Do I have enough credentials?
Am I qualified enough to effectively help people and charge for my work?
These questions have been coming up in conversations with clients and colleagues alike lately, and I thought it was time to write a post addressing this common issue.

imageWe live in a culture that values university degrees and undervalues life experience and God given talent. I just got off the phone from a client who has overcome incredible adversity, and lives a life that inspires others. Yet she doesn’t see that she is special or how she is an inspiration because she just gets on with it. I am guessing that’s been her survival and coping strategy – rather than choose to see the magnificence that is herself, to feel as “normal” as possible and keep moving forward the best way she knows how.

She feels if only she had a certificate or a university degree, was a certified coach or successful business owner, then she could have the confidence to share her message and help others. (Can you relate?) Unfortunately, my own experience suggests it often doesn’t work like this!

As someone with multiple university degrees, I can tell you they are not something I value in terms of credibility. They show that someone can read, string a few sentences together in a cohesive manner and remember a lot of useless info to recall in an exam only to forget them the next day, but very light on useful practical knowledge that could be applied to help others. (That was my experience anyway!)

With a string of letters after my name (including a degree, 2 graduate diplomas and a Masters!), 5 years on I was still working for FREE in the career of my choice in an attempt to find something – anything – that would give me the confidence to find some meaningful work I could get paid for. In the mean time, I was a part time bookkeeper to bring in some cash.

So I believe I’m qualified to say its not about what external credentials you have that enable you to get paid to do what you love.

So what DO you need?

1. You need a competent skill set
The books I’ve read and people who have mentored me have been way more powerful than any time I spent at University. There is no question that the coaching and emotional clearing skills I was taught at Beyond Success gave me the structure and resources I was lacking to work as a coach. Bt the majority of people I come across have a brilliant skill set, this is not where most people are lacking.

2. Self Belief – or at least, “Other Belief”
I would not be where I am today without the coach I had for the first two years of my coaching “life”. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She pointed out where I was going right when I was seeing all that was wrong. She nurtured me, understood me, listened without judgement and supported me through many ups and downs. For that I am eternally grateful, and it’s something I strive to pass on to my own clients.

3. Listen to your clients
Stick at it. Work with as many people as you can and ask them for feedback, including an honest written testimonial. Ask your clients if they are getting value. And if so, ask them to consider referring you to others. If they are not getting value, ask them how you can better meet their needs. Be mindful though you will not meet everyone’s needs and that is ok. But if there is a theme in the feedback, you might need to tweak a few things. Look for and attract the clients whose needs you can and will meet.

4. Value your God given talents!
Most of us were brought up with the belief that “hard work pays off”. So by reverse implication, easy work… Doesn’t pay??
Just as my client mentioned above doesn’t see how much of an inspiration she is, many people who are working in a area they are talented at – don’t value their work because it comes so easily for them.
My advice if this describes you is that you need to reframe your work. Instead of charging your clients in proportion to the time or effort it takes you to serve them, think in terms of the results your client can expect to receive from your service. How much time, energy, effort or pain (and money!!) are you going to save them by doing what you do?

4. Having a strong and clear marketing message
Last but definitely not least, to be a successful business person in the “helping” field, you need to have a clear marketing message.
In very basic terms, your marketing needs to answer the following questions:
– Who do you help?
– what problem do you solve for these people?
– proof via testimonials
– (without going into too much detail), How do you solve this problem?
– why would I choose you to help me?
– how do I contact you so we can work together?

Personally, when I’m looking for someone to work with, a line of letters after their name just doesn’t do it for me.

So what does?

My perception of their ability to solve my problem.

What affects my perception is :
They seem to understand my problem, looks like they have helped others with similar issues, someone may have referred me, they seem trustworthy and authentic, it feels right, and they have shared some of their knowledge for free or low cost to assist me to see they know what they are talking about!

What about you?
What has most helped you on your journey to help others and get paid for it? Are there any of these points I’ve made you feel you need to take your business to the next step?
As a customer, what affects your decision to engage someone’s services?

I’d love to hear your comments, please share your insights as they help others too.
To your success (and creating a happier world),