This week, we answer questions for Lisabeth, who is skeptical of the merits of business coaching, Gita, who thinks she knows who’s trying to besmirch her family business, and Candice, revisiting a question raising prices to attract new clients she posed in Episode #10.
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Question #1: I have managed my own small business full time for three years. I have the luxury of having a spouse whose job offers a stable salary and benefits so my family can live without significant income from the business, but I’d like to see more positive financial results as a way to keep personal score. I was recently approached by a ‘personal business coach’ after a local BBB networking luncheon. While the services she offered seem helpful, I am leery of hiring her or any coach to work with me on my business, since they seem to be promoting themselves every time I check my social media, and I don’t see much in the way of certification requirements or trackable results. I know these people are just trying to make a living but is investing time and money with a coach worth it? Should I just keep doing research on the internet for article that can help instead? (Lisabeth)
Answer: So, all semantics aside, I am a business coach, and I believe investing in a business training and accountability coaching can be a great way to help you get a stalled business on track. The emphasis is on can be. It can be a wasted effort if the coach is not experienced enough to meet the demands of your business. It can be wasted money if the coach is simply regurgitating information they skimmed off the internet, which you mentioned you are already skimming that isn’t quite helping your business set the world on fire. Business coaching is not a scam, but there are plenty of scammers, liar, thieves, and just lazy opportunists making real money in coaching. And there are plenty of the same types of people not making much money or progress in the business, but for the cost of a spiffy website and some business cards, do stay in business. Barely. Chances are if the BBB allowed her to hover after a luncheon, she’s probably legit, and then the exclaimer ‘you experience may vary’ applies. You can only get positive outcomes from your coaching sessions when you put real effort into it, and your coach offers great advice. If you are now sold on getting a coach, but still not sold on the woman who approached you, I’ve already stated that I am a business coach and can help you find a coach that may align with your goal. Contact me through the website, businessquestionsansweredhere.com, and I’ll see what I can do to help.
Question #2: My family opened a small grocery and sandwich shop in a blighted area of town, keeping a well-known businessman from opening a national chain sandwich shop in the building I purchased. He is known for being brutal in business as a winner and a loser, and I believe he is spearheading a campaign with online reviews and weird testimonies to scare us out of business. I might be a little paranoid, but the amount of chatter associated with our store seems overwhelmingly high compared to the foot traffic we see daily. Is there a way to find out for sure who is behind the smear campaign, and an ethical way to battle whomever the bully is? (Gita)
Answer: The question comes in with serendipitous timing. I am working on an outline for one of my personal development podcasts that deals with getting ahead of the possible ‘bad press’ someone may use to ruin your reputation. The motivation behind this need for personal development comes when you are doing a thing that impacts an area and calls for a general change, and someone who doesn’t want to change steps up to do what they can to discredit you if they can’t outright stop you. If you are doing good things and they want to keep doing bad things, this could escalate quickly into something you cannon manage. Great situation for them, a no-win situation for you. You are obviously doing a thing (good or bad) that is causing distress to at least one businessman used to getting his way. But he may not be the source of your pain because there could be plenty of variables creating other ‘thems’ just as keen or more to see you fail. You have to remember, despite whatever it is you do, someone in the world thinks the worst of you. Maybe many someones. Because of this, you should always have a team member who actively seeks out your bad press and thinks up what possible bad press you could encounter. Then, you can work whatever magic is in your power to counterattack with good press or offer structured mea culpas. Because sometimes, even with the best of intentions, they are right and you are wrong. If you can find real proof that the businessman or some other person or organized group is behind the attack, offer it up to the source of pooled bad comments. If not, just focus your efforts on doing more good things and documenting and sharing more of those good things.
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A Question Revisited: I’ve been living a dual business life of working as a physical therapist for a small clinic and doing boot camp styled group personal training. Being bad at personal finances and taking on a large debt load in the process of learning better habits is what lead me to sacrifice time and money to get the personal training certification. I love my job and the support my co-workers have given me, and my schedule is filling up for my boot camps. My problem is the clients I seem to miss out on because of my pricing. I priced my services based on what seemed like sensible prices for services, knowing that some personal trainers charge people outrageous amounts of money and can’t deliver good results. But people are balking at some of my sales pitches because they expect outrageous prices. Do I need to raise my prices? I don’t want to scare away the clients I already have. (Candice, Episode #10)
Answer: Having just answered a similar new question two weeks ago, this should be an easy re-answer. But they are not the same question, so let’s revisit both the question from Cass released in Episode 19 on upgrading materials to justify raising costs and this one from Candice released in Episode 10. Candice has a perceived value problem, where she’d like to attract people willing to pay more money for the same general services she is offering now. There is nothing magical about a client willing to spend more money on a thing, other than the likelihood of them showing greater appreciation of its worth because they paid so much for it. I originally said she should charge around the same as the high priced trainers for those who expect that type of cost and offer up a simple premium extra to distinguish between the two different pricing models, should she choose to continue offering services at the lower tier. I’m sticking with that answer and will qualify it with a rehash of the answer we told Cass two weeks ago to her question, per the original release of this episode. For Cass, she wanted her sister to raise the prices of her catering services. The proof of this need was the busyness of the business and an extra justification of the price increase coming from buying higher quality food items. Higher priced materials sold to ‘higher priced’ clientele should be a winning formula, and it probably would be, but her sister, who I reminded Cass in the answer, owns the business. It’s on Cass’ sister to ultimately push toward the clients she wants to serve, and those clients at the time were paying the lower priced rates and were okay with lower-priced materials, in this case, presumed lower quality food items. In both cases, a higher asking price for clients to pay changes the business model, even if the actual operations of the business shift little, if at all, in the process. Candice should go for the ‘pricey’ clientele and make the adjustments necessary to accommodate more of them, adding that into the price as needed. Cass should do as her sister wants, but if it is to increase prices and buy more expensive materials, gradually raise prices on existing customers and boldly offer the higher end prices to new ones.