You might think that hard work always pays off. Not so at all. You might think that only a business as small as yours would have the problem of serving a lot of people but yet not showing much (or any) profit. Not so. In fact, if you find yourself serving a lot of people but not having much to show for it in your bank account, you're in great company. Consider Facebook. It says that it serves over 1 billion active users who check in to Facebook at least once a month. And yet Facebook's net loss for 3rd quarter 2012 is $59 million. How can that be?
Here's how it can be. What Facebook is struggling with is what Michael Port calls “investable opportunities.” That's part of his Book Yourself Solid system (I'm a BYS certified coach). For the vast majority of Facebook users, everything is free. You can do most anything you set out to accomplish on Facebook without spending a dime. Only recently has Facebook started offering investable opportunities to its users – the “promote this post” feature. Facebook's problem is that most of us who use it are not customers – at least, not yet. We're freeloaders. We're prospects who have not yet been offered an investable opportunity that is compelling enough to switch us from prospects to customers.
If you are working hard, serving a lot of people, and don't have much to show for it I'll just about guarantee you don't have a good mix of investable opportunities for your prospects. And I'd bet you spend a lot of time giving your expertise away for free, just like Facebook, and not leading the freeloaders to what you want to offer them next.
Here's a few of the “I'm giving it away for free” activities you are probably doing.
- Speaking for free without a proper introduction and no ability to collect the names in the audience, make back of the room sales, or make an investable opportunity (an offer).
- Offering hour-long free strategy sessions in which you offer solutions rather than fully explore the problems, and at the end of which you have no standard way to invite the prospect to continue the conversation by working with you.
- Offering free resources through your e-zine, your blog posts, or through social media without a follow-on campaign in which you offer an investable opportunity.
I've done this, too. Back about 5 years ago I was booked for breakfast, coffee, lunch, and tea almost every single day of the week by local people who wanted to get to know me, but who in reality came with a list of questions and picked my brain. It took months of this for me to realize that not one of them would do any follow-up work with me (crying poor). Heck, not one of them even bought my meal! My bad, totally. I should have had a much better system in place to bring prospects into clients – and now I do.
If you are in the box of “I'm working my butt off and I have little to show for it” I invite you to take out a sheet of paper and list all the ways you are giving your expertise and experience away for free, without asking for the sale. There's nothing wrong with free, but there's nothing wrong with transforming your free work into paid work after the freebie, either. You're running a business, not a charity. Firm up your list of investable opportunities and, armed with this, go out and do your free work. Remember this mantra “free work with investable opportunity equals a successful business.”
If you want to know more about investable opportunities and how to get yourself in a safer and more profitable position, I invite you to sign up for my totally complimentary 7 part e-course based on Book Yourself Solid principles. It's called Seven Essential Strategies To Getting More Clients Now and you can get it by clicking this link.
Meanwhile, please leave your comments below, I'd love to hear your experiences with giving it away and not making an investable offer.