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Stop being selfish and start asking more questions

Stop being selfish and start asking more questions

Stop being selfish and start asking more questions

The reason that I wanted to talk about the questions we should be asking is because I think that sometimes they can make or break the way we execute any project or any relationship or ongoing work with a client.

Questions are crucial and we need to get over our fear of asking them.

What I’ve found is when we don’t ask questions, or we don’t ask the right questions, things get disastrous pretty quickly. So I’m going to tell you a little bit of a story first, for some context.

We were working with a client, and this client had been referred to by somebody else, it was all going really well, had a conversation and seemed great.

Somebody else said to us, just don’t ask any questions. If you ask questions, they’ll get really defensive. They’ll get annoyed. You’re better off just not asking any questions.

So I thought, huh, okay, that’s interesting, but all right. I can definitely come with an approach where it is a matter of me coming up with a concept, or a solution first, or a recommendation, and then seeing what comes off the back of that, instead of asking questions.

Over the next couple of weeks, we kept creating different things, and there was this disjointed relationship happening, and what I ended up getting told by the client is, “I don’t understand, why didn’t you just ask me this?” And, “I would have told you all this stuff”.

I said, “oh, well I got told not to ask any questions.” 

The client replied, “No, I’m happy to answer questions. I don’t like questions that have no purpose. Questions that are relevant, 100% ask me all the questions, I do not mind”.

After that, it changed very quickly. I was able to do my job properly because now I didn’t have this pool of information being withheld from me because I couldn’t ask any questions about it.

So it was after the first few weeks that we really got the traction that we had been trying to get this entire time. Everybody got a lot less frustrated.

This has taught me that we need to ask the questions.

If we’re told not to ask the questions, we need to push back on that because it is an unrealistic expectation and it does not serve anybody.

So why don’t we ask questions? Insecurity. Ego. They’re the two core reasons why we won’t ask someone questions if we don’t understand or if we need more information.

We’re worried that we’ll be perceived as dumb, as not understanding when we should, as not being as competent or capable, as damaging our reputation by asking questions like that. We’re concerned someone will get annoyed because we’re asking too many questions, so we don’t.

But, can I tell you, the consequence of not asking those questions ends up reinforcing all those things anyway. People are going to get more annoyed if you don’t ask the question and then they don’t get the results because you never had the information first.

If you spend hours and hours trying to find an answer to a question that your client could have answered in one second, I guarantee you when you tell your client about that they’re going to come back and say, why didn’t you just ask me.

Instead, we’ve delayed this thing by a week or however long because you were looking for an answer you didn’t have and I could have solved that very quickly or we’re going to damage our reputation and our brand for being highly capable because we don’t know when to ask and when not to. Instead, the results that we get aren’t as good as they can be because we didn’t have the information up front.

So when we’re looking at these things, we really need to remember the questions are important more so than all of the fears and the stories that we have built up around those questions.

The impact of not asking questions hampers growth. You cannot grow without asking the right questions. It hampers creativity. Unless you ask questions and get a nice baseline, you don’t know what you’re working with and then you don’t know what you can springboard off.

How often have you had a meeting with a client where you’re trying to soundboard or you’re both trying to come up with a new idea to do something and there’s been no questions asked? Never. Questions breed creativity because they spark something in the other person that you’re speaking to. It gives them an idea to leverage off, even if the answer is, “oh, well, I definitely don’t want to do that. So that means it’s going to be the opposite. Let’s go this way”.

Then we come to another question and then that gives us more ideas.

Questions breed creativity. If we don’t ask the right questions, we increase free work and either our clients pay for that, or we pay for that. Both scenarios, we don’t want happening.

Without asking questions, we increase frustration and friction. We’re going to have these constant back and forth annoyance in conversation because we haven’t been able to ask the question, because we weren’t brave enough to ask the question, because we’re trying to work out creative ways to ask the question that we really want to ask, we’re not getting the answer that we need to actually do our job.

On the flip side, our clients are sitting there going, what is it they’re trying to ask me? They’ve asked me 15 questions and still are asking me more questions. When really, if we just asked the question that we needed the answer to originally, we’d be asking one question. Far better scenario. In saying all of this, I encourage you to ask more questions.

When we do not ask the questions, we are being selfish. We are prioritising our safety and our comfort, our reputation, our insecurities, over the outcome that we’re trying to achieve for our clients and that’s not fair.

I don’t want you to use questions as a cop out or a stalling tactic. Questions are not to be used as a cop out or a stalling tactic. What do I mean by that? I have noticed this pattern in people, where, if we feel uncomfortable or we’ve made a mistake, we use questions as a way to cover it. So for instance, if we are delayed in delivering something, and we know we’re delayed, and we know the client is going to ask about why we’re delayed if we take much longer, what I’ve seen some OBMs do is go back to the client and ask a really silly question. “Do you want this in purple or green?” “Well, where is the backlog of titles I can use?” These questions aren’t terrible questions, but in the context of what you’re doing, they absolutely are, because they’re being asked so that then the OBM, a week later when the client comes back and says, where’s this up to?, the OBM can then say, “oh, well, I’m still waiting for your answer on this before I can even start it”. It’s just not true. Both of those questions, you could have got 99% of the job done without the answer to that question. It is not an excuse. Then you’ve created a question to give you the breathing room that you needed to catch up and then all of a sudden it becomes the client’s  fault and responsibility that they didn’t answer that. That is not what questions are for. Do not create scenarios like that where you can flip the blame or ditch the responsibility because someone hasn’t answered the question that you had that you really didn’t need the answer for right now.

Don’t do it. Because then what also happens is when you ask real questions, you’re greeted with someone who’s annoyed. Because then we never know if questions are genuine or not.

In saying all of those things, ask better questions. Ask good questions. Lots of them.

What is a good question? A good question is clear and it’s current.

We’re not using lots and lots of different words or bridges in our question so that then when we’re asking it, it’s confusing to answer. We want to know exactly why we’re asking a question before we ask it. If you know why or the answer that you’re trying to get, your question will be a lot clearer because you won’t be trying to come up with the question as you’re saying it.

You won’t be finishing the idea in your head while you’re asking it and then that just makes it harder for someone to answer. So you know the answer you’re trying to get to when you’re asking a question, it needs to be clear. Questions need to be concise. Do not use lots and lots of words when a few will do.

Each question should have a specific purpose. Use the words that will get you to that purpose. If you’re wanting to know if the colour that you’re going to use, if you’re going to use the primary blue color from the brand, or if you’re going to use the secondary blue color from the brand, ask that, do you want it to be the primary blue or the secondary blue?

Don’t ask, “Hey, I’m doing this new design and I’ve got to pick the colors for it and I’m wondering which color I should use”. That’s not the question that you really need an answer to. The client is going to say, “Hey, go back to the brand palette”. And you’re going to say, “I already did that. But I don’t know which blue.” See how it’s totally different now? Ask the question that you want to ask, and be concise.

Questions should be contextual. If you’re having a conversation with someone, make sure the questions that you’re asking are relevant to that conversation and if they’re not, wait until the end of the conversation to ask about something else. If someone is talking to you about designing this amazing PDF, and you have a question about how it’s going to be delivered, wait until you’ve finished the design aspect of the conversation to ask that question.

Otherwise, it’s too disjointed, and our brains jump everywhere and we get confused and then, you don’t get the answers that you need. So make sure they’re contextual and make sure they’re current. Don’t ask questions about things that don’t matter anymore. Think about the questions that you have and go, Okay, I know that five years ago we used to write meta descriptions that had to be 240 words long.

What 240 words do you want me to use? Don’t ask that question if you know that now meta descriptions need to be 120 words long. It’s out of date information, and regardless of how we used to do it, we need to frame questions in the way that is current. Hey, I know these used to be 240 words, but it’s changed to 120.

What’s our process for doing that? And do we need to retrospectively go and change all the old ones from 240 to 120? It’s that simple. It becomes current. We’re not just talking about previous things for no reason, or we’re not just asking questions about things that don’t matter anymore. We’ve eliminated that process, so we don’t have that product.

It doesn’t matter anymore.

Now that we have our pattern for good questions, and we know that we need to ask more questions, what kind of questions do we need to ask? I’ve come up with eight, and if I’m honest with you, I could have come up with more. I actually found this quite fun and I just thought about the different types of questions that I ask my clients regularly.

Like everything else, I’ve put them in categories because I think if you can have categories, you can always work from that to customise it for yourself. Whereas if I just gave you a list of really specific questions, they’re a one time use thing. So I’d rather give you the principle.

This episode shares:  

  • Unblocking Questions: Keep projects on track by identifying bottlenecks and seeking solutions from your clients.
  • Improvement Questions: Refine your deliverables by gathering feedback and iterating based on client preferences.
  • Decision Questions: Get clarity on crucial choices that require client input.
  • Strategic Questions: Collaborate on a winning strategy by understanding your client’s vision and desired outcomes.
  • Clarifying Questions: Ensure you’re on the same page by summarising key points and confirming your understanding.
  • Historic Questions: Gain context for current situations by learning about past decisions and actions.
  • Perspective Shifting Questions: Help clients overcome hesitation and see new possibilities by reframing challenges.
  • “I Give a Crap” Questions: Build strong relationships by showing genuine interest in your clients’ well-being and goals.

8 questions you should be asking your clients on a regular basis

Unblocking questions

Unblocking questions are that will stop the bottlenecks and that will keep work progressing. These can be questions that are for you specifically. These can be questions that you’re asking so that you can keep a team moving forward. It’s going back to your client and saying, Hey, I know that your days are booked back to back for the next week.

What that means? is that you’re not going to be able to review this piece of work that I need reviewed in two days. What are we going to do here? Because I can’t move forward with that. Unless you’ve reviewed it and I can’t see a gap, is there something we can move? Can you move this thing so that you can review this so that I can keep going?

Otherwise the team is going to come to a standstill. Or, hey, I really need to know where you’ve saved this file because I can’t keep working on it without it. I’ve done as much as I can and now everything is going to stop unless you give it to me. So an unblocking question. Questions that literally are going to stop everything unless they get an answer.

Tip💡: Get as much questions that will stop the bottlenecks and that will keep work progressing.

Improvement questions

These types of questions come from when we’re looking at something and we want to improve it, or when we’ve done something and the feedback that we get isn’t, this is 100 percent amazing, which is fair enough. 100% is a pretty epic result and very rarely are we going to nail it like that every time.

So we need questions that we can ask to get closer to that 100% as we’re working with people. These are improvement questions. It might be when you show your client something and then you say, is this what you had in mind? Then that gives them the ability to say yeah, mostly, but I would really love it if we had used the secondary blue.

If they’ve come back and they don’t really like the process you’ve created, or the tool that you’ve used, or, some piece of it doesn’t quite fit and then you get to ask in the future, would it be better if I tried this approach? Is that going to work better for you? And we’re creating improvements with each thing we’re delivering.

I’ve noticed this in this process. Is it cool with you if we change it to this? Because it’s more efficient. It means that it’s going to take this person on the team half the amount of time and then we hand it over to the next person because they’re heaps better at it. Improvement questions. Making things better.

Tip💡: Make questions that we can ask to get closer to that 100% as we’re working with people.

 

Decision questions

These are questions that you ask to get an executive decision. Hey, I really need to know if we’re launching in May or if we’re launching in June.

Because we’re getting way too close to the deadline and we are not going to be ready in time. I need the decision. I need the decision on whether we’re going to price this at $97 or $497.

It’s decisions that you cannot make without your client. So it’s that executive weight and that someone needs to lead here and it needs to be the client. So I need you to answer this question for me.

Tip💡: Make your client know that he needs to lead executive decisions.

Strategic questions

Love me a little bit of strategy. I love when things have purpose. I love when things have planning. Strategic questions are questions that you ask to come up with a strategy or to improve a strategy. In an ideal world. What would your role be here? It gives your clients freedom to create their role in that strategy. It gives them a door to vent all of their thoughts and feelings or their vision of what they want and fill you in at the same time.

Are we wanting to go in this direction when we create this product or are we wanting to go in a different direction? Which one did you have in mind? It’s telling you information so you can ask follow up questions.

It’s telling you information so that when you go and create a strategy for whatever you’re creating it for, you have some foundations there.

Why are we even doing this activity? What results do we want to get here? Without that, how are you going to create a strategy? If you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re trying to achieve, how can you work out the best way for this client to get there? So there’s strategic questions.


Tip💡:
 Make questions that you ask to come up with a strategy or to improve a strategy.

Clarifying questions

 

This 100% is something that OBMs do not do enough of. It’s quite simple. When you have a conversation with one of your clients, clarify what you’ve heard and what you’re going to do based on that. From what you’ve said, I’m hearing that I’m gonna grow, I’m going to create six months worth of socials.

The copy, the graphics, I’m going to create a system for which that all happens so that next time someone else can do it, I’m going to create a process for the scheduling, and I’m going to create a process for the approval, then I’m going to walk you through it. Does that sound good? Or is that right? It’s that simple.

Repeating back, based on the things we’ve talked about, this is what I’m hearing and this is what I’m going to do, or this is what you’re thinking and feeling. Is that correct? Because if we’ve missed a piece, we’re going to save so much time up front by clarifying. Communication is an art.

There’s so many different courses that you can go and do, even in university level, around communication, because we all communicate differently.

Therefore, clarifying things is really important.


Tip💡:
Communication is an art. Clarify everything as much as possible.

 

Historic questions

Historic questions are when you ask questions about things that have happened previously in the business. So what series of events led us here? Why did we choose to do webinars? Why is this person’s file totally different to everybody else’s?

Trying to get context based on the past, you need historic questions and it’s okay to ask them. Because it gives you the context to make better decisions for the future, which is what we want

 

Tip💡: Get context about the business past, to make better decisions for the future.

 

Perspective shifting questions

These are my favourite and the reason for that is that it gives us the opportunity to  expand with our clients.

If we’re noticing something, or we notice hesitation, or we notice a roadblock, or we notice a hesitation towards an opportunity, we can ask perspective shifting questions to see where the block really is or to open more doors for them. What that means is if we’re saying, I would really love to go and do that.

I can see the value that it would bring to the business, but I just don’t have the time. You could say something like, but what if we found the time? If we could find the time, is it still something that you would want to do? Yeah, but I’m scared. Okay, so what are the ways we could find the time?

Let’s just pretend and then we start thinking about ways we could find the time. You can do this for all different types of objectives and all different types of hurdles. What if, instead of it being the person on the other end of the line being an idiot, it’s because we haven’t clarified what the process is at the beginning.

So what if we just fixed the process? Then maybe we would get less of these calls and you wouldn’t be as stressed. What do you think of that? That we’re helping them look at things in a different way that opens more doors and solves more problems. Perspective shifting questions. They’re fantastic. Use them.

Tip💡: Clarify what the process is at the beginning of the project.

I give a crap questions

I am a peopler, and if you don’t have good relationships with your clients, then what on earth are you doing working with them? You cannot work that closely with a business and not feel connected to them or be invested in what they’re doing.

It’s just not the way it’s going to work well. These questions are questions like, how are you? How is your son feeling? Hey, how did your daughter go in the grand final? Hey, are you feeling less wobbly today? Is there something I can do for you? Hey, that sounds like an amazing idea as long as it’s not going to be too much for you to do because then you’ll be stressed and I don’t want you to end up stressed.

Questions that show you care. Questions that show you give a crap, just like the toilet paper.

 

Tip💡: You cannot work that closely with a business and not feel connected to them or be invested in what they’re doing.

And… that’s a wrap!

There are eight categories of questions you should be asking. I hope this has well and truly given you enough to ask better questions, the right questions, to know that you need to ask questions. Now my challenge for you is to go and do it.

From tomorrow, start asking more questions.

Send me a DM if you’re listening to this and you’re going to start asking more questions and tell me which category you think you need to work on. 

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Follow along with the transcript

E41 Well, that’s a terrible idea: How to lead clients into making well-informed, future focused decisions.

Leanne Woff:[00:00:00] Hey, hey, hey, lovely. Today’s episode is all about terrible ideas. [00:01:00] No, it’s not really, but it’s called, well, that’s a terrible idea: how to lead clients into making well informed, future focused decisions. Let me tell you a little story. I know you love stories.

My team and I have been working with some clients and there’s this phenomenon that we see. And it happens all the time, really. And it’s a bit of a flip flop. And I want to dive in with you to look at why this flip flop happens. What’s with the wobble? My team and I spend a lot of time overhauling systems, processes, creating more efficient ways to do things, thinking outside of the box, extrapolating things out and then pulling them all back into a condensed machine way of operating.

And when we’re looking at overhauling [00:02:00] anything in a business, that means change. And can I tell you, humans don’t like change. Generally, that’s the way it goes, because it feels uncomfortable and it tells us that we’re not safe. So we’re working with the client. We’ve improved one of their core systems in their business.

We’ve presented it. We’ve walked them through in detail and they have raved. On the call, they’re saying this is amazing. We’ve never seen anything like it. How cool is this? Fantastic. So from this point, usually we would go on to then integrate that system into the business. Get the team to know what the new way of working is or what the new process is, make sure they’re confident and keep this business growing.

 But, a few days later, the client comes back. We’re not feeling [00:03:00] confident and excited anymore, team. We’ve had a bit of a wobble, and now we’re a little bit worried about all these new things, this new way of doing it.

We had two options. The first is to go, not a problem. That’s totally okay. We’ll just change it all back. No harm done. We’re here to help you. And if you’re not comfy, we’re in your corner. Or there’s option two. And that is, let’s think about what’s really going on here and lead. In one way, we’re operating in a manner that is of service and support and considering the safety of our clients and the way they’re feeling and protecting that.

The [00:04:00] second is leading and trying to understand. at a higher level what’s really going on. Because there was a reason we decided to change things, and that reason would have been valid and important or we wouldn’t have made the choice to go down this pathway of change. So is it really fair on our clients if when they have a little bit of a wobble for whatever reason, we just say, yep, no worries, if that’s what you want to do, cool, cool. I don’t think it is, because they’re not seeing it clearly right now. At one point they were, at one point they saw that something needed to change. And whatever drove that was big enough for them to [00:05:00] go, even though I don’t like change or this might look different, I’m happy to do it. But in the moment then we’ve done a wobble. We need to be able to reflect that back. And we need to be able to help them explore this.

That’s your job. You are being of service when you’re able to bring the outcome back to the forefront of the conversation and say, Hey, I recognise that this might not be easy, or I recognise that previously we really wanted to change this so that we could achieve X, but now we seem to be saying something different.

Is there a reason we’ve changed our thought process? And open a conversation to talk about it and make sure we’re [00:06:00] still working towards our goals. Regardless of how we feel right now, we need to look at the bigger picture and re-evaluate if it’s worth listening to this feeling or rationalising that feeling.

So I’m going to explain how you can do this. The first step is to dig deeper, and you’ll hear me say this all the time. Dig deeper, always. Get as much information as you can. People don’t just change their minds with no thought process or no incident that’s happened. If we have gone from, woohoo, this is awesome, to, oh, this is a real bad idea, or I want to run away, or I’m scared now. Something has happened and it can just be I’ve taken time to think about it and here’s all the thoughts that came up [00:07:00] or it can be I’ve noticed something else or someone else has asked me a question or I’m just having a really rough day, something has happened and usually if it is causing us to lean towards safety and not make a logical choice or a growth decision and it’s pushing us towards a poorer choice or a less efficient or effective choice.

One of two things are at play. One is fear. We are worried about something and we’re worried about what that something might lead us to. If we do it this way and someone else stuffs it up, is my business going to go down in flames? I’m scared. If I let someone else do it, they’re not [00:08:00] going to do it the same way as me and then my business is going to go down in flames.

If something is posted at the wrong time, It’s going to damage my brand and my reputation and my business is going to go down in flames. We start all of these little cycles in our brain that lead to something big and scary. And if we’re feeling that, more often than not, we’re not rationalising it. We’re feeling it, we’re trying to find a quick solution to fix it, and we’re moving forward.

And where there’s not fear, there’s lack of knowledge. We can come up with brilliant ideas, solutions, abstract thoughts, innovative ways to do something as OBMs. But sometimes we miss filling in our clients on why we [00:09:00] made that decision and what that looks like for them. And so they walk away and then they start to think about all the what-if scenarios.

Or the, no, we’ve always done it this way. Why should we change that? Why? I’m confident with the way we’ve done it. I can get in myself and I can do it. I know what that looks like. It feels safe. It feels familiar. So why would we change it? You’re an OBM. If you’ve made decisions, Or you’re suggesting a different way to do something, there’s a reason behind that.

I know that. And we need to help our clients understand the reasoning. To do that, we need to give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts. So that we can answer them just as they need them. The things that pop up and they think and feel. We need to support them through that. So as part of all of this, we’re trying to [00:10:00] work out where the wobble happened, and you need to be able to open a conversation and have the discussion to find that out so you can help fix it.

When you’re doing this, you need to tread carefully. Be gentle and be tactful with the aim of acknowledging the elephant in the room, the emotion. This is the bit that we shy away from. We don’t explain to our clients, Hey, you might be thinking or feeling this way, or we’re going to do this. And this is what a lot of my clients experience when I’m doing it.

And that’s normal. Hey, are you making this decision because you’re worried about something? Because what it looks like to me is that we might be feeling unsure, or we might be forgetting why [00:11:00] we wanted to change this in the first place. Acknowledge the emotions, name them, normalise them, bring them into the conversation.

We’re making the big scary things less scary.

All with the aim of getting our clients the impact and outcome that they really want. And our role isn’t always practical. It’s not always to come up with the solution that is a process. It’s to help them make choices that will lead to the outcome and impact they want. It’s helping them see their thought process And assisting them on finding a way that feels easier.

That’s part of our job.

And remember, no one likes getting [00:12:00] told their idea isn’t any good. So we don’t ever want to do that. What we want to do is explore the reasoning for why we would do it that way or not do it. There are always 14 different ways to do something. And sometimes the only difference is preference, and that’s okay.

But, when the difference is efficiency, or effectiveness, or it’s going to mean different results, we need to get comfortable with discussing options, in a non threatening manner.

As you wear your tact, you need to listen to what your clients are saying, understand what’s happening underneath, and what the driving thoughts and feelings are for what you’re looking at, and then consider what options you have. What options [00:13:00] can you see and present them? Carefully think about each of the options that have been discussed.

And then talk to your client about the pros of each one and the cons of each one. What could the positive impact of doing it this way be? What does it mean? And that could be I’m used to doing it that way, so it’s easy. There’s no learning curve. Awesome. And what could the possible consequence be?

I’m going to stay where I’ve always been. Because if I keep doing the same thing, nothing’s going to grow. I’m going to get the same result. Okay. And what if we look at a different option? One of the cons is I don’t know how that plays out. I’ve not done it before. I can’t see how it would work. And then one of the pros could be, it means that we’re going to [00:14:00] be able to achieve our goal faster because the process is more streamlined and it’s going to save us an hour every time we do it.

We’re building the reasons why we should take this step of bravery and we’re looking at it from a point that includes our thoughts and feelings and how easy it is for us to adopt new ideas or how hard. Then we get to make a decision that does cover all the parameters. We’re helping frame things in a way that goes back to the outcome our clients want, but considers the journey of getting there and lays it out in an easy to discuss manner. So once you’ve done that, you’ve put out all the options on the table. [00:15:00] We’ve got really good discussions. I want you to tackle your own alarm.

If you feel strongly about something, a certain way to do something, whether or not we should choose path A or path B, there’s a reason for that. And you need to know what the reason is. So if you’re having a reaction that says, no, no, no, we can’t go back to what we were doing, or no, please don’t pick that way.

We need to pick the other way. You need to work that out within you and you need to think about, okay, why is it? My guess is because you’re invested and that means you care about the outcome. So your knowledge that you’ve got, your experience that you’ve had. We’ll kick in and say, no, that’s a bad idea.

That’s a bad idea. We can’t do that. That’s going to ruin [00:16:00] everything, but it doesn’t kick in and say why. So we need to dig into that a little bit more. And then we need to explain that to our clients. I’m really invested in the results that you’re going to get. And I’m concerned that if we do it the way we’ve done it before, these are the things we’re going to experience.

You’re going to end up burnt out again. You’re going to have too much to do. You’re not going to be able to launch the new thing that you want to launch. And that’s all you’ve talked about for six months. And we’re jeopardising it because we don’t want to change. Be honest and be truthful. Explain why it matters and why it matters to you and why you’re even bringing it up.

Then make your recommendation or suggest a new [00:17:00] pathway. You might go back to what you’d already planned or you might say, based on this conversation, maybe we could do it this way and come up with a whole new approach. But you have to set the scene first. You have to give them the opportunity to think and you have to show your reasoning and your investment in a way that’s not scary and that’s honest.

Then you want to reinforce a collaborative approach. To do that, you go back to your client and you say, based on this conversation, what do you feel more comfortable with? What are you happy to do? Do you want to go this way or do you want to go this way? Or, do you want to have another chat in a few days, once you’ve processed a bit more, and see what we can come up with [00:18:00] together.

We’re giving them options that aren’t by default to go back to the way that things have always been. We’re giving them opportunities to create safety with knowledge. Plans that will help them grow at the same time. And then the final thing is you need to be happy and content no matter what the outcome is.

When we’re dealing with anything that is big and scary as people, we need to be ready to take the steps to change them. And sometimes even if we understand the logic, we’re still too scared to do it. And if we’re not in that right place, That’s okay. If now is not the time, that’s okay. We can do our best to help our clients through this and we can give them a glimpse [00:19:00] into the mindset and the emotions and how other people have tackled those things.

But if they’re not ready to take on a new way or try a new thing, It’s not going to work anyway. They have to be on board. And so if they choose, No, I need to go back to the way I’ve been doing it. That’s what makes sense for me. It’s okay. No worries. And then we park it, and we look at it again in a few months time.

That’s your job. It needs to be done in the right way, and in the right time. And it’s okay. It’s okay to not need to catapult forwards all the time. It’s doing the right things in the right timing. And so you need to be secure enough to know that it wasn’t your approach that was wrong [00:20:00] and it wasn’t their idea that was wrong.

We’re dealing with people and emotions and big, scary things, especially when there’s change. And it’s okay. It’s not one idea is good and one is bad, but we do need to do the journey with our clients. And we need to support them, even if it goes against what we think. As long as we’ve voiced our concern, we’ve given them options, we’ve done everything that we can to positively support them, you’ve done your job.

Your job isn’t to fully overwhelm them or intimidate them. Be in their corner and be okay with that. So I hope that this has given you a little bit of a framework to work towards when you’re dealing with clients who are trying to make choices. And sometimes they’re a bit wobbly or they’re making what you just think is [00:21:00] the wrong one.

And especially if you’ve got that alarm going off in you that’s saying, this is a bad idea. We’re going to go back to square one. This framework is how you can tackle it with your clients. Generally, you get a pretty amazing outcome from it. I hope you found this helpful. Don’t forget, leave me a five star review if you enjoyed this episode.

Send me a DM and tell me if you’ve experienced situations like this. Tell me how you’ve handled it. I’d love to know. I’ll see you next week guys. [00:22:00] 

Well, that’s a terrible idea: How to lead clients into making well-informed, future focused decisions

Well, that’s a terrible idea: How to lead clients into making well-informed, future focused decisions

Let me tell you a little story. 

My team and I have been working with some clients and there’s this phenomenon that we see and it happens all the time, really.

It’s a bit of a flip flop. I want to dive in with you to look at why this flip flop happens. What’s with the wobble?

My team and I spend a lot of time overhauling systems, processes, creating more efficient ways to do things, thinking outside of the box, extrapolating things out and then pulling them all back into a condensed machine way of operating.

When we’re looking at overhauling anything in a business, that means change. I can tell you, humans don’t like change.

Generally, that’s the way it goes, because it feels uncomfortable and it tells us that we’re not safe. So we’re working with the client, we’ve improved one of their core systems in their business. We’ve presented it. We’ve walked them through in detail and they have raved. On the call, they’re saying this is amazing. We’ve never seen anything like it. How cool is this? Fantastic.

So from this point, usually we would go on to then integrate that system into the business. Get the team to know what the new way of working is or what the new process is, make sure they’re confident and keep this business growing.

But, a few days later, the client comes back.

We’re not feeling confident and excited anymore, team. We’ve had a bit of a wobble, and now we’re a little bit worried about all these new things, this new way of doing it. We have two options:

1. The first is to go, not a problem. That’s totally okay. We’ll just change it all back. No harm done. We’re here to help you. If you’re not comfy, we’re in your corner. Or there’s option two. And that is, let’s think about what’s really going on here and lead. In one way, we’re operating in a manner that is of service and support and considering the safety of our clients and the way they’re feeling and protecting that.

2. The second is leading and trying to understand. at a higher level what’s really going on. Because there was a reason we decided to change things, and that reason would have been valid and important or we wouldn’t have made the choice to go down this pathway of change. So is it really fair on our clients if when they have a little bit of a wobble for whatever reason, we just say, yep, no worries, if that’s what you want to do, cool, cool. I don’t think it is, because they’re not seeing it clearly right now. At one point they saw that something needed to change. Whatever drove that was big enough for them to go, even though I don’t like change or this might look different, I’m happy to do it. But in the moment then we’ve done a wobble. We need to be able to reflect that back and we need to be able to help them explore this. That’s your job.

You are being of service when you’re able to bring the outcome back to the forefront of the conversation and say, Hey, I recognise that this might not be easy, or I recognise that previously we really wanted to change this so that we could achieve X, but now we seem to be saying something different.

Is there a reason we’ve changed our thought process? And open a conversation to talk about it and make sure we’re still working towards our goals. Regardless of how we feel right now, we need to look at the bigger picture and re-evaluate if it’s worth listening to this feeling or rationalising that feeling.

 

This episode shares:  

  • Identify the source of client hesitation: People don’t just change their mind with no thought process. And usually if it’s a poor choice there are two things at play – fear and lack of knowledge. You need to work out where the wobble happened.
  • Open a productive conversation: Acknowledge the elephant – emotions. No one likes getting told their idea isn’t the best.
  • Consider the options and present them: Carefully think about each one, the positive impact of each, the possible consequence of that.
  • Collaborate on a solution: Guide your client towards a decision that feels safe and effective.

Identify the source of client hesitation

The first step is to dig deeper, and you’ll hear me say this all the time. Dig deeper, always. Get as much information as you can. People don’t just change their minds with no thought process or no incident that’s happened. If we have gone from, woohoo, this is awesome, to, oh, this is a real bad idea, or I want to run away, or I’m scared now.

Something has happened and it can just be I’ve taken time to think about it and here’s all the thoughts that came up or it can be I’ve noticed something else or someone else has asked me a question or I’m just having a really rough day, something has happened and usually if it is causing us to lean towards safety and not make a logical choice or a growth decision and it’s pushing us towards a poorer choice or a less efficient or effective choice.

One of two things are at play. One is fear. We are worried about something and we’re worried about what that something might lead us to. If we do it this way and someone else stuffs it up, is my business going to go down in flames? I’m scared. If I let someone else do it, they’re not going to do it the same way as me and then my business is going to go down in flames.

If something is posted at the wrong time, it’s going to damage my brand and my reputation and my business is going to go down in flames. We start all of these little cycles in our brain that lead to something big and scary. And if we’re feeling that, more often than not, we’re not rationalising it. We’re feeling it, we’re trying to find a quick solution to fix it, and we’re moving forward.

Where there’s not fear, there’s lack of knowledge. We can come up with brilliant ideas, solutions, abstract thoughts, innovative ways to do something as OBMs. But sometimes we miss filling in our clients on why we made that decision and what that looks like for them.

So they walk away and then they start to think about all the what-if scenarios.
Or the, no, we’ve always done it this way. Why should we change that? Why? I’m confident with the way we’ve done it. I can get in myself and I can do it. I know what that looks like. It feels safe. It feels familiar. So why would we change it? You’re an OBM. If you’ve made decisions, Or you’re suggesting a different way to do something, there’s a reason behind that.

I know that and we need to help our clients understand the reasoning. To do that, we need to give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts. So that we can answer them just as they need them. The things that pop up and they think and feel. We need to support them through that. So as part of all of this, we’re trying to work out where the wobble happened, and you need to be able to open a conversation and have the discussion to find that out so you can help fix it.

Tip💡: Get as much information as you can from your client.

Open a productive conversation

When you’ve an open conversation with your client, you need to tread carefully. Be gentle and be tactful with the aim of acknowledging the elephant in the room, the emotion. This is the bit that we shy away from. We don’t explain to our clients, Hey, you might be thinking or feeling this way, or we’re going to do this. And this is what a lot of my clients experience when I’m doing it, that’s normal.

Hey, are you making this decision because you’re worried about something? Because what it looks like to me is that we might be feeling unsure, or we might be forgetting why we wanted to change this in the first place. Acknowledge the emotions, name them, normalise them, bring them into the conversation.

We’re making the big scary things less scary.

All with the aim of getting our clients the impact and outcome that they really want and our role isn’t always practical. It’s not always to come up with the solution that is a process. It’s to help them make choices that will lead to the outcome and impact they want. It’s helping them see their thought process And assisting them on finding a way that feels easier.That’s part of our job.

Remember, no one likes getting told their idea isn’t any good. So we don’t ever want to do that. What we want to do is explore the reasoning for why we would do it that way or not do it. There are always 14 different ways to do something and sometimes the only difference is preference, and that’s okay.

Tip💡: Be gentle and be tactful with the aim of acknowledging the elephant in the room (the emotion).

 

Consider the options and present them

 

When the difference is efficiency, or effectiveness, or it’s going to mean different results, we need to get comfortable with discussing options, in a non threatening manner.

As you wear your tact, you need to listen to what your clients are saying, understand what’s happening underneath, and what the driving thoughts and feelings are for what you’re looking at, and then consider what options you have. What options can you see and present them? Carefully think about each of the options that have been discussed.

Then talk to your client about the pros of each one and the cons of each one. What could the positive impact of doing it this way be? What does it mean? That could be I’m used to doing it that way, so it’s easy. There’s no learning curve. Awesome. What could the possible consequence be?

I’m going to stay where I’ve always been. Because if I keep doing the same thing, nothing’s going to grow. I’m going to get the same result. Okay. And what if we look at a different option? One of the cons is I don’t know how that plays out. I’ve not done it before. I can’t see how it would work and then one of the pros could be, it means that we’re going to be able to achieve our goal faster because the process is more streamlined and it’s going to save us an hour every time we do it.

We’re building the reasons why we should take this step of bravery and we’re looking at it from a point that includes our thoughts and feelings and how easy it is for us to adopt new ideas or how hard. Then we get to make a decision that does cover all the parameters. We’re helping frame things in a way that goes back to the outcome our clients want, but considers the journey of getting there and lays it out in an easy to discuss manner. So once you’ve done that, you’ve put out all the options on the table.

Tip💡: Put out all the options on the table to discuss strategically.

Collaborate on a solution

Once we’ve got really good discussions. I want you to tackle your own alarm.

If you feel strongly about something, a certain way to do something, whether or not we should choose path A or path B, there’s a reason for that and you need to know what the reason is. So if you’re having a reaction that says, no, no, no, we can’t go back to what we were doing, or no, please don’t pick that way. We need to pick the other way. You need to work that out within you and you need to think about, okay, why is it? My guess is because you’re invested and that means you care about the outcome. So your knowledge that you’ve got, your experience that you’ve had. We’ll kick in and say, no, that’s a bad idea.

That’s a bad idea. We can’t do that. That’s going to ruin everything, but it doesn’t kick in and say why. So we need to dig into that a little bit more. Then we need to explain that to our clients. I’m really invested in the results that you’re going to get. I’m concerned that if we do it the way we’ve done it before, these are the things we’re going to experience.

You’re going to end up burnt out again. You’re going to have too much to do. You’re not going to be able to launch the new thing that you want to launch. And that’s all you’ve talked about for six months. And we’re jeopardising it because we don’t want to change. Be honest and be truthful. Explain why it matters and why it matters to you and why you’re even bringing it up.

Make your recommendation or suggest a new  pathway. You might go back to what you’d already planned or you might say, based on this conversation, maybe we could do it this way and come up with a whole new approach. But you have to set the scene first. You have to give them the opportunity to think and you have to show your reasoning and your investment in a way that’s not scary and that’s honest.

After you have given the oportunity to think to your client, you want to reinforce a collaborative approach. To do that, you go back to your client and you say, based on this conversation, what do you feel more comfortable with? What are you happy to do? Do you want to go this way or do you want to go this way? Or, do you want to have another chat in a few days, once you’ve processed a bit more, and see what we can come up with together.

We’re giving them options that aren’t by default to go back to the way that things have always been. We’re giving them opportunities to create safety with knowledge. Plans that will help them grow at the same time.

Be happy and content no matter what the outcome is.

When we’re dealing with anything that is big and scary as people, we need to be ready to take the steps to change them and sometimes even if we understand the logic, we’re still too scared to do it. If we’re not in that right place, That’s okay. If now is not the time, that’s okay. We can do our best to help our clients through this and we can give them a glimpse into the mindset and the emotions and how other people have tackled those things.

But if they’re not ready to take on a new way or try a new thing, It’s not going to work anyway. They have to be on board. And so if they choose, no, I need to go back to the way I’ve been doing it. That’s what makes sense for me. It’s okay. No worries. And then we park it, and we look at it again in a few months time.

That’s your job. It needs to be done in the right way, and in the right time. And it’s okay. It’s okay to not need to catapult forwards all the time. It’s doing the right things in the right timing. And so you need to be secure enough to know that it wasn’t your approach that was wrong and it wasn’t their idea that was wrong.

We’re dealing with people and emotions and big, scary things, especially when there’s change. And it’s okay. It’s not one idea is good and one is bad, but we do need to do the journey with our clients. And we need to support them, even if it goes against what we think. As long as we’ve voiced our concern, we’ve given them options, we’ve done everything that we can to positively support them, you’ve done your job.

Tip💡:  Be happy and content no matter what the outcome is..

And… that’s a wrap!

Your job isn’t to fully overwhelm your clients or intimidate them. Be in their corner and be okay with that.

So I hope that this has given you a little bit of a framework to work towards when you’re dealing with clients who are trying to make choices.

Sometimes they’re a bit wobbly or they’re making what you just think is the wrong one.

Especially if you’ve got that alarm going off in you that’s saying, this is a bad idea. We’re going to go back to square one. This framework is how you can tackle it with your clients. Generally, you get a pretty amazing outcome from it. I hope you found this helpful, if you want to get more check out OBM Academy. Don’t forget, leave me a five star review if you enjoyed this episode.

Send me a DM to start a conversation.  Tell me how you’ve handled it. I’d love to know.

Want more OBM tips & tricks leads?

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Follow along with the transcript

E41 Well, that’s a terrible idea: How to lead clients into making well-informed, future focused decisions.

Leanne Woff:[00:00:00] Hey, hey, hey, lovely. Today’s episode is all about terrible ideas. [00:01:00] No, it’s not really, but it’s called, well, that’s a terrible idea: how to lead clients into making well informed, future focused decisions. Let me tell you a little story. I know you love stories.

My team and I have been working with some clients and there’s this phenomenon that we see. And it happens all the time, really. And it’s a bit of a flip flop. And I want to dive in with you to look at why this flip flop happens. What’s with the wobble? My team and I spend a lot of time overhauling systems, processes, creating more efficient ways to do things, thinking outside of the box, extrapolating things out and then pulling them all back into a condensed machine way of operating.

And when we’re looking at overhauling [00:02:00] anything in a business, that means change. And can I tell you, humans don’t like change. Generally, that’s the way it goes, because it feels uncomfortable and it tells us that we’re not safe. So we’re working with the client. We’ve improved one of their core systems in their business.

We’ve presented it. We’ve walked them through in detail and they have raved. On the call, they’re saying this is amazing. We’ve never seen anything like it. How cool is this? Fantastic. So from this point, usually we would go on to then integrate that system into the business. Get the team to know what the new way of working is or what the new process is, make sure they’re confident and keep this business growing.

 But, a few days later, the client comes back. We’re not feeling [00:03:00] confident and excited anymore, team. We’ve had a bit of a wobble, and now we’re a little bit worried about all these new things, this new way of doing it.

We had two options. The first is to go, not a problem. That’s totally okay. We’ll just change it all back. No harm done. We’re here to help you. And if you’re not comfy, we’re in your corner. Or there’s option two. And that is, let’s think about what’s really going on here and lead. In one way, we’re operating in a manner that is of service and support and considering the safety of our clients and the way they’re feeling and protecting that.

The [00:04:00] second is leading and trying to understand. at a higher level what’s really going on. Because there was a reason we decided to change things, and that reason would have been valid and important or we wouldn’t have made the choice to go down this pathway of change. So is it really fair on our clients if when they have a little bit of a wobble for whatever reason, we just say, yep, no worries, if that’s what you want to do, cool, cool. I don’t think it is, because they’re not seeing it clearly right now. At one point they were, at one point they saw that something needed to change. And whatever drove that was big enough for them to [00:05:00] go, even though I don’t like change or this might look different, I’m happy to do it. But in the moment then we’ve done a wobble. We need to be able to reflect that back. And we need to be able to help them explore this.

That’s your job. You are being of service when you’re able to bring the outcome back to the forefront of the conversation and say, Hey, I recognise that this might not be easy, or I recognise that previously we really wanted to change this so that we could achieve X, but now we seem to be saying something different.

Is there a reason we’ve changed our thought process? And open a conversation to talk about it and make sure we’re [00:06:00] still working towards our goals. Regardless of how we feel right now, we need to look at the bigger picture and re-evaluate if it’s worth listening to this feeling or rationalising that feeling.

So I’m going to explain how you can do this. The first step is to dig deeper, and you’ll hear me say this all the time. Dig deeper, always. Get as much information as you can. People don’t just change their minds with no thought process or no incident that’s happened. If we have gone from, woohoo, this is awesome, to, oh, this is a real bad idea, or I want to run away, or I’m scared now. Something has happened and it can just be I’ve taken time to think about it and here’s all the thoughts that came up [00:07:00] or it can be I’ve noticed something else or someone else has asked me a question or I’m just having a really rough day, something has happened and usually if it is causing us to lean towards safety and not make a logical choice or a growth decision and it’s pushing us towards a poorer choice or a less efficient or effective choice.

One of two things are at play. One is fear. We are worried about something and we’re worried about what that something might lead us to. If we do it this way and someone else stuffs it up, is my business going to go down in flames? I’m scared. If I let someone else do it, they’re not [00:08:00] going to do it the same way as me and then my business is going to go down in flames.

If something is posted at the wrong time, It’s going to damage my brand and my reputation and my business is going to go down in flames. We start all of these little cycles in our brain that lead to something big and scary. And if we’re feeling that, more often than not, we’re not rationalising it. We’re feeling it, we’re trying to find a quick solution to fix it, and we’re moving forward.

And where there’s not fear, there’s lack of knowledge. We can come up with brilliant ideas, solutions, abstract thoughts, innovative ways to do something as OBMs. But sometimes we miss filling in our clients on why we [00:09:00] made that decision and what that looks like for them. And so they walk away and then they start to think about all the what-if scenarios.

Or the, no, we’ve always done it this way. Why should we change that? Why? I’m confident with the way we’ve done it. I can get in myself and I can do it. I know what that looks like. It feels safe. It feels familiar. So why would we change it? You’re an OBM. If you’ve made decisions, Or you’re suggesting a different way to do something, there’s a reason behind that.

I know that. And we need to help our clients understand the reasoning. To do that, we need to give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts. So that we can answer them just as they need them. The things that pop up and they think and feel. We need to support them through that. So as part of all of this, we’re trying to [00:10:00] work out where the wobble happened, and you need to be able to open a conversation and have the discussion to find that out so you can help fix it.

When you’re doing this, you need to tread carefully. Be gentle and be tactful with the aim of acknowledging the elephant in the room, the emotion. This is the bit that we shy away from. We don’t explain to our clients, Hey, you might be thinking or feeling this way, or we’re going to do this. And this is what a lot of my clients experience when I’m doing it.

And that’s normal. Hey, are you making this decision because you’re worried about something? Because what it looks like to me is that we might be feeling unsure, or we might be forgetting why [00:11:00] we wanted to change this in the first place. Acknowledge the emotions, name them, normalise them, bring them into the conversation.

We’re making the big scary things less scary.

All with the aim of getting our clients the impact and outcome that they really want. And our role isn’t always practical. It’s not always to come up with the solution that is a process. It’s to help them make choices that will lead to the outcome and impact they want. It’s helping them see their thought process And assisting them on finding a way that feels easier.

That’s part of our job.

And remember, no one likes getting [00:12:00] told their idea isn’t any good. So we don’t ever want to do that. What we want to do is explore the reasoning for why we would do it that way or not do it. There are always 14 different ways to do something. And sometimes the only difference is preference, and that’s okay.

But, when the difference is efficiency, or effectiveness, or it’s going to mean different results, we need to get comfortable with discussing options, in a non threatening manner.

As you wear your tact, you need to listen to what your clients are saying, understand what’s happening underneath, and what the driving thoughts and feelings are for what you’re looking at, and then consider what options you have. What options [00:13:00] can you see and present them? Carefully think about each of the options that have been discussed.

And then talk to your client about the pros of each one and the cons of each one. What could the positive impact of doing it this way be? What does it mean? And that could be I’m used to doing it that way, so it’s easy. There’s no learning curve. Awesome. And what could the possible consequence be?

I’m going to stay where I’ve always been. Because if I keep doing the same thing, nothing’s going to grow. I’m going to get the same result. Okay. And what if we look at a different option? One of the cons is I don’t know how that plays out. I’ve not done it before. I can’t see how it would work. And then one of the pros could be, it means that we’re going to [00:14:00] be able to achieve our goal faster because the process is more streamlined and it’s going to save us an hour every time we do it.

We’re building the reasons why we should take this step of bravery and we’re looking at it from a point that includes our thoughts and feelings and how easy it is for us to adopt new ideas or how hard. Then we get to make a decision that does cover all the parameters. We’re helping frame things in a way that goes back to the outcome our clients want, but considers the journey of getting there and lays it out in an easy to discuss manner. So once you’ve done that, you’ve put out all the options on the table. [00:15:00] We’ve got really good discussions. I want you to tackle your own alarm.

If you feel strongly about something, a certain way to do something, whether or not we should choose path A or path B, there’s a reason for that. And you need to know what the reason is. So if you’re having a reaction that says, no, no, no, we can’t go back to what we were doing, or no, please don’t pick that way.

We need to pick the other way. You need to work that out within you and you need to think about, okay, why is it? My guess is because you’re invested and that means you care about the outcome. So your knowledge that you’ve got, your experience that you’ve had. We’ll kick in and say, no, that’s a bad idea.

That’s a bad idea. We can’t do that. That’s going to ruin [00:16:00] everything, but it doesn’t kick in and say why. So we need to dig into that a little bit more. And then we need to explain that to our clients. I’m really invested in the results that you’re going to get. And I’m concerned that if we do it the way we’ve done it before, these are the things we’re going to experience.

You’re going to end up burnt out again. You’re going to have too much to do. You’re not going to be able to launch the new thing that you want to launch. And that’s all you’ve talked about for six months. And we’re jeopardising it because we don’t want to change. Be honest and be truthful. Explain why it matters and why it matters to you and why you’re even bringing it up.

Then make your recommendation or suggest a new [00:17:00] pathway. You might go back to what you’d already planned or you might say, based on this conversation, maybe we could do it this way and come up with a whole new approach. But you have to set the scene first. You have to give them the opportunity to think and you have to show your reasoning and your investment in a way that’s not scary and that’s honest.

Then you want to reinforce a collaborative approach. To do that, you go back to your client and you say, based on this conversation, what do you feel more comfortable with? What are you happy to do? Do you want to go this way or do you want to go this way? Or, do you want to have another chat in a few days, once you’ve processed a bit more, and see what we can come up with [00:18:00] together.

We’re giving them options that aren’t by default to go back to the way that things have always been. We’re giving them opportunities to create safety with knowledge. Plans that will help them grow at the same time. And then the final thing is you need to be happy and content no matter what the outcome is.

When we’re dealing with anything that is big and scary as people, we need to be ready to take the steps to change them. And sometimes even if we understand the logic, we’re still too scared to do it. And if we’re not in that right place, That’s okay. If now is not the time, that’s okay. We can do our best to help our clients through this and we can give them a glimpse [00:19:00] into the mindset and the emotions and how other people have tackled those things.

But if they’re not ready to take on a new way or try a new thing, It’s not going to work anyway. They have to be on board. And so if they choose, No, I need to go back to the way I’ve been doing it. That’s what makes sense for me. It’s okay. No worries. And then we park it, and we look at it again in a few months time.

That’s your job. It needs to be done in the right way, and in the right time. And it’s okay. It’s okay to not need to catapult forwards all the time. It’s doing the right things in the right timing. And so you need to be secure enough to know that it wasn’t your approach that was wrong [00:20:00] and it wasn’t their idea that was wrong.

We’re dealing with people and emotions and big, scary things, especially when there’s change. And it’s okay. It’s not one idea is good and one is bad, but we do need to do the journey with our clients. And we need to support them, even if it goes against what we think. As long as we’ve voiced our concern, we’ve given them options, we’ve done everything that we can to positively support them, you’ve done your job.

Your job isn’t to fully overwhelm them or intimidate them. Be in their corner and be okay with that. So I hope that this has given you a little bit of a framework to work towards when you’re dealing with clients who are trying to make choices. And sometimes they’re a bit wobbly or they’re making what you just think is [00:21:00] the wrong one.

And especially if you’ve got that alarm going off in you that’s saying, this is a bad idea. We’re going to go back to square one. This framework is how you can tackle it with your clients. Generally, you get a pretty amazing outcome from it. I hope you found this helpful. Don’t forget, leave me a five star review if you enjoyed this episode.

Send me a DM and tell me if you’ve experienced situations like this. Tell me how you’ve handled it. I’d love to know. I’ll see you next week guys. [00:22:00] 

How much does an Online Business Manager charge?

How much does an Online Business Manager charge?

How much does an Online Business Manager charge? A question I get asked all the time.

I know, it’s all scary sounding. Mostly, because every time you ask someone that question. They don’t answer you. They give you a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo, or, there’s so many variables, but you never get a clear answer.

This means our industry suffers because a lot of us start with guessing and we guess too low. Then our clients or audience start to assume Online Business Managers should be cheap or cheaper than what we should be charging.

Let me give you my thoughts on how much an Online Business Manager can charge. This is my perspective. I know that people will charge more. I know that people will charge less. But I’m going to explain what my reasoning is and hopefully it will give you a solid starting point, and it will boost your pricing confidence, which really is the secret to good pricing.

PS Want to convert more leads for your OBM Business?

I’ve got just the resource for you.

Embark on your path to becoming a six-figure Online Business Manager with my FREE roadmap. Gain insights into key strategies, and build the confidence needed to align your prices with the value you bring. 

 

This episode shares:  

  • How much should you charge as an Online Business Manager: The right value for an OBM
  • Figuring out what feels right for you: The sweet spot where you’re not undervaluing yourself but you’re also competitive.
  • The cold hard facts: The expenses faced by the business.
  • Sneak peek: You’re worth more than you think
  • The magic of packages: Showcase the full range of value you bring.
  • The damage undercharging does: Charging what you’re worth, you’re not just helping yourself, you’re helping the whole OBM game level up.

How much should you charge as an Online Business Manager?

When we are talking about our price and what we can charge, there are two core questions, the first one is:

1. How much do you want to charge?

It sounds a little bit like, I want to know how much I should charge, but you’re asking me how much I want to. That’s not exactly what I came for. But it’s important because you need to know what feels good for you. Otherwise, you’ll eventually close your business. Doesn’t matter how good you are. If you feel like you’re working hard for nothing, that’s not a very good business model. So my question is, based on what you do now, what feels like you’re taking advantage of yourself? What feels like a good rate? What feels like it would be intimidating or too much? Just get a gauge on where you are right now and then do the same thing, but think about it in two years.

Tip💡: You need to know what feels good for your business to make sure you’re charging the right fee.

Figuring out what feels right for you 

This is the second core question:

2. What do you need to charge?

Your business has expenses, your brain has expenses, your life has expenses. All of these things factor into how much you charge. You need to understand what those factors are and consider them when setting your price, especially because it will change how you answer question one.

If all of a sudden you knew that it costs you 476 an hour to run your business and you’re charging a $100 an hour, it’s not feasible from the get-go. Every single second you spend working, you’re going to feel like I am losing money, this is not good. But without any context, it makes it harder for you. You have no baseline, not even at the bare minimum.

Now I know you’re not going to have costs of 476 an hour. You get what I mean. You need to at least know  because it helps us rationalise.

I want to give you some perspective. So before I go through and I give you another figure, I want to give you something to hold on to. I did a super quick Google to my friend Glassdoor, and I looked up how much an operations manager earns a year in Australia. The answer is on average, so this wasn’t the lowest amount. It wasn’t the biggest amount, it was the average amount, $144,000 a year for ops. Now that’s for a full-time person. When we’re looking at pricing, we’re not looking at how much we’re putting into our pocket.

So this number is that pocket number, but it also is the amount that your clients or potential clients could go and pay for someone like you in an employed role. Now let’s break that down a little bit so it’s more tangible.

If we were to say work part-time, it was, one and a bit days a week. When we break that 144k down, that works out to be about $3,000 a month for one and a bit days a week. If you’re an operations manager, if you’re an Online Business Manager doing operations, that one and a bit days is going to give you the ability to do that job successfully, dependent on the client.

At bare minimum, an employee is getting paid $3,000 to do that and they’re an employee. The reason I keep saying that is because it is easier to be an employee than it is to be a business owner. There are fewer factors to consider. When looking at wages and how much you’re willing to work for, the price you give a client to say, this is how much it will cost to work with me is not the money that goes into your pocket.

It is the amount that all of the expenses and the money that’s meant to go into your pocket come from. So in this scenario, the $3,000 a month is already too cheap because of business, but also. It doesn’t factor in how much we get paid. How much do you want to get paid? So there’s just some perspective for you, it can help too if you’re, willing yourself to talk to someone about pricing or tell a potential lead how much it is to work with you. You’ve got an anchor. Use it as an anchor. Well, that’s okay. If you think that it is too expensive to work with me right now, it’s not in your budget, that’s totally fine.

You have other options. You can go and hire a full-time Ops Manager for $144,000 a year if that works better for you. Or, you can pay me a fraction of that because I’m not going to be full-time. Plus, I have the benefit of having more experience and more versatility. You don’t have to pay me super or tax. The list goes on. So now you’ve got a baseline.

When we are setting our price, these are the things that we then have to add on top. So let’s say, as an online business manager, you wanted to earn $144,000 a year. You have to work out your rate based of $144,000 plus insurance, now this can be a big one.

There are so many different types of insurance now such as public liability, professional indemnity and cyber insurance. Everyone needs insurance, particularly because a lot of subcontractors if you want to work as a subcontractor, the people that you are working for will ask you for your insurance details. And that is because insurance companies, more often than not, have a little thing on their form.

So that when the business goes there and says, yes, I want insurance. They have, do you use subcontractors? Do you require them to have their own insurance? It’s a factor that matters. So even if you’re subbing, you still need insurance. It’s a cost. Then there’s marketing. Well, if you’re going to run a business, you have to be able to promote it.

Whether that’s in time or money or learning how to market, there’s skill development. You cannot stay stagnant with what you know. We are online business managers and the land of online evolves too quickly. If you stop learning, you will stay stuck. Tech upgrades are a big one that I just want to cement in because we don’t have a ton of overheads as OBMs

Tip💡: Set your baseline to define your fees.

 

The cold hard facts

 

We don’t have to pay rent. We don’t have to pay for electricity. We don’t have to pay for building insurance. A lot of these things we don’t experience as OBMs and other businesses do, but we also seem to get very shocked when we need to consistently upgrade our computers and our laptops and our webcams.

That baffles me a bit because it is our overhead. Your tech is the biggest thing that you use to actually connect with your clients and do your job. So build in the fact that you’re going to need to upgrade it regularly. That should be considered in your price. So it’s not a sting or a shock when then you go, Oh no, now I’ve got to come up with a few thousand dollars to do this.

If it’s built into your price already, you’ll have the money. There’s registrations, business registrations and certifications. Then there’s other fun things like super, tax. The uh-oh factor. So what if the economy takes a dive? If the economy dives tomorrow, you want to make sure you have the ability to survive that.

That only comes with building a buffer and a buffer only comes if your price is higher. What if the cost of living rises? You have to factor that into your price. What if you want to grow your business? You have to factor that into your price. All these things cost money. So when you are saying this is how much it costs to work with me, remember that here’s a big list of things that go into that cost.

It is not how much money goes into your pocket and the reason I keep saying that is because as OBMs we tend to struggle with that difference.

We feel like we’re telling people you’re paying this much just for me to sit and type and do my brain thinking behind this computer. It’s not true. So we need to cut that tie or we will forever undercharge.

Another thing that matters is location. Everything I am talking about today is based on Australia. I live in Australia, I understand the Australian market, and I know that it’s different in other places in the world. A lot of these principles you’ll still be able to apply, but the figures might not quite be there.

 

Tip💡: Build in the fact that you’re going to need to upgrade your tech, which is the biggest thing that you use to connect with your clients and do your job.

Sneak peek

More perspective. How much can an Online Business Manager charge?

Five years ago I decided to put my Online Business Manager cap on and offer that as a service. I charged $70 an hour. That was five years ago. That was when I started. So I had been in the VA industry for a few years. I knew what I was doing. Highly skilled person.

I knew how to run a business. When I started offering online business management services, I charged $70 an hour. We’re five years ahead now. So now in that same circumstance, I would want to be charging $90 an hour, $100 an hour. Five years is a long time, and that was without the experience I now have.

So I want to give you that context. That’s the number I’m giving you to hold on to. If you’re charging $50 an hour in Australia and you’re an OBM, it’s too cheap. If you’re charging $100 an hour in Australia, calling yourself an online business manager, but not doing that role, you shouldn’t be charging anything.

Go and work out how much it is to charge for your role. But as that starting point, if you’ve got some experience. You know what you’re doing, you are capable, then 90 to 100 dollars an hour is not a lot. If you know that right now you’re not charging that much, and you should be, or you could be, it’s okay.

Do what you need to do to take steps to increase your price. You don’t have to do it overnight. You can. I know I did at one point in my business. I went from charging two grand a month to four grand a month to people, but I understand that pricing can be scary. So if you’re in the under charging bucket, which generally the majority of us are, put some steps in place to increase your price, knowing that five years ago it was $70 an hour.

Tip💡: Do what you need to do to take steps to increase your price.

 

The magic of packages

 

If you’re an OBM and you package your services, you will earn more and I’m going to explain why.

As Online Business Managers, we squirm when it comes to talking about money. I have worked with a lot of OBMs now and in OBM Academy with my clients in there and it’s the same thing. We all struggle with the money conversation. We all struggle with splitting out our worth from the amount we charge and that’s okay.

But, if that’s you, let’s stop working against that and start working with it. If you know that when it comes to saying your price or your hourly rate, your belly does flip flops and you don’t want to or you have a panic attack, stop saying it. To make hourly pricing work as an OBM, where you actually get the balanced value, you need a massive hourly rate.

It needs to be high. To be able to pull that off, you got to be able to confidently say what that hourly rate is. Confidently enough to be able to sell it and explain it. Now my gut feel is you probably don’t want to do that. If we’re working with the fact that yeah, we wobble a little bit around price and money, we’re working on it, we’re getting better, move away from the hourly rate.

Because that’s just going to bring more wobbles. When we come to packaging, it gives us different options. If I say to someone, my hourly rate is $100 an hour, and I’ll be your OBM. And they take that, and they compare me with somebody else, who charges $70 an hour to be an OBM. All they have to compare in these two cases is that dollar figure.

$70 an hour, $90 an hour. Well, let’s go with the $70 one and see how that goes. That’s all we’re giving them to compare us with. And if you’re like me, you do not like getting compared based on price alone. Especially when they don’t have a full picture. 

If we put the effort into creating packages, all of a sudden, we have more pieces to play with when it comes to comparison.

In a package, you will have all of the inclusions, and you have to spend time thinking about those inclusions, coming up with them, and listing them out in a way that makes sense. Now when you quote how much it’s going to cost to work with you, you have a list of things to give that person. It’s going to cost you a thousand dollars to do this.

Here’s why. Here are the ten things that are included in that and then you add in the conversations around your experience. You add in things like turnaround time. In phase one and phase two, you give more context and packages need that. So they take more work upfront and we invest more work upfront.

We put a bigger dollar figure on it, but it’s easier to anchor that price because it’s easier to explain what someone’s getting for it. Whereas when we just say an hourly rate. We can’t really explain, that means I’m going to do these four things. It makes it harder to compare things when you do packages, because majority of people don’t have packages that are exactly the same.

Therefore, clients start looking at other things, like what is it that they actually need? Does this person have that included in a package, or does this person? Cost is one thing, but they start to rationalise a little bit more. That might seem a bit cheaper, but this one has twice as many things, so maybe I’ll do that.

This person seems to have really good knowledge around the area, they’re including strategy, I’m happy to pay a higher price for that package. We’re not just looking at dollar for dollar without any context.

So that’s why I always encourage my OBM clients to move with packaging. I think that you’ll end up with more value once you get into the groove of doing it.

What’s fair and what’s not

I was chatting with one of my clients in OBM Academy this week, and they were talking about this epic client journey that they created for one of their customers.

They were telling me what was involved. When they said it, they said, I created a client journey. We went through the client journey. When I listened, they didn’t just go through the client journey. There was like 10 different services involved in going through that client journey. This is this big, big piece of work.

My client had thought about things that other people wouldn’t have thought about. This was an incredible job, an incredible effort, and well considered. And then I told my client how much I would have charged if I was doing that service for someone and I watched their face change. Then I told them how much a marketing consultant would have charged to do what they had just done and more face changes, because my client had charged such a tiny fraction of that because they didn’t see what they’d done. Getting that level of knowledge, experience and understanding at a low hourly rate that customer got a huge bargain, and my OBM client had no idea. This is the pattern that we want to stop.

When you package things properly, you can stop this, because then, at the beginning, you start thinking about the scope. You start thinking about what’s included. You start communicating that. When you go with Ali, you just go, oh yeah, I’ll try this and I’ll try that, and maybe we’ll do this. And this is one example of how that can eventuate.

You would have just lost out on thousands and thousands of dollars. That’s the level we’re talking about. So you have choices either up that hourly rate or get some packages happening.

Tip💡:  Package things properly and start thinking about the scope.

The damage undercharging does

 

What happens when we undercharge? Lots of businesses don’t survive, purely because people undercharge. And when you’re an online business manager, and you undercharge, even by $10 an hour, $20 an hour, you ruin the whole industry. And it is because of that, that each time I’ve increased my prices, I’ve had a little bit more confidence.

Because I know it’s the right thing to do for everybody else that’s in my boat. 

Sometimes I can’t do things for me, but I can do them for other people. And I know that when we undercharge, we reinforce this idea that all of our work experience isn’t that valuable. All of our life experience isn’t that valuable.

Tip💡:  Charge accordingly and make the life experience valuable.

And… that’s a wrap!

Our unique ability and skill aren’t that valuable. Our capability and our way of being when under pressure isn’t valuable. Because if you have all those things and you’re charging less, and then someone next to you also has those things and is charging far more, someone’s going to start looking for why.

The only why is they were brave enough to charge that much and you weren’t yet. You didn’t know yet. You hadn’t taken the steps you needed to take yet, or you hadn’t factored in all the things that really come with a price. If you are going to be an OBM or continue being an OBM first, you need to have the skill and confidence to own the role, and you need to charge the price to back it up.

That is what I’m going to leave you with. If pricing is something that you struggle with or you’re trying to get your head around or you’re trying to find just the next step with, check out OBM Academy. We focus a lot on pricing and I walk you through profitable pricing strategies so that you don’t stay in this cycle of working too hard and getting underpaid.

Or if you want to dip your toe in packaging, I have a masterclass that is for sale it comes with a template and I walk you through how to create powerful packages so you can move away from hourly if that’s what you’re interested in.

Send me a DM to start a conversation. Tell me what your biggest pricing struggle is. I want to hear from you. 

 

 

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Follow along with the transcript

E40 How much does an Online Business Manager charge?

Leanne Woff:Hello, hello, hello. How are you guys? Today we are talking about one of [00:01:00] my favorite things. Money. A question I get asked all the time. How much does an online business manager charge? Dun, dun, dun. I know, it’s all scary sounding. Mostly because every time you ask someone that question. They don’t answer you.

They give you a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo, or, there’s so many variables, but you never get a clear answer. What that means is that our industry suffers because a lot of us start with guessing and we guess too low. And then. Our clients or audience start to assume that online business managers should be cheap or cheaper than what we should be charging.

 Today, [00:02:00] I’m going to give you my thoughts on how much an online business manager can charge. This is my perspective. I know that people will charge more. I know that people will charge less. But I’m going to explain what my reasoning is. And hopefully, if you’re listening to this, it will give you a really solid starting point, and it will boost your pricing confidence, which really is the secret to good pricing.

Alright, so first thing, when we are talking about our price and what we can charge, there are two core questions. The first one. How much do you want to charge? I know it sounds a little bit like, I want to know how much I should charge, but you’re asking me how much I want to. That’s not exactly what I came for.

But it’s important, because you get a say. And you need to know what [00:03:00] feels good for you. Otherwise, you’ll eventually close your business. Doesn’t matter how good you are. If you feel like you’re working hard for nothing, that’s not a very good business model. So my question is, based on what you do now, what feels like you’re taking advantage of yourself?

What feels like a good rate? What feels like it would be intimidating or too much? Just get a gauge on where you are right now. And then do the same thing, but think about in two years time.

Then, the second core question,

what do you need to charge? Because your business has expenses, your brain has expenses, your life has expenses. All of these things factor into how [00:04:00] much you charge. And you need to understand what those factors are. And you need to consider them when setting your price

especially because it will change how you answer question one.

If all of a sudden you knew that it costs you 476

an hour to run your business and you’re charging a hundred dollars an hour, it’s not feasible from the get go. Every single second that you spend working, you’re going to feel like I am losing money, this is not good. But without any context, it makes it harder for you. You have no baseline, not even at the bare minimum.

Now I know that you’re not going to have costs of 476 an hour. You get what I mean. You need to at least know [00:05:00] because it helps us rationalise.

I want to give you some perspective. So before I go through and I give you another figure, I want to give you something to hold on to. Now I did a super quick Google to my friend Glassdoor, and I looked up how much an operations manager earns a year in Australia. The answer is on average, so this wasn’t the lowest amount.

It wasn’t the biggest amount, it was the average amount, $144,000 a year

for ops. Now that’s for a full time person. And when we’re looking at pricing, we’re not looking at how much we’re putting into our pocket. So this number is that pocket number, but it also is the [00:06:00] amount that your clients or potential clients could go and pay for someone like you in an employed role. Now let’s break that down a little bit so it’s more tangible.

If we were to say work part time, and it was, one and a bit days a week. When we break that 144k down, that works out to be about $3,000 a month for one and a bit days a week. If you’re an operations manager, if you’re an online business manager doing operations, that one and a bit days is going to give you the ability to do that job successfully, dependent on the client. At bare minimum, an employee is getting paid $3,000 to do that. And they’re an employee. And the reason I keep saying that is because it is easier to be an employee than it is to be a business owner. There are [00:07:00] less factors to consider. When looking at wages and how much you’re willing to work for, the price that you give a client to say, this is how much it will cost to work with me is not the money that goes in your pocket.

It is the amount that all of the expenses and the money that’s meant to go into your pocket comes from. So in this scenario, the $3,000 a month is already too cheap because business, but also. It doesn’t factor in how much we get paid. How much do you want to get paid? So there’s just some perspective for you.

And it can help too if you’re, willing yourself to talk to someone about pricing or tell a potential lead how much it is to work with you. You’ve got an anchor. Use it as an [00:08:00] anchor. Well, that’s okay. If you think that it is too expensive to work with me right now, it’s not in your budget, that’s totally fine.

You have other options. You can go and hire a full time Ops Manager for $144,000 a year if that works better for you. Or, you can pay me a fraction of that because I’m not going to be full time. Plus, I have the benefit of having more experience and more versatile. You don’t have to pay me super. You don’t have to pay me tax.

The list goes on. So now you’ve got a baseline.

When we are setting our price, these are the things that we then have to add in on top. So let’s say, as an online business manager, you wanted to earn $144,000 a year. You have to work out your rate based o$144,000 [00:09:00] plus insurance, now this can be a big one. There’s so many different types of insurances now.

Public liability, professional indemnity, cyber insurance. And everyone needs insurance, particularly because a lot of subcontractors, if you want to work as a subbie, the people that you are working for will ask you for your insurance details. And that is because insurance companies, more often than not, have a little thing on their form.

So that when the business goes there and says, yes, I want insurance. They have, do you use subcontractors? Do you require them to have their own insurance? It’s a factor that matters. So even if you’re subbing, you still need insurance. It’s a cost. Then there’s marketing. Well, if you’re going to run a business, you have to be able to promote it.

Whether that’s in [00:10:00] time or money or learning how to market, there’s skill development. You cannot stay stagnant with what you know. We are online business managers and the land of online evolves too quickly. If you stop learning, you will stay stuck. Tech upgrades. This is a big one that I just want to cement in because we don’t have a ton of overheads as OBMs.

*3*We don’t have to pay rent. We don’t have to pay for electricity. We don’t have to pay for building insurance. A lot of these things we don’t experience as OBMs and other businesses do, but we also seem to get very shocked when we need to consistently upgrade our computers and our laptops and our webcams.

And that baffles me a bit because it is [00:11:00] our overhead. Your tech is the biggest thing that you use to actually connect with your clients and do your job. So build in the fact that you’re going to need to upgrade it regularly. That should be considered in your price. So it’s not a sting or a shock when then you go, Oh no, now I’ve got to come up with a few thousand dollars to do this.

If it’s built into your price already, you’ll have the money. There’s registrations, business registrations and certifications. Then there’s other fun things like super, tax. The uh oh factor. So what if the economy takes a dive? If the economy takes a dive tomorrow, you want to make sure you have the ability to survive that.

That only comes with building a buffer and a buffer only comes if your price is higher. What if the cost of living rises? You have to factor that into your price. [00:12:00] What if you want to grow your business? You have to factor that into your price. All these things cost money. So when you are saying this is how much it costs to work with me, remember that here’s a big list of things that go into that cost.

It is not how much money goes into your pocket. And the reason I keep saying that is because as OBMs we tend to struggle with that difference. We feel like we’re telling people you’re paying this much just for me to sit and type and do my brain thinking behind this computer. And it’s not true. So we need to cut that tie or we will forever undercharge.

Another thing that matters is location. Everything I am talking about today is based on Australia. I live in Australia, I understand the Australian market, and I know that it’s different in other places in the world. A lot of these [00:13:00] principles you’ll still be able to apply, but the figures might not quite be there.

More perspective. How much can an online business manager charge?

Five years ago? Would have been at least five years ago. And I decided to put my online business manager cap on and offer that as a service. I charged $70 an hour. That was five years ago. That was when I started. So I had been in the VA industry for a few years. I knew what I was doing. Highly skilled person.

I knew how to run a business. And when I started offering online business management services, I charged $70 an hour. We’re five years ahead now. So now in that same circumstance, I [00:14:00] would want to be charging $90 an hour, $100 an hour. Five years is a long time. And that was without the experience I now have.

So I want to give you that context. That’s the number I’m giving you to hold on to. If you’re charging $50 an hour in Australia and you’re an OBM, it’s too cheap. If you’re charging $100 an hour in Australia, calling yourself an online business manager, but not doing that role, you shouldn’t be charging anything.

Go and work out how much it is to charge for your role. But as that starting point, if you’ve got some experience. You know what you’re doing, you are capable, then 90 to 100 dollars an hour is not a lot. And if you know that right now you’re not charging that much, and you should be, [00:15:00] or you could be, it’s okay.

Do what you need to do to take steps to increase your price. You don’t have to do it overnight. You can. I know I did at one point in my business. I went from charging two grand a month to four grand a month to people, but I understand that pricing can be scary. So if you’re in the under charging bucket, which generally majority of us are, put some steps in place to increase your price, knowing that five years ago it was $70 an hour.

Now, if you’re an OBM and you package your services, you will earn more. And I’m going to explain why.

As online business managers, we squirm when it comes to talking about money. I have worked with a lot of OBMs now and in [00:16:00] OBM Academy with my clients in there and it’s the same thing. We all struggle with the money conversation. We all struggle with splitting out our worth from the amount we charge. And that’s okay.

But, if that’s you, let’s stop working against that and start working with it. If you know that when it comes to saying your price or saying your hourly rate, your belly does flip flops and you don’t want to or you have a panic attack, stop saying it. To make hourly pricing work as an OBM, where you actually get the balanced value, you need a massive hourly rate.

It needs to be high. To be able to pull that off, you got to be able to confidently say what that hourly rate is. Confidently enough to be able to sell it and explain [00:17:00] it. Now my gut feel is you probably don’t want to do that. If we’re working with the fact that yeah, we wobble a little bit around price and money, we’re working on it, we’re getting better, move away from the hourly rate.

Because that’s just going to bring more wobbles. But when we come to packaging, it gives us different options. If I say to someone, my hourly rate is $100 an hour, and I’ll be your OBM. And they take that, and they compare me with somebody else, who charges $70 an hour to be an OBM. All they have to compare in these two cases is that dollar figure.

$70 an hour, $90 an hour. Well, let’s go with the $70 one and see how that goes. That’s all we’re giving them to compare us with. And if you’re like me, you do not [00:18:00] like getting compared based on price alone. Especially when they don’t have a full picture. 

If we put the effort into creating packages, all of a sudden, we have more pieces to play with when it comes to comparison.

In a package, you will have all of the inclusions, and you have to spend time thinking about those inclusions, coming up with them, listing them out in a way that makes sense. Now when you quote how much it’s going to cost to work with you, you have a list of things to give that person. It’s going to cost you a thousand dollars to do this.

Here’s why. 

Here’s the ten things that are included in that. And then you add in the conversations around your experience. And you add in things like turnaround time. And phase one and phase two, [00:19:00] you give more context and packages need that. So they take more work up front and we invest more work up front.

We put a bigger dollar figure on it, but it’s easier to anchor that price because it’s easier to explain what someone’s getting for it. Whereas when we just say an hourly rate. We can’t really explain, that means I’m going to do these four things. It makes it harder to compare things when you do packages, because majority of people don’t have packages that are exactly the same.

Therefore, clients start looking at other things, like what is it that they actually need? Does this person have that included in a package, or does this person? Cost is one thing, but they start to [00:20:00] rationalize a little bit more. That might seem a bit cheaper, but this one has twice as many things, so maybe I’ll do that.

This person seems to have really good knowledge around the area, they’re including strategy, I’m happy to pay a higher price for that package. We’re not just looking at dollar for dollar without any context. So that’s why I always encourage my OBM clients to move with packaging. I think that you’ll end up with more value once you get into the groove of doing it.

 The next thing that I want to talk to you about when we’re talking about charging and pricing things and working out what’s fair and what’s not is a story. So I was chatting with one of my clients in OBM Academy this week, and [00:21:00] they were talking about this epic client journey that they created for one of their customers.

And they were telling me what was involved. When they said it, they said, I created a client journey. We went through the client journey. Okay. When I listened, they didn’t just go through the client journey. There was like 10 different services involved in going through that client journey. This is this big, big piece of work.

My client had thought about things that other people wouldn’t have thought about. This was an incredible job, an incredible effort, and well considered. And then I told my client how much I would have charged if I was doing that service for someone. And I watched their face change. Then I told them how much a [00:22:00] marketing consultant would have charged to do what they had just done.

And more face changes, because my client had charged such a tiny fraction of that, because they didn’t see what they’d actually done. And really, getting that level of knowledge, experience and understanding at a low hourly rate that customer got a huge bargain, and my OBM client had no idea. And this is the pattern that we want to stop.

When you package things properly, you can stop this, because then, at the beginning, you start thinking about the scope. You start thinking about what’s included. You start communicating that. When you go with Ali, you [00:23:00] just go, oh yeah, I’ll try this and I’ll try that, and maybe we’ll do this. And this is one example of how that can eventuate.

You would have just lost out on thousands and thousands of dollars. That’s the level we’re talking. So you have choices either up that hourly rate or get some packages happening.

The final thing that I want to talk to you about is what happens when we undercharge. Lots of businesses don’t survive, purely because people undercharge. And when you’re an online business manager, and you undercharge, even by $10 an hour, $20 an hour, you ruin the whole industry. And it is because of that, that each time I’ve increased my prices, I’ve had a little bit more confidence.

Because I know it’s the right thing to do for everybody else that’s in my boat. 

And sometimes I can’t do things for me, [00:24:00] but I can do them for other people. And I know that when we undercharge, we reinforce this idea that all of our work experience isn’t that valuable. All of our life experience isn’t that valuable.

Our unique ability and skill isn’t that valuable. Our capability and our way of being when under pressure isn’t valuable. Because if you have all those things and you’re charging less, and then someone next to you also has those things and is charging far more, someone’s going to start looking for why.

And the only why is they were brave enough to charge that much and you weren’t yet. You didn’t know yet. You hadn’t taken the steps you needed to take yet, or you hadn’t factored in all the things that really come with a price. [00:25:00] So if you are going to be an OBM or continue being an OBM first, you need to have the skill and confidence to own the role, and you need to charge the price to back it up.

That is what I’m going to leave you with. If pricing is something that you struggle with or you’re trying to get your head around or you’re trying to find just the next step with, check out OBM Academy. We focus a lot on pricing and I walk you through profitable pricing strategies so that you don’t stay in this cycle of working too hard and getting underpaid.

Or if you want to dip your toe in packaging, I have a masterclass that is for sale and it comes with a [00:26:00] template and I walk you through how to create powerful packages so you can move away from hourly if that’s what you’re interested in. The links are in the show notes. Send me a DM. Start conversation.

Tell me what your biggest pricing struggle is. I want to hear from you. Thanks so much everybody. I’ll see you next week.

 [00:27:00] 

How to stop getting crappy clients and leads that go nowhere

How to stop getting crappy clients and leads that go nowhere

Let’s talk about how to put an end to attracting crappy clients and leads that go nowhere.

The reason I want to cover this is beacause I’ve been having conversations with some of my clients in OBM Academy and some of my clients in Audacious OBMs about the different leads that they’re getting and the different clients that they’re landing, and we’re noticing some friction here.

Let me share with you, the different things that can happen and how you can put an end to this cycle.

There’s four main things that I want to cover.

  1. Why do we start to attract crappy clients?
  2. How to know if this is what’s happening.
  3. The problem with your current approach to getting leads and clients.
  4. What you can do to get out of the crappy client spiral.

 

This episode shares:  

  • The Commodity Race Trap: How competing on price attracts bad clients.
  • The Magic Question: How to identify leads who just want a cheap “micro skill” done.
  • Why You Don’t Want to Justify Yourself: Stop feeling like you have to prove your worth.
  • The Secret Weapon You Already Have: It’s YOU! Embrace your unique personality and experience.
  • Crafting Your Message: Learn how to showcase what makes you different and attract dream clients who chase YOU!

The Commodity Race Trap

Why do we start attracting crappy clients?

I’m going to start with a story. One of the people that I was speaking to, one of my clients was saying, I’ve had a few different leads. One of them said, Hey, I need an email newsletter done once a month.

This is something that I do for a lot of my clients. It’s easy for me. I do it really well. Then, when I replied to this lead, they ended up going with someone else, and there wasn’t really much visibility as to why, and it left me feeling quite bleh. Because really, nobody likes not to get the job when we want the job.

We want to be able to win the work and feel good and deliver to the best of our ability all the time.

Now the reason that this has happened is because my client was in a commodity race. A commodity race is where there is something that is easily accessible by lots of people and it’s readily available. So it’s competition everywhere because there are many options to choose from. There’s no need to narrow down our choices.

So then, because we’re human, we start to look at how do I make a decision? I have all of these options. How am I going to choose one? So I start to look for different things that will help me differentiate them. Generally in the OBM space, this is going to be price. It’s going to be the fastest person to respond.

Tip💡:  Rise above the competition, communicating your unique value.

The Magic Question

 

When a client wanted something done yesterday, who’s going to say yes? In this situation, the micro skill was I needed someone who could do a marketing newsletter once a month. That’s it. My client is going, I do this all the time for people who have a similar business to yours. And I know the kinds of things that will go into it and the kinds of things people will read when they open this newsletter, what will work for this community, the list goes on.

But the person on the other end never asked for any of that. And the likelihood is my client wasn’t able to share any of that because the person on the other end was just going, I need this job done and I need someone who has this one skill. So we start attracting crappy clients when we’re competing with lots of other people.
We’re in a big pool of the same and we don’t want that.

How to know if this is happening to you?

It’s actually really simple and it comes down to the very first conversation when you get leads or clients and you ask them how they found you. If you’re in this position, their response is going to be that they saw you answer a post. Oh, I saw you answer a post.

Or you were one of the people who sent me a reply to a job lead. Or, I just need someone who can do this thing. Or, I needed someone who could blah. They’re going to be really generic answers and they’re going to be answers that tell you straight away, I’m looking at multiple people here. A lot of multiple people or, the thing that I’m seeking is just for a microproblem to be solved. That’s how you know if this is happening. It’s that one question. How did you find me? What made you want to work with me? And see what they say. That response tells you everything.

Quite often, if you’re getting that generic kind of reply back, and it’s not something specifically about you, this lead is already a lot colder. And then that should gauge how much effort you’re going to put into it. So what’s the problem with this? The problem is that you’re putting yourself in competition from the get-go. You are putting yourself in a defensive position. Immediately, you’re getting compared to different areas you don’t want to be compared to.

I don’t want to be compared by price. I don’t want to be compared to every other person who can put together a newsletter. Because I know the person on the other end is going to be overwhelmed with how much choice there is. And then I’m going to end up spending all of my time and my energy trying to get leads that don’t pay well and don’t value the service.

So what we want to do is invest our time and our energy in better leads, in the right clients. And it’s not saying that these leads won’t become better leads or won’t become amazing clients, but what they’re looking for right now isn’t that. So the amount of effort and energy we’re putting in is costing us that same effort and energy of how we could be going after the leads and clients we really want, that we can really get results for.
I don’t want you to feel like you have to justify yourself.

Tip💡: Invest your time and energy in better leads, in the right clients.

 

Why You Don’t Want to Justify Yourself

 

Have you ever been on a call with someone and all of a sudden you feel like you have to justify why your price is your price? Or do you have to justify why your process is your process? No, I can’t do it right this second because we need to do a work agreement.

I really need you to sign that work agreement. If you’re having to defend things like that from the start, it’s not a great place to be and it doesn’t make you feel good. Again, it’s more time and energy and you feel like, in the very beginning of that relationship, you’re having to prove something.

Prove why. Prove the value. Prove why I should listen to you. Prove why your price is your price when I can get it cheaper down the street. Well, you know what? If you can get it cheaper down the street, go down the street because you get a say in how your business runs and that’s what we want to start showing people.

If we find that this is the position that we’re in, how do we get out of this spiral?

Tip💡: Stand firm in your value and process, you’ll attract the right clients.  

The Secret Weapon You Already Have

 

We want clients to chase us instead of us chasing them. Now what you’ll notice is that the way that you are getting clients, the way that you are getting leads is the bit that is off here. There are different ways to get new leads and to get new clients and some of them will get you far better ones, but the process can be longer.

Sometimes we opt for, Hey, I’m going to comment on that Facebook post with a hundred other people that have commented, or I’m going to reply to these job leads, even though I know 50 other people are going to reply as well. I’m going to put my name in this directory. All of these things are fine to do and don’t get me wrong, I’m in directories. I love directories. I get tagged in Facebook posts and I’ll comment and say, Hey, this is what I’m all about. But, I don’t go to extreme levels of effort to chase those people down. I’m not going to message someone who’s posted a post on Facebook  14 times to say, Hey, did you see my response? Hey, did you see my response? I’m not banking on these people. I’ll use it for visibility. I’ll share more about my personality and who I am because then they can pick me.

I want people to have the choice and not just be looking for the cheapest person, the fastest person. I want them to get to know me and want to work with me.

 

Tip💡: Showcase who you are, beyond your services, to foster connections with people who value and choose you for your distinct experiences and personal touch.

 

Crafting Your Message

 

There is nobody else that has the same life experience, that has the same history, that has the same work experience, that has the same training, in the same way, in the same time as you do and that is what we need to leverage to get out of this spiral.

The way that you do that is through your messaging. Your messaging is what you put out into the world. Of who you are, what you do, what you’re about, who you help, and how you go about doing that. And so when we craft our message based on who it is we are, based on our journey, based on our experience, based on the reasons that someone should work with me. Based on who it is I want to work with or who I’ve gotten results from and what their lives look like, that is when I’ll start seeing people who will come because they want to work with me.

They come and they know my name. They don’t want someone who’s an online business manager. They want someone from Audacious Empires.
Because I know they’ve worked with seven figure businesses. I know that they’re super honest. I know that they have systems and processes that work. Regardless of how much they cost, I’m going to save up my money until I can work with them. That’s who I want and that’s the position you need to be in.

To be top of mind for all of the different things that make you, you. It’s that combination of things that no one else can compete with. And that’s what we need to put at the forefront. That’s what we need to show people. Because if we’re not showing people that, we have no choice but to be in the commodity race.

We have no choice, but to pitch based on price or based on one skill. And then we get less say in what our business looks like, whether that’s because we don’t have as much money. So we have less avenues we can go down. We have less growth strategies. We have less ability to invest in new training, whether it’s, we have to do so much work that we don’t have room to think strategically, what we want is for people to choose us for us and for us to be able to work with people who see the value.

But the only way you can get there is to start showing people that, start telling them what’s so valuable about you. And it’s that combination. It’s not just your professional life. It’s not just showing people your resume.
Because here’s the kicker, right? People like doing business with people they like. Think about it. How often do you walk away from any business transaction and go, Ugh, I really do not like this person. But next week when I need a newsletter, I’m going back to them. You don’t. You want to work with people that inspire you or that feel good or that you get along with.

People that you like and more times than not, people will connect and like you based on who you are, not what you do.

Show them who you are first, then show them what you do. That’s going to make connections for you. That’s going to build better clients for you. That’s going to create valuable services.

It’s going to make your business more profitable and the best part is no one can compete with that because no one is you. Think about it. If you’re looking at buying an Apple, you want a new Mac. You don’t walk in to the PC shop and say, I want a new Mac. You go straight to the Mac store. You go to Apple. Or you don’t walk into Apple and say, I want a PC.

You’ve walked in there specifically because you know exactly what you want. And you don’t go in there and then argue about the price or go, Oh, maybe a PC would be better. I do not think that they’re the conversations people in Apple are having. Apple has built its brand so that it’s the brand that you want and you already know all the things that brand stands for. You know what you’re getting and so you’ll save your money for the newest iPhone. Or you’ll save your money for the newest MacBook. Because that’s the one you want. This is what we need to do in our businesses. And we do that by sharing more of who we are, what we’re about, who we work for, with, who we get results for, and what it looks like with people.

But if we hide away and we don’t share any of this stuff, or we just put our hand up and say, yeah, I can do that for this much. We’re never going to attract the clients that will really get the best from us and that we will love the work that we do for.

If you’re finding that you’re getting crappy leads or you’re getting crappy clients and you’re just like, what is the problem here?
What am I doing wrong? Why do I have to keep proving myself? Why is this so hard? It’s because you need to work on your messaging. You need to think about what it is. That makes you different. It could be a whole bunch of stuff that is the same. It could be, okay, there’s me and I’m set at $80 an hour.

There’s a lot of other people that are $80 an hour, but that’s just one piece. Okay. I’m an affordable OBM. What’s the next bit? I work really well with course creators. Okay. Now I’m an affordable OBM who gets results for course creators. Okay. All of a sudden you’ve narrowed it down one step, just with that one extra bit, you’ve made your brand, the course creator OBM, the affordable course creator OBM.

Okay. I’m an OBM who is affordable, who works with course creators, who really loves jazz music. Can I tell you any course creator that likes jazz music is going to start paying attention the second that they hear that because they love jazz music. And you don’t have to say these things in every single sentence all the time, but it’s the stuff that goes, hey, you might be interested in me because we’re going to get along or because I’ve got what you need and we get along.

It’s that combination and it does not have to be this secret weapon that no one else has. You’re not saying no one else likes jazz music, guys. What you’re saying is, I have the right combination of things for you. That is what will make people start chasing you. That is where you get the better clients.

 

Tip💡: Offer the right combination that your brand has, it makes you unique.

And… that’s a wrap!

 

I have the right combination of things for you. That is what will make people start chasing you. That is where you get the better clients.

That is where you get more money. That is where you stop looking at your emails and feeling so disappointed because you didn’t get the gig again. If you’re going to take one thing away from this, episode. It is to think about what your process for getting leads and clients is and how you can tweak your messaging a bit more and see what happens.

Then in a month, reflect and tweak it again and see what happens. You won’t be sorry, I promise you. If you listen to this episode and you’re going to go and try that, send me a DM and tell me. Because I’m in your corner and I want to know how you go. If you’re listening to this episode and you found it helpful, don’t forget to leave us a 5 star review because that’s how other people find us so we can help them too.

 

 

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Follow along with the transcript

E39 How to stop getting crappy clients and leads that go nowhere.

Leanne Woff: Hey, hey lovely. Today we are going to talk about how to put an [00:01:00] end to attracting crappy clients and leads that go nowhere. The reason that I wanted to cover this today is because I’ve been having conversations with some of my clients in OBM Academy and some of my clients in Audacious OBMs about the different leads that they’re getting and the different clients that they’re landing, and we’re noticing some friction here. So today I want to share with you the different things that can happen and how you can put an end to this cycle. So there’s four main things that I want to cover. Why we start to attract crappy clients. How to know if this is what’s happening. The problem with your current approach to getting leads and clients.

And what you can do to get out of the crappy client spiral. So let’s start by looking at why we start attracting [00:02:00] crappy clients. I’m going to start with a story. One of the people that I was speaking to, one of my clients was saying, I’ve had a few different leads. One of them said, Hey, I need an email newsletter done once a month.

And. This is something that I do for a lot of my clients. It’s easy for me. I do it really well. And when I replied to this lead, they ended up going with someone else, and there wasn’t really much visibility as to why, and it left me feeling quite bleh. Because really, nobody likes not to get the job when we want the job.

We want to be able to win the work and feel good and deliver to the best of our ability all the time.

Now the reason that this has happened is because my client was in a commodity race. A commodity race is where there is something that is easily accessible by lots of people [00:03:00] and it’s readily available. So it’s competition everywhere because there’s many, many options to choose from. There’s no need to narrow down our choices.

And so then, because we’re human, we start to look at how do I make a decision? I have all of these options. How am I going to choose one? So I start to look for different things that will help me differentiate them. And generally in the OBM space, this is going to be price. It’s going to be the fastest person to respond.

I want this done yesterday. Who’s going to say yes. Or it’s going to be a microskill. in this situation, the microskill was I need someone who can do a marketing newsletter once a month. That’s it. My client is going, I do this all the time for people who [00:04:00] have a similar business to yours. And I know the kinds of things that will go into it and the kinds of things people will read when they open this newsletter, what will work for this community, the list goes on.

But the person on the other end never asked for any of that. And the likelihood is my client wasn’t able to share any of that because the person on the other end was just going, I need this job done. And I need someone who has this one skill. So we start attracting crappy clients when we’re competing with lots of other people.

We’re in a big pool of the same. And we don’t want that.

How to know if this is happening to you? It’s actually really simple and it comes down to the very first conversation when you get leads or clients and you ask them how they [00:05:00] found you. If you’re in this position, their response is going to be that they saw you answer a post. Oh, I saw you answer a post.

Or you were one of the people who sent me a reply to a job lead. Or, I just need someone who can do this thing. Or, I needed someone who could blah. They’re going to be really generic answers. And they’re going to be answers that tell you straight away, I’m looking at multiple people here. A lot of multiple people.

Or, the thing that I’m seeking is just for a microproblem to be solved. That’s how you know if this is happening. It’s that one question. How did you find me? What made you want to work with me? And see what they say. That response tells you everything. And quite often, if [00:06:00] you’re getting that generic kind of reply back, and it’s not something specifically about you, this lead is already a lot colder. And then that should gauge how much effort you’re going to put into it. So what’s the problem with this? The problem is that you’re putting yourself in competition from the get go. You are putting yourself in a defensive position. Immediately, you’re getting compared to different areas you don’t want to be compared on.

I don’t want to be compared by price. I don’t want to be compared to every other person that can put together a newsletter. Because I know the person on the other end is going to be overwhelmed with how much choice there is. And then I’m going to end up spending all of my time and my energy trying to get leads that don’t pay well and don’t value the [00:07:00] service.

So what we want to do is invest our time and our energy in better leads, in the right clients. And it’s not saying that these leads won’t become better leads or won’t become amazing clients, but what they’re looking for right now isn’t that. And so the amount of effort and energy we’re putting in is costing us that same effort and energy of how we could be going after the leads and clients we really want, that we can really get results for.

I don’t want you to feel like you have to justify yourself. So have you ever been on a call with someone and all of a sudden you feel like you have to justify why your price is your price? Or you have to justify why your process is your process? No, I can’t do it right this second because we need to do a work agreement.

I really need you to sign that work agreement. If you’re having to [00:08:00] defend things like that from the start, it’s not a great place to be and it doesn’t make you feel good. And again, it’s more time and energy and you feel like, in the very beginning of that relationship, you’re having to prove something.

Prove why. Prove the value. Prove why I should listen to you. Prove why your price is your price when I can get it cheaper down the street. Well, you know what? If you can get it cheaper down the street, go down the street because you get a say in how your business runs and that’s what we want to start showing people.

If we find that this is the position that we’re in, how do we get out of this spiral?

We want clients to chase us instead of us chasing them. Now what you’ll notice is that the way that you are getting clients, the way that you are [00:09:00] getting leads is the bit that is off here. And there are all different ways to get new leads and to get new clients. And some of them will get you far better ones, but the process can be longer. Sometimes we opt for, Hey, I’m going to comment on that Facebook post with a hundred other people that have commented, or I’m going to reply to these job leads, even though I know 50 other people are going to reply as well. I’m going to put my name in this directory. All of these things are fine to do.

And don’t get me wrong. Like I’m in directories. I love directories. I get tagged in Facebook posts and I’ll comment and say, Hey, this is what I’m all about. But, I don’t go to extreme levels of effort to chase those people down. I’m not going to message someone who’s posted a post on Facebook [00:10:00] 14 times to say, Hey, did you see my response?

Hey, did you see my response? I’m not banking on these people. I’ll use it for visibility. I’ll share more about my personality and who I am because then they can pick me. I want people to have the choice and not just be looking for the cheapest person, the fastest person. I want them to get to know me and want to work with me.

The reason for this is there is no one else like you. There’s just not, there is nobody else that has the same life experience, that has the same history, that has the same work experience, that has the same training, in the same way, in the same time as you do. And that is what we need to leverage to get out of this spiral.

The way that you do that is through your messaging. Your messaging is what you put out into the world. [00:11:00] Of who you are, what you do, what you’re about, who you help, and how you go about doing that. And so when we craft our message based on who it is we are, based on our journey, based on our experience, based on the reasons that someone should work with me. Based on who it is I want to work with or who I’ve gotten results for and what their lives look like, that is when I’ll start seeing people who will come because they want to work with me. They come and they know my name. They don’t want someone who’s an online business manager. They want someone from Audacious Empires.

Because I know they’ve worked with seven figure businesses. I know that they’re super honest. I know that they have systems and processes that work. Regardless of how much they cost, [00:12:00] I’m going to save up my money until I can work with them. That’s who I want. And that’s the position you need to be in.

To be top of mind for all of the different things that make you, you. It’s that combination of things that no one else can compete with. And that’s what we need to put at the forefront. That’s what we need to show people. Because if we’re not showing people that, we have no choice but to be in the commodity race.

We have no choice, but to pitch based on price or based on one skill. And then we get less say in what our business looks like, whether that’s because we don’t have as much money. So we have less avenues we can go down. We have less growth strategies. We have less ability to invest in new training, whether it’s, we have to do so much work that we don’t [00:13:00] have room to think strategically, what we want is for people to choose us for us and for us to be able to work with people who see the value. But the only way you can get there is to start showing people that, start telling them what’s so valuable about you. And it’s that combination. It’s not just your professional life. It’s not just showing people your resume.

Because here’s the kicker, right? People like doing business with people they like. Think about it. How often do you walk away from any business transaction and go, Ugh, I really do not like this person. But next week when I need a newsletter, I’m going back to them. You don’t. You want to work with people that inspire you or that feel good or that you [00:14:00] get along with.

People that you like. And more times than not, people will connect and like you based on who you are, not what you do. Show them who you are first, then show them what you do. That’s going to make connections for you. That’s going to build better clients for you. That’s going to create valuable services.

It’s going to make your business more profitable. And the best part is no one can compete with that because no one is you. Think about it. If you’re looking at buying a n Apple, You want a new Mac. You don’t walk in to the PC shop and say, I want a new Mac. You go straight to the Mac store. You go to Apple. Or you don’t walk into Apple and say, I want a PC.

You’ve walked in there specifically because you know exactly what you want. [00:15:00] And you don’t go in there and then argue about the price or go, Oh, maybe a PC would be better. I do not think that they’re the conversations people in Apple are having. Apple has built its brand so that it’s the brand that you want.

And you already know all the things that brand stands for. You know what you’re getting. And so you’ll save your money for the newest iPhone. Or you’ll save your money for the newest MacBook. Because that’s the one you want. This is what we need to do in our businesses. And we do that by sharing more of who we are, what we’re about, who we work for, with, who we get results for, and what it looks like with people.

But if we hide away and we don’t share any of this stuff, or we just put our hand up and say, yeah, I can do that for this much. We’re never [00:16:00] going to attract the clients that will really get the best from us and that we will love the work that we do for. And so if you’re finding that you’re getting crappy leads or you’re getting crappy clients and you’re just like, what is the problem here?

What am I doing wrong? Why do I have to keep proving myself? Why is this so hard? It’s because you need to work on your messaging. You need to think about what it is. That makes you different. And it could be a whole bunch of stuff that is the same. It could be, okay, there’s me and I’m set at $80 an hour.

There’s a lot of other people that are $80 an hour, but that’s just one piece. Okay. I’m an affordable OBM. What’s the next bit? I work really well with course creators. Okay. Now I’m an affordable OBM who gets results for course creators. Okay. [00:17:00] All of a sudden you’ve narrowed it down one step, just with that one extra bit, you’ve made your brand, the course creator OBM, the affordable course creator OBM.

Okay. I’m an OBM who is affordable, who works with course creators, who really loves jazz music. Can I tell you any course creator that likes jazz music is going to start paying attention the second that they hear that because they love jazz music. And you don’t have to say these things in every single sentence all the time, but it’s the stuff that goes, hey, you might be interested in me because we’re going to get along or because I’ve got what you need and we get along.

It’s that combination and it does not have to be this secret weapon that no one else has. You’re not saying [00:18:00] no one else likes jazz music, guys. What you’re saying is, I have the right combination of things for you. That is what will make people start chasing you. That is where you get the better clients.

That is where you get more money. That is where you stop looking at your emails and feeling so disappointed because you didn’t get the gig again. If you’re going to take one thing away from this, episode. It is to think about what your process for getting leads and clients is and how you can tweak your messaging a bit more and see what happens.

And then in a month, reflect and tweak it again and see what happens. You won’t be sorry, I promise you. If you listen to this episode and you’re going to go and try that, send me a DM and tell me. Because I’m in your [00:19:00] corner and I want to know how you go. If you’re listening to this episode and you found it helpful, don’t forget to leave us a 5 star review because that’s how other people find us so we can help them too.

I’ll see you next week guys. 

What’s your business growth plan? Getting purposeful with growth and education

What’s your business growth plan? Getting purposeful with growth and education

Let’s get purposeful with growth and education.

So what does this mean?

I want to talk to you about this because when we are OBMs, a lot of what we invest our time and energy into is what then feeds through to the business and how it grows.

Because of the nature of what we do, a lot of our growth comes from our knowledge and our education. So we have to uplevel ourselves and what we understand, what we know, what we can do, what we can’t do, all those things, to be able to grow the business based on that knowledge.

“We’re not, manufacturing a product where if we invest in new machinery, then we’re going to create efficiency.”

We’re going to create more profitability, or we’re going to be able to expand. We’re offering services and so as much as we can systemise the way we do things, it won’t have the same impact on growth as when we’re upskilling ourselves in what we know or the way we do what we do.

 

This episode shares:  

  • You’re not a hobby, you’re a business: A business, from the get-go, the things that you do and invest your time and money into need to have a profit plan at the end.
  • Businesses need to be nurtured and steered: Businesses don’t just grow without effort.
  • Professional or Personal development (PD): PD without purpose is a cost, and PD with purpose is a necessity.
  • Choose wisely and Improve: Work with coaches, courses, consultants and communities. Create tactical learning opportunity, a community expansion opportunity and a business growth learning opportunity.
  • The learning buckets: Consider a tactical learning opportunity, a community expansion opportunity and a business growth learning opportunity.
  • Perspective: The only way to see what is good inside, is to get the outside eyes, the outside perception with people who are strong enough to be honest.
  • Standing Still: Standing still is going backwards because of the missed opportunity cost.

You’re not a hobby, you’re a business

What’s the difference between a hobby and a business?

When  start a new hobby, I buy all the bits because it’s exciting and it’s fun and then I might take one class on how to do whatever it is. Let’s say I’m learning to crochet. I go and take a crochet class and then I have my crochet hook and I have some wool and then I buy more wool and I buy patterns and all those things and it’s fun. Then I start to play.

There is no pressure when this is a hobby. It’s just when I feel like it, how I want it to develop. Maybe I might decide to sell a scarf or two. But this is not a business model. This is a hobby.  I’ve learnt some things. I’ve put into practice the skills that I’ve learnt and then I’ve created something.

Potentially, I’ve sold something. The profitable likelihood is highly unlikely.

If you’re a business, from the get-go, the things that you do and invest your time and money into need to have a profit plan at the end.

When we’re a business, everything we invest our time and our money into needs to have a profit plan at the end.

Tip💡:  If you’re running a business make a plan to get it profitable.

Businesses need to be nurtured and steered

 

When we’re a business, everything we invest our time and our money into needs to have a profit plan at the end. Your business will not grow unless you set your intention for it to grow and with that becomes a plan. Businesses don’t just grow without effort. As much as some people might say, oh I just did a thing and then it just went from there and it grew and then it did this and then it did that and I just was like okay. That’s not true. Ever. Because there is always a person on the other end making decisions and following choices and pathways. They might have opportunities that drop into their lap. But it’s still their choice on which opportunities to take and how to navigate that.

When you have a business, if it’s not going to just grow on its own and it’s not going to just move the trajectory without you being involved. It needs to be nurtured and steered. This leads me to my main question, who is steering yours? Just like when we have little kids when we have children, every child needs to be nurtured in all different ways and every child needs to have people who know what they’re doing around them to help set them up and grow and develop for the rest of their lives. Sometimes we don’t have all the answers. Just because you’ve had this child doesn’t mean you all of a sudden know everything about everything to do with kids, illness, sport, education.

We nurture them, but we don’t have all of the skills that we need and so what we do is we find people who have them. We get doctors involved. We get sleep consultants. We get tutors. We get teachers. There are all of these people that we reach out to and we use to help us nurture and steer these children so that they have the best growth opportunities and in that same way, we need to do it for our business. 

Tip💡: Your business will not grow unless you set your intention for it to grow and that becomes a plan.

 

Professional or personal development (PD)

 

You will hear a lot from many people to stop spending on PD, stop spending on professional development, stop spending on personal development, stop buying courses, and stop buying memberships. You don’t need it. You’re wasting your money. You’re wasting your time.

I’m going to have a little bit of an unpopular opinion right now and say, all of that is rubbish. Keep spending.

In my opinion, there is a cost to a business when you do PD and you invest in something without completion. When you do PD without purpose, that’s where things get messy.

When you just randomly buy things, invest your time, or, do the first module and not the rest, or go to one call and not the rest, or you’ve just bought it because it’s landed in your inbox and it looks fun, that is a cost to your business. It is not a wise money choice. But stopping spending on PD is not going to solve your growth problems. It is going to hinder your growth plans.

What you need to be doing is spending on PD with purpose. I think that that is a necessity to growing your business. 

Tip💡: Invest in PD with purpose.

 

Choose wisely and improve

 

If you’re working with a coach, a course, if you’re getting consultants in, if you’re joining communities, think about why you’re doing it and choose wisely, but do it.

It’s a way that we keep ourselves safe and we think if we don’t spend, we don’t spend there’s less risk, but also there’s traps that come with that. In my business, I am never, never not learning something. I always have something on the go, at least one thing and usually, if I’m honest, I’ve got about three things on the go at one time.

Now, don’t freak out. I’m not one of those people that just does the, oh, I’ve got all these things and I’m not really doing any of them. I never want to be that person. But I have different reasons that I learn different things. Even if money is tight and I’m nervous and I’m thinking, can I really afford this? Or this is going to be a bit of a stretch.

I never want to be the asset in my business that stunts the growth of that business instead of being the driver of that growth. I want to drive it and if my own insecurities, fears, and wanting to know what it’s going to look like on the other end and if this is going to work or not going to work, is going to get in the way of that.

 

The learning buckets

 

To be an asset in my business I need to change my mindset around the desire to drive it. I need to put in some structure and some framework in what will make it feel easier for me to keep growing and not hindering. So looking at my three things, I have a little bit of a bucket approach when it comes to what I’m learning. So usually if I look back at all the things I’ve spent my money on and my time in.

I noticed that there are three buckets:

1 *The first one is a tactical one, so I’ll have a tactical learning opportunity, which usually might be, it might be a tool, it might be a new way to do marketing. Might be just improving my general skills as an OBM, something that I’m going to tactically use every day. Something that’s going to, I can add to my toolkit and then use for clients. These are the tactical things. Usually I’m learning something like that and these things can be free or they can be paid. They don’t necessarily have to be paid for it to be worth your time.

2 *The second one is a community expansion opportunity. So I will sign up to different communities or memberships or networking things where I am getting to know more people, expanding my network, being around the people that I want to connect with, that potentially I want to work with, and I will invest money in that, and I will invest time in that, getting to know these people.

3 *The last one is a business growth opportunity. This is where I recognise that I don’t know it all. And sometimes the things that I need to know to grow my business, I can’t find on Google because I don’t struggle with tactics. Anything you can Google and there’s a step-by-step here, go do this method, try it this way, I can do all that.

But what I can’t do is see the things I can’t see that are holding me back.

Tip💡:  Create structure and framework to make your choice feel easier.

 

Perspective

When I invest in a business growth opportunity, like a coaching program or a mastermind or someone who is working alongside me to show me those things, to help unstick me, to say the hard things when I need to hear the hard things and to help me move when I feel like I can’t, they also will see all the things that are so good about me and my business that I don’t necessarily see. That’s something that we miss a lot of the time and that affirmation sometimes is all you need to keep growing, to recognise you are doing the right thing and you’re doing it well. Because we don’t give ourselves enough credit, especially if we can’t see it.


The only way to see it is to get the outside eyes, the outside perception with people who are strong enough to be honest and then for you to be strong enough to listen, because that’s the other thing. People will try and help or people can try and guide, but if you’re not willing to put yourself on the line a little bit and recognise that this person, whatever they say, is purely to help you, then you’re going to stay in the same position and there’s no point in you spending money there.


So with each of these buckets and these opportunities, I always have a purpose. I want to go in and I want to know why I’m signing up to this thing and what I want to get from it.

Tip💡:  Consider the outside perception with people who are strong enough to be honest and then be strong enough to listen.

 

The hamster wheel

Sometimes I just want to make more connections, which means that I’m going to have to dedicate time as well as money to interacting with people and starting to build real relationships.

I look at it and don’t just see it as a transaction of cash going out. I want to see the ROI and the ROI doesn’t necessarily mean dollars back in, but it is whatever I’ve set the objective as in the first place.

The trap here is that some of the time we will hold on to our cash and we feel safer that way. We’re not taking any risk. But the problem is, when we do that, we’re standing still. If we’re not moving forward, we’re standing still, but in my opinion, standing still is going backwards because of the missed opportunity cost.

If you had what you needed to move forward, you would be growing from today. Every step forward is a growth action. But the amount of time that you stop and you stay still, you’ve lost all that time. You cannot get it back. It is impossible. I have been looking for time machines for my entire life.

I still have not got one. If you’re standing still, you’re not going anywhere, and you’re just on that hamster wheel. And if you’re on that hamster wheel, why? Unless your business is absolutely everything that you’ve ever wanted it to be, and you’re happy. And you feel like this is going to be consistent in how it all operates, and if the market changes, you’re still fine, if you lose a client, you’re still fine, if you have to do the same thing day in, day out, and not learn new things, then you’re happy, great, stay still as long as you want, but, if that’s not the case, standing still is not a good plan, at least not for an extended period of time.

Sometimes we need to stand still to take a breath and make a decision. That’s fine, but don’t live there. We’re either going forward or we’re going backwards. When we look at this feeling of, oh, I don’t know what to do here, and I don’t know what to spend my money on, or I feel too scared, to invest if I can’t see that revenue coming in directly back off it or quickly, what do we do?

I always look at what the opportunity is and what I can do to make the most of that opportunity. So years ago, I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t connect with the type of people that I wanted to connect with. I couldn’t find them. And then somebody said to me, there’s a lot of these people in this certain program.

So I thought, ah, okay, what is this program and had a look and did all of that. And it was worked out to be three and a half thousand dollars Australian. And then you get access to the community ongoing. And so at that time, I didn’t really need the program, but I wanted access to that community. And I looked at it and there was a payment plan and it went for 12 months.

So it meant that, okay, I was going to pay 350 a month and that felt scary for me at the time. Really scary. But what I knew was if I couldn’t make more connections and I couldn’t expand my network and get in front of these people and get out of this frustration, that I was going to be standing in the same place that I was then a year later, and I did not want that. I put my big girl pants on and got brave and signed up. And you know what? I found the money. So I wanted the result enough that when I looked at that opportunity and went, what do I do here? I found the money to pay for it and I created ways to get the money to pay for it because I knew that was one thing I needed to work through to keep this business flowing.

It worked. I had to challenge my own thoughts, I had to challenge my feelings, I had to make a decision that might seem risky, but really it was calculated. Because risky was standing still and doing nothing about it, and not being willing to back myself and what I wanted for this business.

Tip💡: Stand still – take a breath and make a decision. But don’t live there.

And… that’s a wrap!

This is how we can speed up our project. We’re being clever about our pieces and we’re putting things in the right way, with the right resources, in the right timing.

So that then we can pull it off and still pull it off just as easily. It’s not going to make it harder if you’re saying to Ben, Hey Ben, I need you to go and do this task while we’re waiting for the other task to finish. And then you go and talk to Sue and you say, Hey Sue, I need you to do this other task while we’re waiting for that other task to finish. All you’ve done is set two things going at the same time to give them a head start and to get them turned around and completed so that when we have everything we need, we move to the next phase.

It means that then we’re not starting and stopping as we get each bit. So, that’s it! That is as hard as it gets. Like when you are looking at mapping out a timeline that is accurate, easy, and that has a high level of completion, this is how you do it. Six steps. Simple. It’s when we start to overthink and complicate it too much that then it gets unruly and mistakes get made and we feel stressed and things don’t go to plan.

But if we can just move through each step and keep things quite calm, you’ll end up with a really solid plan. So I hope that you found this helpful.

If you are enjoying this, please leave me a five-star review and tell me what you loved most about it.

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Follow along with the transcript

E38 What’s your business growth plan? Getting purposeful with growth and education.

Leanne Woff: ​Hey, hey, hey lovely. Today I want to talk to you about your [00:01:00] business growth plan. We’re going to get purposeful with growth and education. So what does this mean? I wanted to talk to you about this because when we are OBMs, a lot of what we invest our time and energy into is what then feeds through to the business and how it grows.

And because of the nature of what we do, a lot of our growth comes from our knowledge and our education. So we have to uplevel ourselves and what we understand, what we know, what we can do, what we can’t do, all those things, to be able to grow the business based on that knowledge. We’re not, manufacturing a product where if we invest in new machinery, then we’re going to create efficiency.

And then we’re going to create more profitability, or we’re going to be able to expand. We’re offering services. And so as much as we can systemise the way we do things, it won’t [00:02:00] have the same impact on growth as when we’re upskilling ourselves in what we know or the way we do what we do. First things first, you’re not a hobby.

You’re a business. So what is the difference there? When I go and start a new hobby, I buy all the bits because it’s exciting and it’s fun. And then I might take one class on how to do whatever it is. Let’s say I’m learning to crochet. I go and take a crochet class. And then I have my crochet hook and I have some wool and then I buy more wool and I buy patterns and all those things and it’s fun.

And then I start to play. And there is no pressure when this is a hobby. It is just when I feel like it, how I want it to develop. Maybe I might decide to sell a scarf or two. But this is not a business model. This is a hobby. And I’ve [00:03:00] learnt some things. I’ve put into practice the skills that I’ve learnt and then I’ve created something.

Potentially, I’ve sold something. The likelihood that that is profitable is highly unlikely.

If you’re a business, from the get go, the things that you do and invest your time and money into need to have a profit plan at the end.

*When we’re a business, everything we invest our time and our money into need to have a profit plan at the end. Your business will not grow unless you set your intention for it to grow. And with that becomes a plan. Businesses don’t just grow without effort. As much as some people might say, oh I just did a thing and then it just went from there and it grew and then it did this and then it did that and I just was like okay.

That’s not true. Ever. Because there is always a person on the other end making [00:04:00] decisions and following choices and pathways. They might have opportunities that drop into their lap, absolutely. But it’s still their choice on which opportunities to take and how to navigate that.

When you have a business, if it’s not going to just grow on its own and it’s not going to just move the trajectory without you being involved. It needs to be nurtured and steered. Which leads me to my main question, who is steering yours? Just like when we have little kids, when we have children, every child needs to be nurtured in all different ways.

And every child needs to have people who know what they’re doing around them to help set them up and grow and develop for the rest of their lives. And sometimes [00:05:00] we don’t have all the answers. Just because you’ve had this child doesn’t mean you all of a sudden know everything about everything to do with kids, illness, sport, education.

We nurture them, but we don’t have all of the skills that we need. And so what we do is we find people who have them. We get doctors involved. We get sleep consultants. We get tutors. We get teachers. There are all of these people that we reach out to and we use to help us nurture and steer these children so that they have the best growth opportunities.

And in that same way, we need to do it for our business. *You will hear a lot from many people to stop spending [00:06:00] on PD, stop spending on professional development, stop spending on personal development, stop buying courses, stop buying memberships. You don’t need it. You’re wasting your money. You’re wasting your time.

I’m going to have a little bit of an unpopular opinion right now and say, All of that is rubbish. Keep spending.

In my opinion, there is a cost to a business when you do PD and you invest in something without completion. When you do PD without purpose, that’s where things get messy. When you just randomly buy things, invest your time, or, do the first module and not the rest, or go to one call and not the rest, or you’ve just bought it because it’s landed in your inbox and it looks fun, [00:07:00] that is a cost to your business.

It is not a wise money choice. But stopping spending on PD is not going to solve your growth problems. It is going to hinder your growth plans. What you need to be doing is spending on PD with purpose. I think that that is a necessity to growing your business. So if you’re working with a coach, a course, if you’re getting consultants in, if you’re joining communities, Think about why you’re doing it and choose wisely, but don’t not do it.

It’s a way that we keep ourselves safe. And we think if we don’t spend, we don’t spend there’s less risk, but also there’s traps that come with that. In my business, I am never, never not learning something. [00:08:00] I always have something on the go, at least one thing. And usually, if I’m honest, I’ve got about three things on the go at one time.

Now, don’t freak out. I’m not one of those people that just does the, oh, I’ve got all these things and I’m not really doing any of them. I never want to be that person. But I have different reasons that I learn different things. Even if money is tight and I’m nervous and I’m thinking, Oh, can I really afford this? Or this is going to be a bit of a stretch. I never want to be the asset in my business that stunts the growth of that business instead of being the driver of that growth. I want to drive it. And if my own insecurities, fears, wanting to know what it’s going to look like on the other [00:09:00] end and if this is going to work or not going to work, is going to get in the way of that, then I need to change my mindset around it. I need to put in some structure and some framework in what will make it feel easier for me to keep growing and not hindering. So looking at my three things, I have a little bit of a bucket approach when it comes to what I’m learning. So usually if I look back at all the things I’ve spent my money on, spent my time in. I noticed that there are three buckets. The first one is a tactical one, so I’ll have a tactical learning opportunity, which usually might be, it might be a tool, it might be a new way to do marketing.

The latest thing in marketing, It might be just improving my general skills as an OBM, something that I’m going to tactically [00:10:00] use every day. Something that’s going to, I can add to my toolkit and then use for clients. These are the tactical things. Usually I’m learning something like that.

And these things can be free or they can be paid. They don’t necessarily have to be a paid thing for it to be worth your time. The second one is a community expansion opportunity. So I will sign up to different communities or memberships or networking things where I am getting to know more people, expanding my network, being around the people that I want to connect with, that potentially I want to work with, and I will invest money in that, and I will invest time in that, getting to know these people.

And then, the last one is business growth opportunity. This is where I recognise that I don’t know it all. [00:11:00] And sometimes the things that I need to know to grow my business, I can’t find on Google because I don’t struggle with tactics. Anything you can Google and there’s a step by step here, go do this method, try it this way, I can do all that.

But what I can’t do is see the things I can’t see that are holding me back. *And so when I invest in a business growth opportunity, I’m part of a coaching program or I’m part of a mastermind or, I have someone who is working alongside me to show me those things, to help unstick me, to say the hard things when I need to hear the hard things and to help me move when I feel like I can’t.

They also will see all the things that are so good about me and my business that I don’t necessarily see. [00:12:00] And that’s something that we miss a lot of the time. And that affirmation sometimes is all you need to keep growing, to recognise you are doing the right thing and you’re doing it well. Because we don’t give ourselves enough credit, especially if we can’t see it.

And the only way to see it is to get the outside eyes, the outside perception with people who are strong enough to be honest. And then for you to be strong enough to listen, because that’s the other thing. People will try and help or people can try and guide, but if you’re not willing to put yourself on the line a little bit and recognise that this person, whatever they say, is purely to help you, then you’re going to stay in the same position and there’s no point in you spending money there.

So with each of these buckets and these opportunities, I always have a purpose. I want to go in and I want to [00:13:00] know why I’m signing up to this thing and what I want to get from it. *Sometimes it is, I just want to make more connections, which means that I’m going to have to dedicate time as well as money in interacting with people and starting to build real relationships.

I look at it and don’t just see it as a transaction of cash going out. I want to see the ROI and the ROI doesn’t necessarily mean dollars back in, but it is whatever I’ve set the objective as in the first place.

The trap here is that some of the time we will hold on to our cash and we feel safer that way. We’re not taking any risk. But the problem is, when we do that, we’re standing still. If we’re not moving forward, We’re standing still, but in my opinion, standing still is going backwards [00:14:00] because of the missed opportunity cost.

If you had what you needed to move forward, you would be growing from today. Every step forward is a growth action. But the amount of time that you stop and you stay still, you’ve lost all that time. You cannot get it back. It is impossible. I have been beginning for time machines for my entire life.

I still have not got one. If you’re standing still, you’re not going anywhere, and you’re just on that hamster wheel. And if you’re on that hamster wheel, why? Unless your business is absolutely everything that you’ve ever wanted it to be, and you’re happy. And you feel like this is going to be consistent in how it all operates, and if the market changes, you’re still fine, if you lose a client, you’re still fine, if you have to do the same thing day in, day out, and not learn new things, then you’re happy, [00:15:00] great, stay still as long as you want, but, if that’s not the case, Standing still is not a good plan, at least not for an extended period of time.

Sometimes we need to stand still to take a breath and make a decision. That’s fine, but don’t live there. We’re either going forward or we’re going backwards. When we look at this feeling of, oh, I don’t know what to do here, and I don’t know what to spend my money on, or I feel too scared, to invest if I can’t see that revenue coming in directly back off it or quickly, what do we do?

For me, I always look at what the opportunity is and what I can do to make the most of that opportunity. So years ago, I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t connect with the type of people that I wanted to connect with. I couldn’t find them. [00:16:00] And then somebody said to me, there’s a lot of these people in this certain program.

So I thought, ah, okay, what is this program and had a look and did all of that. And it was worked out to be three and a half thousand dollars Australian. And then you get access to the community ongoing. And so at that time, I didn’t really need the program, but I wanted access to that community. And I looked at it and there was a payment plan and it went for 12 months.

And so it meant that, okay, I was going to pay 350 a month. And that felt scary for me at the time. Really scary. But what I knew was if I couldn’t make more connections and I couldn’t expand my network and get in front of these people and get out of this frustration, that I was going to be standing in the same place that I was [00:17:00] then a year later, and I did not want that. I put my big girl pants on and got brave and signed up. And you know what? I found the money. So I wanted the result enough that when I looked at that opportunity and went, what do I do here? I found the money to pay for it. And I created ways to get the money to pay for it because I knew that was one thing I needed to work through to keep this business flowing.

And it worked. I had to challenge my own thoughts, I had to challenge my feelings, I had to make a decision that might seem risky, but really it was calculated. Because risky was standing still and doing nothing about it, and not being willing to back myself and what I wanted for this business.

*If you take one [00:18:00] thing away from this episode, I want it to be that notion. That if you find yourself starting to shrink or starting to feel like you want to burrow within yourself and get all of your squirrel nuts and hold them nice and tight and save your cash and not take a step because it’s scary and you want to keep yourself nice and safe, all I want for you is to challenge that thought and challenge that feeling and get in the habit of doing that.

Because you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that you start to see when you start challenging those feelings. When you start looking for ways that you can do things instead of defaulting to no I can’t, or it’s too much of a risk, or I can’t right now, but then you never do it in the first [00:19:00] place.

Like you don’t end up doing it even when you can. The opportunities that you see, you would never have before if you just stayed in that little safe zone. Taking micro, micro, micro steps and the way to take bigger steps, to take purposeful steps, is to challenge those thoughts and those feelings, and that’s all you’re doing.

You’re challenging them, you’re thinking about it a bit more. You’re analysing those a bit more. I’m not saying tomorrow go and spend all your money like crazy that you don’t have or anything like that. I’m saying change the way you look at it and that will take a while. Mindset change always takes a while, but if you can get into that pattern now, you’ll see the results.

I’m confident you will.

If this has resonated with you and you have been thinking, yeah, that’s actually me, I’m stuck, or I’m going backwards by not moving forwards and I don’t know how to shift that, then [00:20:00] come and boost your business with me. If you want a coach who knows this industry, inside and outside. Then check out OBM Academy.

I made it for you because I know this industry, because I know what you need. I’ve worked with enough OBMs to confidently say that. And so I’ll hold your hand if you want someone to hold your hand. But you’ve got to be willing to take the step forward. So if you’re interested in checking that out Audacious Empires dot com slash OBM hyphen Academy, the link is in the show notes. Otherwise I’ll see you next week. Bye guys.

 [00:21:00]

Project planning: Nailing your project timeline

Project planning: Nailing your project timeline

Today we are talking all things how to project plan and set up your project timeline. So we’re going to cover six steps to nailing the project timeline with ease.

And how we get from that piece to mapping all of our activities out in a timeline and a time frame. We can face the same issues we previously faced, which is when we’re looking at it and go, Oh, I’m staring at a blank screen.

Can be difficult to know where to start and in what order there are too many pieces.

“We can get overwhelmed and then our brains don’t work properly.”

I’m going to give you a really simple way to navigate through that.

 

This episode shares:  

  • Chunk it out: Identify what the main components to execute your project.
  • Task it up: Brainstorm and list out all the tasks that will be involved inside each chunk.
  • Map the dependencies: After we find our main tasks, we start to mark dependencies between the tasks and link them.
  • Prioritise: Help you stay true to that goal and achieve that outcome.
  • Timeline: Take the priorities and put them on your timeline
  • Review and repeat: Consider the horizontal view, but also the vertical view. 

1. Chunk it out

Once you’ve had your project goal established and you’ve identified what the main components are to be able to execute this project, they become your chunks.

For each of those chunks, we need to make sure that we have what’s included within them, and we know that there’s nothing missing.

Looking at your project goal, we wanna check it across. Have I got everything? Have I got the main components here? So if you’ve split your project goal out by, let’s say the roles, and the different people involved, have you got all the people? Are they all there? If you’ve split it by, the business departments involved. Have you got all of the departments? Have you missed marketing? Have you missed customer service? Have you missed finance? However you’ve mapped it out, take a step back and just make sure, okay, I’ve covered my bases. So that’s step one.

Make sure you’ve got all your chunks right.

Tip💡: Split your project goal out with all the business departments involved to cover the bases.

2. Task it up

For each chunk, you need to spend some time brainstorming and listing out all the tasks that will be involved inside that chunk to get this project completed. Can be big or little and in the first instance, you just want to brainstorm.

You just want to put everything out and get it on the page. It doesn’t have to be orderly. You do not have to worry about if you have doubled up on something. It is more about getting the ideas out of your brain and onto that paper because then you have tangible things you can work with, which removes the overwhelm.

Once you’ve done that brain dump of all those tasks, then you’re going to tidy those tasks. This is where we start looking for things that are duplication. This is where we start going, Oh, but do we really need to do that thing in this instance? So we start to think about the situation we’re in right now, and see if things are still relevant because in many projects, you’ll have lots of things that are consistent across them.

These are the things we always do. But! When you’re working on a specific project, not everything is going to be the same. And so we need to do the sense check. So when we’re mapping out all the tasks, that’s when we do the sense check and if we’ve removed something, why have we removed it? Is there something that needs to be put in place instead?

Just because we don’t need to do this bit in this scenario, is that because we need to do something else for a different reason. So we want to go through, remove all our duplications, we want to sense check what’s left, we want to put our tasks under our chunks so that then we can go, okay, this is chunk A, here are the tasks for chunk A, are they all there? Have I missed any? And then we do that for all of our chunks.

Now you’ve got all your tasks, which is exactly what you want. Now we get to do the fun bit. At this point, it’s where I tend to do things a little bit differently to other people. A lot of project managers will tell you go take that task, that list of tasks, and go put a time frame on them so that you can get them done. I am going to tell you not to do that yet.

Tip💡: Getting the ideas out of your brain and onto that paper, because then you have tangible things you can work with.

 

3. Map the dependencies

Before starting with the timeline, I want you to look at the dependencies. I will always focus on the dependencies first before the time dependencies frame because I think that there is nothing worse than working through a project and then having to stop at a certain point because you realise you can’t keep progressing because something else hasn’t been done and you hadn’t thought about that yet.

Then you have to change your project plan, you have to change your project timeline, and things aren’t running as smoothly anymore.

Now we’re flustered, we’re a little bit stressed, we’re frustrated, and our progress has paused, which is not what we want. If we consider dependencies before we plot things on a timeline, we’re going to eliminate the majority of the times that happens.

How do we do this? We go back to our task list, we find our main tasks and we start to mark dependencies. We find tasks where it’s okay, I know I need to do this task. Is there anything that has to happen before that for me to actually be able to do that? If I am building out team roles and responsibilities, let’s say.

Before I do the report for that, do I have to go and have the interviews with different team members? Because if I go to write a report, but I haven’t done the interviews guess what? There ain’t no report. When we’re looking at each of our things, we’re just going to start to put them in a little bit of an order, so that we know, okay, this definitely has to happen first and it’s going to give us a smoother runway, so that then when we move to timelines, it’s far more accurate. We’re going to be able to plot timeframes that make sense to the level of things that need to happen in the order they need to happen.

So we go through all our tasks and we put the dependencies there. Now you can draw little connecting lines between them. You can colour code them if you want to. You can put, number 1 next to all the things that have to happen first, and then number 2 next to the next ones. Or you can just put them in a list, top to bottom, in the right order.

Tip💡:  Go back to your task list, find the main tasks and then start to mark dependencies, drawing connecting lines between them.

 

4. Prioritise

We want to look at all of our tasks now that have been linked with their dependencies and go, in all of these, what are the priorities? What are the things that 100% have to be done to make this project successful versus some things that we might be able to do a different way, that we might be able to drop off because they’re a nice add-on?

They’re not an essential piece to getting this thing live and we want to start looking at what those priorities are. We also might start to see that there are these few tasks, and there are lots of dependent tasks for those. This whole project is going to get massively held up if those few tasks aren’t done as a priority.

We need those to be the focus point so that we can unblock everything that follows. So that becomes a high priority. You might look at it and go, I know when we get to this point, it will be a critical piece. If this fails, we are going to have to troubleshoot and troubleshoot fast and have options and solutions to keep moving or the whole project will fall over.

Those become priorities.

Now, what have we done so far? Step 1, we’ve broken things into chunks. Step 2, we’ve mapped out all the tasks to those chunks. Step 3, we’ve mapped all the dependencies with those tasks. Step 4, now we’re starting to prioritise them. What are the super important ones? Now, and only now, do you get to go and play with your timeline.

Tip💡:  Identify the tasks that have lots of dependencies.

 

5. Timeline

Take those priorities and put them on your timeline. Look at however long you have for this project, three months, four months, one month, it depends on the size, and start plotting out where those priorities sit and the order.

What I want you to remember is the likelihood that this is going to be correct the first time is really low.

Take all of our data, and put it on the board so we have pieces we can move. It will reduce the overwhelm of thinking 15 steps ahead. Put them all on there and then move them around. So we put our priorities down in the right order, in around about the right timeframe that we think it’ll take to achieve them.

Then we’re going to map out our tasks and dependencies based on that. So you’ll end up with a timeline that has your key tasks and then your dependent tasks snd then you start looking at the timeframe and the time allocation you’ve given for each of those things. So once you have the correct flow, we know that this is the order in which this needs to happen.

Then you start playing with the amount of time each thing will take and you push and pull. So if we have mapped everything out, we look at the first bit and we say, okay, I’ve given this, a week to turn around this big task. But then when I look at it and I look at the different things that are dependent on it and the time that’s involved in those dependent tasks, I haven’t allowed enough time because I know to get the big chunky task done, it’s going to take about five days, but then to get all of the dependent tasks done, that needs a week because there’s so many of them. So I need more time to achieve this chunk. Now I have to expand it out. It can’t be one week but it has to be at least 12 days. So I start to spread those out and you do that exact same pattern over and over.

Tip💡: Put the priorities on the board as pieces that you can move. It will reduce the overwhelm of thinking

 

6. Review and repeat

Review and repeat the map of the dependencies, priorities and timelines. So go back through the dependencies, go back through the priorities, and push and pull on that timeline. Until, when you go through each piece, you feel like, yep, we’ve got enough time, we’ve got the right order. Look for the overlaps. There are some things where we know the project can’t keep moving until our priorities are complete. So what do we have happening? What could we have happening at the same time while we’re waiting in that kind of delayed bit?

If we have, assets that are with a graphic designer. Can we start working on the copy without the design assets? Which usually you can, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. They can be happening at the same time without it being a conflict later or going to cause any issues as the project continues, because we need them both and they both might be reliant on one other thing, but they’re actually separate pieces.

So when we’re looking at our timeline, we want to consider the horizontal view. Left to right, all the things are in the order they happen, but also we want to consider the vertical. What are the things that can be happening at the same time, where there won’t be any conflict, without it getting too crowded or too messy.

Tip💡:  Go back through the dependencies, go back through the priorities, and push and pull on that timeline.

And… that’s a wrap!

This is how we can speed up our project. We’re being clever about our pieces and we’re putting things in the right way, with the right resources, in the right timing. So that then we can pull it off and still pull it off just as easily. It’s not going to make it harder if you’re saying to Ben, Hey Ben, I need you to go and do this task while we’re waiting for the other task to finish and then you go and talk to Sue and you say, Hey Sue, I need you to do this other task while we’re waiting for that other task to finish – All you’ve done is set two things going at the same time to give them a head start and to get them turned around and completed so that when we have everything we need, we move to the next phase.

It means then we’re not starting and stopping as we get each bit. So, that’s it! That is as hard as it gets. Like when you are looking at mapping out a timeline that is accurate, easy, and that has a high level of completion, this is how you do it. Six steps. Simple. It’s when we start to overthink and complicate it too much that then it gets unruly and mistakes get made and we feel stressed and things don’t go to plan.

But if we can just move through each step and keep things quite calm, you’ll end up with a really solid plan. So I hope that you found this helpful.

If you are enjoying this, please leave me a five-star review and tell me what you loved most about it.

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Follow along with the transcript

E37 Project planning: Nailing your project timeline

Leanne Woff: Hey, hey, hey lovely. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Audacious OBM. [00:01:00] Today we are talking all things how to project plan and set up your project timeline. So we’re going to cover six steps to nailing the project timeline with ease.

In our last episode, we talked about the different pieces involved in project management and how we can start to break down a project goal into actionable pieces. Today, we’re going to cover how we get from that piece to mapping all of our activities out in a timeline and a time frame. Which we can face the same issues that we faced previously, which is when we’re looking at it and go, Oh, I’m staring at a blank screen.

I don’t quite know where to start. I don’t know what order there’s too many pieces. We can get overwhelmed and then our brains don’t work properly. I’m going to give you a [00:02:00] really simple way to navigate through that. All right. So step one is you focus on your chunks. So once you’ve had your project goal established and you’ve identified what the main components are to be able to execute this project, they become your chunks. For each of those chunks we need to make sure that we have what’s included within them, and we know that there’s nothing missing. Looking at your project goal, we wanna check it across. Okay. These are all the things involved. Have I got everything? Have I got the main components here? So if you’ve split your project goal out by, let’s say the roles, the different people involved, have you got all the people?

Are they all there? If you’ve split it by, the business departments involved. Have you got all of the departments? Have you missed marketing? Have you missed customer service? Have [00:03:00] you missed finance? However you’ve mapped it out, take a step back and just make sure, okay, I’ve covered my bases. So that’s step one.

Make sure you’ve got all your chunks right. Then step two. Is, we focus on the tasks. So for each chunk, however, you’ve done it, you need to spend some time brainstorming and listing out all the tasks that will be involved inside that chunk to get this project completed. Can be big or little. And in the first instance, you just want to brainstorm.

You just want to put everything out and get it on the page. It doesn’t have to be orderly. You do not have to worry about if you have doubled up on something. It is more about getting the ideas out of your brain and onto that paper, because then you have tangible things you can work with, which removes the overwhelm.

Once you’ve done that brain dump of all those tasks, then you’re going to tidy those tasks. This is where we start looking for things that are duplication. This is where we start going, Oh, but do we really need to do that thing in this instance? So we start to think about the situation we’re in right now, and seeing if things are still relevant, because in many projects, you’ll have lots of things that are consistent across them.

These are the things we always do. But! When you’re working on a specific project, not everything is going to be the same. And so we need to do the sense check. So when we’re mapping out all the tasks, that’s when we do the sense check. And if we’ve removed something, why have we removed it?

And is there something that needs to be put in place instead? Just because we don’t need to do this bit in this scenario, is that because we need to do something else for a different reason. So we want to go through, remove all our duplications, we want to sense check what’s left, [00:05:00] we want to put our tasks under our chunks so that then we can go, okay, this is chunk A, here are the tasks for chunk A, are they all there?

Have I missed any? And then we do that for all of our chunks. Now you’ve got all your tasks,

which is exactly what you want. Now we get to do the fun bit. At this point, it’s where I tend to do things a little bit differently to other people. A lot of project managers will tell you go take that task, that list of tasks, and go put a time frame on them so that you can get them done. I am going to tell you not to do that yet.

I don’t want you to start with the timeline. I want you to look at the dependencies. I will always focus on the dependencies first before the time dependenciesframe because I think that there is nothing worse than working through a project and then having to stop at a certain point because you [00:06:00] realise you can’t keep progressing because something else hasn’t been done and you hadn’t thought about that yet.

And so then you have to change your project plan, you have to change your project timeline, and things aren’t running as smoothly anymore. Now we’re flustered, we’re a little bit stressed, we’re frustrated, and our progress has paused, which is not what we want. If we consider dependencies before we plot things on a timeline, we’re going to eliminate majority of the times that that happens.

How do we do this? We go back to our task list, we find our main tasks and we start to mark dependencies. We find tasks where it’s okay, I know I need to do this task. Is there anything that has to happen before that for me to actually be able to do that? If I am building out team roles and responsibilities, let’s say.

Before I do the [00:07:00] report for that, do I have to go and have the interviews with different team members? Because if I go to write a report, but I haven’t done the interviews guess what? There ain’t no report. When we’re looking at each of our things, we’re just going to start to put them in a little bit of an order, so that we know, okay, this definitely has to happen first. And it’s going to give us a smoother runway, so that then when we move to timelines, it’s far more accurate. We’re going to be able to plot timeframes that make sense to the level of things that need to happen in the order they need to happen.

So we go through all our tasks. And we put the dependencies there. Now you can draw little connecting lines between them. You can colour code them if you want to. You can put, number 1 next to all the things that have to happen first, and then number 2 next to the next ones. Or you can just put them in a list, top to bottom, in the right order.

[00:08:00] Then we move to step 4. And step 4 is priorities. So no, we’re still not moving to the timeline people. Priorities are important because we have a project goal. We are not doing this for no reason and there is always an outcome we’re wanting. Priorities help you stay true to that goal and achieve that outcome.

So we want to look at all of our tasks now that have been linked with their dependencies and go, okay, in all of these, what are the priorities? What are the things that 100 percent have to be done to make this project successful versus some things that we might be able to do a different way, that we might be able to drop off because they’re a nice add on.

They’re not an essential piece to getting this thing live. And we want to start looking at what [00:09:00] those priorities are. We also might start to see, okay. There are these few tasks, and there are lots of dependent tasks for those. This whole project is going to get massively held up if those few tasks aren’t done as a priority.

We need those to be the focus point so that we can unblock everything that follows. So that becomes high priority. You might look at it and go, I know when we get to this point, it will be a critical piece. If this fails, we are going to have to troubleshoot and troubleshoot fast and have options and solutions to keep moving or the whole project will fall over.

Those become priorities.

Now, what have we done so far? Step 1, we’ve broken things into chunks. Step 2, we’ve mapped out all [00:10:00] the tasks to those chunks. Step 3, we’ve mapped all the dependencies with those tasks. Step 4, now we’re starting to prioritise them. What are the ones that are super important? Now, and only now, do you get to go and play with your timeline.

Step 5 is take those priorities and put them on your timeline. So looking at, however long you have for this project, three months, four months, one month, it depends the size. And start plotting out where those priorities sit and the order. Now what I want you to remember is the likelihood that this is going to be correct the first time is really low.

Right now we just, again, want to take all of our data, put it on the board so we have pieces we can move. It will reduce the overwhelm of thinking 15 steps ahead. Put them all on there and then move them around. So we [00:11:00] put our priorities down in the right order, in around about the right timeframe that we think it’ll take to achieve them.

Then we’re going to map out our tasks and dependencies based on that. So you’ll end up with a timeline that has your key tasks and then your dependent tasks. And then you start looking at the timeframe and the time allocation you’ve given for each of those things. So once you have the flow, correct, we know that this is the order that this needs to happen with.

Then you start playing with the amount of time each thing will take and you push and pull. So if we have mapped everything out, we look at the first bit and we say, okay, I’ve given this, a week to turn around this big task. But then when I look at it and I look at the different things that are dependent on it and the time that’s involved in those dependent tasks, I haven’t allowed enough time [00:12:00] because I know to get the big chunky task done, it’s going to take about five days, but then to get all of the dependent tasks done, that needs a week because there’s so many of them.

So I need more time to achieve this chunk. Now I have to expand it out. And it can’t be one week. It has to be at least 12 days. So I start to spread those out. And you do that exact same pattern over and over. So step 6 is to review and repeat steps 3 to 5. So go back through the dependencies, go back through the priorities, and push and pull on that timeline.

Until, when you go through each piece, You feel like, yep, we’ve got enough time, we’ve got the right order. Look for the overlaps. There’s some things where we know the project [00:13:00] can’t keep moving until our priorities are complete. So what do we have happening? And what could we have happening at the same time while we’re waiting in that kind of delayed bit?

If we have, assets that are with a graphic designer. Can we start working on the copy without the design assets? Which usually you can, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. They can be happening at the same time without it being a conflict later or going to cause any issues as the project continues, because we need them both and they both might be reliant on one other thing, but they’re actually separate pieces.

So when we’re looking at our timeline, we want to consider the horizontal view. Left to right, all the things in the order they happen, but also we want to consider the vertical. What are the things that can be happening at the same time, where there won’t be any conflict, without it getting [00:14:00] too crowded or too messy.

And this is how we can speed up our project. We’re being clever about our pieces. And we’re putting things in the right way, with the right resources, in the right timing. So that then we can pull it off and still pull it off just as easily. It’s not going to make it harder if you’re saying to Ben, Hey Ben, I need you to go and do this task while we’re waiting for the other task to finish. And then you go and talk to Sue and you say, Hey Sue, I need you to do this other task while we’re waiting for that other task to finish. All you’ve done is set two things going at the same time to give them a head start and to get them turned around and completed so that when we have everything we need, we move to the next phase.

And it means that then we’re not starting and stopping as we get each bit. So, that’s it! That is as hard as it gets. Like when you are looking at mapping [00:15:00] out a timeline that is accurate, easy, and that has a high level of completion, this is how you do it. Six steps. Simple. It’s when we start to overthink and complicate it too much that then it gets unruly and mistakes get made and we feel stressed and things don’t go to plan.

But if we can just move through each step and keep things quite calm, you’ll end up with a really solid plan. So I hope that you found this helpful. If you are enjoying this episode, please leave me a five star review and tell me what you loved most about it. Otherwise, I will see you next week. Bye, guys!