Some of you may know that I’ve been thinking about changing my business model. I figure that at my age it’s very important that I at least consider it, because the way I have earned the bulk of my income over the last 13 or so years has meant I’ve had to spend a lot of time away from home. It also means I’ve had long periods inactivity, where I’ve had to do other things to keep money coming in the door.

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One of things which I’ve had to consider in changing my business model is that there aren’t that many people or companies who are doing it the way I want to do it. I’ve given it a lot of thought, written down what I hope to do, but I also decided that I had to branch out and talk to some other people to see if I was thinking about it correctly.

The problem I had is that there’s very few people in health care or leadership that I could talk to about this particular model. So I have had to go outside my field for the most part to get the opinion of those who are in other industries.

What that means is that I had to figure out a way to ask my questions so that, while still being prepared to give an explanation to people who aren’t in either one of those fields, I would get the kind of answers I needed to help me think about the process better.

To this date, I have talked to a good number of people about this potential change in my business model; just enough so far. I’ve had to explain to them exactly what I do, at least in health care, the type of stress my present model creates, and how I hope my new business model would create a more steady rate of income and bring my mind some peace.

I haven’t had a single person tell me that what I want to do can’t be done. There has been some very interesting questions, but what I’ve really gotten is some pretty good advice about monetizing the new business model. Truthfully, even though the new business model would bring in a nice bit of change on a more consistent basis, what many of these people have basically pointed out is that in its own way it looks like I’m setting up more of a job than a very successful consulting business.

I actually fully understood what everyone is saying. I get calls from people all the time asking me if I’m available for a particular assignment. Where things usually break down is and how much they want to pay me.

Some of the rates I’m quoted are actually kind of embarrassing. I have taken to call them “job money”. By that, I mean the the rate is akin to a very well paying job without the benefits. This means that as soon as I would be done with the particular project, I would have to immediately start scrambling because in essence, if I’m lucky, I would be left with the amount of money someone might be left with if they were terminated from their job and got four weeks of severance. That doesn’t carry you far when you’re an independent consultant.

Getting back to how to ask for advice, I tend to believe that the reason I’ve been getting the responses I want in a way that he can help me is because of how I have posed the questions. Instead of just putting everything out there and leaving people to their own devices in trying to figure out exactly what I’m asking them, I’ve been very specific in what I wanted answered.

For instance, I couldn’t ask them how they would do health care consulting because none of them are in health care, and I couldn’t ask them how to do leadership consulting because none of them are in leadership. Instead, I asked specific questions about business model and income, while mentioning this goal I have of being compensated properly for what I can offer.

I have also been specific in asking how I could market the service better when it is something that almost no one else is really doing right now. That advice hasn’t been as tight, and yet a couple of people have offered some really good suggestions that I’m going to try or research further.

The way I see it, advice can be a slippery slope at both ends. You can be requesting advice, but if you don’t explain exactly what you need you’re never going to get what you need. If you’re the person giving advice, if you don’t understand what’s being asked for and instead of asking some probing questions you just give advice based on what the person has said, you’re going to look like you don’t know what you’re talking about and nobody is served.

This is a good communications lesson to learn, and not only about asking for advice. It’s always better to make sure the proper information is on the table before any answers are given. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely always necessary.

I have to thank those who have been able to help me as I look to change things for the betterment of my business and sanity. Salute!

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