The harder you work, the less stable your business feels. The busier you get, the more out of control all of the pieces become.
You've succeeded in getting all this work… so why does it feel like you're constantly struggling to keep the business running?
You knew things were getting bad the day you caught yourself feeling resentful of the work.
That work you busted your butt to get, and that you generally love doing.
But under the growing fatigue of creative depletion, plus the mental exhaustion from trying to maintain what feels like an intensifying juggling act of more and more balls in the air, it happened:
being an independent consultant started feeling like a job, and you resented that feeling.
And it doesn't help that you constantly feel the Weight of the Wants bearing down on you in the background:
- You want to be doing more with your email system. And you will, as soon as there's time to figure out a strategy…
- You want to be writing more, because you've got pitches for speaking gigs to create and an updated service page to pen and articles you're excited to write. And you will, as soon as you're not so totally creatively drained, though you can't really remember the last time you didn't feel that way…
- You want to be doing something with social media, even if it's making a determination one way or the other about whether to be actively using it for your business. And you will, as soon as you have time to look at how that fits in with… well, you'll have time to figure that out some other time… won't you?…
- You want to schedule some time off for yourself, because you feel total burnout breathing down your neck. And you will, just as soon as you get everything else under control.
And sure, most of the wants have been growing since… well, since your client roster started filling up. But one of these days, really, you're going to get it all under control. (Someday?)
It feels like a catch-22
Option 1: Pause or slow the cycle, and lose your audience, momentum, and income.
Option 2: Keep going with things as-is, and lose your damn mind.
But here's the good news: those aren't your only two options.
Preferable Option 3: Escape the perpetual burnout, mental exhaustion, and creative depletion. For good.
You're probably thinking, “Yeah, right. If I could do that, don't you think I'd have done it by now?!”
Here's why you haven't:
Doing a lot of work is not the same thing as creating a stable business.
But the usual inclination for the action-oriented independent consultant is to believe they're one and the same: “If I work hard, and work well, a stable business will naturally follow.”
An independent consultant working hard and working well without the right business architecture does not naturally create a stable business.
What you create instead is a really depleted and burned out consultant.
Escaping from burnout and creative depletion requires a stable, consistent, and resilient business.
And a stable, consistent, and resilient business requires smart business architecture.
The first step away from perpetual burnout and toward a well-architected business is the Business Architecture Audit.
The Business Architecture Audit employs my 3S Business Architecture Method:
- Services. A focused and streamlined set of services, bespoke and/or productized;
- Strategies. A resilient and results-focused blend of both automated and “at the ready” strategies to promote and sustain the brand and individual services.
- Systems. Adaptable and flexible systems support the execution of the strategies and delivery of services.
The Business Architecture Audit is a focused, highly actionable one-on-one call designed specifically to give you a roadmap to improve your business architecture.
During the Business Architecture Audit, you'll receive specific steps customized for your business.
My business ethos is “Pragmatism over platitudes.”
And that's exactly what you can expect: experience-vetted, results-oriented, tailored-for-your-business advice and suggestions, based on my unique 3S Business Architecture Method.
Because each Business Architecture Audit is unique to that client, the action items and advice vary from one call to the next. But to give you an idea of what we might cover, here is a sample of possibilities:
- increase profitability by determine ways existing service offerings and maximized;
- improve client experiences and simplify current day-to-day to-dos by streamline client acquisition processes;
- free up mental space and increase overall business resilience by identifying “systematize-able” (even if not necessarily automatable) processes;
- diagnose and reclaim “creative juice hot spots” that seem completely innocuous but are actually absorbing large amounts of creative and mental energy;
- reduce overhead costs by identifying where unnecessary overlaps exist, or where your existing strategies and systems can be simplified and streamlined;
- increase lifetime customer value and profit consistency by identifying “gaps” in your services, delivery, or follow-up.
Who's the Business Architecture Audit for?
As the name implies, this should be viewed as creating or repairing the foundations and structural components of your business.
The action steps you take from this won't be accomplishable in a day or a week. They're systematic changes. They're also changes that have a deep and long-lasting impact — which is why they're effective. (In other words, this is not a “band-aid fix” type of thing.)
You're probably in a good place to benefit from a Business Architecture Audit if:
- You've been running a freelance, solo or micro B2B consultancy for at least one year.
- You are profitable with a solid stream of revenue…
- …but you suspect that you're risking that revenue by risking burnout if you don't change something.
- Or you think you could increase that stream of revenue if you could figure out how to get out of this perpetual burnout and depletion.
- You're unsure whether all of your hard work is creating the business you intend or simply a job for yourself.
- You catch yourself feeling resentful of your work, or too creatively or emotionally depleted to perform at your usual levels, on an increasingly regular basis.
- You embrace compassionate candor: objective and straightforward, reasoned ‘n seasoned advice, always delivered in the spirit of support.
Marissa is a true unicorn, except that she really does exist in real life. She has an incredible range of knowledge and skills that is pretty much impossible to find in one person.
She’s a careful listener, analyst, guide, problem solver, and implementation master. She’ll figure out what’s broken in your business and help develop a plan to fix it.
Marissa has the unique gift of being able to analyze any situation and come up with creative solutions that make perfect sense, yet were so elusive that you never would have connected the dots without her.
She’s a big-picture person who can also drill down to the nitty-gritty and make substantial change.
Marissa is kind, incredibly supportive, thorough and reliable. She’s a true professional, and someone you definitely want to have in your corner.
I can’t say enough good things about Marissa as a person, and of her work.Lisa Wood
How do you get your very own Business Architecture Audit?
It all starts by just filling out the form below — it's just your name, email, and business website — to let me know you're interested. Easy, right?
Here's how the whole process works.
Step 1: Apply for the next available Audit
- Fill out the form below to let me know you're interested in the next available Audit session.
I'll personally reply to you with a few questions about your business.
Your answers to those questions will help me make sure I'm a good fit to deliver usable, impactful results for you. Assuming we're a good fit, then…
Step 2: Tell me about your business
- I'll send you the 3S Business Architecture Method Prep Work.
You'll complete the Prep Work and return it to me a few days prior to our call.
The Prep Work helps me get to know more about your work and audience, your goals and strategy style, your processes and systems (or lack thereof, wink wink), where you're at, where in the business you're happy and where you're not, and where you want to go.
Step 3: My neurons get to work
- In the days before our call, I'll review your Prep Work and start assessing your Services, Strategies, and Systems based on the information you provided. I will assess questions like:
Where are the most “high friction” areas in each category? What are some places you could achieve notable and/or quick impact with relatively gentle or minimal shifts? How might the pains you identified be addressed with some big picture architectural changes?
Step 4: You, Me, and 60 Minutes of Nonstop Biz Mojo
- It's the big day… time for our call!
We will meet up on Skype and dig deep into your Services, Strategies, and Systems. I'll serve up my proprietary and experience-honed blend of analysis, issue-sleuthing, problem-solving, and action planning on the areas of your business they're most needed, as determined by your feedback on the Prep Work and during our call.
Step 5: Audit Action Report
- After the Audit, you'll receive a laser-focused action report featuring the highlights from our discussion and specific steps to follow to develop more effective, resilient, and well-fitting business architecture.
How much does all of this cost?
A Business Architecture Audit is a one-time investment of $500.
I came to Marissa with a cloud of confusion, and she helped me turn that into clarity. I don’t know about you, but clarity allows me to take massive action, so the session has paid for itself many times over.Henri Junttila
But really… can't I just figure all of this out on my own?
But… how much effort, money, burnout, and time on the hamster wheel is between now and that point?
Because let's face it, it's not like you've been half-assing it all along just waiting until you read this page to finally decide to kick it into gear. (Have you? I mean, that'd be… oddly synchronistic.)
You've been working hard. You've been trying hard.
Like I've said before, if trying persistently and working hard were all it took to build successful businesses, you’d probably be the next Richard Branson by now, right?
You don't one day magically wake up free from creative depletion and burnout because you just kept doing good work.
It's the “Pilots Aren't Magically Mechanics” Rule
Here's what I mean by that:
Would you say to an airline pilot, “Hey Pilot! You know how to fly the plane, so you should know how to do all the mechanical work on the plane, too.”
You probably instinctively know that doesn’t make any sense.
Flying the plane and putting all its parts together in the most effective, stable, up-to-code way are two separate sets of skills, knowledge, and experience. The same person could possess both, but having one set of skills doesn’t automatically imply the other.
You don’t expect the pilot to magically be his own airline mechanic… so why are you expecting yourself to magically be your own business architect?
It's an entirely separate set of skills, knowledge, and experience.
So could you do this all on your own? Of course. You're smart, you're capable, and you're resourceful.
But are you willing to put in the effort, burnout, resources, and time on the hamster wheel to do it yourself, rather than invest in this service?
That's a question only you can answer.
If you want to take the first step toward more stability and less burnout in your business, apply here for the next available Business Architecture Audit.
Marissa helped me strategize about how to run my business optimally, so I'm focusing on the work that brings the highest value to my business. The questions she asked completely reoriented my thinking about my priorities and what work I really wanted to be doing.Julie Stuart
How can you come in and see things in my business so quickly, if they're things I've been overlooking? I mean, it's my business. Shouldn't I know it better than anyone?
You do know your own business better than anyone. Aaaaaand you're the first to miss certain key areas in it, for one simple reason:
Everyone gets spot blindness to their own business.
We can look as rationally and as carefully as possible at things and still look right over those blindspots because:
- they’ve been there so long we've gotten used to them;
- they’re emotionally draining for us and we just sort of stay away from them without even meaning to;
- handling them requires an approach that's so unfamiliar we can’t even begin to see them yet;
or any of another multitude of reasons.
Point being: We can't see our own stuff, because we're just too close to it.
That’s why fresh (professional) eyes are invaluable. They catch what we can’t!
To get my eyes on your biz, apply now.
Being able to sort things out with Marissa made a huge difference to me and my business. She's absolutely indispensable and I highly recommend her if you need somebody to guide you out of the creative labyrinths you've made for yourself.Charlie Gilkey
Is there anyone who shouldn't apply for this service?
Yes. If the following feel true to you, you probably won't get much benefit from my approach to services, strategy, and systems. Therefore, you should NOT apply for this service if:
- You equate team size with success. One of the biggest mistakes independent B2B consultants are currently making is hiring too many, too soon, and too often. If you use the size of your team to measure the level of your success, you won't like my advice.
- You believe in growth for growth's sake. I advise doing things only when there is a purpose behind them, and “for its own sake” is not a valid purpose. Anything done without purpose will come back to bite you in the ass.
- You need quick cash. This is not about flipping fast cash. This is about creating the infrastructure for a business that will be durable, consistent, and sustainable.
- You want me to “do it all for you.” This ain't that. Also: if you're in the habit of looking for ways to hand off core components of your business for the sake of temporary convenience STOP IT. That's very trendy, and absolutely appalling, advice. Stop following it this instant.
- You want someone to tell you you're doing everything right. I trade in compassionate candor: straightforward and with compassion. But I won't spend the hour blowing sunshine, because that won't get you any results.
- Everyone you talk to gives you bad info, every book you read tells you what you already know, every seminar you've been to just rehashes what you've already seen… guess what. The common denominator is you. You're not a bad person, but you probably have a bad attitude. My rule is: If you exist online yet somehow aren't finding at least one actionable tidbit on a daily basis, I don't want to work with you. It means you're not in the right place attitude-wise.
I want to work with people who are in this for the long haul, building the kind of independent B2B consultancy that can survive and thrive through various iterations, pivots, introductions of new technologies, and changes in the business landscape we haven't even imagined yet.
I'm dedicated to helping you do that.
If you fit that bill, I'm stoked to architect your business with you. Let's do this, shall we?
Marissa helped me get my systems in place with my email marketing and my group coaching programs. She also did a tremendous job with my web site, opt-ins and landing pages. She knows her stuff when it comes to how the inner workings of businesses run! Anyone who has the opportunity to work with her will be well taken care of.Sherold Barr
The MacGyver Guarantee
If there's anyone who knows about risks, it's MacGyver.
The well-coiffed television hero spent seven seasons getting himself and others out of all sorts of precarious scenarios, often with little more than a stick of gum and a paperclip. You didn't always know how he'd do it, but MacGyver was endlessly resourceful, and he always came through.
Hopefully your scenario won't involve explosives or jewel heists (and if it does, that's really outside my area of expertise). But your scenario might still feel pretty risky, and the stakes might feel every bit as high.
That's why the Business Architecture Audit comes with the MacGyver Guarantee: I promise you'll leave your Audit with the tools* you need to get out of your sticky situation — and if you don't, I'll get back on the phone with you for another half hour, absolutely free, to make sure you do.
*”Tools” in this case references the advice, action steps, resources, and such that we'll discuss and that I provide in the WWMD Bullet Point Suggestions… not sticks of gum and paperclips. Just to be clear.
MacGyver didn't leave anyone in a sticky situation, and I won't either. That's a promise. Hair like that doesn't lie.
Apply now for a Business Architecture Audit
Who's offering this service?
Hi there! I’m Marissa Bracke, a Business Architect who helps independent B2B consultants escape burnout and creative depletion by creating highly adaptable, long-term solutions for their services, strategies, and systems.
Unlike other consultants, I have a special knack for developing both the Eagle View and Mouse View of your business with you, giving you insight and solutions for the big picture challenges alongside the day-to-day struggles.
I founded my consultancy shortly after leaving a career in Big Law (loved the work, hated the office politics). My first client engagements were for virtual assistant work. It quickly became clear, as my very first client put it, that I had a “special knack for both the Eagle View and Mouse View of business.” So I rapidly moved into increasingly strategic and advisory roles for my clients, where I could make a much bigger difference in their business trajectories.
Having spent the past eight years helping independent B2B business owners build and grow their businesses, all of my advice and suggestions are packaged with a real-world, “seen it, built it, ran it” pragmatism specifically tailored for small and micro businesses.
In addition to my (tens of thousands of hours of) hands-on experience, I'm also a Certified Digital Marketing Professional, carrying certifications in customer value optimization, customer acquisition, content marketing, email marketing, social media, search marketing, data and analytics, and optimization and testing.
I worked with Marissa when I was evolving my business, and that was a big task. Sometimes you just need help from someone who’s been there, has the contacts and is in the know. Marissa calmed me down and gave me clarity where there was none before.
I came off the call with Marissa feeling like I knew what to do. Make no mistake: no one is going to do the hard work for you, but it is so much easier when you have a coach who knows what she is talking about. I took notes a plenty during our call and I am referring to them as I put into place her slick strategies for expanding and moving my business forward.
Calm, steady, compassionate and wise are a few of the words I would use to describe Marissa. When the world seems like it is falling apart around your feet, there is one lady to call: Marissa Bracke.Star Monroe
As a result of my work with Marissa, I have expanded mental space for creative work, and more freedom in my business.Tzaddi Gordon
OK, I’ve been meaning to write this testimonial for a while. I have a tendency to not do all those things I’ve “been meaning to do for a while”, so the fact that you’re reading it is a testament to Marissa in itself.
I don’t really know how Marissa does what she does, to be honest. I think that’s the beauty of her. I'd say, “MARISSA! HELP!” and then we'd talk, she'd turn all of the loose threads and sundry ideas into things that could actually be done (and did, in fact, get done), and then I'd get to walk away to have a nice gin and tonic to celebrate my progress.
Zero drama. Much gin. That's a grand alternative to chaos, isn’t it?
Hire Marissa this minute before she is completely booked and you wind up on a waiting list while the rest of us who did hire her are happily sipping our gin and tonics.Naomi Dunford
Sometimes it takes someone else to point out the good and the bad, and that is what Marissa helped me do. I recommend you chat with Marissa if you feel like you have all the ideas in the world, but nothing is happening.
In the end I guess it all comes down to: would I hire Marissa again? Heck yeah!Henri Junttila
Marissa helped me see the scope of my life as a creative entrepreneur with fresh eyes. The “stucknesses” we addressed in our sessions allowed me to identify (minus feelings of overwhelm and confusion) what needed to be done and, more importantly, in what order. The way Marissa held me accountable in a friendly yet firm way had me making enthusiastic, visible progress!Jeanne Demers
I have to say, I wasn't looking forward to filling out the pre-work questions. But I'm so glad I did! While I was working on it, I had breakthroughs on three issues I was struggling with. That alone was worth the price of the sessions, all before we ever got on the phone!Gina Morrell
There is absolutely no one in the world with Marissa Bracke’s caliber of savvy organizational mojo and utter on-top-of-it-ness — and boy oh boy, have I looked. It’s almost impossible for me to write this testimonial without a few readers thinking I’m full of shit — because ridiculously, she’s just that good.
I honestly can’t think of a smarter hire for any business under the sun (or on the web). She approached each one of our interactions with such obvious care and attention that it’s clear to me our projects mattered to her.
It has been an enormous pleasure to get to work with her. Don’t bother looking for another Marissa. Just hire Marissa.Megan Elizabeth Morris
In one phone call, I came to Marissa with about twenty different questions and she helped me think through all of them in a really strategic way.
When I called Marissa, I knew I could count on having a great strategy session, whether she was brainstorming with me about products, helping me figure out where I could create systems, or pointing me to useful resources. Working with her helped my business and my life flow a little easier.Julie Stuart
The changes you want for your business are within reach.
I'm looking forward to helping you make them happen.