If you're feeling the need to shut down an offering in your business but you're not sure how, this article is for you. My guest, Emily Aborn, shared her story with me on how she took a paid membership and turned it into a free community and didn't lose her business in the process. On the other side of following her intuition with her offering was a successful business on her terms.
Creating An Offering
As an Accidental Entrepreneur, you're looking to creating a thriving business so of course you want to create an offering (or multiple) that help your customers. In order to do this it's important to focus on the struggle you're seeing with your network/audience. Emily did just that when she created the membership that she would eventually shut down.
Emily realized that she wasn't the only entrepreneur who was struggling to find connections so she hosted a local event and 165 people showed up. This was her testing out an idea to see if it had any traction and is a great way to test something in your business too.
Once she knew that there was a need for connection, she began hosting more events both in person and virtually. This continued to grow her business and she eventually created a membership that encompassed all the offerings she had been hosting as it felt like the next logical step to support her audience.
"I wanted to created something that encompassed all of the offerings, workshops and events so I created a membership that lasted for 2 years." - Emily Aborn
**This was also a podcast episode (episode #185. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.
Noticing A Shift In What You Want To Offer
As an entrepreneur you're constantly asking yourself "what do they need" and then adapting to what your clients/students/customers need and want. While this is a great approach to always be connected to your customer, it's not always great for your sanity.
"I noticed myself contorting and molding myself into what I thought everybody wanted." - Emily Aborn
For Emily, she realized that while the need was still there for women entrepreneurs to have a place to connect, that the way in which she was answering that need didn't feel right for her. So she took time to reflect on the membership and how she wanted to move forward with making changes.
"I went back to the roots of creating a free online community for women entrepreneurs who want a place to connect. I do still create paid offerings but the group can now pay for what they want." - Emily Aborn
Sharing The 'Shut Down' Message With Paying Clients
Once you've decided you want to shut an offering down, the idea of sharing the message with your clients can feel overwhelming. Emily shared that while this will look different for everyone, how she approached this was being very open and transparent once she made the decision and figured out the details.
"I had to get really clear on if I would be letting anyone down and if I was, what would I do to navigate that." - Emily Aborn
"It's sometimes complicated to communicate with everyone because not everyone reads email or checks Facebook. I announced it through email and just tried to make it very clear on Facebook." - Emily Aborn
Navigating The Financial Implications Of Shutting Down An Offering
The other piece of shutting down an offering is dealing with the finances. This is especially the case when it comes to shutting down a membership or paid program that have ongoing payments. Emily shared that she planned for this ahead of time by looking ahead regarding payments. Here are some steps you can take to do this:
Look at all payment plans to see when the fulfillment will be made (ex: annual payments, quarterly payments, monthly payments)
Identify when most people will have the fulfillment completed
Choose a shut off date that works with the majority of your payment plans/commitments
Decide if you will offer a pro-rated refund or other options to anyone who has payment plans that extend past the shut off date
Communicate options with clarity so your clients know how to move forward
"Your question about logistically, how did I do this, is so good because that's what held me back. I knew for a year prior that's what I wanted to do but then renewals hit. I had to made the decision in July 2022 to prepare for December 2022." - Emily Aborn
Shifting To New Offerings
Take what you liked about the previous offerings and allow it to inform new offerings. Emily's example is that the small peer groups within her membership is something she and her clients enjoyed. This became a paid offering once the membership was shut down.
"Allow yourself to be curious." - Amanda McKinney
Emily also shared a great article with me about finding your curiosity type.
How Your Definition Of Success Plays Into Your Offerings
As you're moving through entrepreneurship, it's important to stay grounded in what your definition of success is because if you aren't sure, you will end up chasing someone else's definition. Just like Emily mentioned that she felt like she molded herself into what others wanted (or she thought they wanted), you can end up doing this too.
"I don't want to just be successful in my business, I want to feel success in my life." - Emily Aborn
"I don't want numbers attached to my success. I want it to be a feeling that I carry around with me all the time." - Emily Aborn
"This was a wake up call in that moment. I couldn't separate my goal from what success felt like for me." - Amanda McKinney
*I share more on this story of how I noticed that I couldn't separate goals from success in my book Why Not You? An Accidental Entrepreneur's Guide To Success.
Why Not You?
Ac Accidental Entrepreneur's Guide To Success
Different Seasons = Different Definition of Success
When you decide to define success on your terms it can often feel overwhelming to choose a definition because it can feel like it's forever. This isn't the case because just as we will navigate different seasons of weather, we will navigate different seasons of our life as well and our definition of success will change too.
It's important to know what season of life you're in currently and allow that season to help you define your true definition of success.
"The unpredictability of entrepreneurship really threw me off when I first started my business." - Amanda McKinney
"Give yourself enough time and space in your business so life can happen." - Emily Aborn
If you over-schedule yourself as an entrepreneur this is when things can start to feel overwhelming. Giving yourself space on your calendar where others can book with you, etc. is a great option so that if life does happen (which it will), you can navigate it with a little more ease.
"We can make choices that seem small but have big impacts." - Amanda McKinney
Emily encouraged us to ask yourself "what do I have the capacity for?". Not in the sense of packing your schedule to the brim but rather asking yourself what do you have the capacity for so that you can show up as your best.
Take Away Message / Action
If you're facing a decision and aren't sure what to do next, ask yourself "What is the next right step?" This question will help you take the next step that's best for you and move you forward.
Until next time give yourself permission to take the best next step for you and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon.
Emily Aborn is a Content Writer, Podcast Host of the She Built This podcast, and Founder of She Built This, a no-cost community for women entrepreneurs. She’s been an entrepreneur since 2014 and has experience in running brick-and-mortar as well as online businesses. She’s written for over 90 different industries and loves helping those with a big mission increase their visibility, connect with their clients, and bring their dreams to life. For fun, Emily enjoys nerdy word games and puzzles, reading, listening to podcasts like they're going outta' style, and traipsing about in the woods of New Hampshire with her husband, Jason, and their dog, Clyde.
"I went back to the roots of creating a free online community for women entrepreneurs who want a place to connect. I do still create paid offerings but the group can now pay for what they want."
- Emily Aborn
Your Guide To Accidental Entrepreneurship
You're building a business with intention and want it to support the life you dream of so it's time to do this on your terms. You can do this by declaring your Y.O.U. Promise which is what I walk you through in my book:
Why Not You? An Accidental Entrepreneur's Guide To Success.
Order your copy using the button below.