How often do you hear ‘let’s meet for a coffee and a chat’?
Now then, I am more than happy to give an initial free consultation to anyone who needs help. We all need a helping hand at times. But what rankles me are those that you have this chat with who then want to follow it up in more detail over a coffee. They know you can help them but they don’t want to pay.
These people are those that I know personally and because of this connection, they seem to think they can use my services and not have to pay. (The strange thing is that they never offer me free products or services that they sell).
I wrote an article ‘Can I Pick Your Brain’ a while ago now but thought it would be useful to come up with a few more answers to those who don’t value your time or expertise.
For those who think you are dumb and will fall for the coffee invite just for them to bombard you with questions.
“I would love to meet for coffee. It would great to get away from the office and have a break from the business talk for an hour.”
People who are in the frame of mind that they want everything for free, usually don’t want to meet in their social time.
Say ‘how about we meet for a drink. You could pop over to (somewhere close to you as they usually also want you to go where it’s convenient for them) when I finish work on (insert day). It would a lovely way to wind down after a busy day.”
Both these responses make it clear that you are NOT going to be talking business. It’s quite satisfying when you hear the person on the other end stumbling for a response.
For those that have made it clear they want to pick your brains for nothing
Don’t be afraid of offending these people. They aren’t worried about offending you.
“I’d love to take you up coffee but unfortunately coffee doesn’t pay my bills”
“I’ve never found that discussing business over coffee is the most effective way of giving advice. I’d be more than happy to book you in for an appointment. I’ll email you the details to get you booked in.” Then send them your paid booking link. I promise you won’t hear from them again.
These two responses are more direct but very effective.
Alternatively, “I don’t have time for coffee but more than happy to book you an appointment in my office”. This is slightly softer and keeps the channels of communication open.
An even more softly, softly catch-all answer would be “I’d love to but I’m currently snowed under”.
Ultimately, just be straight with them.
Tell them “If it’s a coffee and a chat I would love to meet up but being open and honest here, if you are just trying to use it as an excuse for free advice, I’ll be a tad offended”. Now let them squirm with embarrassment.
And don’t feel guilty. Remember, if you did all of these free coffee requests, your business would rapidly go downhill and your paying clients would get to hear and get pretty pissed off.
Your business. Your rules.
And just for fun. After initially writing this post, I was sent this which I think is just brilliant!
Do you have any responses you would like to share? Leave them in the comments box below.
I fully believe that any woman with a passion and a commitment to succeed can achieve anything they wish to.
But saying that, you have to make your own opportunities.
I have met and worked with women who have homeless drug addicts, who when given an opportunity, have grabbed it with both hands and built the most amazing businesses.
And I have also met with incredible women who had an amazing talent and everything they needed to create something wonderful, but they just didn’t follow through due to a lack of confidence and a fear of failure.
Confidence and a determination to do whatever it takes is the key to success. And a lack of confidence can be a real killer as can be the fear of the unknown. That’s why I always start off any work with clients, whether in person or one of my online courses building their confidence and self-belief. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
You can have the best product or service out there, you can know everything there is to know about how to market it to your ideal client, but if you don’t have the right mindset, you just won’t have the confidence to go out there and go after those paying clients.
You may well dabble a little here and there, but you will get sporadic results. You will stumble when asked for a discount and may well end up giving one! You may start to lose motivation when you get rejected by someone and you find out they buy elsewhere.
Getting in the right mindset is critical and the very first thing you need to before anything else when building a business in my opinion. Forget reading up and watching more webinars on how to grow sales through Facebook until you truly believe in yourself and your product and are prepared to stand up and shout it out from the rooftops how fabulous you are.
And once you have that cracked, as fired up and enthused as you may be about creating your own business, it will take hard work, commitment and personal investment on your own part along with self-responsibility for making things happen. It’s quite simply not going to happen overnight.
You will hit hurdles. The unexpected will happen. You won’t always get what you want.
The time will never be right and nothing will ever be perfect.
And this is where the determination and the right attitude will be the difference between winners and losers.
You can sit back, feel that life is unfair and ultimately give up. Or you can decide that you will get up off your backside and keep battling forward.
Putting it quite simply …
The action takers win
And that’s where I come in. I will keep you motivated and inspired to keep taking those small steps forward that lead to great results.
I know how hard it can be when you are starting out and struggling against one hurdle after another. I will be there when you need me, so you need never feel alone again.
If you have a dream, if you have a burning passion, get in touch. You have nothing to fear and everything to gain.
Sometimes, when you realise your industry is becoming saturated with competitors, stop trying to fight against them and think how you can turn this into an opportunity.
I always remember meeting the founders of The Soap Kitchen many years ago when the husband and wife team were starting up from their dining table. Over the years, their business grew as did their competitors.
Instead of fighting against them and getting consumed with worry, they looked at the opportunity this presented. They decided to adapt their business model. Rather than continuing to just making soap, they started running workshops teaching their competitors how to make soap. But taking it further, they also started supplying them with the raw materials.
The business exploded and four years ago they moved from their beautiful, but humble dining table to a shop and separate large warehouse with more than 20 staff. It is now the leading DIY soap making supplier in the UK and Europe.
Today I met a lady who offers a service and has been met with a similar problem. She is in the holistic health and wellness industry and it seems like every other person and their dog is now entering this. Her competitors are growing daily.
She recognised she was having to work harder but not seeing any increase in profits so came to see me. Rather than getting in a fluster, she went through everything with me and we soon realised a golden opportunity right under her nose where she could help others entering her profession. She could teach courses on how to get the level that she had reached.
Create opportunities out of problems
Rather than looking at helping her competition adversely affecting her, she saw the opportunity to create more income. This would also raise her profile in the industry giving her business visibility. She would now be integrating with competitors rather than trying to avoid them.
If you’re struggling with competitors, consider what hidden opportunities are out there for you. Don’t let your initial panic make your blind to these. If you’ve been in business for a while, and other new faces are appearing, take advantage of this . See how you can help them whilst creating a new income stream for yourself.
You might surprise yourself and find you enjoy it whilst significantly increasing your profits.
Outsourcing business tasks can really take the pressure off you when building a business and can help you save time and grow your business to the next level.
However, it really saddens me the number of times I see women trying to build their own successful home business and taking the step to outsource some work, only to be ripped off.
I constantly hear stories, where an agreement has been made only to find that very little of the work needed, is completed. The person hired, basically tries to do a runner with the money. So many times, freelances who promise the earth quickly lose interest or are unable to do the work to the standard required. Rather than admitting their inadequacies and refunding monies already paid, they start to ignore emails, phone calls and Facebook messages.
The person hiring is left with a looming deadline, out of pocket so financially unable to hire someone else and in a sense of abandonment and despair.
Please, if you are going to hire a freelancer, do a few things to protect yourself from the same happening to you.
Agree to Terms and Conditions
Whenever outsourcing any work, before you do anything else agree clear, WRITTEN AND SIGNED, terms and conditions. This needs to include:
- the scope of the work with exactly what is going to be done by whom and when (including any information you need to supply to the freelancer),
- a deadline for the work to be completed,
- how much it is going to cost and
- what happens if either party is unhappy and wishes to cancel.
Do not rely on word of mouth and trust. So many times, agreements have been verbal as a person has seemed so wonderful and the relationship has been on trust, only for it to go horribly wrong. I have known ladies feel embarrassed about asking for T’s & C’s. Really? You are running a business and you need to protect it. If anyone tries to fob you off saying you don’t this, run for the hills.
Read reviews and testimonials
Read their testimonials and contact some of the people who have written them to make sure the reviews are genuine. Yes, it’s a sad world we live in that some people make them up.
Interview them. Yep! You are hiring someone so it’s perfectly ok to speak to them and conduct an interview. Ask them what they would do if they had an emergency and couldn’t complete the work on time. Ask them how many times they have had cancellations or had to refund a client. You can tell a lot from whether they answer quickly and confidently or start to pause and stumble over their words. Listen to your gut feeling when speaking with them.
Start with a sample piece of work
Consider asking anyone you are outsourcing work to, to do a small sample piece of work so you can test out their standards and service. Don’t expect them to do this for free but pay them for a small section of the project that you need help with.
Pay in instalments
Pay in instalments. Don’t ever pay in full upfront. Agree on stage payments. That way, if something starts to go wrong, you can stop your payments until the situation is fixed. Alternatively, you can cancel the agreement altogether (again, make sure this is covered in your written contract.)
Look at payment options
Think about how you pay. If you use PayPal if there is a dispute, and you can prove your case, you should be able to get your money back within a reasonable timescale.
In essence, take time to do your research before hiring anyone and use the checks above before signing on the dotted line and handing over your hard-earned money. I’ve been bitten myself in the past, so I am speaking from experience. It’s horrible when it happens but it makes you much savvier when hiring in the future.
Do you have a story to share on your own experience? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear about it whether good or bad.
How an FAQ page can help get you more sales
Do you regularly get asked the same questions over and over again? Set up an FAQ page on your website with answers to the most frequently asked questions and then direct incoming inquiries to this. It will save you a lot of time and effort.
Questions will differ from business to business depending on what your customers or clients ask you.
If you have a brick and mortar shop it may that you need to give directions to your shop or let customers know where the nearest parking is and what it costs. If you have an online business it may be that you need to let clients know about your working hours, the best way to contact you and how to make a booking or cancel an appointment.
To help you get the most out of your FAQ page, use the three top tips below.
Priorise your Q&A’s
You could end up with quite a long list so may sure your prioritse your questions with the most common ones at the top. If the list really is getting out of hand, think about putting questions into sections. A section on location could give both the directions and parking information. A ‘working together’ section could include questions on working hours, terms, and condition, booking, cancelling etc.
When you are giving the answers to the questions listed, make sure you reiterate key benefits to the reader rather than just cold, boring facts. This FAQ section can be a great selling tool where you really overcome any objections a prospect has so make the most of it.
Keep answers short and sweet
Remember to keep your answers short, sweet and to the point. You don’t want to go off on a ramble that leaves the poor reader more confused than when they started. Try and keep answers to just one or two sentences where possible.
Consider using video for answers that need more in-depth explanation. Again, keep it as short and sweet as possible but it can be easier to get a point across clearly in a video than trying to explain it in text.
Keep answers updated
Do make sure you diarise to keep your information updated on a regular basis. You don’t want visitors rocking up to your shop if the nearest car park listed on your site has closed! Yes, it happens!
It can also be a good idea to include a form at the bottom for readers to ask a question that is not listed and if you are sat at your laptop frequently, think about having a live chat box to answer questions in real time.
Do you have an FAQ page on your site already? How about sharing to give us all inspiration? Pop the link in the comments box below.