Completing my year of offline consulting

4 replies
Normally I love coming on here and reading what all of you are up to. Today, I am writing to all you offline Warriors...those of you selling services to offline business owners. That's what I've been doing for 18 months or so. I got my *ss handed to me this year by one client in particular. I call her my 2009 Client from Hell. I'm opening up about it with the sole intention of helping you avoid the numerous mistakes I made.

1. Write up a contract, and make sure you outline the responsibilities of both parties in GREAT detail.

This is especially true if the person you are working for is your FRIEND. Some of you might be thinking, "...I would never do work for a friend." I said the same thing until one of my friends approached me last year. And by the way, the problem isn't doing work for a's standing on a wall when you need to. A detailed, clear, concise contract gives you permission to smack your client upside the head if needed. And yes, they DO need a professional smack sometimes. Your friends need more smacks than your regular clients. My mistake? NO contract. Why? She was my very first offline client and I was a dumb*ss. Be ye not so stupid. I will write another post about what to include in that contract that will save you a ton of money and pain.

2. Do not perform offline services on trade.

I'm clear most of you are looking for cash, so you may never have done work on trade. That said, if I did it, someone here either IS doing it or HAS done it. If you are doing it, I recommend re-negotiating your agreement immediately with your client. I worked on trade with three different clients at the very beginning of 2009. Let's be straight about it...working on trade equals "I don't have cashflow". YOU don't have cashflow and THEY don't have cashflow. Period.

Ask yourself this question: If a business isn't cranking bread and butter income (at a minimum) offline, why are you putting them online? Doing that actually MAGNIFIES an existing problem in the business. Contrary to popular belief, cashflow isn't only a result of more exposure and more customers. Businesses have cashflow problems for MANY more reasons than not enough customers.

If you aren't interested in becoming the world's most underpaid business consultant, do not trade services. I created a set of criteria for who can be my client moving forward. I'll share that in another post as well.

3. PROMISE actions and SHOW THEM actions!

This is hands down the most difficult thing about offline consulting that I've run into. Every client wants me to promise results. When I began, I did promise results. BIG mistake that cost me literally thousands of dollars out of my own pocket. What I promise now are A LOT of actions...and speed. And I do mean A LOT OF ACTIONS. The actions take far less time than they did 18 months ago when I started. I've also created a way to show them the actions I take. My clients hear from me so much, I've been told most of them created "rules" in their email to send my notifications to a different folder (not their inbox). I consider that a compliment. I would rather be a nuisance than a void. Never again will a client ask for their money back from me. Promise actions and SHOW THEM your actions. I can see yet another post brewing on keeping your offline clients informed about your work. All in good time.

On a personal note, I discovered today that my 2009 Client from Hell (and formerly my friend) blocked me on Facebook. No surprise there. I paid 5 figures to walk away from that relationship, and it's the hardest lesson to date. I think we all try and put a happy face on things, and I can't paint one on this situation yet. There are days I'd like to pack up and move to another city. Today is one of them.

That said, I am grateful for everything my clients teach me about what I know, what I don't know...and what I think I know. And God bless Gordon Ramsey for Kitchen Nightmares, the TV show that started me on the offline consulting path in the first place. I'm every bit the ruthlessly committed *sshole he is, only slightly less famous.

#completing #consulting #offline #year
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle

    That is excellent advice.

    One of the standards that I go by, if someone can't afford my help, then they will also not understand the true value of what I offer.

    Yes they get the concept that its important to build their business and grow their customer base, Yet that is not the same as really getting the value that I bring to the table.

    I actually have no idea how many thousands of hours and 10's of thousands of dollars I have invested it acquiring the knowledge and skills that I have developed.

    Even though I can describe a concept to them in simple terms and implement it with relative ease (note I said relative) doesn't mean that its a basic concept.

    It is all a part of refining who we select as clients.

    Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong about charging based on results, it has to be a metric that doesn't involve any skill or follow through of the client.

    Such as say you'll double the size of their prospect list INSTEAD of saying you'll double their client list.

    As you can see on the surface they seem the same, but in practice they are miles apart.

    However I do think there are times and examples where doing trades in both in the beginning and after you are established have great value.

    You still have to evaluate if the trade truly is of an acceptable if not monetarily equal.

    The obvious exception is working with non-profits and charities, the referral value can often be much greater than the price of doing the project.

    You should celebrate your victory, especially when it has been as hard fought as yours has been.

    Mark Riddle
    Today isn't Yesterday, - Products are everywhere if your eyes are Tuned!
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  • Profile picture of the author Jackie Tulos
    What was the best advice that you can give some one to get clients?

    I had heard of using fundraiser and workshops. Have you had any success with one of these?
    Jackie Tulos
    Would you like to know how to get customers from Facebook? Click here for a free report.Want a free video tutorial on using Google Places and how to set up your business for free, click here.
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    • Profile picture of the author Keith Boisvert

      Some lessons are hard learned. A contract is vital in this industry and nothing should be taken for granted.

      I integrate my contract into my quote once accepted, and it has saved me more times than once.

      As far as working in trade, I only did it once myself, but it was for gift certificates to a great Italian restaurant in town in $25 denominations....which I then in turn used to give out to some of my clients, and to take some prospects to lunch...And it yielded me 3 times as much business than the initial job in trade costs. But yeah, not something I would normally do!!

      Great post!

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    • Profile picture of the author egordon
      Originally Posted by Jackie Tulos View Post

      What was the best advice that you can give some one to get clients?

      I had heard of using fundraiser and workshops. Have you had any success with one of these?
      I've never had to use fundraisers or workshops. I generally don't like gathering people in a room and selling to them. Just a personal preference.

      I had a track record when I started offline gigs. I've been an online marketer for 6 years and I've done very well, and my community knows it. I made sure of that. So I went to my community (friends, colleagues, acquaintances) and told them specifically what I was offering. I asked them who they knew locally (small biz owners) that:

      1) had a business that was at least 5 years old and doing pretty well
      2) had mentioned/complained about their website or getting customers online

      They had TONS of referrals for me based on those two criteria. I requested they call those biz owners directly and recommend me, and they did it. That opened the door to MANY conversations. This is by far the fastest way to get business (in my experience).

      I also knew some small biz owners that I liked and wanted to work with, so I called them directly and sold myself. I got a $5000 check my first time out.

      Asking for business and selling myself is by far my greatest skill. And by the IS a skill. I was not born this way. I sought high level training to learn how to have conversations with people *without* manipulating them or coercing them in any way. Mastery takes a lifetime but I am well on my way. I'm actually creating a product about it. I never related to myself as a genius at having conversations that produce real world results ( And really, I am.
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