It is with a heavy heart I have to inform you that it appears I was caught out by a scam. Here is the sorry but cautionary tale.
I received an invitation to join the Opportunity community. It’s basically where you can either look for leads or people can find you and offer to work with you, the usual sort of thing.
On first inspection it all looks quite professional and above board and the guys who started it seems to be open and honest about what they do and how they do it.
The problems started when I joined with my LinkedIn account. I join a lot of communities as part of the ‘testing process’ for clients so it’s not out of the ordinary for me. I went through the normal steps of filling out a couple of forms, which is what I have done hundreds of times before, all pretty normal stuff. The change happened when I finished and clicked the ‘complete’ button.
What I didn’t realise was it had access to my LinkedIn account contacts and was in the process of sending out auto generated email invites to all my contacts. The worse thing is it continues to do so without any apparent way to switch it off or unsubscribe unless you become a member. I don’t remember seeing any reference to this happening in any of the forms I filled out.
Now I don’t want to be too hard on Opportunity as they might have ways to fix this that I can’t see but their help files aren’t, shall we say, very helpful.
It seems that when you go back in to Opportunity you can switch off the emails but you can’t delete any of the contact names it has on your account. I have sent an email asking for all contact names to be made available so they can be removed so we shall see if and when they reply.
It also seems that if you delete your account there is no guarantee that the contacts will not continue be contacted as they are effectively ‘in the system’. It will be interesting to find out what explanation, if any, they give for this.
Let’s not panic!
I have had a few people ask me to remove them from the list and I am working hard to do so but if in the meantime you are receiving emails from info(at)opportunity.com or are asked to sign up please think twice as it might not be that easy to get out of it once you have.
The links have been checked and are fine to use…honest.
I would ask for your patience as I am trying to fix this asap but with all these things it takes time, and please accept my sincere apologies for the slip up.
I don’t mind people getting in touch, in fact I want to know if you have been contacted by Opportunity but please accept the fact that this was a genuine error on my part and it wasn’t a plot to spam you as some have suggested.
Anyone who knows me knows this to be the case anyway.
It’s an annoying email at worst, they aren’t asking for any personal details, as far as I’m aware. So please act with some restraint and dignity when contacting me.
The moral of the tale?
Check everything, even the finest detail, before you sign up to anything and ask trusted sources if they are using it and if not why not? This is usually a great place to start. In retrospect it’s what I should have done.
Please leave me a comment if you have experience of the Opportunity community or suffered the same or similar fate and if you did, how did you fix it? I am sure we would all like to know.
Today I want to touch on why we think it’s ok to operate at a mediocre level.
There was a line in the post that said those who tell you“you deserve a break” or “haven’t you done enough” or “you’re working too hard”all this can fool us into thinking that we actually have done enough. I can tell you as a business person that never happens…ever! Even if you’re not a business person it should never happen.
It’s really easy when you win a big contract, receive a payment from the government or from family to think “fine, now I can take it easy, the bills are paid”. Take it from me you can’t. Running a business is a 24/7 job it never stops however successful you become, however much time you put in to it you always have to keep going. And you always have to keep going at a level that will get you out of being mediocre or at least thinking that way. You need to stand out from the crowd.
Leaders Are NOT Mediocre
Whoever the top guys are in your niche just take a look at how much time and effort they spend keeping in touch with their tribe and promoting what they do. I once said this at seminar I was holding and someone in the audience said “yeah but they have people doing it for them” and it’s true they do, but do you honestly think someone like Branson would leave all this to chance? Not a cat in hell’s chance.
He will be there checking that everything is right before it goes out, or in a company that size his trusted advisors will be, and why would he do this? Because he is the one who has to face the music when something goes wrong, think Galactic. But he reaps the rewards when it goes right, which is most of the time.
That’s why thinking and operating at a mediocre level in anything you do is not an option. All business people set out thinking and dreaming of how they will build a company that really makes a difference, but along the way something gets lost, we cease to operate at the same level we did and we slow down.
We stop thinking big and become mediocre.
Not many make it, you only have to look up the percentage of people who control the world’s economy to see that. We end up settling for a mediocre existence while the small minority leave us all behind to live a life of abundance. Then we end up telling ourselves, “I could never do that” or even worse “I should have done that”. Remember you can do what you like, when you like. you just have to decide to DO IT!
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to at least try to climb out of mediocre thinking and whatever you do please don’t listen to those who tell you “you deserve a break” or “haven’t you done enough” or “you’re working too hard”. If you need daily motivation to achieve this way of thinking and acting there is an abundance of material out there on the web or in books and podcasts.
My point is there is no reason for anyone to operate at a mediocre level anymore so don’t, Think BIG!
Until next time have a ‘life changing’ day and please leave me a comment.
I have heard many times that when nothing gets done its because ‘you don’t have enough time’, ‘the timing isn’t right’, ‘the boss isn’t in’, ‘the client has just got back from holiday’, ‘the client is on holiday’ and a host of other reasons, that’s what they call them to justify their lack of action, I call them excuses.
I used to be the same, making these and other excuses, until I realised it was harming my business and my ability to attract new clients and thus generate revenue.
You see the biggest problem can be doing what you fear. If you fear calling the client because of any or all of the above reasons, excuses, then you will do everything in your power not to do it. It stands to reason, none of us want to do what we fear.
Use fear as a motivator
Yep, I decided to use fear as a motivator and now I get lots of things done that used to take me an age or maybe never got done. Plus you never know that client you’re frightened of calling might just be waiting for you to call?
All in know is the longer you put things off the less likely you are to do anything thing about it.
So I want you think of it this way, fear should drive you do make the call, email or visit because if you don’t how the hell are you going to make any money just sitting there waiting for it to ‘happen’? You’re not!
Don’t let fear paralyse you, because it will.
So what happens if your client thinks your methods are a little too aggressive? Well let’s be honest the ones who think this are usually sitting on the fence and need a ‘push’ to make a decision. If you’re not going to give them that push who will?
A lot of my clients have actually thanked me for ‘getting in touch’ with them regularly because without me they wouldn’t have come to a decision. They too were making excuses, the timings not right, it’s too expensive or do we really need it? These are the excuses that can paralyse a client and stop them doing the right thing and the right thing is working with me, I don’t give up until they know this is the right thing to do and then act upon it.
I guess what this is all about is you not resting on your laurels, or arse, waiting for the right moment or even worse listening to those who tell you “you deserve a break” or “haven’t you done enough” or “your working too hard”…bollocks…anyone who tells you this cut them out of your life at once, don’t wait because they will sap your strength and your will to ‘go for it’.
Do anything and everything you can to be as successful as you can because not only do you owe it to yourself but you sure as hell owe it to your family because they have to put up with it and you.
Until next time have a great day and leave me a comment, I love hearing from you.
Some of you will have heard me say this before but it’s something my mum would say to me every day.
I hear all the time how good people are and how they can change the world with what they do or have etc etc.
But never seem to get around to doing anything with it, whatever it may be. This is such a shame because they could have a fantastic life changing idea. Do you think Steve Jobs hung around waiting for permission or Mark Zuckerberg? I doubt it.
But the don’t show me tell me thing is what everyone should be doing right now, don’t wait for someone to give you permission, don’t wait for the right time, it may never come, don’t wait until you have enough of anything.
Waiting crushes creativity, motivation and self belief so don’t let it.
I always and I mean always, show myself first. I have to say I don’t really care what others think, that comes if it works or not. I have tried lots of things and failed at some of them, but that’s great because I have learned something through that failure that will help as I move forward.
The failure is never trying in the first place.
So today do something for yourself and make this your “Don’t tell me show me” day. Whatever your working on at the moment or thinking about get it done and don’t wait for anything. Write down what’s stopping you and I can guarantee you once you do, it won’t anymore.
Remember that doing it will make you feel so much better, it will stop you from being mediocre and always on the sidelines. It will push you forward from the noise that is happening around you.
Isn’t it strange how something you thought wouldn’t or couldn’t happen nearly always does?
I was with a client recently and we were talking websites and social media marketing and how we can get them to be the authority in their marketplace and I was going through everything that we can do for them, yes I do mean ‘we’ because my band of warriors is growing again, and it suddenly struck me after all these years that ‘yes, I am a salesman’.
The reason I had never thought of myself as a salesman was every place I have worked, before owning my own business, there was a dedicated sales team. These guys were the elite. They rocked and they were the main source of our salaries, whether we liked it or not. They were always seen as the bread winners.
So when I first started out in business I was always thinking I should be hiring a salesperson if I want to boost sales and I still stand by that it is the best investment you can make.
But I have come to realise that every business owner is a salesperson, if fact I would go as far as to say that everyone of us is a salesperson whether we own a business or not. Why would I say that? Because at every single point during every single day we all have to sell something to someone. Go through everything you did yesterday and write down or just recall how many times did you sell something? And I don’t just mean physical things like houses or cars. What about ideas, concepts or dreams?
This will have been to work colleagues, staff members, family members, friends in fact everyone you came into contact with yesterday I bet you sold them something in some way. But did you feel bad about it? Of course you didn’t because as far as you were concerned you weren’t selling anything, or were you?
I bet you were but because it was ethical and the ‘right thing to do’ you didn’t give it a second thought. We all sell ideas every minute of the day.
Here’s an example: my kids always had a reason not to go to school, yeah I always did too, but when they have finished telling me why they shouldn’t go, and I listened intently to them. I just said, “I understand you don’t want to go, I never wanted to go either, but just think what would happen if you couldn’t read or write, where would you be? Plus your friends will really miss you if you don’t go”. I was selling the idea that school is a great place to be.
So here I am having a coffee and going over my notes from the meeting I just had with my fab client and thinking “I am doing this and not even thinking about it”. I used to say to prospective clients “I’m not a salesman, I’ve never been trained”, but in fact I had.
You see I have had the privilege of working with some of the best, I won’t name them but they know who they are, sales people out there and I know that a lot of what they did rubbed off on me. I can sell with real ethics, I can sell knowing that what I am selling, my services and products, are the very best they can be and really do serve my clients wants and needs. How do I know this? Because I ask and they tell me when it’s good and when it’s not and I can tell you nothing keeps you on your toes more than when it’s not.
So I guess the point I’m making here is that I want you to think of yourself as a salesman, 24/7, that’s your main purpose in life, to sell your services, products, ideas, concepts and dreams in a way that not only serves you but serves your fantastic clients too. You are not the slimy salesman everyone thinks of when the word is mentioned, you are the best salesman in the world, you rock.
There is a caveat to this, there always is. Because I want you to be the very best you can be, I want you to learn from the best by attending seminars, reading books, watching videos or listening to podcasts because you owe it to yourself, your existing and future clients and your friends and family to be the very best salesman you can be.
Don’t take it for granted that because of who you are they will want to work with you, they won’t, they will want to work with you because you offer the best products and services you possibly can and you really do care about them deeply enough to sell to them in the right way.
So we are into the 5th series of The Walking Dead and already it’s breaking viewing records, oh what we would give to have viewing figures like that on our blogs, wouldn’t we?
Well maybe it’s not such a stretch. I mean it’s a fantastic concept, walking dead people have sold all over the world for as long as I can remember, I think the first one I saw was Boris Karloff in The Mummy and that was the start of it for me, I just love zombie movies.
But getting back to how we can take a few examples from The Walking Dead and sprinkle some of that magic into our blogs might not be a big stretch.
First off it’s a great story, and we all love a great story
The charterers are believable and we empathise with their struggle
The settings are really creepy and just right for the plot
Every episode leaves you wanting more
Now that is a great mix for any blog.
Let’s look at how we can add this to our blog and make it sparkle. Well first off we need a good story and if you have been paying attention to your audience then you should know what they are looking for? If you don’t ask them, it’s the quickest way to find out.
Once you know then you can start to weave this into a story that will answer some if not all of their burning questions and more importantly their problems. We hear it every day that everyone loves a good story and that’s true, I have said it before I would rather read a compelling story with grammatical errors than I would something that just doesn’t resonate but is correct. Dull!!
So now you need to have a fantastic character and you have the perfect one. The person you’re writing the post for…duuuhhh! So make sure you write it for them and not for you. It’s a well known fact that Stephen King writes for his wife, so do the same but use your audience or at least the perfect person from your audience.
Remember to set the scene. This is really easy because if I am writing about building authority I can include a few examples that set the scene beautifully, such as:
Nobody reading your blog? Let’s fix that
Not many people coming to your website? Let’s fix that too
Are your newsletters falling on deaf ears? Yeah we can fix that too
Nobody knows who you are, do they? Easy Peasy…
This really does set the scene because I have resonated with my audience and their problems, all you have to do is resonate with yours.
Then as the saying goes “always leave them wanting more” we watched the first episode of series five last night and now we just can’t wait for next week to see what happens. That’s the job of a great ending, to make you come back for more. So when you write your posts remember not to give everything in one go. Just think of your posts as an episode in a series so that you always have your audience waiting with baited breath for the next episode.
I hope this has helped and please feel free to leave me a comment or a question below.
In part one we covered how to arrive at a figure, if you haven’t read part one can I suggest that you read before this as it will give you some context of what I’m talking about. Click here
What have you decided?
Once you decide the fee you are going to charge, what you mean you haven’t decided yet? Come on let’s get it sorted.
There are a few options, which I will quickly run through and then I will tell you which my favourite is and why:
Hourly Rate: in some industries this is the standard way to charge, such as executive coaching and computer programming. The problem, for clients, is that they assume all the risk for the total cost of the project and therefore might not be too keen to take you on. I would say you are better using the hourly rate for such things as training because the hourly rate can penalise the client if you are slow and penalise you if you are too quick to get the job done
Daily Rate: if you are a training organisation, management or development consultant then you would typically charge by the day. But what constitutes a day? It could be six hours, it could be eight hours or it could be twelve hours. If you are setting up for a training session for example it could start at 10am but you have to be there at 9am or even earlier. If it finishes at 5pm you could be there until 6pm or later. So a 12 hour day could be your norm, do you charge for those extra hours?
Fixed Price: this is my favourite. Agreeing a fixed price for a complete project is really easy, once your estimating skills are up to scratch that is. Why? Because you and the client can agree on a specific amount of time for the project with agreed deadlines and outcomes. Some consultants will refuse fixed price contracts because they could lose out. Get really good at fixing your price and you’ll be fine. Remember that some organisations require you to submit a fixed price for a project. Here are a few reasons why I like this method:
The client can call whenever they like, they are not ‘on the clock’
This method is results and performance based so everyone wins, if we accomplish what we say we will that is
It’s a great way to price for larger contract and projects
There are other methods such as: percentage fees, conditional fees and retainers but I don’t have the time to go into all of them
The nirvana for all consultants…Fee Increases.
A consultant once asked me “when do you know it’s time to increase your prices?” I have to say I did think on this one for a while before I got back to him but in the end I came up with “when I’m too busy to increase them”. Might sound strange but it’s a fact, plus it’s all down to supply and demand in the end. If you’re in high demand then you can happily raise your fees.
Also remember this, when you do increase your fees I can pretty much guarantee that your proposal will be viewed by someone further up the ladder so they might be used to signing off thousands and not hundreds, in fact they might even wonder why it’s not thousands. Wouldn’t that be a great problem to have?
Obviously there is a lot more to pricing and increases than I can go into here but the bottom line is this.
If you are known as the cheapest consultant in town you will always be the cheapest consultant in town. When starting out its really easy to think that you are over charging, but trust me your not, because it’s better to have a few well chosen clients that you love to work with than it is to have 20 or 30 that are running you ragged and making you no money.
Top Tip: If you give a price for a project of say £10,000 and the client comes back and says they only have £5,000 be prepared to walk away. WTF!!! Is he crazy? No think of it this way, if you deduct £5k just like that the client is going to think “why wasn’t it 5k in the first place? Is he planning the holiday of a lifetime here or what?” The only way I would deduct money is by taking away some of the services offered.
Make sure you can deliver what you say you can.
If you decide to charge a higher price than the rest, and please check the market, make sure you can do what you say you can or your reputation is sunk before you start.
That’s it for this time I hope you’ve enjoyed our dive into the murky world of consultancy and next time we’ll talk about those all important client ‘money discussions’.
Have a fantastic day and please leave me a comment or question below…I love talking about this stuff 😉
As a consultant what would you think the number one question is that I get asked? Yep you guessed it “How much do you charge?” Consultants don’t like to give too much away but I have told ‘new to the business’ consultants what I charge to give them a starting point. I won’t say here as I want you to think about this in a different way, this will be revealed later in the post.
It’s really easy to drop your prices to fit any given market, in some case you have no choice, or do you?
The great thing about being a consultant is that everyone thinks you’re loaded, that you charge too much and that you are only in it for yourself. How wrong they are, first tip: if you are currently working with someone who thinks any or all of these things leave now…don’t wait…just run.
No one see’s the time you have to put in preparation to gain a client, no one see’s the late hours you put in to keep up with your industry changing non-stop and no one knows what it’s like to not get paid and as such not be able pay your bills, yes as consultants we have all been there.
As a first time consultant just stating off this is for you. This is a very small piece of a larger jigsaw but it should enough to get you started.
The two BIG elephants in the room
How much money do you need and how much is the client willing to pay for your services?
I would say they are closely linked but to keep your consultancy going you have to make money, that’s just a fact of life so never apologise for it you have to keep them separate, or at least in your mind.
So if your clients are willing to pay more than you need, wow what a problem to have, you are on your way to balancing your books, if they aren’t then think again, is this business for you?
So how much do you need?
This is the question most business owners, notice I said business owner and not consultants, don’t confuse them, shy away from, why, because it scares them. You have to know this number or your business will fail from the start, you won’t have a hope in hell of succeeding.
Here’s a really quick way of calculating this number.
How much salary per year do you want, £50k, £100k or £150k, only you will know this one
Remember you have to pay the government taxes and VAT if your registered
Accountant, bookkeeping and banking fees
There are also insurances and pension contributions etc
So you have a ‘starter for ten’ list now add 33% as a contingency, this is roughly, what you’ll need per year for the business to succeed.
There is also the 3x rule this is when you take the figure you chose for your salary and times it by 3. So if you chose 50k you will need 150k per year to run your business. Don’t forget you also have days that are not billable…I told you it was a jigsaw 😉
How much should you charge?
This is the stickler that really does confuse most business owners. Why? Because most of us are really modest people and therefore don’t want to charge that much for our services. But we have to live…right?
The biggest factor on what to charge is the client: their business or industry type, size and location, their demands on your time and resources and finally their consultant history.
The next factor is you: how experienced are you and what is your position in the industry you serve? All these, and more, are factors that determine how much you charge.
I have worked with consultants who have charged as little as £150 per day and others who charge over £20,000 for a one hour keynote. So what’s realistic?