How much money do you want to make? (And what do you want to DO?)

I spent last weekend at a marketing conference.

Speaker after speaker took the stage, talking about multi-multi millions. Multi-million dollar businesses. Multi-million dollar strategies. Multi-million dollar blueprints.

(If I had a dollar for every time the word “million” was uttered, I’d be well on my way there!)

One even went so far as to ask the audience: who wants a BILLION dollar business?

I was pretty quick to respond to that. Not me!

Not interested.

I don’t want multi-millions of dollars and neither do most of my clients. Here’s why.

On Tuesday I had a conversation with a business coach whose smallest clients have 3 million dollar businesses.

She said:

A 3 million dollar business is a small business. It takes a machine to run that business. It takes money to feed the machine. The owner is lucky to walk away with $150K per year.


In a few sentences she clarified my thoughts. My response:

My ideal clients don’t want the machine! They just want the $150K. (Or $65K or $250K – whatever the right number is for them.)

They want to DO the thing they do. They don’t want to trade their hands-on coaching, consulting, designing or wellness practice for a new job of managing “the machine” with the overhead, stress and non-stop marketing that comes with it.

Are they really on their own? Or do they have a machine?

Is there a famous “celebrity” in your business that you admire/follow?

They may appear to be on their own. Their name is their brand. But take a close look.

They have a machine and they’re paying for it.

A good chunk of their revenue is going to:

  • Technical systems and services. Their fancy automated email marketing system may have cost 2 grand to set up and another $300 a month in rent. (Not including paying someone to actually run the system.)
  • Production costs. Those high quality video web TV shows are not made in front of a simple web cam. Nicely polished e-book or presentation slides? That stuff costs money.
  • Staff. To answer email, provide customer service, organize events, run marketing campaigns and more.
  • Marketing expenses. You SEE these people EVERYWHERE. Why? Because they’re PAYING for advertising. (And copywriting and graphic design.)

I don’t say this to discourage you if that’s what you want. Only to point out something that I think is often overlooked.

You may be able to take home the same amount of money by staying small

You can make $100,000 per year working directly with clients, with very little overhead.

Or you can make $250,000 per year with $150,000 in “machine costs” and have the same amount of money left in your jeans at the end of the year.

There are plenty of small, well-fed solo-practitioners out there.

What really matters is what you want to DO

Do you want to spend your time doing your thing?

Or do you want to be the CEO of a small business and manage the machine?

These are 2 very different goals. There’s no wrong answer. Just make sure the advice you’re buying into matches what you really want.


  1. Toni Serofin on April 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    That was an AWESOME blog post! Trumpet this everywhere!

    • Patty K on April 3, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Thanks, Toni!

  2. Susi Vasseur on April 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Amen. I am so tired of this wanting millions BS. I just want to know how to run my business on a small level helping people and …..make an income as well. The journey continues…..

    • Patty K on April 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Yes! I’m hearing from many people that income + helping people is what they really want. It can be done…but the advice offered by the machine peddlers doesn’t fit. We need to think smaller and more personal…rather than automating and scaling UP.

  3. Doreen Hill on April 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Good point Patty! Funny I should read this today as I had an incredible treatment sessions with one of my clients. I love the personal aspect of being able to connect with each one of my clients on that deeper level and not plug the machine…

    • Patty K on April 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Yes! And I believe people are hungry for this kind of personal connection.

  4. Jayne Gibson on April 5, 2014 at 1:45 am

    I agree whole heartedly. I always appreciate the clarity in your posts Patty. I would love to become an employer……..of 1 employee. Employment and doing my part to help people become employed is near and dear to my heart. However, I want to be able to do the work and offer personalized services. That’s the kind of services that I want when I go out looking for help. Why wouldn’t my clients want that? If my business is earning $150,000.00 per year, I want most of that in my pocket, not going to my software company. YOU ROCK!!

    • Patty K on April 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks, Jayne! You’re right…there are people who want personalized service, rather than being “taken care of” by the machine.

  5. Glo McArter on April 5, 2014 at 5:58 am

    WOW — what a stimulating article, Patty! Here’s my philosophical, spiritful bit to add that guides me on the path I choose:

    THE MACHINE is fueled by the energy of fear and deprivation, not enough.

    INCOME & HELPING PEOPLE is fueled by the energy of “we are enough” so we will create enough — income, and satisfying and mutually beneficial relationships.

    “So be it”……

    • Patty K on April 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Hey Glo…thanks for chiming in. Love your perspective on “enough” – it’s one of those concepts that would change EVERYTHING if people were willing to embrace it.

  6. Heidi on April 9, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I love your question, Patty! What do you want to do? … What do you WANT to do? … What do you want to DO? This post has gotten my business thoughts off to a very good start this morning. Thank you.

    • Patty K on April 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Heidi! Long time, no see. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts. I like the nuances of stressing different words in the question – all pieces are important. Hope the rest of your day is good as well.

  7. Richelle on April 10, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Thanx, Patty, for summing up so diplomatically what I usually express in a verbal rage!!! whenever I read of one or another and another (and then another again) ‘coaching’ workshops. I was always left confused by what exactly it is that I am supposed to be doing – I have attended one (or another) of those workshops and I always thought I was on the set of ‘The Price Is Right’ … lol.

    • Patty K on April 10, 2014 at 1:11 am

      Ha! Oh…I’ve done the verbal rage, too! There are more than a few of these practices that push my buttons. Thanks for commenting, Richelle…good to see you here!

  8. Crystal on May 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Wow! This is so right on – Thank You!