Practice or Business?
Some of my NSA colleagues enjoy being a one-man or a one-woman show, with few or no employees. In addition to their speaking presentations, many have collateral products and services. This business model has brought many speakers great professional and financial success. But what happens when the volume of business exceeds what a single speaker can provide, even with a support staff? Is your product—including presentations, public seminars, publications, online programs, consultation —in such high demand that you know a single content expert cannot handle everything? If so, consider developing a business where many speakers can deliver your company.
Lessons from the Trenches
Here is what I have learned during the past 25 years as our team developed Fitzgerald Health Education Associates, Inc.
1. Broad expertise.
Our successful business has a number of experts on a variety of topics and wide availability. By adding consulting speakers, the company has experts on more than 100 topics and virtually all requests for speaking can be fulfilled. We also have developed a robust program of online learning and offer more than 70 live company-sponsored seminars per year.
2. Consistent high-quality content.
My team and I developed a product that many speakers can present. For some, this can be the most uncomfortable part of developing this type of business—the person with a speaking practice thinks that he or she is best suited to deliver certain content. In reality, each speaker provides his or her own experiences and views on a topic. The result is that evaluations differ little from one speaker to another, and the customer outcomes and acceptance are nearly identical, regardless of the presenter.
3. High company standards.
We have created a program to develop the consulting speakers and their presentations to our company’s standards. Clear expectations ensure the delivery of an outstanding product, no matter who the speaker is. This system also safeguards that our success does not depend on one person.
4. Stellar reputation.
While the company name includes my last name, the name “Fitzgerald” is well known in the industry and recognized as the place to access programs and publications from the student to the expert. The company’s identity goes way beyond the work and influence of one person.
Sadly, we have all heard of speakers with highly successful solo practices that could not survive due to personal reversals in health or relationships. A business where the work and organization’s mission can be continued in the absence of its founder is an enterprise that can be sold and still be viable. We have developed a speaking business that has residual value beyond my or the leadership team’s presence and reach.
Practice or business? This is one of the important decisions to make in your speaking career.