As some of you may recall, about 8 months ago I offered free consulting sessions for three months with the goal of helping as many people as possible and cultivate some new relationships with many of you interested in enhancing and expanding your business endeavors.
I feel confident that I helped quite a few people, and that’s what is most important to me. But, in the midst of helping others I also learned quite a bit from the experience. What follows are some of the most important lessons I learned:
1.) Taking action is imperative. Last week I discussed the importance of taking action, but honestly it’s always been something I’ve struggled with. I worry entirely too much about how something will be received and have been reluctant to try out new initiatives for fear that they’ll adversely affect my personal brand.
Besides, you won’t remember if it didn’t benefit you anyway. With the free consulting sessions, I took action. It wasn’t the most successful venture ever, but no animals were harmed during any of the sessions.
2.) It’s important to qualify consumer perceptions; which is to say that when something is free some people will take advantage, and you will always be surprised by how many people are looking for a silver bullet solution. Often the two work hand in hand.
A handful of people got on the phone expecting me to tell them the secret to making millions overnight. After I evaluated their business model, and offered a few suggestions to help move the needle, they often discovered ‘hard work’ was part of the equation, and stopped listening. I’ll be careful to screen these people out in the future.
okay, no extremely important to say no sometimes. To my surprise quite a few people shared the offer with their networks and the response was honestly overwhelming. I was both flattered and determined to help all of these people. This was the same time I was working 50+ hours a week at a new job in a new state.
I ended up getting to everyone (with the exception of one who had a tumultuous schedule), but I got severely burned out in the process. Moving forward, I’ll be more selective and ensure that I’m only taking time to work on projects I’m passionate about and people I’m particularly fond of.
4.) Make sure you a lot excess time for research. This is my “no duh,” moment, but when I originally launched the idea I was thinking a half hour every night on the phone. What I didn’t take into account was my propensity to want to over deliver. Yes, I know what I’m talking about, but I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the entrepreneurs and small business that approached me.
I ended up researching companies for at least an hour prior to the calls to ensure that I could make some really strategic recommendations tailored specifically for their company, as opposed to generic advice. I also typically spent another half hour going over notes, and sending them a follow up document outlining the key takeaways and actionable items. 30 minutes after a 10 hour work day is reasonable, 2 hours was a stretch some nights, and ultimately the reason I ended up only doing 2 sessions a week.
5.) You know what you’re doing, trust yourself and get it done. When I started the offer I honestly thought it would be mostly new people just looking to acquire some momentum. I was extremely surprised and flattered when a bestselling author, and a CEO of billion (not million) dollar companies approached me. Admittedly I was a bit intimidated and asked myself (particularly with the author) what they could possibly learn from me.
The thing is I’m a voracious reader of all things business/marketing, and I build strategy and execute for big brands all the time in my day job. Then I go home and help small businesses and personal brands. I have more tangible experience in this sandbox then the vast majority of people online. Even if someone more experienced comes along it’s important to remember that sometimes people just need a different perspective, or are looking for one small piece of advice to really transform their efforts. That’s all it takes, and guess what? If they’re more experience, already know what you’re capable of so be confident and deliver value.
So why the lessons learned now, instead of 4 months ago when I concluded the offer? It’s because it’s time that I take all this advice and put it to good use. The middle of this week I’ll be launching some new consulting services. I won’t get into it now, but once they’re live I’d greatly appreciate your opinions and help to refine my offerings into something that potential clients will get great value from.
What do you think of these lessons? What have you learned from consulting? What would you look for in a potential consultant? Would you hire me to consult you on how to be awesome if Stuart Foster wasn’t available?
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What I Learned from Free Consulting Sessions — http://bit.ly/2ZmJn4 (via @RyanStephens)