January 1, 2014 found me returning full-time to working for myself. I’d left a government job that I really enjoyed and was able to make an impact in, to take a chance on what I wanted to do more, create my own work that would lead to financial empowerment for me and more Caribbean people.
Naturally, I went down the rabbit hole of looking at what the online space was saying about finding clients and how people were making money. I signed up to a ton of email lists and followed random business coaches.
Down the Funnel Rabbit Hole I Go
You’ve done this too. Signed up for a free download/book and joined webinars that ran exactly 45-minutes because that was the ideal number the experts said they needed to be to offer great value and get in the all-important sales pitch for you to buy their irresistible offer. Then after the freebies and receiving a few emails where they try to convince you to buy that $47, $297, or $497 offer you hit that unsubscribe button.
I did that a quite a few times (read more than 20-30 times) before I said this is not it.
I have a phrase I use when my children want me to sit and watch a show that they swear I need to see, “they are making their millions and I’m working on mine.” Not that I am against enjoying some good TV or Netflix but the only way to get work done is to do the work. If I wanted to become visible and gain clients who were attracted to my unique set of skills and passions then I needed to do work that mattered to me.
Since 2000, when I took a deep dive into the online space and blogging, my desire was to share my journey. It didn’t mean I had it figured out but I was sharing what I was learning as I learned it. This has worked and continues to be one of the most effective ways I have found for building my tribe. Also, it appeals to my nature to be part of a bigger conversation and adding a voice which was missing. I can count on one hand the women who were in the online space speaking about Caribbean women and entrepreneurship and have fingers left over back in 2005. Thankfully, there are now many awesome people working in this space.
What became clear to me, was that as someone who craved knowledge and believed information sharing was vital, I could be a voice in this niche and I am happy to still be here today.
Ditch the Free Discovery Calls
As a woman raising four children on my own, who had the most time-consuming schedules, every day was a challenge. Everyone needed to be dropped somewhere and picked up at different times and along the way, we needed to collect their friends too. I was exhausted and for some reason they were ALWAYS hungry, needed new running shoes, dance outfits, and the rent and light bills kept showing up.
With my limited time and no income, the strategy that all the coaches kept pushing was FREE Discovery calls as a lead generator for my funnel. I did not have time to do FREE consults and it was extremely draining as I went all in. They would love what I was saying enough to come back again but they were not implementing and they weren’t paying.
My work dances between helping Caribbeanpreneurs build better businesses and helping corporate people tell more impactful stories. The Caribbeanpreneurs I encountered were in the same boat and not in a position to jump on my $37 monthly coaching program. I also knew that clients found me because they saw or heard of the work I had done for someone else or had been personally impacted by me. They weren’t randomly finding me and hoping I could help.
My business hours were at a premium, I needed to spend them in a way that would have the greatest impact.
More than anything, I enjoy creating things I see are missing. That is what fuels my entrepreneurial desires. When I doubled down on creating my work which included writing books, starting Discover Montserrat, a news and lifestyle channel for my homeland, hosting my own events, it attracted what I wanted most, paying clients.
I have a colleague who has a sign as you enter her office which says $500 an hour for a consultation. She is not playing. Her time is valuable and you are not about to waste it looking for free advice that you are then going to ignore or unsubscribe from.
Find a better way to use your time
Spend more time working on your content. Keep pouring into people through your blog posts, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn videos, your TikToks and IG content. Share your advice on these platforms so as many people as possible can engage with it. Show them how they can connect with you either by email or your inbox. But to hope that a 30-minute free call on top of all you have given away is going to make them pay you for more, is not the best use of your most valuable and limited resource, your time.
By the time they drop you that email or message asking to “pick your brain” tell them it is $75 or $750/hour. Whatever your price point is. Three things will happen. They will either disappear, they will say “yes how do I pay you” or my favorite “Give me a few weeks to raise the money and I will be back.” This is my favorite because they are aware that what you are offering is valuable and they really want to work with you and they will do what they need to do to make it happen. When they return, I go over and above to serve them because I admire their commitment to want to work with me and have me help solve their problem.
Don’t be flattered because someone liked your post and now want to pick your brain. You want them to say “I have xyz problem. How much does it cost for you to help me with it?”
Use your hourly rate as a barrier to filter out the people who aren’t serious and are hopping all over the place like I used to be, searching for free advice. They have no intention of buying from you. They aren’t even ready to take action. Today, I probably only follow one of those coaches from back in the day. It isn’t that they were not doing good work or never taught me anything. I could not afford their offer and deep down I knew they could not help me with my problem. They really couldn’t. Following them became a distraction and a stalling mechanism from me doing the work to build a business that made sense for my lifestyle and goals.
Stop Trading Time for Money
Trading your time for money is a limitation and adding loads of FREE discovery calls is not a winning strategy for building your client pool or wealth. How many FREE consults can you do in a day/week/month in the hopes that they will pull the trigger and work with you?
Yes, most of what consultants do, is available free online with a bit of searching. Why they are coming to you is to get a tailor-made recommendation to their problem. That requires time and your ability to respond with the knowledge that will allow them to immediately implement or say “I will pay you to do it for me”. You aren’t charging for the advice but your time to give them the best fit solution.
I don’t do 30-minute consults, I will charge you to have a 90-minute or more conversation where I provide a step-by-step plan of how to fix your problem yourself or help you find the one who can, if that person is not me. I essentially ask you to pay me for interrupting me from doing my work.
Your social media and website articles/videos, blog content are ways to give your potential clients lots of valuable free advice. Do a FREE webinar because you want to share your knowledge. Take that content and turn it into all types of posts for your various social media. Include time for Q&A, which will help you collect data on whether your presentation was effective and what gaps you need to fill for the next time. Maybe out of the webinar can come a digital course you can sell to MULTIPLE people.
Your consultation fee becomes a way to filter out the people who are just continuously searching for info and not taking action and the ones who are ready to use your advice whether that leads to you upselling them or recommending someone else.
Every consultant needs to be clear on what their goals are and how much time they can invest in free calls. For any consultant and especially women who do a lot of intuitive guidance, strategy design, creative work, while still running a home, it is extremely draining and not an effective use of your time.
Consider offering two or three-day Discovery Workshops for the client and their team. It’s a more immersive experience for you and them. You help them clarify what they need and then you can design the solution that’s tailor made for them. You do this for a premium price that more adequately compensates you for your time and the creativity you put into designing a product or service that is a perfect fit for their needs.
As I write this, the world is in disarray as jobs and life as we planned it have for many been altered forever. Fear will have us searching all over to figure out five ways to do this and that, rather than looking inside ourselves to discover what it is we need to do. Nothing will beat sitting down and doing the work you are called to do. I know your business is built around wanting to attract paying clients. That’s awesome. While you are waiting for them to find you and they will, stay busy doing work that matters. Find a charity or a young entrepreneur and offer to do your work for them for FREE. Solve the problem they have and do it willingly and without a desire for them to compensate you. No one needs to know you did it. This isn’t about sharing your good deed on social media. Pour into them the way you desire to pour into paying clients.
Find ways to serve up your gift without it restricting your time or limiting your energy. The world does need what you have to offer. Get to it.
This post was inspired by a LinkedIn discussion on giving free advice.
I believe it is time to #tellyourstory. I help my clients from the private and public sector to leverage traditional and digital media to increase their visibility and make more money. I am a mentor, business strategist, a certified Business Continuity Specialist and the author of Start, Grow, Thrive: Build a Business to Last, In Plain Sight and The Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Follow me on Instagram or LinkedIn for more great tips and ideas to help you grow.