Recently, I have been in a dark cloud of negativity and the cloud only cleared when I listened to the advice of those close to me. I am great at what I do! I am confident in that and I am not afraid to make that statement. Could I improve? Absolutely! I firmly believe that we are ever-learning, ever-evolving beings and once you are certain you’ve reached the top – you’re already on your way back down.
So, since I started the first purpose-built podcast studio in Rochester, NY I had some people ask to pick my brain about everything from the equipment and setup to the business model to marketing. Now, I am an open book and always try to help my fellow human – which is the problem. I forgot that some people are disingenuous and may take advantage of kindness. This happened to me quite recently. That’s why I am writing this post.
If I give someone advice about something that I do for a living, I would consider that consulting. Consulting is (usually) advice that people are paid for. Sometimes, colleagues in related fields will give professional advice as a courtesy, which I would not categorize as consulting. Though professional advice, it is still advice because there is no financial transaction taking place.
You can be nice and helpful, but be cautious.
If I went to a fellow studio owner and asked, “Which microphone do you prefer for voice recording?”, I would probably get an answer in return. Mine is on my website, so obviously I don’t care about telling the world which mic I use. Now, if I went to the same guy and asked him to draw me a schematic of how he wired his studio or his mic techniques, I would expect him to laugh at me and walk away – or at least not tell me. Does a chef give out his recipe? Some chefs do – but you have to pay them for it.
This is a very important consideration for the small business owner. You don’t want to inadvertently give someone a course in how to be your competitor. Now, I try to be as positive as possible and I almost always give people the benefit of the doubt. Helping other people out is kind and thoughtful, but in business, that can be downright dangerous.
I felt like I had to share this information with my audience because I know many of you are entrepreneurs and are also super giving and generous people. Two things you should have in your back pocket at all times are:
NDA – Non-disclosure agreement. This is a legal form stating that your client cannot talk about this to anyone under penalty of lawsuit.
Non-compete agreement. This is a contract that states the person whom you are giving consulting services cannot turn around and use that information to start a business and go after your clients – for a certain amount of time or in a certain geographical region.
I am not a lawyer and am not qualified to give any legal advice, but I cannot stress enough that you must always look out for yourself and NEVER assume people have the best of intentions. Remember, they are usually looking out for their own interests and not everyone has the same moral compass.
I have a belief that going the extra mile will get you an extra 10 miles when it comes to business…or even in life. I have a client who needed some re-records. It was part client changes and part fixes on my end, like pronunciations and an editing oversite. Our contract states that if the changes are at their request, I can charge a re-record fee – but if they are my fault, I can’t. I did the records and editing fixes and sent them back, but was trying to decide if I should invoice them or just let it go. I sought advice from others and got a bit of both sides of it, so I was still stuck. Then the client called back to let me know that there was another round of changes to record – but they were their changes and not mistakes on my part. Win! I could now confidently bill them for the work. But that’s not the point of my little story here.
When the second round came through they were very apologetic about having a round two. They knew it was an inconvenience for me considering my recording schedule was so tight – and I legitimately appreciated their concern for my schedule. I simply told them it was no problem and that I would consider it part of the first round of re-records and for them to not worry one bit. It was no big deal for me to act that way. I know people who would have given them the riot act – seeing it as an opportunity to bill again and go through that process. But I think that doesn’t do you any good for the long-term relationship with your clients.
My client was so happy with my attitude that she was happy to pass along how easy I was to work with to the CEO of the company. That is only good news. Now, I am on the CEO’s radar and that’s good capital. So, I put the quick buck aside and looked at the long-game….and if you’re not thinking that way, you’re doomed….eventually.