In my last article, we looked at who an expert is and how you can identify them. This raised the question “how can I gain the experience to be a Type 2 Expert if nobody will give me the chance to work with them seeing that I do not have the required portfolio or skills to attract them?” This article aims to address this concern.
This is a challenge everyone faces at one point or the other in the entrepreneurial journey particularly those of you who are just starting out in a new line of business and may not have the required experience or skill to earn you the Type 2 Expert badge and the kind of client work and cheque you are dream about. Do not worry, the status and cheques will come. Your primary goal, for now, should be PORTFOLIO BUILDING. Your portfolio building drive should aim for two things – the first showcasing your capability to execute certain types of jobs. Specifically the types you are seeking to be hired for. Second, which usually happens later, showcasing big-names on your client list. This gives validation to your work and lends credibility to your business. Bank balance building will naturally follow.
Here are a few things that may help you achieve this faster:
- Volunteer to do such jobs for free to help you gain the practical experience and build a portfolio
- When such potential clients inquire about your service, name your price, if they complain it is too high give them a generous discount that fits their budget to entice them to work with you. Once they work with you their job takes a place of honour in your portfolio giving it more authority to command higher prices and attract similar customers in the same category. Now no one really needs to know the real price the Client A paid you. All they need to see is Client A’s (brand) work sitting pretty in your portfolio. The general thinking is “If Client A can hire you or your company then you must really be good at what you do.” And even if Client A shares how much you did it with potential Client B, point it out clearly that your price is x but you gave a special discount because of XYZ. They may insist on getting a discount. Please go ahead and give them the discount but not as generous as you gave client A. Keep this cycle going reducing the discount each time until you are confident enough to request for and insist on your full price. Once you get there it is probably time to increase your prices and start the process all over again.
- Do personal projects in that area to help build your portfolio
- Seek collaborations that will get you closer to the goal of building the kind of portfolio you seek. If 5 good heads (each Type 1 Experts in their own field) can come together to do a project with each contributing their best and each one bringing their A-Game to the table, the output will definitely be portfolio worthy. There are many such people seeking collaborations, put the word out and you will be surprised at the quality of the team you can build and the work you can achieve.
- If you feel you are not capable or ready to take on the above, you may choose to align yourself with an established individual or organisation in that field that is currently doing the kind of work you want to do. You can work as an intern, a volunteer, or take up a full-time job with them to gain the experience required. And while at it ensure you are doing relevant work and getting involved in the action. That is what will count – the type of projects you were involved in and the role you played on those projects.
It is important for me to state that the above suggestions do not in any way suggest that you should turn down other types of jobs that come your way which you have the capacity to deliver on but are not the type of jobs you are looking to do long term. You need to cash to survive so please go ahead and do it. Cash is king. It is the blood of any business so if you cannot to it for the passion, do it for the money. You may include it in your portfolio in the initial stages but as you become more and more comfortable, you can take it out of your portfolio so that you do not continue to attract such jobs. You may also choose to take it off your list of offerings or charge a large premium for it to discourage patronage. This way you are sure that you are very well compensated for that service for those that still choose to go ahead and hire you.
In conclusion, I will like to remind you that Rome was not built in a day. A baby spends 9 months in the womb and another 18 or 21 years (depending on their location) on earth before he/she can be recognised as an adult. Give it time. All you have to do and keep doing is consistently working it, and continually improving your skills and capacity. The world is watching. Not too long from now after you have built your skills and gained the relevant quantity and quality of experience through practice, the world will come flocking to you.