Who needs a coach? Judging by the people who use them religiously, who swear by them emotionally, and who push themselves competitively in their respective fields, the answer is, (somewhat surprisingly), those at the very top of their game. Tiger Woods has a coach. So do the world’s best tennis players and athletes. Opera stars sing praises about their voice coaches. Movie stars credit their drama coaches as the masters of motivation. The Lakers have won three world championships behind their Zen master of a coach.
“They would no more go without a coach than fly,” says Molly Gordon, who has elevated the science of small business coaching to an art form, and has used her own artistry in marketing to create a virtual catalogue of tele-classes, audio tapes, consulting services and eBooks for her Internet-sourced clientele. Molly works with those who want to be their best. “To me hiring a coach is an indication of your commitment to being at the top. It’s about attitude.”
For Molly, a frequent contributor to Seattle’s leading discussion groups and forums on the subject of marketing, the necessary attitude is by no means cutthroat-competitive. One of the main things Gordon espouses is “balance, feeding your soul as well as your bank account and learning to love marketing through business practices you can feel good about so that you are able to love what you do.”
Perhaps most importantly, according to Gordon, is being true to yourself. “It’s deconstructing the myth that you have to be something other than yourself to market yourself,” she advises. “Be who you are, as big and boldly and naturally as you can. The point is being accessible, available and visible to the people who are going to get the most benefit out of working with you just the way you are. For instance, I’ve had to explain to artists in workshops, ‘Don’t clean up your studio before the press comes over. It’s the mess, it’s the actuality of what you’re doing, that’s interesting to other people.'”
“The Internet has defined my practice,” says Gordon. “I get at least 70% and sometimes 90% of my clients from the Internet. That’s how they find me and it’s how I communicate with them. I took my newsletter online in January of ’98. We have an extensive E-book coming out in about two weeks (by the time you read this), a marketing field guide of around 150 pages.” There is also the courseware. Three tele-classes this summer are accessible to enrollees via a telephone bridge. They are entitled, “Stewardship: Creating a Big Enough Business,” “The Incredible, Accessible Niche,” and “Settle for More: Setting and Getting the Right Fees.”
On July 15th, Molly will also be co-sponsoring a free live movie talk teleconference with the author of “Free Agent Nation,” Dan Pink, on the Future of Working for Yourself. Why “movie talk”? Pink compares two movies, “Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” and “Jerry Maguire,” to illustrate the changing nature of work. You can register for the teleconference by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org
How much time should people spend on marketing themselves as a percentage of the work they do?
“At the beginning, every bit of time that they’re not spending actually doing the work. In general, maybe 30-50% of your time. If you market the way I encourage people to market, it’s a real organic process. So it’s not that I have to be watching for a main chance. It’s the natural outgrowth of doing the right work with the right people.”
Do you have advice for independents on pricing?
“It’s how you can embody your value and command what you’re worth. There are always people in every market who are making top dollar. And I also find a lot of people give things away without even knowing that they’re on the table. The nicest person in the world will take advantage of you, if you let them. It’s your responsibility to know what’s negotiable, and what’s not negotiable. It’s your responsibility to demonstrate your value to the right clients. Money isn’t dirty. But if we believe it is, we can fall into a lot of sneaky, eyes-half-shut behaviors and then get mad because we feel ripped off, when the fact of the matter is is that we’re not keeping our eyes open at the beginning.”
Molly’s Web site, http://www.mollygordon.com is a testament to her virtual ubiquity. Many recognized her at the sprouting stages of marketing her practice as the Ladybug lady, “Ladybug” being the name of her offline newsletter. The Ladybug has since found A New Leaf, the current name of the E-mail publication. The Website contains every article in four years of newsletter publishing, including the advice on finding a Virtual Assistant (see sidebar at right). Like her classes, tapes and consulting services, all are virtually guaranteed to coach you through a winning season, time and time again.
The Virtual Assistant
Highlights from Molly’s tele-class in getting the most from working with a Virtual Assistant. (A Virtual Assistant is an administrative aide who works from a remote location).
1. If you believe there are obstacles to using a VA, write them down and make them your criteria instead. For example, if you feel you are too scattered to make use of a VA, hire a VA that will design simple, custom systems to keep you on track. If you do not have time to create directions for a task, ask your VA what s/he needs to know in order to get started.
2. Communication is essential to a good and productive relationship. Hire a VA that will elicit from you not only WHAT you want done but HOW (in what manner, style, etc.). If there is something in the way of using your VA effectively, sit with it until you are clear about what needs to change, then ask for it.
3. The ideal time to hire a VA is before you need one– a. so that you do not feel pressured to make a decision prematurely. b. so that you can begin the relationship with a trial run on small projects. c. so your VA can truly partner with you to build your business.
4. Evaluating potential costs/savings: Remember, it takes you MUCH longer to do administrative work than it will take your VA. In addition to working faster, your VA may well find other solutions to your needs that save you time and money. I am something of an administrative whiz, but Debbie runs rings around me in terms of efficiency. Besides, she gets done what I put off. Her business is doing those things I don’t want to do, so I know she will do them more efficiently than I will.
5. Trust and respect are essential. Hire a VA you trust and respect so much that your relationship can survive a few glitches in communications and even mistakes.
6. Too busy to hire a VA? This is the ideal time to start a simple running list of things you are not getting done, things you are doing but would hand over if you knew how and had time, and things that you’d like done but never have a chance to put in place. Keep the list on a post-it in your planner or in a file on your computer so you can add to it in a moment.
Molly’s virtual assistant is Debbie Buxton who hosts the Website http://www.infoword.com a superb site on the subject of Virtual Assisting.
Internet-based advisor Molly Gordon coaches Net-achievers to feed their souls as well as their bank accounts.