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How To Identify The "Before Step" That Leads To Entrepreneurship Success

So often we're concerned about what we are delivering to our clients and while this is definitely important, have you ever asked "what's the before step for my dream client?". Chances are you haven't thought about this but the answer to this question could help lead to more successful client engagements and overall, your happiness in your business. When we have a win-win situation for us and the client, this is what builds a great business. My guest, Erica Courdae, shares how she discovered the "before step" for her clients in this conversation.


**This was also a podcast episode (episode #205. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.


Identifying The "Before Step" For Your Clients

This is likely something you've never thought about as an entrepreneur so it's impossible for you to know the best answer right away. Instead of trying to come to this answer quickly, I'd encourage you to start noticing who you work best with and how they found you. Chances are you can identify what that "before step" is by reflecting on this and asking your clients as you work with them but it will take time.

Erica and her business partner, India, didn't activity seek this question out but rather stumbled into this information as they realized who they worked best with.

"Values matter so much, they are the cornerstone of what we do." - Erica Courdae

"It didn't work when it didn't happen." - Erica Courdae

Once they realized that there was one thing (values) that helped them work well with clients, this became the idea to work with. They knew that some sort of values exercise/experience is what they needed to create as the first step to working together but they didn't have all the answers yet.

If you're finding yourself wanting all the answers right now, catch yourself in this thought process because it's impossible to know it all, today. But through the curiosity of what is possible, you will find the best answers for you and your company.

"It's a process so give yourself grace and patience." - Erica Courdae

"We have the desire to skip the process...but you also know what happens when you do skip the process." - Erica Courdae

The Testing Phase

Once Erica and India knew what they needed to create, they started testing different ideas they had. While no testing phase will be the same, it can follow a similar path:

  • Started as a short workshop in other people's communities (getting feedback)

  • Started charging but it was still experimenting (it worked for what it was)

  • Pricing changed over time as well as the delivery of the workshop

For you this could look like an idea today, a free workshop or training that you host in the future to gather insights and questions from your audience, then based on that, you create a paid offering. The key is to start charging once you've tested it in some capacity and know it's valuable but before it's "final".

"People can get stuck in "I can't charge for this, it's not finalized" but if that was the case we could never charge for fashion, it's always changing." - Erica Courdae

"It is very realistic to acknowledge: this is in beta, I want your feedback and what you're sharing with me can help shape this'. But what I'm giving you still has value and I'm acknowledging that by asking you to value it and give me an exchange for what I'm offering." - Erica Courdae

If you go through this process and realize that the "before step" is something you don't want to charge for, that's okay too but make sure it become your freebie so that you can grow your email list by people accessing your free resource. This allows you to have a value exchange of an email address as the payment and can make more sense for your business model.

Remember, as an entrepreneur you're able to adjust as you see fit for your audience but just be sure you aren't undervaluing your offerings.

Image of leaves of different colors - seasons

The Season Of Your Life & Business Plays Into This Process

One thing I really appreciated throughout Erica and I's conversation is that she was very quick to call attention to the fact that we need to recognize our season of life and entrepreneurship journey as we go through this process.

"This doesn't happen in a vacuum and there's no one answer." - Erica Courdae

While Erica and India were able to follow the process that unfolded over the course of a year, this might not be possible for you, currently. Don't try to replicate something that you hear from someone else that doesn't realistically fit into your season of life and business.

As you identify the before step for your clients and want to test your ideas, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the capacity to tackle this project currently?

  • If this is important to me and my business, what other things need to be on the back-burner while I work on this project?

  • How long can I dedicate to this project so I'm not rushed but I'm also not dragging it out?

Once you accurately decide on your capacity, you can then create a project plan and move forward with your ideas and testing.

The Process Of Learning In Entrepreneurship Is Not Failure

As you navigate through testing a new idea, chances are you're not going to hit a home run on the first try. It's during these times that I hope you remember Erica's words:

"Failure is not the end, failure is a discovery process." - Erica Courdae

"The more that you are comfortable with the imperfection of it, the better the results because you are willing to just try it." - Erica Courdae

Being comfortable with imperfections in this process may be difficult but as you embrace the learning through the imperfections, you will be more comfortable. The key is to go with what's right for you, at this time and in this season of life and business. Set boundaries that work for you and also give yourself grace

Take Away Message / Action

Erica shared a question that lives inside her "before step" which is a values workshop called Implicit & Explicit, and I'd love for you to make this your takeaway message:

"What are some of your non-negotiables that have to happen in order for you to work well and to partner well with others." - Erica Courdae

This is the best lens for you to identify the "before step" for your dream clients and for your dream business. Because no matter what, the goal is to create a business that allows you to happily live the life of your dreams and in order to do that you want to work with people that you enjoy working with. Asking what your non-negotiables are will be invaluable to this process.

Until next time give yourself permission to know your non-negotiables and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon.

About Erica:

Erica Courdae is a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs and executive teams committed to shifting focus, power, and resources in order to create more equity in their business and the world. She believes imperfect action is necessary to create meaningful social change and helps public figures engage in the work without fear of judgment. In 2018, Erica co-founded the Pause on the Play Podcast. After receiving requests from listeners for a space to connect on the show’s topics, Erica expanded the Pause on the Play brand to include a community and consultancy. Her leadership has now helped thousands of individuals define their values, diversify their networks, and call people into conversations about inclusivity and individuality. A certified coach and 20+ year beauty industry veteran, Erica has provided training for established businesses such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Paul Mitchell School. Her voice has been featured on podcasts, workshops, and online communities with a combined reach of over fifty thousand people.

Erica's Resources:

Other Resources Mentioned:

Ep. 202: Lazy Content Creation with Shannon Weinstein

"What are some of your non-negotiables that have to happen in order for you to work well and to partner well with others." -

- Erica Courdae


Build Your Business YOUR Way!

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In my book: Why Not You? An Accidental Entrepreneur's Guide To Success, you create your Y.O.U. Promise which becomes your guide to building the business of your dreams...not your nightmares.


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