Business Essentials: Know Your Value!

Know your value The Story

I’d like to share with you a quick story about your business and why you need to know your value.  It is my hope that by reading this, you may be more willing to understand and demand what you are worth.

A colleague and I were sitting down with a potential client not long ago.  This person had heard that we had recently written a book and wanted our help in writing one.  Of course, we are happy to help people to write a book, but we also consider it a service to the client to ensure that what we do is actually going to benefit the client.  In accordance with good practice, we had a long conversation to try and isolate the desired outcomes for the planned book project.

After some discussion, we began to realize that the client has developed a highly specialized skill set in a very close knit industry.  There are generally only a few dozen practitioners of this particular service.  The client’s boss had carefully crafted a set of processes that could be employed for tremendous value in uncommon but critical moments.  The boss was widely known and respected and, consequently, had great demands upon his time.  Our prospective client had approached the boss about capturing these skills in a book.  The boss had indicated that the idea had merit, but indicated that due to the demands on his time, he couldn’t write the book himself, and he challenged our prospective client to write the book.

And that is how we came to have this conversation.  Our client wanted to create a book describing how the firm did what they did.  It was at this point that my colleague and I both started recognizing some real concerns about the business case for the book project.  We found it unwise to provide detailed descriptions of the “secret sauce” of their corporate expertise.  I was trying to draw the client’s attention to the value proposition of book idea.  In any business, it is important to know your value.  But after raising our concerns, our client didn’t seem to understand the basis of our concerns.

Undeterred, I tried to illustrate our concern in the following way:

I asked, “How long has your boss been performing this service?”

“Ten years.”

I then asked for the boss’s hourly rate.

“$175 an hour.”

“So, assuming a conservative workload of 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, we can estimate your boss works at least 2000 hours a year.  He’s been doing this for 10 years and at an hourly rate of $175 an hour, this means that your boss’s experience and expertise could be fairly valued at least $3.5 million dollars—and here you want to give away that much value for the cost of a paperback.

After that comment, our client’s face looked confused—struggling to grasp the significance of the comment.

I continued, “Listen, I think it is a great thing that you want to pass on useful and specialized skills to others in your industry.  It’s obvious that this will benefit them.  All we’re saying that it should work for you, too.  Don’t you think that the value you offer is worth more than the cost of a book?”  We then went on to talk about creating educational content for participants at a more favorable price point.

Takeaway

The point of the lesson is that it is vitally important to appropriately value your offering.  Not only is this a function of one’s realization of the economic value of what you have to offer, but also to have the self-esteem necessary to demand appropriate compensation for that value.

Conquering Procrastination: Nothing’s Going to Change

nothings-going-to-change

The Sign I Keep Above My Desk

This is the sign I keep above my desk in my office. It constantly warns me of the dangers of procrastination.

Many of us want to make a change in our lives.  We want to be more successful, improve our relationships, or go after our dreams.  The terrible truth is that willful change is hard.  It is easy to continue to go about one’s routine.  Routine doesn’t put much stress on your mind.  (If you don’t believe me, ask yourself if you have ever found yourself getting out of your car at work and you realize that you don’t remember the drive.)

Procrastination

Many of us struggle with procrastination. The biggest separator between the dreamers and the doers may be how one contends with the challenge of procrastination. Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” It’s absolutely true. The challenge of procrastination is so pervasive that the vast majority of people share it. While your procrastination is certainly a challenge you’ll need to overcome to make a difference, be content in the knowledge that since everyone contends with it and so few transcend it, you will find that if you can clear this hurdle, there are far fewer contenders who remain in the game than you think.

“You can mess around all you want, but nothing’s going to change.” Like everyone, I struggle with procrastination. I’m often tempted to jump on facebook, youtube, or consume internet news. My sign reminds me that every second I do that, I am not doing what will empower me to make my life better.

Empower.

I don’t use that word lightly. If you believe, as I do, that procrastination may be the biggest roadblock to success you can face, then success is simply a choice. It is a choice to do the hard thing when you’re tempted not to.

I challenge you to draw up your own sign to prompt you to nip procrastination in the bud. Put it in a prominent place where you have to see it every day. You owe it to yourself to get off the couch and get about the business of delivering yourself the life you want!

When Things Go Wrong: Five Minutes of Terror

crisis, not, low

crisis

When things go wrong. Five Minutes of Terror.

So I had about 5 minutes of pure terror this morning.

I’ve been seeking to add plugins to the WordPress framework upon which this site has been built. The plugins are intended to make better interaction with social media.

As is often the case with software development, generally, the routines that programmers put together do what they are intended to do internally. Most problems occur when bits of code written by one individual have to play nice with bits of code written by others. That is what happened today.

I added a plugin and immediately got an error.  Nervously, I proceeded to try and deactivate the plugin but found that the plugin had created an internal error. It wasn’t possible to deactivate the plugin. In fact, I couldn’t do anything. I was effectively locked out of my own website.

I’ve found that when you get hit in the gut, it’s important to take a moment, collect your thoughts, and think slow. Work the problem. I went to another computer to ensure it wasn’t something at my end. Sure enough the problem was server side. I then made a cup of coffee. I thought about what I should do. Let’s consider the wisdom of others. Google is your friend in such times. After a minute I learned that perhaps a solution would simply to go into the file structure for the site and change the name of the folder for the offending plugin. That way wordpress couldn’t find it and would hopefully as normal.

One of the virtues of the wordpress platform is it’s modular design. Plugins are self-contained in most cases so changes such as these are of lower risk. I made the change and low and behold… I am now typing this blog post on the site with fully restored access.

Whew!

Lessons Learned

There are several good lessons here.

  1. We remember the importance of good design and the separation of concerns. The more cross connected your structures area, whether that be in design or other organizational systems, the more difficult problem solving is.
  2. We further are reminded that it is at the point of connection when systems are usually most vulnerable. That is true for business units just as it is for coding.
  3. When problems emerge, it is important to stay clear headed and maybe to take a step away for a moment to ready yourself for problem solving.
    Work the problem by diagnosing and isolating the issue through testing. It does no good to randomly try “something” and hope things work out.
  4. Finally, try and tap into that vast reservoir of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that exists in the large community. Know that most people will try to help you if you simply ask.

Entrepreneur’s Challenge: I Don’t Feel Comfortable with Self-Promotion

The Challenge of Self-Promotion

Stand out from the crowd

Stand out from the crowd

Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to us.

In general, Americans have a distinctive mentality.  Americans love the underdog story.  The United States’ democratic tradition means that we have a natural predisposition toward egalitarianism and that it is somewhat taboo to set ourselves apart from others.  Humility is a wonderful virtue.

When it comes to marketing and promotion, however, excessive humility becomes detrimental to one’s ability to touch and impact others.  One challenge of new entrepreneurs is to how to resolve the conflict between one’s predilection for humility and one’s need to promote oneself and one’s business.

Of course, there are some people who never struggle with humility (often much to their detriment and to those near them). They have a natural gift for self-promotion and these people don’t have that psychological challenge to overcome.  But many of us are uncomfortable with self-promotion.

We are afraid that we will come off as arrogant or narcissistic.

This concern is completely understandable. But if we are going to be successful in being an effective advocate for the value that we offer, we must find ways to transcend this challenge.

Overcoming Self-Promotion Resistance

Overcoming this challenge, however, isn’t as difficult as we might first think.  It requires a change of perspective.  The key isn’t to promote yourself.  You must promote what you are offering.  More specifically, you must promote the positive outcomes what you provide brings to those who buy it.

I become a fully aligned and integrated advocate for my business when I truly believe in my heart that when people choose to buy from me that I am helping to make people’s lives better by the help I provide to them.  In this vein, self-promotion is benevolence.  I have to believe that when someone buys from me, that it is in their best interest that they do so.  Whether it be through my books, my talks, my educational activities, or my coaching, I believe that what I am providing to others is of great value and that the payment I receive for them is a portion of the value returned to me in appreciation.

Charlatans can sell stuff for their own benefit.  People with integrity can only sell when they know that what they are peddling is worth more than the price being paid.

If you don’t believe that, then you either should work more on improving your products or you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about your self-esteem.  The challenge of self-esteem is itself a challenge and will be the subject of a future post.  For now, remember this.  if you believe that what you are sharing with the world has value, then you should not feel guilty or self-conscious about advocating for it.

Be as worthy an advocate for your message as your message deserves.