Money is not a bad word!
I am an Executive Coach working with corporates, MSMEs, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals who approach me in their individual capacity.
In this post, I discuss some of my experiences while coaching entrepreneurs – present and prospective.
I have built a thriving Life Coaching & Career Coaching practice over the last 8 years as an entrepreneur. I am currently also coaching many folks who have quit their corporate life to turn entrepreneurs or are wannabe entrepreneurs testing the waters before taking the plunge.
These entrepreneurs’ ambitions range from modest to big. However, they have 2 things in common. They have a service to offer and are trying to achieve their financial goals via the entrepreneurship route.
The Great Resignation
Is this foray into entrepreneurship an impact of The Great Resignation, a phenomenon that is much spoken about today? Incidentally, I see a gradual rise of such cases ever since the pandemic struck.
I welcome all of them into the world of entrepreneurship. I believe that there is enough work for everyone in this world. To begin with, it is just a matter of identifying your niche – your services and your clients.
Employee to entrepreneur – a transition
Almost all these coaching clients of mine have had a solid background in employment.
A long stint in employment conditions us in a certain way. For one, in employment, someone else is in the driver’s seat and takes the big decisions while the bulk of the organization implements those decisions. Not so when one is an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, if you don’t move, nothing moves. Unlike in employment, no one else is really bothered if nothing moves.
As an entrepreneur, you need to build a mechanism for your own accountability. Being proactive is key!
As I have made a transition from a 30-year corporate stint into entrepreneurship, I have distilled my 8-year entrepreneurial experience into a list of 34 critical items. These items are likely to help anyone transitioning from employment to entrepreneurship. The list continues to grow and I use this list to coach my clients based on their unique opportunities and challenges.
Money is not a bad word!
In this post, I discuss just one of the 34 critical elements: Money is not a bad word!
I believe that money when earned in a way that is legal, ethical, and moral is absolutely welcome.
For many of these entrepreneurs, I observe their struggle with money, more specifically, their struggle with asking for money in exchange for their services. I discuss some aspects below:
Pricing your services
Deeksha (name changed) had a list of services on offer. She came from a BPO background and believed that she could set up efficient processes for MSMEs. However, she did not know how to price her services.
During the coaching discussions, I saw that she had done no research on what her peers operating in this segment were charging for such work.
While I recommended market research to her, for the present, we took an unconventional route to fix the pricing of her services. We took her monthly financial goal as the basis and thereby arrived at her charges-per-hour. Now, all that mattered was to arrive at the time estimation for her different services and use the per-hour charges as a multiplying factor. It was a good starting point until she receives market data.
I have also realized that for such entrepreneurs, pricing also depends on their own view of themselves and their work. Confident individuals who believe that they are truly adding value to their clients do not have much trouble pricing their services. However, those who have a not-so-healthy opinion of themselves and their work are seen as tentative and in doubt. With such individuals, I tend to work on their self-belief first.
‘Free’ is never valued
In the initial phase, I realized that ‘deserving’ clients who were offered free services would not show up for coaching at the appointed time or would show up unprepared or underprepared. They were not to blame.
‘Free’ is never valued.
Santosh (name changed), an entrepreneur, coached students to choose the right career based on their aptitude and interest. He had a background in Psychology and was deeply committed to showing them the right path. While students in premier schools and colleges paid his modest fees, Santosh was very keen on helping students from other backgrounds. However, as can be expected, his ‘free’ offer was being reciprocated by such students in the form of no-shows or zero preparation for the meetings.
Based on our coaching discussions, Santosh began offering a Money-Back scheme to such students. They would pay the prescribed fees upfront and upon completing the course successfully, they would get a 100% refund. This way, Santosh could serve this particular section of the society while also extracting the necessary accountability from such students.
In my case, the professional fee for coaching people approaching me in their individual capacity is heavily discounted as compared to my corporate coaching clients. This way, I am able to maintain a sense of fairness. Just so that they value the discount, I do let them know the equivalent corporate rate also in my proposal.
I will offer my services free, to begin with, and later charge
Neela (name changed), a woman entrepreneur operating from her home in the NCR region began offering her wellness services. Her initial philosophy – as I understood when she approached me – was to offer her services free of charge and later build her pipeline of paying clients. Many of her neighbors began approaching her every day and at times, there were people in the ‘waiting area’ at her home. It was a promising sight. As weeks turned into months, she had become very popular in the neighborhood. The trouble was no one was paying. A couple of times when Neela spoke to her regular clients of her fees, they laughed it off. Neela was caught in a trap of her own making.
By the way, even if you offer something free, there is competition.
In such businesses, the entrepreneur’s reputation spreads by word of mouth. Unfortunately for Neela, just as word of the effectiveness of her wellness services spread, the word about her payment terms, rather, the no-payment terms had also spread. Based on our discussions, apart from other measures, Neela has moved her business elsewhere and has now begun getting her paying clients.
Advance payment builds commitment – Money is not a bad word!
Except for my organizational coaching clients, I collect my professional fees in advance. Earlier, when I never collected the professional fees in advance, I would have to do a lot of follow-ups to ensure my clients showed up for the meeting and came prepared, not to mention the follow-up for payment once the sessions ended. I have seen a significant shift in accountability in clients who pay in advance. I guess it is just a human thing! Anyway, this approach results in a great outcome for either side.
Never doubt yourself!
Madhumati (name changed) would begin doubting herself if she didn’t hear back from the client after her proposal was sent out. When we began our coaching discussions, I realized that she wasn’t casting her net wide enough with the result that every single proposal became extremely critical for her ‘survival’. There was hardly a pipeline. For this reason, if she didn’t hear back from the client, she would begin doubting herself and her work. We worked together on strategies to locate the water-holes where she could find her prospective clients. Over time, I see that she has several proposals in the pipeline and concurrent discussions at various stages with different clients. Now, she doesn’t doubt herself as much. There is still work to be done though.
I hope, after reading this post, you have also come to the same conclusion as I have: Money is not a bad word!
In this post, I have covered only one of the 34 items on my list.
Are you a new entrepreneur or are you planning to become one? If you think this post is relevant, I am sure there are many other items on my list that could be relevant to you.
Reach out to me at [email protected] and let’s get talking about helping you make money as an entrepreneur. After all, money is not a bad word!