Tag Archives: consulting

The Two Words That Will Transform Your Consulting Business

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In Part 1, we talked about two words that I used to build a consulting business: Wait list.

Now I want to reveal the OTHER two words that are crucial to getting results as a consultant or agency.

One of the biggest traps that consultants and coaches fall into…

Why they don’t make the money that they want to make…

Is because of two simple words: OVER DELIVER.

(More specifically, getting into bad habits when it comes to over-delivering).

What do I mean by this?

Let me explain…


The Hidden Danger in Over Delivering

Most consultants want to over-deliver for their clients, so that they can get the best results possible.

They think it makes the clients happy, leading to better results, more referrals, and more income.

And they translate this into spending more TIME with their client.

But as a consultant, TIME is your most precious resource.

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And because time is a limited resource, the more time you’re spending on any given project, that’s time that you can’t spend on something else.

So the real way to get better results for both you and your clients?

And the REAL two words that I built my consulting practice on?


Set Boundaries

Now, I know this probably sounds counterintuitive, but stick with me.

When I first started consulting, I made all the mistakes in the book.

Clients walked all over me.

And very early on I realized that I absolutely needed to set boundaries within the consultant-client relationship.

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Here’s what setting boundaries looks like:

When someone became a client, they got access to exactly 60 minutes of my time per week.

There was no emailing back and forth in-between calls, and no requests to “take a quick look and review this.”

Instead, I requested that the client send me their agenda for the call, what they wanted to cover, at least 48 hours before…

So that I could have time to prepare and we wouldn’t waste any time on preliminaries.

And while this may seem pretty rigid and draconian on the surface, in reality, it makes every minute precious.

Clients very quickly became great at prioritizing the MOST important thing that they wanted to get out of our time together.

And our calls became much more productive as a result.

As a parent, I know that when I set boundaries for my kids they actually feel more comfortable, they feel safer knowing what’s expected of them.

And they’re able to grow and achieve more as a result.

This doesn’t change when we get older.

Being able to know:

  • • where the boundaries are
  • • what the expectations are
  • • and having a framework to work within

Is what will give your consulting relationships the focus and value that will get you and your clients results.

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So many entrepreneurs have a hard time prioritizing what’s really important.

And when everything is an urgent priority, then NOTHING is a priority.

But when you can set boundaries with your clients, THAT is what will give you the right framework to be able to overdeliver…

Because they’ll be totally focused and getting the RIGHT things done.


So Now I’m Curious…

If you’re a coach or a consultant…do YOU have a wait list?

What kind of boundaries do you set with your clients?

I’d love to know, so just leave a comment below!

Ryan :-)

How I Built a 7 Figure Consulting Business with Just One Employee

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When it comes to choosing a business model, many people decide to start out working with clients, doing coaching, consulting, or other done-for-you services.

The reason is because setting up your own business, choosing a market, building a list and a funnel, and running ads involves more moving pieces than just getting your first consulting client.

I’ve been working with clients, implementing the Ask Method, for several years.

I’ve done one-on-one coaching, consulting, “done with you” funnel implementation, and I’ve also tried the agency “done for you” model.

And if I could sum up everything I’ve learned in just two words, it would be this: WAIT LIST.

I’ll talk more about what I mean in a minute, but first let me give you some quick background.


How I Accidentally Became a Consultant

After I launched my third successful niche business, after Scrabble Tiles, the Orchid Care business, and the “Rocket Memory” business…

I started making connections within the marketing scene in Austin.

And at a mastermind event, I shared what I was doing, and someone came up to me and said, “How much would it cost for you to do what it is that you do?”

Now, until this point my plan was to launch funnels in 10 or 20 different niches of my own and build my business that way…so I turned it down.

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But that was the first time that I even considered working with another business.

The next seminar I attended, same thing.

And this time, I really considered it.

I ended up walking away from that event with my 2 first consulting clients.

Around this time, I was hiking with Glenn Livingston, my mentor, and he said, “Ryan, you know my methodology better than I know it.”

He wanted to wind things down, he didn’t want to work as much as he was working.

He said, “Would you be interested in handling the overflow of consulting clients?”

And before I knew it, I had my first 5 or 6 clients.

I was charging $297 a month, just to get my feet wet, but I quickly realized I could raise my prices…and the rest is history.


From Consulting to Agency

As the number of successful Ask Method funnels continued to grow, I began getting requests from people who wanted to know:

“Do you have a done for you option, Ryan? I want someone to build my funnel for me.”

That’s when I decided to build an agency to build Ask Method funnels.

And while the funnels we built were successful, and there continues to be a very high demand for Ask consulting and implementation services…

Eventually I decided to scale down both my agency AND my consulting business so that I could focus on teaching the Ask Method to as many people as possible.

(That means, by the way, that there’s a HUGE demand in the market for both consulting and done-for-you Ask Method funnels).

My experience in running a consulting business and an agency has taught me a lot.

And there are definite pros and cons to each model.


Consulting: Pros and Cons

So what are the advantages of consulting?

Well, when you do coaching or consulting, clients are paying a premium for your time and expertise.

And when you work with a client one-on-one, that’s the best way to help them get results.

And yet when it comes to the implementation, all the technical details and the investment in the project, well, that’s on someone else’s shoulders.

And if you negotiate a rev-share or royalty deal, then you continue to earn money when the project is successful.

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This also says to your client, “I’ve got skin in the game, so I’m going to do all I can to make this a success.”

On the other hand, when you work with clients, you always run the risk of working with someone who’s not going to get the job done (there are ways to avoid this, which I’ll talk about in a minute).

And there are those clients who will try to stretch the boundaries of the relationship, calling you at all hours and making demands beyond what you agreed upon.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure the expectations are clear and agreed upon up front.

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Should You Start an Agency?

Come on, who doesn’t want a done for you service?

There are lots of people who are happy to pay so that they can have an expert do the implementation.

Just a few things to be mindful of:

  • 1) Have a very good timeline of how long it takes to complete a project, because small delays can add up to big costs for you.
  • 2) Put a team in place that you can rely on, led by someone who can manage all aspects of the project.
  • 3) Agency services, depending on what they are, tend to have a higher cost than information publishing or consulting. While that means you can charge a higher premium, it also means doing a careful cost-benefit analysis to see if this is the best model for you.

My BEST Advice for Consultants and Agencies

You could be the absolute best at what you do, but if you don’t know how to sell yourself, you’ll have a hard time getting clients.

In my experience, it’s not enough to be the best, not enough to be good…

You have to sell your services.

And the best way to do this is NOT to sell at all.

The best way to do this is to have people banging down YOUR door wanting to work with you.

And my signature strategy for creating this demand is by using a “wait list” strategy.

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When you’re first getting started, the HARDEST thing to do is to have a wait list.

You feel this need to accept every client who wants to work with you.

It’s easy to have a wait list when you have a line of people out the door waiting to work with you…

But it’s a lot harder when you’re struggling to cover your expenses.

Even more experienced consultants still feel the urge to say yes to everyone who comes through the door…

Resist the urge.

This doesn’t make you inauthentic. Quite the opposite.

The wait list is designed to help you and your client have the best possible chances of success.

Here’s why: If you try to play with a cat by shoving a ball of yarn in its face, chances are the cat will stick its tail up and walk away from you.

If you want the cat to play with you, you have to gently pull the yarn away from the cat.

Instantly, the cat wants what it can’t have…and as humans, we’re wired the same way.

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We tend to value more highly what we can’t have, and when it comes to consulting, if you can position it as something desirable and exclusive…

That means your clients will be much more likely to implement what you advise them on.

If something is too easy, it creates doubt in people’s minds, and they wonder: “Is this the right decision? Why is this so easy?”

And they second guess themselves.

On the other hand, if they have to wait to work with you, and if they walk in feeling that they’ve lucked out by getting time with you, they’ll be willing to work that much harder to get results…

And that’s a win-win situation for both of you.


So to sum it all up…

  • 1) Specialize. Do one thing and be known for doing that one thing (like becoming an Ask Method Specialist). 
  • 2) Create demand through your positioning and marketing. 
  • 3) Have a wait list. Just do it.

Last but not least…

I lied.

There are actually two more words that are responsible for my 7 figure consulting business, and they have nothing to do with wait list.

Can you guess what they are?

Leave a comment below with your best guess and check back for Part 2 to see if you were right.

Talk soon,

Ryan :-)

How to Choose Your Business Model

7 Profitable Business Models…and How to Decide Which One is Right for You

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Over the past 10 years, I’ve tried my hand at several different business models. Most of them have been successful, but there have been some struggles and failures along the way. And from these successes and failures, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I’d like to share with you. I hope these lessons help you focus your thinking on what the best business models are for you.

The great thing about all of these business models is that you can choose virtually any market, and use the Ask Method with ANY of these business models successfully. More about how to do that in just a moment.

All of these models WORK. They’re all proven models, with many many examples of success stories for each and every one. The key here is to choose the models that fit with you and your business: your strengths, your personality, and your team.

If you’re adding a new division to your current business, wondering if the model you’re in right now is the best one for you, or looking to escape your day job and come up with a plan, then reading this will help you weigh the pros and cons of each model.

Because not every every business model is one that you should pursue. Just because you could launch a continuity program or an agency…doesn’t mean that you should.

Before you try a new business model, consider your personality type, what your strengths are, and what you naturally enjoy. If you’ve taken the KOLBE assessment or the StrengthsFinder test, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what these are. Use them to guide your decision-making process.

So without further ado, let’s get into the different business models right now.

Business Model #1: Creating Information Products

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Why Choose this Model?

The profit margins: Creating and selling information products, online courses, ebooks, and other education/information products have very high profit margins.

You create something once, and if it’s a digital product then you have no need to stock inventory, and you can deliver it automatically to any volume of people at once.

While a physical product that you sell for $100 but costs you $15 leaves $85 in your pocket, an online information product that you sell for the same price will leave $100 in your pocket.

Creating a digital information product is a low-cost way to get something started, and very easy to scale up from there.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. Not everyone enjoys the creative process. If you choose this model, you should really enjoy what goes into creating a product.

2. When you’re thinking about your market, be sure that you choose evergreen topics as much as possible, so that you don’t have to update your product as frequently. For example, the orchid market vs. something like Google Adwords, where the rules are constantly changing.

3. Be sure that the support for your product is either a separate product, or priced accordingly in the program, otherwise you’ll enter the “black hole of customer service” with endless time-consuming emails.

Business Model #2: Promoting Affiliate Offers

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Why Choose this Model?

Promoting products as an affiliate means that you don’t have to actually create the products that you promote…all you have to do is focus on selling.

Sounds easy, right?

The crucial thing with this business model is choosing the right markets to find the right products that are proven to sell.

Being an affiliate allows you to leverage the credibility and the authority of the product owners by association (if you choose right).

For example, we partner with JV affiliates to promote our flagship product, the Ask Method Masterclass.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. While it’s convenient not to have to worry about creating products, it’s actually VERY difficult to build a business without at least one core product. Ideally, a combination of your own products as well as affiliates’ will give you the best of both worlds.

2. As an affiliate, you don’t control the payment timing, which means that you can often find yourself in the money chasing business.

Look for things like a 7 day fast pay of 75% with 25% paid after refund period, which is a good indication that you can expect reliable payments. But you still need to trust whoever’s paying you. I know this from experience after being burned a few times, which is why we ALWAYS pay on time.

3. When choosing affiliate offers, you always want to make them relevant to WHY people follow you in the first place. For example, we did a promotion with Jonathan Mizel, who teaches how to get traffic using rented email lists.

 

This strategy is ideal for people who want to run a Deep Dive Survey but have no list…so we set up a trial campaign using Jonathan’s method and ran a Deep Dive Survey, and then showed the case study during the promotion.

This ended up being one of our most successful promotions to date, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that the offer was a great fit, and directly relevant to what I teach.

Business Model #3: Selling Software

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Why Choose this Model?

Software is great because it’s got a huge potential for recurring revenue. Once people start using a certain software they tend to stay with it, because it’s a lot of work to switch everything over, which gives you a high stick rate.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. My first software business was a WordPress plugin for Survey Funnels. With WordPress, you have multiple versions, plugin conflicts, and you have to constantly update to keep up with changes to WordPress.

2. While it’s relatively easy to build something like a WordPress plugin, if you want steady revenue coming from your software you should fully control the environment and development so that you can adapt and make changes as needed.

3. There are always going to be customer service issues with software. If you’re working with someone else, then those customer service issues are outside your control.

 

As I develop a new software to implement the Ask Method, I understand more and more how important it is to have full control over the process and the environment.

Business Model #4: Launching a Continuity Program

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Why Choose this Model?

A continuity program gives you predictable, recurring revenue. It’s a very reliable form of income, and allows you to plan and manage your business expenses based on that. Unlike a launch, which gives you a fast influx of cash, with continuity programs you can anticipate growth and decline, and plan accordingly.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. Continuity programs aren’t right for every market. For “enthusiast” markets, like gardening, or my own Next Level Group Mastermind for business owners, it’s a great fit, assuming that you have…

2. Never ending content creation. With a membership program, you should constantly be adding resources and content, so that your members are always getting something new, and additional value, for the same price.

3. People are naturally less willing to sign up for open-ended continuity. While that might work for some markets, for others you may be better off with a fixed-term program, such as a 6 or 12 month membership…or positioning the open-ended continuity as a “VIP” option.

Business Model #5: Hosting Paid Live Events

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Why Choose this Model?

There’s nothing like a live event. The atmosphere, the vibe, whatever you want to call it is totally different from anything online. A live event lets you deliver transformation, and it also gives you the perfect opportunity to upsell people into a longer commitment to working with you, whether it’s coaching or a higher-level mastermind.

Live events are also GREAT for capturing testimonials, because people are there, you already have the video crew, and the energy from the event means that people will say great things about you.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. Putting on live events is not as easy as it looks. It’s actually pretty time consuming, especially if you want to deliver a premium experience. Plan for the fact that planning live events is a lot of work

2. When you put a lot of thought into the experience that people are getting at the event, it shows. The first few events I did, we just went with the hotel menu, nothing special. And we got NO compliments on the food. But when we sat down with the executive chef and hand-picked every menu element ourselves, everyone commented.

The gifts that you give at the event will mean a lot to people, so choose wisely. The goal at a live event is to make people feel special and to deliver lots of value not just with the content of the event, but with the overall experience.

3. While it can be tempting to want to change venues and cities and keep things exciting, you want to stick to the same location as much as possible. This way, you already know the staff, you have more leverage to get what you want, and you have a relationship with the managers and vendors, rather than starting from scratch every time.

Business Model #6: Private Consulting (With or Without Revenue Share)

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Why Choose this Model?

When you do coaching or consulting, people are paying a premium for your time and expertise. Working with someone one-on-one is the best way to get them results. And happy clients mean more referrals and testimonials.

Not only is consulting a great way to build your reputation before launching something else, it’s also the perfect opportunity for rev share/royalty deals.

When I started as a consultant, walking people through how to build Survey Funnels, every deal I made included a revenue share, so that they knew that I had skin in the game, and wanted to make their funnel a home run.

And if you know the Ask Method, you can do the same thing.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. Protect your time. When I take on a new client, it’s with a monthly retainer and an agreement setting the boundaries of our relationship.

2. Here are the rules for working with me: all discussions are by phone (not email), and 48 hours before our call you should be sending me a one-page document with what we’re talking about so that I can review, be prepared, and make the most of that time. Not only does this make me a more effective coach, it also helps the client nail down their priorities and get more done.

3. When setting up royalty agreements, define the boundaries clearly: for specific funnel(s) only. Also be sure to use an automatic payment system like Stripe or Clickbank to get paid.

Business Model #7: Done for You Agency Services

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Why Choose this Model?

This is what people want! Come on, who doesn’t want a done for you service? It’s super easy to sell, and there’s a ton of demand right now for DFY (done for you) agency services.

3 Lessons Learned:

1. Get deposits in advance to build a pipeline of people who have already committed to work with you.

2. Know how long it will take you to complete each project. Put a team in place that you can rely on, led by someone who can manage all aspects of the project.

3. Agency services, depending on what they are, tend to have a higher cost than information publishing or consulting. While that means you can charge a higher premium, it also means doing a careful cost-benefit analysis to see if this is the best model for you.

 

When I made the decision to stop offering agency services, despite a huge demand, I shifted my focus to becoming a world class education business instead, teaching people to execute the Ask Method through the Ask Method Masterclass.

Now it’s your turn to sound off: what business model(s) do you use? Which ones work best for you, which ones didn’t work, and why?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

All my best,

Ryan :-)