I have friends that have businesses and some of them are closer than others. Like everyone on the planet, I get phone calls from them. It’s an hour on the phone or an email here and there, or perhaps a couple hours on Skype. I take all them without thinking about it because they are important and friends and family come first. I don’t want their success or their riches. I am a talkative guy with some good ideas mixed in with shareable experience. This opens me up to a “quick Skype call”, or “dude, call me” from time to time and I always do my very best to give them ideas and share tactics without turning it into a consulting job.
People truly need a sounding board and I understand a lot about social, content, and design. Someone asked the other day if this kind of exchange is healthy and where do you stop giving people ideas that have no returns? That is a powerful question in many ways. I am a brother, son, father, cousin, and the list goes on. I am suppose to share and talk with these people. This gave me pause for the first time in a long time.
I have some friends that basically do what I do and it is amazing how different their approaches are. Some people on this planet would outright refuse to have these discussions even if it’s on the back porch with a beer and talking about Facebook page issues. People come from all over the spectrum when it comes to offering advice for free to sending you a bill when their advice gave you a boost on Instagram. I have taught people how to make money, open a business, change this or that. I easily started a handful of prospering companies that took what I taught them and didn’t even leave a tip. (I didn’t, nor would I ask for one)
Honestly, I never wanted anything in return. I enjoy healthy competition and money is never on my mind as far as compensation. Seeing friends and family being able to put food on their table because I did XYZ is a good thing. I have enjoyed success as I have enjoyed failure, and that’s life. I believe in sharing information…to a point. Right? Isn’t there a line in the sand or a limit to what you share? For many there is. I suppose I have a limit too, but I haven’t found it yet. I am unsure if I want one when I can see these conversations blossom a new company that is good for the economy.
Food for Thought
Do you have a line? What drives it? How much do you give away to friends or family? Do you only give to family and note friends? Perhaps you don’t share your secrets with anyone. These questions are only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe you are on the other side. How much do you ask for? How many times do you use a single source for information or as a listening post? Will you ask family and not friends? This is a two-way street after all and one we might not address on a regular basis.
Eventually, you have to separate free from paid services. It becomes easier when you don’t know that person and they hire you without a relationship. Those are so easy and never give me heartache to send a $50 bill for my time. Even when it’s clear cut there can always be someone that has helped you in a community, or a fan of your work to slide your decision making into the grey area. If a member of my community asked me a few questions then I am probably going to answer them without charging. They supported me by being a member, and that pushes me to help them too.
I hate money. It changes decisions, law, relationships, and everything that exists.
What Is the Choice?
The choice is always personal. I do several Skype sessions a week along with churning out content, building my social channels, and engaging with people to increase my online footprint. I decide to give my knowledge away 70% of the time. The other 30% takes more than a casual conversation. You have to know upfront what you bring to the table and what the value is. Personally, I think I bring a depth of knowledge in business, execution, strategy, finances, and many other areas because I have been doing them for a long time. My 20.5 year military career also built upon my young and inexperienced leadership and management skills to what they are today. Combine 20.5 years in the U.S. Air Force with 6 LLCs that I created and reached global levels in some cases, and you come out with a lot to add to the conversation. I can fill out several resumes to say the least…
What is your value? When I go and see a lawyer for whatever the reason I get told the first 15 or 30 minute consultation is free. After than it is $300-$500/hr in some cases. They know exactly what they are worth because they can put an amount to it based on office rent, employees salary, and the other expenses that go into running a business. That’s why I struggled to find my value in the beginning, but eventually I created services that I think I can list at a rate that gives me a little money for my time. It will go up over time as my content gains popularity (hopefully). You have to figure out your own value by figuring out what your expertise is and what your advice could accomplish. If I Skype with a client for 1 hr/week and I get $50/hr, then the results should be at least that or a bit more. That can’t be applied every time so I will provide an example.
Let’s say my friend Alex sends me an email asking what he needs to have to file an LLC with the Secretary of State. I may tell him that it will require an hour or a detailed email that walks through the steps. Either delivery method is charged at $50/hr. I know that I have searched all 50 states for the best deal, covered the steps and paperwork needed, found the right bank for his business, and hopefully everything he needs to say he owns a business. That may have taken him a few hours or several weeks depending on his skills. Paying me $50/hr saved him from doing it himself. My knowledge allowed me to take my research and knowledge and opened a door to another new small business. Now if he had asked me what he should do to reduce his tax burden and save his company thousands in potential liability to the IRS, I might charge him $500/hr if it saves him $10,000.
You can see in my example that I have a weighted system and approach to what I charge, and you might have that too. Our efforts and knowledge can be tabulated if you know what your knowledge can lead to. I will add that I never ever consider taking advantage of someone. I know it should go without saying, but there is always a trap out there waiting for you. I could right another section on trust, but that’s another post entirely. To avoid anyone feeling like they didn’t get the services they expected, a simple money back guarantee goes a long way.
My sincerest, best wishes on getting the information you need or starting a consulting business. If you have answers to any of the questions I posed in the article and want to share it in the comment section, I would love to read them. Maybe you have a comment or a suggestion on the topic or how I relayed my thoughts. I welcome all comments and hope to continue the topic below.