PART I: THE ENTREPRENEUR
Welcome to being a part of unprecedented history. One day, you and I will look back at this time as a blimp in our pasts, although right here right now, it feels eternal.
You may be feeling frustration, anxiety, sadness, moments of inspiration, excitement, optimism. These are all normal ebbs and flow of the human experience as we go through a pandemic. We have been hit with the Covid-19 which does not discriminate between riches or races. Prince Charles, Boris Johnson and Tom Hanks are only a handful of those who bare testament to this truth.
However, Covid-19 demonstrates the discrepancies between us and other population groups. If you are reading this, count yourself blessed. More than likely, you have access to the internet, a device to read this (and communicate with friends and family), most probably a nice home, a fridge full of food and access to running water. This blog post is for You. First, the Entrepreneur. Then the employed (or unemployed) Professional. And finally, the Human Being – You.
Whatever goes up, must come down.
We would never appreciate colour if there were no moments of grey.
This moment in time may last us weeks, months and the after-effects, years.
We cannot control what is happening out there, but we can control our response to our environment, and grip tightly onto a spirit of empowerment.
Part I: The Entrepreneur
As a Registered Psychometrist and Certified Coach, I conceptualised the idea of being a source of support and credible advice for professionals similar to me: Psychologists, Counsellors, Coaches and Psychometrists in South Africa. Five years ago I wrote a book. I developed a course. This isn’t my primary business, but it’s a part of it I’m possibly most passionate about.
For the first time in four years, I was forced to postpone my workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Initially this was due to the risk that I may have been infected with Covid-19 after developing flu like symptoms on Day-13 after returning from the United Kingdom. I agonised for 5 eternally long days before I received my results: “Not detected”. Relief was temporary. Next came government’s instructions that a lockdown would follow.
I’ve experienced cancellations from coaching clients. A drop in bookings for psychometric assessments from business. Being self-employed, I am feeling angst just as you are. Sometimes the gripping anxiety that strangles my chest is difficult to contend with. But at the same time, I’m seeing possibility, kindness, compassion and I’m falling in love with what I do all over again.
Out of 15 bookings, I have not received ONE cancellation from my delegates for my workshop: Chasing the Dream. I’ve only received messages of encouragement and kindness, which has brought me close to tears, and reminded me why I do what I do.
It’s because of these delegates, my clients, my peers, my friends and my family that I am inspired to give back. I may not be able to make deposits into your bank account. I may not be able to take you on as a pro-bono client. But I can give a part of me to you, for your own growth, development and enlightenment.
TIP 1: GIVE YOUR CLIENTS VALUE
There has never been a better time to give value – although this should be part of what your business’ foundation is built on.
Your mantra should be to under promise, and over deliver. If you do this, you leave a positive impression on your client, which fosters a strong (and long term) relationship.
For example, when I’ve executed a client’s booking for a professional written CV, I will always then do introductions for them with my recruiter peers, alongside my HR Business Partners and Business owners – just because!
When I complete someone’s LinkedIn profile, I’ll send them a complete “how-to” guide on how to capitalise on using LinkedIn.
These are two of many examples of how my clients weren’t expecting something, but when they received it, it made an impact.
Giving value is a solid way to create a positive impression, and to build a relationship that will last. Do you know what my primary source of receiving bookings (and achieving sales) is? Although helpful, it is currently NOT paid for advertising, social media marketing or cold calling… (although please don’t think these tactics are not useful – THEY ARE – at the right time and place). Right here, right now, I don’t have to do a single thing, but I am receiving a constant stream of referrals from past clients (and yes, I am STILL receiving enquiries for bookings, even though the volume may have dropped slightly).
You see, if someone receives good service, they are going to tell their colleagues, friends and family. If they felt you added value to their life, you won’t even have to ASK them to refer people to you. They just will.
Right now, you have the most extraordinary opportunity to add value to your clients’ lives. They are at home (like you), hungry for some quality content. Create content for them that’s going to impact their lives (note: NOT a sales pitch). Give them something that’s going to make you memorable.
We’ve seen the impact of Covid-19; it takes ONE person infected to infect multiple others’, who in turn, infect multiple others. If you manage to INFECT just one person with the value you add to their life, they will infect others, who will infect others.
Which leads me to my next point…
TIP #2 CREATE VALUABLE CONTENT
There are multiple ways and platforms we can use to create valuable content. You can create a word document and PDF it, sharing it with your audience.
Most smart phones today have a recording functionality, where you can create an audio-book and upload onto SoundCloud or drop box.
You can write an article on LinkedIn, you can blog, or you can utilise platforms like Mail Chimp to create a newsletter to share with your audience.
You can post on Facebook or Instagram.
You can do a live broadcast on Facebook or upload a pre-recorded video onto Instagram TV.
You can WhatsApp, or you can email.
The possibilities to reach people has paradoxically never been so broad, whilst we are so confined.
TIP#3 WHAT VALUE CAN I ADD?
Every single one of us is unique. We have a specific repertoire of skills, experiences, knowledge combined with our personality. We all have knowledge and value to impart onto others.
I would encourage you to conduct a skills audit, and extend this to your friends and family, asking them (and yourself):
Let’s use me as a case-study at this point.
With experience in radio (managing a radio station and creating copy-writing material for blue chip companies), a love for writing, a post graduate degree in Psychology, assessing candidates for selection purposes (thus engaging with clients regularly with what they are seeking from a competency based perspective) and some exposure to recruitment (all thanks to the contacts I have made at my shared office space), an idea was born.
I decided to combine all the above mentioned skills, talents, knowledge and passion to offer clients Personal Branding Packages. These include professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, Cover letters and more.
I honestly did not think it was a particularly novel or unique idea (simply Google “CV writers” and you’ll be bombarded with options), BUT out of my ‘competition’, very few of them can boast the value I am able to add.
Use this time now to look at what niche product you can possibly create, which can then be your departure point for the value you may be able to add.
Back to our case study…. I’m going to be putting together tips for those on the job market, filled with angst, on how to best market themselves during these torrid times. I’m happy to share my insights – but wouldn’t it be a gorgeous bonus if they decided to book me to create their CVs too?
TIP #4 WHAT ABOUT PRO-BONO WORK DURING A PANDEMIC?
I speak about pro-bono work in my book “Chasing the Dream: A Guide to Practice Management in the South African Context”. My sentiments still remain unchanged…
We all dictate our own value (not just in business, but our personal lives too). In my book we talk about pricing and all those fun things, and I maintain that you should never ever be the cheapest. The lowest you should ever go in terms of your pricing should be the average price that people are charging (think, the Goldilocks rule).
Louis Vuitton can negotiate with their suppliers, and can purchase the best quality, most competitively priced leather. However, as soon as they put their brand on the bag made from ANY of the leather they chose, they can inflate their price by 1000%. THEY define the value of their brand.
If and when they do reduce their price when they hit end of season sales, they are trading something: “Purchase this bag for 10% off the original price as part of our summer sale”. You see, it’s a trade-off. You get to own a Louis Vuitton bag ‘saving’ 10% off the original price, BUT it comes at the cost of purchasing last season’s collection.
Let’s get back to you. If you start giving away your time for free (despite these circumstances), you are reducing your own value.
There is a stark difference between adding value, and reducing your own value.
Giving your client’s value builds trust, cements relationships, and has the potential of reaching a greater number of people than just one person.
Don’t give away what you normally sell as free. Think of fresh new ways to give your clients a TASTE of your offering, and give THAT away as value.
TIP#5 IT’S TIME TO STRATEGISE
I get it. Everyone talks about having all this free time, whereas the reality is your time may be more limited now than ever.
I have a very busy six year old. A husband with is own work commitments. A house to keep clean. My own work to continue with (yes, I am still assessing candidates online). And my sanity to preserve.
However, unless you are truly blessed, you will see a drop in your workload. You won’t be sitting in traffic every day. You won’t be taking your kids to extra mural activities. You won’t be hosting guests or visiting friends. You are stuck at home, and you will need something different to stimulate your mind.
Create a space and time to really capitalise on this opportunity (yes, OPPORTUNITY) to do all the things you haven’t done before for your business.
Write out or update your business plan.
Update or create your website.
Get your newsletter going.
Brainstorm new ideas.
Strategize your 1, 3 and 5 year plan.
Iron out your mission and vision.
Re-brand your business?
Look at gaps created now from this pandemic, and how you can be the pacifier to those pain points.
Create a PR proposal to send to journalists, magazine editors and bloggers.
Do all the things you simply don’t have time for. Because I promise you, when the dust settles and you’re back to those long days at your desk, you’ll wish you did all these things…and so much more.
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Stay tuned for Part II and Part III to follow…
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!