5-Steps to Build a Million Dollar Consulting Program From Scratch
One of the most common questions newbie real estate investors ask is “How can I invest in real estate if I have no money?” Standard responses are, “Well, you have a few options. You can become a wholesaler. You can pursue zero money down creative strategies. Or you can raise money from private investors and become a syndicator.”
However, there is another option to building a war chest of cash to invest in real estate that many newer investors overlook. They can start a consulting program.
That’s right! And in my recent conversation with Sam Ovens, who has created 9 millionaires and 136 six-figure consultants from his trainings, he provided a step-by-step guide to create a consulting program from scratch.
Sam said, “When you’ve got not money, cash flow is the most important thing in the world because you have to keep yourself alive and you have to stay in the game.” But most importantly, he found that “you have to have confidence. If you don’t have a certain amount of cash in the bank, you start making lousy decisions, and you’re desperate. You’ll want to jump at a deal which you usually wouldn’t jump at if you have enough cash to float you through the year.”
If you want to start a consulting program, you don’t need a lump of cash upfront. Rather than selling a product, you are selling a service. You are selling advice.
So how do you launch a successful consulting program? Well, the following is Sam’s five-step process.
Step #1 – Pick Your Niche
The first step towards creating a consulting program is selecting a specific niche. The keyword here is specific.
“The man who chases two rabbits catches none,” Sam said. “A lot of entrepreneurs are too afraid to narrow their reach because of what they might miss out on, but they don’t understand without narrowing their niche, they don’t get anything.” You can always widen your focus later, but it is mandatory to select a narrow niche upfront.
How do you determine which niche to pursue? Sam says, “It honestly doesn’t matter. You can’t pick the perfect niche. There’s no way to do that. This isn’t a science or at least a science that exists at the present moment in time.”
Instead of wasting time trying to find the perfect niche, Sam recommends performing a thought experiment: Imagine someone has a gun to your head. They’re going to blow your brains out in ten seconds. What niche are you going to pick? Whatever comes to mind is a good place to start.
“Your mind is like an algorithm,” Sam said. “It optimizes. If something doesn’t work. It’s like ‘Okay, we don’t do that again.’ If something does work, it’s like ‘Maybe we’ll do more of this.’ So it doesn’t matter what you start with, it’s just that you need to start.”
So gun to your head right now, what niche do you pick?
Step #2 – Know Your Audience. Know What You’re Selling.
“People feel like they have to go out and just learn a whole bunch of skills and acquire a whole bunch of knowledge, and it’s the wrong way to go about it,” Sam said. “If you just go out and you start learning – learning what? What are you optimizing for? … Whenever you’re going to learn or whenever you’re going to acquire information and knowledge, you need to have a reason why. You need to have some sort of intent. Then once you have that intent, it’s very easy to acquire the knowledge.”
If you don’t know what your end customer wants, then how do you know what skills and knowledge you need to acquire? You don’t, which is why the next step is to go out into the market and find real problems that need solving.
Sam explains it to his clients this way: “Imagine that there’s a girl called Suzie and she’s sitting on a park bench. You’re siting on a park bench opposite her and you’ve got to guess what Suzie wants for lunch. You have no idea what Suzie wants for lunch. You could sit there and think about it all day. You could read every book there is. You could listen to every podcast. You could read every blog … and you still wouldn’t really know what Suzie wants for lunch… Very simply, Suzie is the market You need to go out to your market.”
If your market is real estate investors, for example, you need to reach out to them and ask them the following question: “What are the most painful problems you face on a day-to-day basis as a real estate investor?” And you don’t stop with asking one investor. Sam said, “One person can be wrong. One person can be an outlier. You need to listen to enough of them. I would say a sample size of about 20 or more. After you’ve talked to 20 people in one specific niche, you’ll start to recognize a pattern and you’ll start to recognize recurring themes between these conversations.”
When have these conversations and are attempting to uncover pain points, it’s important to remain as objective and unbiased as possible. Don’t fall into the confirmation bias trap. “A lot of people, they already know what they want to sell to the market,” Sam said, “so they go there and they’re asking questions to position it just so that they can sell their thing.” You need to remove all of our biases. You cannot have an agenda because you either won’t find a pain point, or you won’t find the biggest pain point.
Step #3 – Structuring the Offer
Now that we know what the market needs, we can structure an offer to fulfill that need. When structuring an offer, Sam uses what he calls a minimum viable offer, which is based on the concept Minimum Viable Product from Eric Ries (The Lean Startup). “[Eric] found in the sales world that people were building these big bloated products that had like a thousand features and they were like rocket ships, and people were sick and tired of all of this crap; they just wanted something lean, and just something that was simple and could do the job. So these new protagonists emerged in the market who were people who focused solely on minimum viable products and made them dead simple, and they were actually able to beat the fancy, complex products. It was a case where simple beats complex. In the consulting world right now it’s gotten complex, so it’s a ripe time to come in with that same strategy.”
Minimum viable offer is the same as minimum viable product, except selling services instead of products. Sam said, “We look at the customer’s problem and we ask the question to ourselves ‘What is the least amount of work I can do to get that person what they want?’ … I’m just trying to offer the least possible because that means it’s easier for me to deliver. It mean’s it’s simpler for the client. It’s more simple to communicate and it’s a lot easier to do.”
Your answer to that question is your starting point. Then, you go out to the market, sign up customers, and begin working with them, at which point they will either get the result they want or they won’t. Then, you go back to your original answer and determine what you can improve, where you went wrong, what you should do more of, and what you should do less of. Now you have a new starting point, so you go back to the market and start the process over again. Sam said, “It’s just an iterative process, each time coming closer and closer to the perfect offer.”
Step #4 – Pricing the Offer
When determining how much to charge for your offer, Sam recommends pricing it at around 10% of the value. “These days, it’s all about value,” he said. “You really have to determine what is it worth for this person to have their problem fixed.”
Here is an example Sam provided for how to price an offering:
“Let’s say we’re in real estate investing and this guy has a bad deal; it’s bleeding him out like $2000 per month. If he doesn’t fix that, it’s going to cost him $2000 per month for some horizon of months. You could assume maybe six months – it would cost him $12,000. Then if we would have priced our offer, if we thought we could save him from that deal, we could say ‘Okay, the value would be $12,000 for him,’ and to make it a blockbuster deal, we want to price on 10% of value. If he’s going to save $12,000 if we charged him $1,200 for that, then it’s a no-brainer, right? That way you’re going have an awesome offer.”
In this example, we could technically charge $10,000 or more, but by offering your services at 10%, Sam said, “You don’t even need to market. You don’t need webinars. You don’t need all this crazy copywriting, which all these copywriters do and put highlighter and countdown timers everywhere. It’s just a bloody good offer and people talk about it.”
Step #5 – Learn the Skills and Knowledge
Once you know what the market needs, you now know what skills and knowledge to acquire.
Sam said, “Learning things is very easy. Knowing what things to learn is the hard part. That’s how we figure out what to learn. We optimize off the market. We go speak to the market, find out what Suzie wants for lunch, figure out a solution to give Suzie what she wants, and then acquire all the knowledge and information necessary in order to fulfill Suzie’s want.”
A great way to build up a nest egg to use for real estate investing is to start a consulting program. Building a consulting program is a five-step process:
- Select a specific, narrow niche
- Know your audience to know what to offer
- Structure your offer using the minimum viable offer concept
- Price your offer at 10% of value
- Obtain the skills and knowledge needed
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