Is Your Business Model Missing This Crucial Piece

Caroline Leon
5 min readFeb 23, 2021

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”
~ Simone de Beauvoir

I hope you had a lovely weekend and that you are feeling good about the start of the week. I forget sometimes how much I used to dread Monday mornings in my “old life” and how much of my week I wished away, waiting for Friday to come back around. In the last job I had before I decided to change my life completely, it’s shocking to me now to remember how much time I used to spend watching the clock, literally counting the minutes down until I could leave work. Given that was nearly a decade ago, it’s sometimes easy to forget.

Over the past month inside the Conscious Business Mastermind, we’ve been looking at Business Models and how to create a sustainable one for your business and your life. As I pulled together the class for my CBMers, which included examples of sustainable business models from conscious business owners such as Tad Hargrave, George Kao and Susannah Conway, it dawned on me that a hugely important element of their business model is what they give their audience for free.

I’m not sure why I was surprised by this. — I am a self-proclaimed advocate of generosity in business and I’m in no doubt that the success I enjoy today in business comes from giving my knowledge freely in my content and in my complimentary coaching sessions but still…All of the models I analysed had this same thing in common — hugely generous freebies.

Tad has published well over 600 articles on his blog and over 500 videos on his Youtube channel. I’m not sure what George’s numbers are but they must be similar if not higher — both are prolific content creators. Then we have Susannah Conway whose generous freebie (or one of them because she has several) is her world-renowned Unravel Your Year PDF, beautifully designed and even now translated into multiple languages. This PDF could easily be a paid product but she chooses to give it away for free. Why? Because she knows the power of a generous freebie.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been questioned on my advice to give so much away for free. I’ve had many clients and colleagues argue that my approach of gifting coaching sessions is potentially foolish and here is what I tell them every time.

You don’t get paid for marketing your business. Everything you do to promote and market your work to the world, you’ll do for free or worse yet you’ll have to pay for AND your marketing efforts are precisely what will move people from not knowing you to buying from you IF that marketing helps people to better know, like and trust you.

For me and so it seems for others, one of the best ways to market your business, cultivate trust, connect with your audience and demonstrate your expertise is to give lots of value for free — it also happens to be a lovely way to do business and creates a far deeper bond between you and your audience/clients than other more manipulative mainstream marketing tactics might. Personally, I like to do this with my content and free coaching sessions, others might choose to do a podcast or like Tad make hundreds and hundreds of videos.

Personally I would rather spend an hour coaching someone than I would trying to learn or keep up with the latest fads and trends on social media. I also find it far more effective. When I coach someone for free, more often they sign up as a client or onto my wait list and on the odd occasion they don’t, they go on to share about me to their friends and colleagues. More than once it’s happened that someone who had a powerful coaching conversation with me but who couldn’t afford to work with me, either bought one of my lower cost offerings or sent other paying clients my way.

Now, Just in case you’re sat there thinking but Caroline, I’m not even 100% sure what you mean by Business Model essentially we’re talking about how you bring money into your business. To help illustrate the point, here’s a diagram of a typical online business model.

Right at the top — the widest part of the funnel, you have free stuff — complimentary sessions, freebie opt-ins, free intro workshops etc. This is where the majority of your audience will be. This is where you create a safe way for people to engage with your business and get to know you better. In my business this is my content and was my complimentary coaching sessions (which I’ve had to put on hold due to time constraints).

Next we see entry level products such as a $25 ebook or workshop or other digital product — generally here we’d be looking at something under the $100 mark. This is cheap and also creates safety for the buyer so that they can test you out without spending too much money. It should, if designed well, give buyers a chance to get to know you and your work better. This could be something that shares your point of view, the big picture of your work or methodology. In my business this is my Business Planner (which I’m actually thinking about turning into a freebie and then replacing this level with affordable group workshops).

Then we have what can be called your core offerings. This is typically a group program, more expensive than your entry level products but cheaper than your premium offers. In my business this is the Conscious Business Mastermind.

And then you have your premium offerings. This is the most expensive option and where the buyer typically gets the most access to you. It’s often here that we see 1:1 offerings and it’s likely that there is less availability here too. In my business this is my 1:1 Coaching Subscription.

Although I’m not a fan of the “funnel”, when we consider our business model in this way, it becomes clear why your free offering becomes so important. When we spend all of our time on creating products and services but pay little attention to marketing them or creating generous freebies that will help us to reach more people, nobody even knows we’re there!

You might have the most amazing service but if you’re largely invisible, it won’t matter one bit how good it is.

Your challenge for today, should you choose to accept it is to give some meaningful thought to what you offer for free in your business whether that is content, intro workshops or a sample session and do what you can to make it as impactful for your people as it can be.

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Caroline Leon

Business Coach helping conscious change makers to build and grow sustainable businesses, using strategies rooted in integrity.