When I built my business, the question of how much to charge for my services was an unexpected hurdle. I knew I wanted to create a course for emerging entrepreneurs but I didn’t know anyone who offered that kind of service.
That said, I needed to know. I had to educate myself before I could educate others.
Thus, I became a consumer — a student of sorts. I took several competing courses so I had knowledge about the content, value and style of existing offerings. At the same time, I built up an email list and sent targeted surveys, asking direct questions about people’s needs. I brought in people who were more experienced than I was and listened to them carefully.
Here are some lessons I learned about learning lessons:
1. Overdeliver your content, don’t overvalue it.
I found that some speakers charged $10,000 for a “mastermind” session. They valued their services so highly that they basically prohibited entrepreneurs on startup budgets from attending. That didn’t make any sense to me. It seemed like highway robbery.
I wanted to make a course for entrepreneurs who were just starting out. In order to excite those customers and prove I understood them, I had to make the price affordable.
My course was cheaper than perhaps it should have been, but it overdelivered value and left my customeres wanting more.
2. Be the change you want to see.
I built my company on a need I felt personally. I needed mentors but found it difficult to meet them. I needed advice. So, I built my company based on that need. I realized the power of connection by creating my own Facebook group for entrepreneurs and seeing firsthand what a difference it can make to have a safe place to share ideas.
Related: 5 Secrets to Finding and Working With a Mentor
3. Be yourself — really.
We hear this advice so often in the personal sphere: Just be yourself. But, it’s not used often enough in entrepreneurship. Authenticity and honesty are vitally important traits if you’re going to form meaningful connections with your audience. Great leaders and speakers can appear to a live audience almost exactly as they appear at home to their spouses. Practice making your service personal.
Related: Are You Living Your Most Authentic Self?
4. Those who can, teach.
From experiencing many business courses myself, I learned that the most helpful courses were led by people who’d actually been there and done that. Plenty of speakers were willing to preach, but if they hadn’t practiced what they were describing, their advice was only abstractly useful. Do your research and find yourself a practiced teacher.
5. Weed out scams.
A scam isn’t just a fake rental property on Craigslist; scams come in all shapes and sizes and are sometimes difficult to distinguish from genuine, useful services. I have seen many people launch courses — sometimes with high-profile or charismatic personalities and colorful branding. Glitzy presentations can easily sway you, but look for content first and foremost.
The thought leaders you should be listening to have a wealth of content to share, and you can find it on their social media pages, websites or publishing outlets.
Related: 9 Things True Thought Leaders Always Do
6. Talking about money is okay.
If someone sells you a course about building an eight-figure company and then completely skirts the subject of money, that’s a red flag. I’m not afraid to talk about finances with entrepreneurs. I say honestly, “I’ve built this company, and I want to teach you how I did it.” Avoiding money in that conversation would be insincere and unhelpful.
By educating yourself, you can be the change you want to see in the business world and make meaningful connections with your audience, and you can do it before offering a customer anything — certainly before you spend $10,000 on a mastermind session.