To kick it off, consider these simple five variables which together will lace your decision.
Service-Based Investment Considerations
- The suitability of the investment. Is this particular service appropriate for your needs?
- Your risk tolerance. Does this service-based investment fall within your scope of risk. Should the service be a wash can you afford to write it off as a loss?
- Duration. Is this service-based investment appropriate in duration? Okay, this one isn’t that cut & dried, as the service provider will have input on the recommended remedy to said need. In the same mouthful, if the service is tactical with a specific completion date attached vs. being a subjective experience requiring consistent methodical growth, duration is primarily dictated by client needs (and service-provider availability).
- Literal cost. Can you absorb or afford the cost? Since this service-based investment wasn’t part of the budget before, you’ll have to find room in the budget for it. If you have excess capital to allocate, great. If you need to make room in the budget by adjusting your dollar allocations in others areas (i.e. cut back on other expenditures) weigh the cost of the service-based investment against the return of it. Ask yourself what your alternatives are and evaluate. Make a list. In the beginning of any investment, parting with dollars you weren’t once used to is never a fun task unless a) you’re all ready committed, hence mentally invested, or b) willing to do the work and get results.
- Required returns. Needs and expectations become a bit of a blur in this department depending on the service. If the service is objectively cut and dried, returns should explicitly reflect the request. If the service is dependent upon outside force’s input, i.e. literal market activity (within whatever market your service occupies) and if the individual being mentored, coached, counselled, or taught is putting their best effort forward to maximize the return on the service being provided.
- Okay, six. Are you mutually fluent in energy, understanding, and communication? More on this one to come.
The online space is cluttered with programs and services offering you hopes of prosper to help, heal, coach & guide you to whatever your nugget or need at that time is – and some of these programs, services and professionals definitely deliver. Others, less so. Good marketing can unfortunately be deceiving.
How good are huge conglomerates at making Coca Cola look cuddly & cozy? I.e. Those polar bear commercials around December, and the innovative cultural marketing during the Olympics; Sochi springs to mind with that cute, animated origami creature. Case in point, athletes don’t guzzle soda on the daily (or ever) to win the gold. I’m not knocking marketing tactics, and I’m well aware the benefits of both sides a party to endorsements, sponsorship dollars, and royalties from products, commercials, and the like. Message: caveat emptor (buyer beware).
Thing is, we can’t control what others are doing to in order to reach and draw us in. Hence, conscious awareness and the art of solid question-asking before getting involved with any cost or length of service, program, or contract must prevail. To protect & defend those who are exceptional marketers and professionals in the service providing landscape who use clear messaging, the end user is still prone to unintentionally beguiling even when one does put their best foot forward. Sometimes connection & understanding gets lost in translation when two people are ill-equipped at communicating with each other
Best Case Scenario
- The client expresses their need, want, situation, circumstance and proposed objective in specific detail and expectation.
- The service provider is transparent in sharing their knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences as they relate to the client’s needs and how they can help (if they can help).
- A conversation between the two parties is had, and a decision is made if the two parties are a match in working together.
The discovery conversation is a huge one. Even when the service provider is capable, and the potential client’s needs could easily be fulfilled – the law of maximal returns must be considered.
Will This Relationship
Think of it this way: you wouldn’t put a preservative-laden bagel on your plate just to carb up if you had the option to fill your plate with dairy-free gluten free pesto cashew cream ravioli instead? I mean, you LOVE the GF DF drool-worthy ravioli. It’s sprinkled with pine nuts, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. These extras are REALLY good, as in, they make the dish (aka: the magical, extra-special parts to the individual that come as part of the package in service providing).
Your choice tastes so good, it’s satisfying, filling, and you just want to keep coming back for more. It not only nourishes you, but is healthy for you. You’re a better person for your relationship with this ravioli. It doesn’t harm you. Could the bagel do the job in filling you up and keeping you alive? Yes. But – it doesn’t make you feel good and it kind of gives you a coma/hangover apres consumption. So, why go there? Choice be given.
Point: choose who and that which best resonates with you when choosing whom to work with, in whatever the service is you’re in need of. Where you invest your time & money, you invest your life, and those who you invest time with – bits and pieces of you take on bits & pieces of them. Make the relationship worth while for all facets of the invest’s sake. The recipe could come out of the oven in pristine condition upon closure of working relationship (if it’s not one engaged in the prospect of ongoing growth), or conversely – the end result of the working relationship (the recipe) could be a flop.
The Discovery Process
The professional/service provider knows the questions they need to ask as part of their fiduciary position within the relationship. I say fiduciary – and mean it within context of its relevance to the industry. Fiduciary for the intents & purposes I speak of here simply means – the party with the greater body of knowledge, who ought to act in the lesser knowledge party’s best interest whilst guiding them to decision and providing appropriate considerations for their needs on the service-front. Still – great marketing and an apparent fiduciary implication aren’t going to save your booty based on one’s assumption that this person has your needs ahead of theirs.
Ahead of the discovery conversation, the prospective client has the opportunity to get a feel for who this person is (the professional or service provider) to which they wish to engage upon deciding whether a true match in entertaining a working relationship can exist.
Simple things to look for when making an investment in a professional service:
a) Is this individual an expert in their field or is this individual growing in to one? If this person is enough ahead in their journey that they can help you with your needs, that’s generally expert enough to get your started. I.e. When you have a cough or need your ears cleaned out, you can go to a GP (general physician) and they are fully capable to remedying you. You don’t need to go see a neurosurgeon.
b) Does this individual appear to share your core values?
c) Is this individual in question you would consider being friends with? I.e. do you like their style, presence, do you “speak their language”, do you share common interests, i.e. you’re both spiritual, organic eating, ex-competitive dancing marathoners who both love watching Friend’s re-runs, and contributing to your communities? Maybe you both listen to heavy metal, share a love for 90’s punk glamour, grew up in similar settings, and volunteer at the homeless shelter. Point: are there some commonalities, shared experiences past or present, or shared aspirations of where you want your paths to take you. Literally – just look & listen.
d) Is this individual open to answering question you have and do they answer them to the best of their ability? Here I’m alluding to open door policy and a safe space to ask relevant questions as they relate to the service being offered.
e) Will the style of service they offer be a match for what you’re looking for? I.e. private coaching, group coaching, the duration of coaching or mentorship? Ask questions on how materials will be delivered or how your service will go down. Are you a visual learner? Do you need audio to play back? Are you someone who is great at 1:1 and taking notes in the moment (because that’s the best way you learn)? Assess your needs and learning style first. Do be willing to step out of your comfort zone to grow, however 🙂 !
Your #1 must-do that does not involve the service provider or professional when thoroughly deciding where to invest your time, money and heart in experience, is: be specific in your expectations. Question two: ask yourself if these expectations are reasonable (based on where you are right now). Step one to making an investment in a professional service is knowing what you want and need. How to define that? simply write down where you are now, and where you want to be 12 months from now. Can this individual get you there based on their knowledge, skills & abilities?
Back to the discovery conversation where this all shakes down – and where hopefully the magic of an intentional relationship & connection takes place. Most professionals I know, including myself, will make recommendations and help point the inquirer (prospective client) in another direction more suitable, if a working relationship isn’t found a match upon discovery conversation. It’s the right thing to do – if the client is open to suggestions of whom else to potentially engage.
Does this person understand you, do you understand them? Are they going to be able to help you, are you going to be responsive and open in participating? With growth comes resistance, and there are no guarantees. Everyone has to put the work in to the best of their abilities.
How to make service-based investments? Ask and run yourself through the points above and your minimum bases should be covered. Don’t beat a horse to death or over examine too much. Do listen to your intuition and be conscious of where you’re being pulled; this usually happens for a reason.
Why Genuine Questions Are Important
Emotion, finances (investment cost) and time cannot be recovered. At minimum, extracting the positive is your goal, no matter the experience.
I know first hand the impact of an investment well-made and I’ve also been witness to investments less well-made, as per my innate seek to understand nature and experience in the financial services industry from days of yore (or the better part of a decade). All things considered once fiduciary involvement has been offered, the other party is still the owner of their decisions.
Exhibit A: I’ve been on the service/fiduciary side and the client side, and my experience as a client has made me a better fiduciary. Some of my experiences as a client have been really rewarding, others – the fiduciary could have asked a few more questions to best remedy my need (in learning). Questions been asked, I would have accepted a higher level of service and my needs would have been met. Putting the ball back in my court, on the experiences that fell within ‘apparent’ goal shortfall, it was a learning experience – and more goals had been achieved than not, so the investment was still 100% worth while.
Do your best to be absolutely specific in your needs, and communicate those needs as best you’re able to help find a match in whatever the service-based investment is. Ask yourself if you and the individual in service exchange speak the same language. Keep in mind we’re all very imperfect humans trying to be of service to each other – sometimes a little noise can just get in the way, which is why the blessing of conscious awareness in synchronicity – when at play, will help guide you the entire way.