Once there was a consultant . . . and so the long story goes.
The short version is this. A consultant (aka me) had all the same experience and knowledge as the coach (aka me).
The coach was valued and paid appropriately, the consultant wasn’t. The difference was a lens, a book and the yellow brick road.
The consultant’s clients asked her for a bicycle and expected a Mercedes. She quoted for a Mini hoping to bridge the gap, but it was a lottery.
She created a three tier offer with every task detailed and costed, hoping to ameliorate ‘the creep’ before it happened. But between her and the client, they sabotaged the process.
She wanted the best outcome for them. So did they, but not at the price tag. Too often, she compromised and delivered the better option anyway.
As a result, the consultant filtered her work through a lens that said, ‘Everything I am doing for you will become a contest between how much I give and how little you are willing to pay.’
This was unlikely to make for a happy working life.
If you reserve your best effort for the never-pleased client and the bully of a customer, then you’ve bought into a system that rewards the very people who are driving you nuts. It’s no wonder you have clients like that–they get your best work. Seth Godin
An aside: cost, value and the client relationship
The financial relationship between consultant and client is complex, particularly in the creative services industry.
Service providers aren’t selling sacks of spuds. There isn’t a simple benchmark. Potatoes cost $x per pound. Branding consultancy, copywriting, designing, creative marketing etc costs, what? $ … insert the ‘industry standard‘ hourly rate. Add your considered value, experience, expertise. Costed how? By the number of years you’ve done it? Number of jobs? Quality of testimonials and awards? Street address?
The questions then become, ‘so how many hours is ‘insert task’ going to take?‘ Followed by, ‘how long is that piece of string you’re dangling and how much is still in your pocket?
In the interests of getting their worth and fostering good client relationships, most service providers do their best to match an offer with a price. Usually, it’s contingent on trading time for money. And therein lies the rub. And the merry go round.
Back to the story: the book
To save her sanity, the consultant decided she had to do something to make a change. She had long since ceased to love how she worked, but she believed passionately in what she had to offer. It appeared for a while to be a conundrum.
First, she really had to believe in what she had to offer to warrant the time, energy and effort. It meant conquering the Lizard.
Second, by going through a process of organising her body of knowledge and experience, she uncovered a framework to the work she did. She could articulate it in a series of steps.
Third, by the time it was finished and published, she understood her worth. It changed her mindset. She would no longer tolerate a battle for appropriate reimbursement or work for the wrong people or leave money on the table.
Many years before, a client who had valued what she did, retired. He said to her, ‘In all the years you worked for me, you never asked me once if I thought what you charged was okay. If you had, I’d have told you for what you delivered, you charged too little. If that’s the case, how much money have you left on the table?’
While the book alone was not the panacea for the change, it was the catalyst.
In writing the book, her purpose became clear. She decided to follow her yellow brick road and packaged up the framework into a coaching program. Then she went in search of people who wanted to blog brilliantly to create powerful clans and became a coach.
Now her lens was very different. The people with whom she coached wanted what she had to offer. They paid her a set amount in advance for a set period of time to deliver an outcomes-driven process. Filtered through this lens, her work became, ‘how much more can I deliver you to successfully build an advocating community that’ll grow your business and uplift the lives of others.’
1. Know your ideal client very well. Don’t abuse your worth working for people who don’t value your time or expertise and, as Seth says, ‘buy into a system that rewards the people who drive you nuts.’
2. If your lens is cynical, distrustful, resentful, angry or otherwise unhappy, then you’re doing the wrong work for the wrong people for the wrong money.
3. Write a book. It’s a challenge, but you’ll never regret it, even if no one reads it. It’s what it does for you.
4. This is a clarion call to all business owners. When you are super clear on your purpose for being in business, you’ll simply not allow your worth to be abused.
5. If you don’t want to coach, consider how else you can package your value in such a way that you can ask its worth for the tangible benefits you offer.
6. Don’t wait to make a change. Every month leaves more of your considerable worth on the table.
This is another post in the fabulous Word Carnival, on this month’s topic, “Own Your Worth: How To Charge What You Deserve Instead Of Settling For What You Get.” Click through and learn a whole lot more from the wise words of the awesome Carnies.
And, if you want to blog brilliantly and build a powerful advocating clan, you know where to come. You can start with a 90 minute Online Audit. Just contact me here.