Hunger, and advice about giving advice

One of the things I spend a lot of time doing is giving advice to business owners and entrepreneurs of various flavors.

A few observations about that:

Smart people listen and take action. Not necessarily doing exactly what I suggest, but SOME sort of action on the problem that they asked about. They dont get themselves bound up in thoughts like “well, you said that worked for the carpet cleaning company, but I write software, so it wont work for me”. There are any number of reasons you can find not to try something. How about this: What if it gets you 1 life-long customer per week? Per month? What’s that worth over time? Presumably that’s a number you know already.

Free advice is almost always worth what you pay for it. Not necessarily because it’s bad advice, but because human nature seems to indicate that if it’s free, we don’t value it as much as “real” advice that we paid for. If we don’t value it, we tend to not heed it.

It’s one of the reasons why I price my work the way I do, and it’s also one of the reasons I am very careful about giving out free advice. It’s not that I don’t want to help people, but the unseen consequences are out there. If I give someone advice and they don’t use it, that hurts no one but them. On the other hand, if they tell someone else “well, Mark suggested I do this, but I didn’t do it” or “…but it didn’t work” (because they didn’t do it), then that reflects on me.

It’s easy to slough off free advice. When you have a skin in the game, suddenly there’s some mysterious reason why you want a positive ROI:) It’s one of the reasons you should think hard about what and how you charge for what you do. On that note: No one asks for the cheapest brain surgeon. No one asks who the cheapest cancer doctor (oncologist) is. They want the best. They want someone who has swooped in and made “miracles” happen. How do you make miracles?

Speaking of miracles..I think back to a couple of chiropractors that I know. I’ve never been to one professionally, but a good many of them talk about fixing back pain. I’ve had a few periods in my life where I had some back pain (actually back muscle spasms). Quite frankly, I’d almost rather spend the night in Mike Tyson’s jail cell than deal with that stuff again. NOTE: I said “ALMOST”, Mike.

I’m guessing that very few, if any, chiropractors have ever experienced back pain, because if they did, their marketing would be far more emotional and personal. And a heck of a lot more effective. Again…what miracles do you create?

Excuses abound.  “A close relative died” is an excuse (well, really more of a reason). “My brakes squeak”, “I have a stuffy nose today” or “I didn’t have time” are not. Choices.

Be prolific. One of Dan’s common comments is “A buyer is a buyer is a buyer”. What he means is that there is a small portion of your clientèle that will invest in everything you offer simply because they believe in you and the impact you have on their business or personal life (depending on what you do). That portion of your clientèle actually EXPECTS more products and services from you.  That doesn’t mean “Make up new crap to sell people”. It means you must be constantly innovating. That “slight edge” thing I talk about isn’t just claptrap to get you to read the next post. It’s something you should expect of yourself because your buyer-buyer-buyers expect “what’s next”. Doesn’t matter whether you sell advice or lawn mowers.

Be selective about the destination of your advice. One of the comments I make to people is that “I don’t save souls.” What I mean by that is that I help those who want to be helped. There is little reward for me in helping someone who is just going to sit there in the puddle and complain about sitting in the puddle, so to speak. Those who ask, those who listen, those who take action – those are the ones I enjoy helping. I really do mean enjoy. It’s very rewarding (and I don’t mean solely from a financial point of view) to help a business owner who WANTS help.

On the other hand, I really avoid spending time and effort offering advice to business owners who never take any action, heed any advice, etc. The hungry business owner who wants to see improvement might be making $100 a month or $100,000 a month, but they’re still hungry and seeking ways to make themselves and their business better every day.

Are you hungry?