Thursday 21 September 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Live Feedback On Skills and Services

The flow chart is the same always and I am observing this trend for the past one year.

 1] Excited to establish online income

Side hustle, multiple careers and alternative incomes is the new normal. The gig economy is here to stay and one who is new or unaware of this opportunity - as they never bothered to look elsewhere due to their primary occupation - often gets excited about the convenience of the whole thing
There is no travel – Work from home
There is no certification required - Just the ability to deliver as per client needs
There is no major investment – except buying a booklet. You can also attempt yourself by learning from Google. The booklet saves huge search time and some costly mistakes

No training

2] Eager to be engaged

Those who buy the beginner’s guide obviously are keen to start right away which is a good sign. They read quickly and even make notes however in all the excitement the absorption of key themes is often diluted. 

III.       3] The three questions:

In the very first SKYPE session or mail, I receive the same set of questions

What skills should I offer as services? What rates should I charge for my services? Which portal should I begin?

Image Credit: Canva Design

Just yesterday I had one of these questions worded differently and my response is captured here, almost as shared on mail, for the benefit of others who have similar dilemma

Skills Set

1] You do two things simultaneously – use your existing skills to bid while you acquire new skills for future.

2] What can be found in Google, decisions and opinion related questions will not be answered on mail or SKYPE. The reasons are:

In the name of support, I cannot disable you from thinking and taking key decisions. Decision making is significant learning.
You know best what you are good at or at least good enough to assist a client online.
You have to take the final call what skills you want to offer to test the market.
Web designing; Bid Management, Business Planning etc. are niche, high paying jobs and needs extensive training. 
First identify top 3 skills of which you are confident now and then next 3 skills that you want to learn online.
Once you let me know – I will let you know what avenues you have
You can self-learn SEM/ SEO at your own pace – What is it that you will offer now? NOW
3] How will you identify what skills you are good at?

Example, if you choose to do power point, share a sample with me – I will let you know if it meets market standards and provide you live feedback. Based on feedback you self-learn online.

Alternatively, pick up any live project and see if you can execute it – Do not waste too much time. If you feel confident, go ahead and create a profile to get started with bidding.

4] The next challenge you will face is how to fix rates for your skills. That is your call again.

Write to to know how to identify skills and use just one skill with different buyers

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Live Feedback on Daily Discipline

I am fascinated by few of Jim Rohn’s famous quotes and these are included in the Beginner’s Guide for working online. As these are apt in different stages of your journey to establish online income, the learner can relate to each one of them.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I remember attending webinars almost two decades back and the guy who stood on the stage had the same piece of advice. He used a different word – Association. Today I watched a video who used yet another word – Individuals you hang out with. 

Same essence and message, just differently worded.

“If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.” 

The one who is not ready to work, learn and challenge habitual thought patterns is always an encyclopedia of excuses. As a coach you need not waste your bandwidth in showing them ways because they are well capable of finding that themselves.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” 

You need minimum 21 days to build a new habit. You also need consistent efforts.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment” 

What you decide to do one fine day is a random act. What you do every day for positive results and goals is Discipline

“Don't wish it was easier wish you were better. Don't wish for less
problems wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom” 

Listen to the whiners. They all sound the same. In Jeff Olsen’s words there are two paths - Life of Responsibility and Life of Blame.

When things are getting difficult – There is unlearning (letting go of old habits)
When things are getting easy – There is learning (Acquiring new skills)

Both are equally important
“You cannot change your destination overnight. You can change your direction

Changing direction is easier said than done. If your need to reach your destination is not strong enough, you do not quite move in the required direction. Check your lead and lag measures - How close or how far you are from your goals based on the activities you do?

“Successful people have libraries. The rest have big screen TVs” 

Non-readers waste roughly 700 hours in watch TV even if you consider an average of 2 hours per day. Does that give a rough idea about how many hours readers spend on books and libraries?

“When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to get it.” 

Do you want to establish your side-hustle bad enough? If yes, get started. If no, read the first quotation again.

Write to to have a daily learning road map leading to desired outcomes

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Live Feedback on Choosing Projects and Clients

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from people who are new to online income and are in the beginning stages of bidding.

How do we find a genuine client who will appreciate good work for long term business relationship?

Assess buying behavior

First of all you need to understand why the buyers are outsourcing a particular project instead of doing it themselves or using an in-house team.

1] Is it lack of knowledge, expertise and experience?
2] Is if lack of time?

The one who has knowledge will know what it takes to execute the assignment and will call out his budget accordingly, based on skill, market and industry standards.

He is probably unable to do it himself as he is pre-occupied with more critical activities of the same or another project. He is probably unable to focus due to his travel plans or other priorities.

As he is aware about the amount of time required to complete a project of this nature, he will usually allocate budget to suit seller’s expectations.

How will you know he has knowledge about what he is asking you to do?

1] He will give you the required inputs because he is sure you will need that to complete the project

2] He will be a great facilitator with research material, his rough drafts, his notes before he call out his expectations from you.

Assess language/ responses

I have had buyers who wanted to and fro communication while the project is being executed. That is because they have had past experiences where they lost time and money due to poor execution and they want no such thing to happen again.

I need to think holistically. I ask all my questions before I accept an assignment. I do extensive research, prepare my notes and then begin working on client’s project.

Ongoing communication, therefore, is a huge distraction for me and I do not allow that. I submit the final output with a rationale document. If my clients want even a single revision, they have to beat that rationale first. I do not allow any revision based on whims, fancies and afterthoughts.

When you put across your points one by one, why you are unable to comply with any of buyer’s request, their questions/ language after that is a huge hint regarding the following:

1] How the client will accept your submission?

2] Trust level developed between the two of you

Assess need

You can spot a small minded client based on how he describes his project and the budget he indicates.

Even if I give benefit of doubt to the buyers that they are unaware about prevailing rates and hence allocated budget incorrectly, the project description is such a big give away about what is going on in their mind

Here are two samples you need to immediately discard and choose not to respond as you are getting into a very difficult situation regardless of budget.

Sample One:

1] Need professional and customized presentation.
2] Need 5 such power point design based on company branding for this and future requirements:
Headings (Verdana)
Text (San Serif)
3] Every presentation should be ready within 24 hours.
4] Only experienced, talented and professional designer with good business acumen and market intelligence will be considered
5] I will need business graphics, charts, Smart Art, table and relevant images
6] See attached sample
7] Budget $ 25

Now note my comments/ interpretations of the numbered points

1] Standard template is not acceptable

2] This is a cheap bait - Hinting at ongoing work for seller to consider future business and volume discounted rates for services. 

5 designs for each presentation means he wants variety to choose from and does not have definite sense of color schemes, industry presentation standards and aesthetics. His knowledge of company branding is limited to fonts only. 

3] I prefer not to comment on this. It takes more than 48 hours sometimes to research and another 48 hours even to think of a story board considering the mental caliber of target audience.

4] Pick on seller's brain for free

5] The need is not defined but scattered which is another huge hint that he is not sure what he wants

6] If the sample belongs to his company - that is probably to set standards. If the sample belongs to another company - It is unethical and the buyer has creative crisis even to describe his requirements

7] Do not waste your time even reading the project brief. It is not worth it.

Sample Two:

1] Business plan around 70 to 80 pages on XXXX with the following:

2] Projections required:


3] Provide all realistic costs for license, incorporation etc

4] Budget: $50 / $500

Here the budget does not matter.

1] Check what inputs you have received - absolutely nothing. You will not get anything either, even if you ask.

2] Look what his primary need is - Projections. He is clue less about the financial part and due to lack of research, he has no idea when the business will break - even; first year, second or after 5 years?

He wants three different financial plans because he does not know his target audience either - what they are likely to ask?

3] 70 to 80 pages - When an entrepreneur has not done even basic research about a business idea or the market, he tends to ask for more pages in a business plan. The expectation is - the plan will do the selling. 

Will you choose to do the Herculean task to educate this entrepreneur or just discard the project?

How to recognize an entrepreneur who knows his business?

An entrepreneur who has been working on a particular idea for a long time, even if he is an amateur in the startup ecosystem, he will have loads of information, scribbled notes, what he tried to get done from his team to share with you.

As long as he is trying to assist you to the best of his ability so that you can do good work for him, you can let him know based on your experience what works and what doesn't so that he can take an informed decision.

Write to if you have a project that you are not sure of - we will share our perspectives, key pointers and even clarification questions you can ask your client to get you started.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Corporation: Does Storytelling Method Really Help In Business?

Let us begin with your story then. If I ask you to remember and share something about your life that matters to you the most - what will that be?

And if I ask you why do you still remember that so distinctly, can you respond to that? 

Let us try and understand how most of us tend to remember things.

School/ Education:

Which period was more fun and more productive – the theory part, taking notes, listening to lectures or practical assignments?

Corporate/ Job

Which part stayed in your mind longer - The 8 hour Class room based training on different subjects or experiential learning from your team lead?

Social media

What are you glued to most – lengthy blogs, podcasts or videos?

Your own work

Remember the power point presentation you did a few years back – You do not quite remember the slides exactly however you do remember what you wanted to say to your audience because you had to brain storm the story board first.

An old book

An old movie

A childhood memory

An incident from the past

A friendly chat

Everything - simple and complex subject - that stays in your mind has a specific sequence and specific structure

What content does to us through different medium is stir our minds by talking about history, an experience, something creative or soft selling an idea

There are four layers of communication:

Connect: Your first connect with your audience – through any medium / any channel?

Relate: Does your subject have any relevance to your target audience and their interest?

Build Trust: Did you take enough efforts to build trust?

Influence: If the first three is not done appropriately, there is no way you can influence one’s learning, decisions, business or sales.

The art of storytelling had good measure of all the above and therefore more effective. It helps retention in one’s memory easily.

The blog title was a question and I could have just answered it here. What I opted to do instead is rope you in and deep dive individual parts of your life – Your school, college, job, social life - so that you know how stories can affect you, impact you, change you  and motivate you.

Now imagine this:

If I wrote this blog with the following headings:

What is Story telling?
The Art of Storytelling
Advantages of Storytelling
Key components of Storytelling
Will you be  awake by the end of it?

A meaningful story stays in one's mind. And that is all that matters.

Storytelling in business:

You establish the agenda
You define the pain point
You offer the solution

You give your audience a reason to do business with you because you are telling them their story and your solution is that “happily ever after” for them. 

Regardless of label - an entry level resource to CXO - the story should address their mental caliber to trigger thinking about what you want them to think - You, your company and your solution.

Write to if you are struggling with a story board for a pitch deck, investor deck, corporate overview or any content for that "happily ever after" quotient with your client - We will be glad to assist with an outline.

Friday 15 September 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Live Feedback On Due Diligence Before Order Acceptance

I have picked up some real time projects and tweaked the language a bit however kept the essence of the brief intact. That should go well for the learning part.

Sample 1

My business plan is ready. I just need someone to check the finance part, correct and do necessary changes. The financial plan should include forecast for one year at least, cash flow, balance sheet or profit and loss statement, project profits in the first 6 months. Also require

1] Break-even point
2] How financial tools will be used to monitory financial performance
3] Contingency plan confirming resources to meet the cost of finances
4] Emergency plan

Need within 10 hours

Budget $10

To Bid or Not To Bid

The client’s business plan may be ready however he is not ready for business yet. You can spot an amateur miles away in the startup eco system.

After the business model, the widest gap between idea and business; execution and revenue; startup and take off is the financial planning part. It takes ages, extensive brain storming, elaborate research. It is not just some numbers in an excel sheet. This client thinks it is just that. 10 hours hints at that. No wonder he thinks, this is just a tenner piece of work.

The pricing model is the breaking and making point of any business. That determines if you will stay in the business or just be washed out. It is not filling a template and making lofty claims about quick profitability – It is transfer of conviction from business owner to every reader who set their eyes on that plan.

I leave it to your judgment and final call if you want to bid or educate this client – If you are invited/ contacted to bid, when you refuse state reasons. Never lose one opportunity to enlighten someone with a piece of information that you think, he definitely must know. You will be thanked profusely soon for that.

Sample 2

I have a 20 page PDF. It is from a company I worked for in the past. A friend is still working there and shared the recent pitch deck. I love the visuals and the story.

I am looking for someone who need not begin from scratch but just replicate this, use my name deleting existing document contact, some minor changes in work, new photo graphs, play with the sequence

To Bid or Not To Bid

Read between the lines.

This is unethical. Period

Enough Said.

It would be a very different story, if the project brief was like this.

I have a 20 page PDF. My friend presented the pitch deck. I love the visuals and the story and want to use for my client.

I am looking for someone to just replicate this, use my name deleting my friends, some minor changes in work, new photographs play with the sequence to make it relevant while I work on financial slides.

Ask clarification questions if there is any compromise on intellectual property. 

You are most likely to be told that they belong to the same company, and their leader asked them to outsource the standard deck part while the resource who posted the project brief is personally working on the commercial part.

Again it is your call.

So before you accept order, see what you are getting into. Are you risking your reputation being associated with the wrong kind of project unknowingly or deliberately?

Either educate client when your refuse order or educate yourself about the objective of each task when you accept an order.

Write to if you have any client interaction that you are not sure of, if you should proceed with the execution or just decline the order due to a shady aspect in the project.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Live Feedback On Pitching and Quoting For End To End Work

Here is an excerpt from one of my mails to a beginner pitching for end-to-end work for an Australian client

Scope of Work:

Market research
Social Media Strategy
Website design
Website content development
Product Package design

How much to quote:

Hourly to fixed rates?

Find hourly based on current salary:
That is your prevailing market rate based on past experience

To pad, quote three times that rate

Factors to consider if you have to drop that rate

Client background
Your first time in this domain
Possibility of repeat business
Is it a new feather in your cap – adding to your portfolio?
Is it increasing your world dominion – A client from a new geography?
Is it good for your capability case study?
Does this project require your intervention in different functions?

Client in scope:

The client has outsourced quite a few jobs 
Client has received good feedback from freelancers.
There is a potential for big projects with this client.

Time required:

Market research:                                $250 (10 Hours)
Social Media Strategy:                        $250 (5 Hours)
Promotion                                          $250 (Ongoing)

How should you propose if you include a freebie?

 Market research:                                $300 (10 Hours)
Social Media Strategy:                         $300 (5 Hours)
Promotion                                           $300 (Ongoing)
WIX at no cost                                    (4 Critical Pages)

(The amount indicated here is for illustration purpose only)

WIX Advantages:

 Practically site readiness is free for client
Ready WIX design
72 hours delivery
User friendly – Easy maintenance for client
Loads of features
Content readiness based on your research
First time market feedback before final website construction
Reasonable monthly charges instead of hosting charges
Saving the trouble to handle multiple freelancers

Remember, you are not just a resource, you are the coach

Source Freelancers (Extra Mile)

Product package design
Look up for professionals proficient with graphic designing.

Upgrade skills to pitch for end to end projects:

Going forward, objective should be to bid for end-to-end projects, starting from market study to competitive intelligence, marketing strategy and launch, web design and social media campaigns to support specific target market (Startups/ first time entrepreneurs)

Building credibility

Based on projects completed, you need to come up with small case studies and include those in website.

The website link will be a sum of all your assignments that will contribute to your branding

LinkedIn profile is a sum of all your roles – present and past that partially brands the firms you are associated with.

You share the website link with your clients if you do not want them to know about your primary occupation.

Write to if you have challenges regarding your side hustle, client pitch, justifying quotes and designing your proposal. We have a few quick tips handy that has worked for a few BECKON Learning Community members.