How to Design Products And Services As A Consultant

How to Design Products And Services As A Consultant

If you are in the consulting business, you’ve most likely came across the issue with finding the right price for your services.

I am asked this all the time. So here are my thoughts to this subject.

Whatever you think your problem might be, more than likely it has nothing to do with your customer not wanting to pay or not being able to pay, but everything to do with your customer not understanding what he is paying for. He does not understand the value and how he in return can get value out of it.

If you go shopping and buy a pair of jeans, you’ll know you have to pay money for it. Branding and Image is most likely important. You buy the jeans, put them on and you know what you’ve paid for. Even in a month’s time, you can still see and touch the jeans, you can even sell the jeans to make money out of them.

Now, let’s look at a different scenario.

Let’s say you need an accountant to do your books. You also know you have to pay for this. The real difference is that when the accountant did his job, there is nothing left. Nothing to look at. You will always try to get the cheapest price or best deal and branding or image is far less important (for most).

Understanding wants and needs

What is the difference between those two scenarios? In the first scenario the customer wants to buy. In the second scenario the customer has to buy.

Whenever you **want** something, the most likely reason you want it, is because it resonates with you. You can see yourself with it and it feels good. This feeling is created through branding and image.

Whenever you **need** something, the most likely reason you need it, is because you are in trouble without it. You see yourself without it and it does not feel good.

The first scenario is straight forward, but as a consultant you work mainly in the second scenario. You work with people who have a problem and need a solution. We don’t really want to deal with problems if we can avoid it. You might think that having a solution is the solution and talking about their problems is going to make them want your solution, but in my experience the opposite is the truth. Nobody really wants to talk about problems if they can avoid it.

Working out the positives and negatives

If you look at it from a plus/minus scale, then everything that is minus is negative, zero is manageable, but plus is wanted. The same goes for pricing. We always try to find the zero. If you buy the product you want, after an initial period of adjustment, wherever you are or whatever you have then becomes your new zero.

Any change of that situation, like the loss of the product you’ve just bought, becomes a minus (a problem) and after a period of time you adjust your zero to that situation. So your zero is constantly moving up and down, adjusting to your current situation.

When I work with customers, I try to figure out what their current problems are, but not to talk to them about it, but to figure out if I can provide them with a solution that brings them at least to zero, but if possible to a plus. With my customers I only talk about the plus. That is where the value is. Sometimes that might be difficult, because they are so far in the minus and have not yet adjusted their zero to that point, that a solution that will bring them to plus is not possible for me.

With this in mind, your services or products must achieve two things: bring the customer back to their current zero and provide a path to a plus. Most money is spent in the plus section and the least money in the minus. Translate this to products and services, the products or services adjusting to zero are the least paid for, but whatever goes to plus is the most paid for. Create your products and services accordingly.

Depending on your sector, there are different ways to this. But think about it and always ask yourself the question:

Where will my customer be when I am done?

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If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get

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Getting Your Business Idea Off The Ground

Getting Your Business Idea Off The Ground

As entrepreneurs we love the challenge of the new, the amazing feeling when an idea turns into reality. It is like a rush and sometimes it’s like falling in love. We just jump into it and let ourselves swoosh away.

We don’t really know how it will all turn out. It’s all new after all – and in a way we hope for the best and already see ourself as the successful entrepreneur, all wishes fulfilled and a happy bunny all around. What a great dream!

While this kind of passion can be very exhilarating, motivating and can give us a lot of energy, if we want this to be more than a dream, we need to have a plan, some direction and we should take our time to get this right.

Changing the idea to reality

Mostly it starts with an idea. We see something, hear something or have done something we think could be a great business idea. We pitch it to our friends and describe it in all colours and we have an answer or a solution for every “but” they might throw in. We get highly excited and frustrated at the same time as we can’t understand why not everyone thinks the same way as we do.

What we seem to forget is that all those comments and the critique we receive is actually the best thing that can happen to our idea. Let’s face it, in the end our idea is only as good as it is perceived by others. Except we live in a hole, by ourself with no contact to anyone. Then, we would be our only customer and what kind of business would that be?

So, we need to make sure that our idea is a great idea for other people, specifically for the market we want to attract. It’s probably easier to look at the market first, the problems they have and to figure out which of those we are capable of solving.

This way we know that our idea is at least pointing in the right direction. Everything we collect about our idea from the people we talk to about it will only strengthen our idea and give it form. One thing we can’t get around is talking to people about it.

I know, sometimes its hard, especially when you believe that someone might steal your idea. However, in my experience, the business idea is only the beginning and a very small part of the resulting business. The biggest part is putting it all in place and putting the work in required to make it big. If your idea is very easy to do and doesn’t require much work, it most likely won’t work anyway.

Feedback that moves you forward

Lots of people have many ideas, but if you want to find out if your idea has a chance in the world you need to learn to speak to people about it and to listen to what they have to say. You need to learn to filter out the information that can help and to see how your idea reflects with other people (your possible clients). ‘Google’ it and find out as much as you can. Depending on your circumstances this should not take longer then a few days and you’ll either “know” it will work or it won’t.

Describe the idea from all angles, define for who it is, why they need it, what makes your idea stand out. Bring your idea alive, out of the dream world into the real world. Now pitch it again to your friends and see their reaction. They can be a great indicator in what you are going to face.

What’s your great business idea?

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Everything starts with an action!

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How to prepare for your holiday as entrepreneur

How to prepare for your holiday as entrepreneur

Are you ready to go on holiday?

It is soon time for your summer holiday. Do you know where you’re going?

If you decided not to go on holiday, because you think you’re too busy and you can’t afford to leave your business alone for a few days, think again.
We all need a holiday from time to time to get our heads out of business and to recharge our batteries.

The one thing you don’t want is to return and and be straight back into stress mode, regretting every day you took off.

So what can you do not to fall into this trap?

Start with asking yourself:
1. What are the biggest stress factors I am currently dealing with and why?
2. What would need to change in my business, the way I work, my skills and expertise to avoid having this stress?

Put it down on paper and try not to judge too much.

Lets take a few examples:

You identified that the communication in your team is one core issues for stress. One thing that could improve this is learning how to communicate. Researching how others are doing it and what could work for your team. You can now download some videos or eBooks about this subject and engage with it all during your holiday. Just give yourself an hour a day to get better at it and learn new skills. You can do all this while lying on the beach or pool or trekking the mountains listening to audible books.

When you return you will have the knowledge and ideas what needs to change, you can discuss it with your team and put it in practice.

If you struggle finding the future business model for your company, take the opportunity to study businesses in the area of your holiday location. Find out out what and how local businesses do it. Try to guess the core business model. Because it is not your company, you’re less biased and more open to possibilities. If you do this with a few businesses you will gain a very different perspective and I am sure you will find the twist you need to design your own business model.

Once you identified new ways of structuring your business model you can put all this in action once you return and start testing the field.

If you don’t seem to find time for your personal development, like sport or meditation, the holiday is the best time to get started. You’re out of your daily routine anyway. So why not get up early, go to a quiet spot and start with some guided meditation. Or go for a run on the beach every morning and start the day with real relaxing action.

Once you’ve set yourself a goal for your holiday and outlined the things you’re going to learn or do, you’ve given yourself the “why” for your holiday and when you return, you can put everything learned into action and continue with everything you started.

For me personally this summer is going to be a great learning exercise. I have already identified the core area I struggle with most and I just set-up my project “My Business Holiday”. In this project I identify the core issues and the steps I want to take to become better at it and improve. Keeping in mind that this is a holiday and chilling or sport is on the cards. But who says I can’t bring those together. Having lots of fun and learn at the same time.

How about you?

What are your holiday plans?

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The best you can be

The best you can be

A few days ago I was interviewed for a local student paper. They wanted to get an insight of what it means to be a business coach and to help people to start their own business. The aim was to clear up some myths around start-ups and to get some tips how to start-up right.

We went through the usual questions about fear, finance and success and I told them a few stories from my clients and that I believe that passion for what you do is a great helper.

I want to see all my clients to be successful in their business and for that I learn and practice my skills consistently and without fail. Because I want this so much I created habits that keep me on track, always developing and learning because I truly believe that my clients deserve the best.

I put this down to passion. Passion for what I do and for the people I work with.

If you found a way to help and to create real value for people you have a business. All you need to do now is to find a way to be able to do this consistently over a longer period of time. For this you need to design your business model that gives you the framework. But foremost you need to keep working on your skills to consistently create value.
That is all what a business is about.

There is a lot of talk about fear and failure, but truly this only exists in our head. It’s very hard to fail helping others while improving yourself. Failure only comes into play if you stop learning and improving.

When I was at school a teacher told me once that it is not important to get the best notes. He said, it is important to be the best you can be and that was all he expected.

But what does that mean?

What is the best you can be?

How do you measure this and when do you know that you reach that level?

I had no idea, but I took it seriously and I started measuring my success everyday.
The crazy thing is that I will never reach the best I can be and at the same time I am the best I’ve ever been.

During the interview they asks me a very interesting question:
Why did you chose to help people to start-up their own business?

The first thing that came to my mind happened a few months ago, when I met one of my former clients. He told me about his amazing business and how he is so glad that he took the steps and started this business. He told me about the ups and downs he went through and how he almost gave up. At the end of our meeting he said:

“Thank you so much for all the help you gave me at the beginning and for all the things you’ve taught me over the year we worked together. But most importantly, thank you for being so strong on teaching me to be persistent and to keep going. This is the secret of my success.”

This is exactly why I love what I do. These moments when it all worked out and when I can see and feel how my hard work has changed a life.

At the end of the interview the students asked me for a single piece of advice I could give to them.

Well, what else could I say:

Be the best you can be!


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How To Start A Business The Right Way

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How to be a successful entrepreneur?

How to be a successful entrepreneur?

There are many views on what an entrepreneur is. Listening to market experts and reading lots about entrepreneurship they are often described as following:

  • Risk-taker
  • Dreamer
  • Leader
  • Visionary
  • Rebel
  • Artist
  • Impacter

These are just the main ones I found, but there are many more, but Risk-taker is probably the most mentioned description. It has some nuance of adventure and sounds cool.
I guess depending what speaks to you most you will feel more inclined to agree with one or the other.

Taking a risk is a question of perspective. A lot of factors play a role.
If you ask someone to cut your hair who has never cut hair before, you would probably see this as taking a high risk as there is a high chance that it goes wrong. If you go to an experienced hairdresser the risk is probably quite low. That means that cutting hair in itself is not risky and not the problem.
It’s the same for entrepreneurs. If you know what you are doing and you have experience in doing it, the risk will be very low.
This goes for almost everything in life. In relationships, work, hobby and life in general. If you keep on it you will get better.
That is also why it takes time to build a proper business when you are starting out.

For me a risk taker is a gambler, who jumps into something hoping for the best. It doesn’t matter how much you have played before. The dice don’t care.
You might get better in controlling yourself, but you won’t get better in controlling the game.
However many start-ups jump into business like a gambler, hoping for the best, not willing to do the time and learn the skills. Again, for me they are gamblers not entrepreneurs. (Like playing lottery and hoping for the million to appear)

All the attributes mentioned above are more personal traits than traits I would directly relate to an entrepreneur. You might be a rebel and run your own business. But you might as well be a rebel and employed or in jail or whatever.

Entrepreneurship is a skill. It is something you can learn and become really good at. It isn’t a game.
It does help to have a certain mindset, but the same goes for a student studying for a degree. If you are not willing to learn, put the time in and if you have no vision how all of this might give you a positive impact in your future career, you most likely won’t make it. In a way that is life.

There are only a few lucky ones who have been at the right time at the right place and the dice fell exactly in the right way and they made it without any effort at all. That is like the lottery winner. They never have been entrepreneurs and the chance that they will make this again is very low. Lets hope for them that the winnings are high enough that they never have to try again.

To become a successful entrepreneur you need to learn the skills required for your business and give yourself the time to study and practise. As more you do as better you will become and as less of a risk your business will be. It isn’t that hard. If you’re out there for the money alone, go and play the lottery or step into a casino and play the games. Maybe you’re lucky.

I love to be an entrepreneur and I love the feeling when the skills I learned and practised over and over again give me the success I dreamed about.

What about you? Are you a successful entrepreneur?

Read more about it here:
Becoming a Leader
How to start a business the right way

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