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How Working Yourself Out of a Job Can Generate Success Keeping clients dependent on your offerings won't drive your business. Foster their independence, and you'll thrive.

By Pete Wheelan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


If I told you that you could improve your business by creating customers who wouldn't need you anymore, then you would probably call me crazy. But many service-oriented businesses are finding success doing just that.

Instilling independence in your clients benefits both parties: offering to help clients build instead of pressuring them to buy provides a comfortable middle ground between going it alone and outsourcing.

When clients understand that your intent is to help them build on their strengths, rather than exploit their weaknesses to sell more services, they are more inclined to open up about the challenges they face. This invaluable knowledge will help enhance your services for them and for future clients, as well as increase customer satisfaction and referrals.

Related: Why You Should Think Less About Sales and More About the Customer Experience

In addition, the more you empower others to join in the pursuit of fulfilling your mission, the faster that cause will reach scale. For example, teaching people to farm and fish addresses global malnutrition faster than handing out food -- and it's more sustainable. Likewise, in helping clients develop their own capabilities, a significant cultural exchange takes place: your values rub off on them, and they share ideas about ways to advance your mission.

If this innovative service strategy has piqued your interest, then follow these basic principles to get started.

1. Train your trainers.

Start internally and teach your organization how to unlock clients' potential so they can better fulfill their goals and become ambassadors for the company that helped them get there.

At InsideTrack, we coach students on how to be successful and train others on how to coach students. Our coaches become great trainers, because they learn from and build off one another's coaching interactions.

Becoming better trainers requires entrepreneurs to improve their listening and feedback abilities, so they can help employees develop skills and provide them with an example of how to help clients in a similar fashion.

2. Democratize your services.

Working with a small number of organizations that can afford to make large payments indefinitely is an unstable model if your goal is to impact the broadest swath of your target audience. Creating high-quality services accessible to a range of clients expands your impact and mitigates the risk of losing a key contract.

For us, this meant taking what is inherently a people-intensive process -- personalized success coaching -- and applying analytics and technology to make it more impactful and cost-effective. In doing so, we made our services affordable to the smaller-budget schools that serve the majority of students.

Think about how you could leverage modern tools to scale your sphere of influence. When you nail down procedures that can improve efficiency and cost, you'll appeal to more of your target audience.

Related: 3 Things Every Business Leader Should Unlearn

3. Unlock human potential.

Every entrepreneur must invest a substantial amount of time, energy and money not only on clients, but also on the professional development of their teams. The Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain, for example, invests about $2,000 a year in training per employee and earns $1,000 in sales per square foot as a result.

Entrepreneurs can't create meaningful, scalable impacts on society by making others dependent on their services. Therefore, we approach every relationship with one idea in mind: How can we unlock this person's -- or organization's -- potential? For us, it's a matter of being relentless and executing best practices to the best of our abilities in order to obtain the most successful results.

Helping clients become better versions of themselves without manufacturing dependency on a service creates something more than clients: it creates trusted partners who are enthusiastic about their own abilities to grow and confident in their endorsements of the company that helped them.

Related: Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Social Entrepreneur?

Pete Wheelan

CEO of InsideTrack

Pete Wheelan, CEO of InsideTrack, has dedicated his career to leading mission-driven, high-growth companies focused on helping individuals live up to their full potential. Before joining InsideTrack, he served as chief operating officer and chief revenue officer at Blurb, a groundbreaking leader in unleashing creative expression through self-published books.

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