a high-touch book coaching program. That pricing method didn’t work so they tried something else: high touch and high price and — it worked. Since then, they’ve seen a lot of growth.
If pricing comes as a struggle to you, consider this: sometimes it takes a few years to get it right. Focus on what you do well and how you do it — and don’t always look to competitors for your pricing inspiration.
Then, as Jennie says, ask yourself: “What is that I do that’s so different and special and good? And how can I take that and sell that?”
Listen to the full episode to hear even more from Jennie Nash, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Author Accelerator, on scaling a high-touch, high-price service.