How to Start Working For Yourself ~ Bradley Jacobs

It's really tough in a lot of ways to transition from being a career professional to working for yourself. That's why I interviewed Bradley Jacobs to learn how it's done.

We Covered
  • Why Bradley decided to turn from working for Uber and then to 1:1 consulting and then to creating a cohort-based course (02:16)
  • Consulting and CBCs make sense for different professionals based on their goals (03:28)
  • Why overcoming fear, honing your niche, and setting your value-based pricing are the three key components of switching to independent work (09:22)
  • Why so many professionals are interested in working on their own (11:30)
  • What to expect when you start working independently (13:06)
  • Whether it’s best to start your own business on the side or quit and work on it full-time (19:24)
  • Why you should write down your goals and have no regrets (21:50)
  • How to pick your niche (25:33)
  • How to set your value-based pricing (37:41)
  • Final questions (48:07)
In a Nutshell
  1. Expect to “get rejected” by prospective customers, but know that you only need a small percent to buy from you to hit your goals.
  2. Set your niche: I specialize in X based on my experience doing X for Z company.
  3. Set your value-based pricing by picking a number that seems a bit high.
Full Transcript

[00:00:13] Jonathan: Ahoy, captain! Welcome to Cohort Captain, the only super actionable podcast made for cohort-based course creators. I am your host, Jonathan Woodruff. 

As someone with professional experience, you might want to get started with consulting, or you might want to become a cohort-based course creator. Or you might want to become a consultant and then a cohort-based course creator or something like that.

In any case, it's a big challenge to go from working for “the man,” quote unquote, to working for yourself. It's hard to know what to expect. You have to identify the right niche. You have to set your pricing among a big list of other things. 

That's why my guest today is Captain Bradley Jacobs. Out of college, where he studied mechanical engineering, Bradley worked for two years at a boutique management consulting firm before he went to work for Uber from 2014 to 2018 where he managed nine markets in the Carolinas for Uber Rides. He launched Uber Eats in Miami and Milan, and he launched and scaled Uber Freight in the USA. He then took that experience and started consulting independently, making $20,000 a month at 25 hours a week for two years, helping clients launch and scale their marketplaces.

And then he decided to turn his consulting into a cohort-based course that you can see at Needless to say he has a wealth of experience as a consultant and as a cohort-based course creator. And he has turned all of that into a framework that he is here right now to share at least partially with us.

So what is up, Bradley?

[00:02:13] Bradley: What's going on? Thanks for the introduction and for having me.

[00:02:16] Jonathan: It's so great to have you here, Bradley. Truly thankful for your time and just excited for this whole thing. So, you were an independent consultant making what's in my book, a killing. You were making good money, in my book. Uh, why did you convert your consulting into a cohort-based course specifically rather than just staying with consulting or creating an on-demand course, or just anything else that you could have done?

[00:02:42] Bradley: I'll say it was, it was a killing for me too. I was shocked with how well it went. I didn't leave Uber to become a consultant. I knew I wanted to build something, I wanted to work with other people, help other people. I'd always been somewhat of an entrepreneur at heart. And so as I saw more of how well I was doing, and then started to have these casual conversations with other colleagues or friends.

I saw that I could really add value to them. And that's where I got the most fulfillment. Like, yes, it's great to make money and add value to companies, but helping somebody else with their business and really changing their life that was head and shoulders more game changing for me. And so that's why I went more of the I'm going to go build a company that helps other people.

[00:03:28] Jonathan: Yeah, I totally vibe with that. I think I've always not always but for awhile now I've had kind of an entrepreneurial spirit myself, just wanting to, yeah figure out my own way to serve people. it just didn't really do it for me working in like a large company. So, yeah. I think we're, we're kind of on the same page there, so that's, pretty cool. 

So here's the way I see this. And let me know if you see it the same way or if you see it differently. So you were a consultant, and now you offer a cohort-based course at, and, you know, maybe that's a path that your clients and our listeners here today of this podcast can take as well.

You know, maybe a listener has a skill that they've cultivated through their career or maybe some other way. And then their next step is one-on-one consulting. And then when they're getting fully booked consistently, maybe, or maybe they're just ready, they can scale their offer with a cohort-based course.

So, basically the path that I'm seeing here is … acquire a skill, do one-on-one consulting and then scale with a cohort-based course. I mean, is that the path that you see for your clients, generally and our listeners, or do you see it differently?

[00:04:43] Bradley: I think once you have an expertise, whether that's in consulting, whether that's in marketing, whether that it doesn't matter, there's so many different ways that you can monetize it. Right. You can sell your time, which is that one-on-one consulting and I'm going to work directly with a company. And then there are, yeah, there are scalable ways whether you're going to create an offline course.

You know, you could create something in Teachable and just sell it as a one-time thing. You could do cohort-based, which is what I've done with MyLance. You could sell a book. You could, you could make a podcast about it, right? There's so many different ways as a “creator” to put yourself out there.

Now we can't do everything, right. We can't do a newsletter, podcast, YouTube video, a cohort-based course, all ourselves. And I think what I tell people that are, that go through MyLance is we go through your intention and your quote, “why,” why are you doing this? And once you go through this kind of discovery phase with yourself, you can decide, do I want to sell my time? Do I want to build a course? What do I want to do? 

I don't think that there's one path that I'd really recommend for everybody. It so much depends on your intention, how much money you're trying to make, how much time you want to put into it, all that kind of stuff. And then you can kind of suss out, okay, what should my ideal professional life look like? And what are the steps I need to take to get there?

[00:06:06] Jonathan: So how about your clients that you typically see? What, like what's their intention for how much money they want to make and kind of their reason for going into consulting versus other forms of making money on their own?

[00:06:20] Bradley: And again, it's a huge spectrum, but if I have to come up with the typical person, they're looking to make, let's just say 10 grand, I'd say cover their costs of living plus some savings, plus some buffer in really as few hours as possible. 

So let's say they're trying to make 10 grand in 15 to 20 hours a week. Something like that. And then so that they can spend time elsewhere. And that often is starting a business or following a passion or spending more time with family. So we definitely have folks, and I did this when I started MyLance. I kept one consulting client on the side. I was making like five grand in a few hours a week. That covered my living expenses so that I could work on really my passion.

Right. It was for me, was building this company, which was incredible. I didn't need to go raise pre-seed money or friends and family money to fund my life. Right. Consulting was funding my life. so I'd say the average person, they come to MyLance because they want that flexibility. They want free time.

They want to work for themselves. They want to choose how much they work. They want to pick their clients. They want to own their business versus being owned basically by someone else.

[00:07:30] Jonathan: Yeah. Okay. So that's interesting that that's subtly different than the way I was kind of framing it in my mind. Right. Cause I was kind of framing it as acquire a skill, you know, do consulting and then scale that consulting with a business. But that's subtly different because in the way that you're describing, like the way that you were approaching it is you went into consulting as kind of a way to cover your costs.

Meanwhile you were simultaneously working on starting your business at MyLance, right?
[00:07:59] Bradley: I'd say at the beginning, I was consulting to make good money and add value and see if I could do this. And then once I saw I could do it for the next year, I just made a lot of money and I had fun doing it. Right. I worked with a number of different companies. I partnered up with a few people and sometimes we shared projects.

I learned a bunch of different things just by working in companies I probably never would have worked in. So it was kind of this exploratory phase. But what it allowed me to do is pursue a bunch of kind of random side projects. I bought a random e-commerce business online and automated a bunch of the backend processes and then flipped it.

I started a blog. I tried to start a travel company with a few friends that didn't go anywhere. So I did a bunch of different things in the time I spent consulting. That was my kind of exploratory phase. And so that's what, that's how, what it enabled for me. But at the end of the day, it enables that free time.

Right? I probably had 25, 30 hours of free time per week that I could have as free time to spend with my family, do whatever I wanted. For me, it was what do I want to do with my career? Right. And that enabled me to try all these different things. Turns out I didn't want to scale an e-commerce business. I wasn't, that wasn't what I was passionate about, but I got to try it.

And that was cool. but it eventually enabled me to start MyLance.

[00:09:22] Jonathan: Love it. And so, yeah, it really gave you that, that free time that you needed to do the exploration, and that kind of leads into kind of the rest of our discussion, honestly. And, you cover a lot of topics at MyLance, helping people switch from their professional career over to consulting.

And you cover topics on mindset, honing your niche, verbal pitch, pricing, where and how to find clients, project scoping and negotiation, getting taxes in order and sustaining and growing your business. So there's a lot there that we don't have time to dig into. 

But when we were meeting before this, you mentioned three really key topics that you really wanted to delve into, and those were managing fears of going out and making a living on your own, number one. And then number two, how to hone your niche. And then number three, how to set your rates with value based pricing. 

So we'll dig into each of those in the rest of our conversation here, but why are those three topics so key? Why did those ones stand out to you that you want to talk about today?

[00:10:29] Bradley: They're the differentiators in what I've seen from quote, the average person, and then someone who's making really good money as a consultant. All of those things are hard. They're really difficult to get right. People are scared of going out on their own. We all have some sort of fear of failure, fear of putting ourselves out there.

It may be manifested in different ways for different people, but it's underlying for everyone that I've spoken with, at least. All of those components, everyone thinks they're a jack of all trades and could just market themselves as, oh, I'm a problem solver, I can grow your business. 

These things are really challenging. And so in going through the course with a number of cohorts now across a few hundred people, this is what I've learned is A) the hardest thing and B) the biggest differentiator maybe because it's the hardest thing is in part the biggest differentiator in getting $20,000 a month from your consulting business or charging $75 an hour and making, you know, $3,500 a month.

[00:11:30] Jonathan: Yeah. And so in your perspective, just starting to dig into, you know, really managing those fears of going out and making, living on your own. So why are so many professionals interested in going out on their own to begin with?

[00:11:46] Bradley: The emotions that I hear and that I felt myself mostly are I feel overworked, underpaid, undervalued in my current job. I've hit my ceiling, I hear a lot. There's been this drive for so many people from when they were younger of at some point in my life, I want to work for myself. 

I just I've been taught, you know, get a good education. Maybe go to college, go get a good job, move up the corporate ladder. But do I really want to do that, or is that what I've been told to do by society and maybe my family or friends or teachers? And so people want to go out on their own. And I think the flexibility and the money and all that kind of stuff comes with it, but it's this separation from what I was told I was supposed to want.

And I think it's such a big component in everything. It could be in marriage and our personal lives as well. But just talking about professionally here, it's so much about wanting to do it for yourself and commanding that independence that comes along with it. Right. When you're consulting, you can do whatever you want, which is terrifying.

And we'll go into imposter thoughts with that. It's scary. but it's also incredibly rewarding.

[00:13:06] Jonathan: I can tell you know your customers very well, because you're actually creating an emotional response inside me. When you're talking about these things, feeling like I've, you know, in the beginning of my career doing what I thought I was supposed to want. And I kind of had everything, like I had a great career and it was well paying and, you know, within my skillset, I, you know, I was confident doing the job and just no complaints, but it just, it wasn't really what I wanted to do with my life.

And so, yeah, it's just everything that you're talking about is really hitting home and I'm sure that's doing that for our, for my listeners as well, because, we all share this entrepreneurial spirit and we want to help other people. 

When you know, these professionals are going out on their own, you know, they're taking a big risk, right? Because you know, we've always wanted to go out on our own. But actually doing it is this a big leap. And, I heard the, I don't know, it's not a story, it’s an analogy or whatever you want to call it of like you're hanging from the cliff, and you just need to let go of the cliff and build your parachute on the way down.

That's what it feels like in this situation, I think going from this, you know, probably well-paying job, you know, it's comfortable, it’s a comfortable life, right? But actually taking this risk to go out on your own and you don't really know what to expect. That's tough. So what is a sober, honest outlook of what this new life looks like of going out on your own, especially at first?

[00:14:31] Bradley: So the analogy resonates, and I think a lot of people feel like. What helps is when you really break down that analogy, right? What is the cliff and what is the parachute that we're talking about? Because when you really break it down, what you're doing is you're saying, okay, instead of a company behind me, that's paying me for something that is pretty stable.

I could get laid off, but it's relatively secure. I am now going out and pitching myself individually. There's nobody behind me. It's just me pitching my expertise, skillset, talent to a company on a recurring, relatively recurring basis. Right. It could be every few months, every few weeks. 

And so the real fear there is I'm not going to be able to do it, but they're going to say no, and then I will have quote failed, and I will have not made it on my own.

And I will have to, it seems like the end of the world. Right. And the reality is, to be fair, you are going to get told no many times. You have likely been told no many times in your life. I don't think there's anybody that hasn't, whether it's personally and professionally. And in fact we are looking for the no, because that means we're pushing the boundaries.

If you don't get no, if you only get yeses, you are not pushing yourself. So we normalize No. And we say, look, you're going to get told no, maybe 80% of the time. The 20% of time that you get told yes is going to make your life right. It's going to, how many clients do you really need? If you find each client is 10 grand or seven grand or five grand, how many clients do you really need?

You don't need very many. Right. And in fact, even once you get a client to say yes to a proposal, you're going to get a no hopefully in the negotiation, right? Because if they say yes to you, the first price you throw out. Then you didn't go high enough. There's more room there. Right? So the question that you asked was, what is it really like?

The answer is yes, you're going to get rejected. I don't want to look at it like that. I don't even want to say that, but that's how people think about it. So yes, you're going to be, you're going to hear the word, No. And you're going to get a little bit of an ego hit and it's going to suck for a minute and then you're going to pick yourself up and go try again.

And eventually you're going to get a yes. And that yes is going to be incredible. And it's going to give you some confidence and you're going to be able to do it again and again and again, but we have to just normalize that No. That's just part of any business.

[00:17:09] Jonathan: Yeah, I think framing your expectations probably helps quite a lot just to see it from almost a mathematical equation standpoint to disassociate your emotions from it. Cause I feel like getting that no probably stings. I mean, does it ever stop stinging, even when you realize this, is there still this emotional response? Or are you able to completely detach yourself from the no, or even, I guess it sounds like you're learning to even look forward to the no right? To be excited about the no? So it's like this complete reframe of your emotions. That's interest.

[00:17:44] Bradley: Yeah, it's a good question. I will say in negotiation, I look for the no. I'm looking forward to it. Cause if I didn't get it, I'm actually disappointed. Right. The other no. No, you're not a good fit for our company, or I get it a lot when I go to fundraise. Right. Most investors say no, like it's just known in the fundraising world that nine out of 10 investors are going to tell me No.

I don't think that's ever not going to sting a little bit. Even if I know it's part of the process and I'm, like, you almost have to expect the no, cause again, it's 90% of the time, and yet every no is still saying we don't want to invest in your business. Or in this case as a client, as a company, we don't want your consulting services.

We don't want you. And so, yes, I don't want to stand up here and say, oh yeah, if you get to a point where you don't even notice it anymore and it's totally fine, right. That would be unrealistic. I think that there are many ways to deal with it that you learn, whether it's knowing your own worth.

And if it's, if a client says, no, it's not a good fit and that's okay, it's not personal about you. There's definitely gratitude and self-worth exercises and all that kind of stuff. And then there's also coaching and supportive networks, right? It could be your friends, it could be your family, but I also recommend surrounding yourself with people that have done this.

And that's one of the things we do at MyLance as well as we have this community. And we encourage people when you get rejected by a client. Come tell us about it. Like we're here for you. We've all been there. We've all experienced it. And we can say, Hey, you got this. It's going to be okay.

[00:19:24] Jonathan: Totally. And would you recommend, so, you know, there's situations where, you know, maybe the person gets laid off and they're, you know, they kind of have to, you know, this is clearly the time to do what they've always wanted to do and start their own thing. But what, in this situation, if you know, they are comfortable in their job, they don't really foresee getting laid off, and, they could probably could be there another 10, 20 years, however long if they wanted to.

Do you recommend that they stay in their full-time job and pursue. making, kind of a side income on their own to test the waters, or do you recommend that they kind of just take the leap fully and go full-time into it right away?

[00:20:05] Bradley: It's such a big question. That really depends on. So what I've learned is that what drives an individual, what really drives happiness or fulfillment for the most part is being challenged in their work. Right? People want to grow. People want to be solving interesting and creative problems. They want to be challenged in no matter what industry function or level of seniority doesn't matter. 

And so the question I'd ask to that person who's maybe listening or thinking about this is how are you feeling in your current job? Do you want it, are you getting the challenge? Are you getting the investment from your manager? Are you growing as an individual and a professional in that job?

Right. Most people I talk to aren't fulfilled and happy in their current job. And that's of course part of the industry that I'm in. Right. They would have no reason really to talk to me, but I think the majority of people are relatively unfulfilled in their professional lives. And so the question is, what about your professional life is unfulfilling and what kind of change would you make based on that?
Maybe the change is you want to keep a full-time job and switch companies. Maybe you want to switch titles within your existing company. I don't think consulting is necessarily something I'd recommend every single person to do, but when you can do, and a lot of people don't realize this, but you absolutely can find a client on the side of your full-time job.

Don't go to a competitor, of course. but you can absolutely find someone for five, 10 hours a week, make some side income and see if this kind of experience of consulting is something that's exciting to you and if it's not, you can drop it. And if it is, then you can keep doing it and decide to make it a bigger or smaller part of your life.

[00:21:50] Jonathan: Love that. Is there anything else that you kind of see as something you coach people through, kind of before we move on to, to picking your niche, is there any other, like major things that you coach people through you know, what to expect, about going out on their own and, feeling like they can do it?

[00:22:08] Bradley: I recommend that they write out their intention. Why do you want to do this? Don't just have it in your head. Write it down on a piece of paper. What's your, why? What does success look like? I think people go out and they just, oh, I'll see what I can get. And it's, you're setting yourself up for failure.

You're setting up for a moving goalpost if you don't know what good looks like for you. And I also encourage them to write out the worst case scenario. If you go out and you, maybe you quit your job, and then there's a bit of a higher risk there, but what is your worst case scenario? And one thing that I did before I left Uber is I just did a little bit of interviewing and other.

I wanted to see what my value was in the market. And what that did for me mentally was say, you know, what, if I go out on my own, regardless of consulting, starting a company, doesn't matter, I have a good backup plan. And I know not everybody necessarily has that, but if you can really think about what's your worst case scenario, often the worst case scenario is a bit of an ego hit.

And then you go back to what you were doing before. So essentially you can't lose. Cause if you can just go back to what you were doing before, but you got a new experience and tried something new. You're only winning in that scenario. So we try and reframe the, oh, what happens if I fail to well if it doesn't work out, you'll be back right where you are and that's, you know, you're not losing. So.

[00:23:31] Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, right, right back where you are or, or, you know, some kind of step up too. My, personal journey yeah. I haven't been really successful in any way, shape or form, honestly, but, uh, but through the things that I've learned. I've been able to secure a job that I love, which is crazy.

I never thought that I could actually have a job that I loved, because I thought I had to be on my own to feel fulfilled and be happy. but that's proven to actually not be the case, and then this job also gives me the ability to keep pursuing, going on my own and doing my own thing anyway. 

So, in any case, I feel like my personal opinion is that it's always a step forward. And, you know, you can all, like you said, you can always mitigate that risk. but yeah, wherever you're going to go, I think it's, I think it's always going to end up being a step forward, even through all the mistakes you're going to learn and, yeah, and just keep going. I think there just can be no regrets, honestly, taking that leap, whatever that leap is.

[00:24:29] Bradley: Yeah, and I, and I love what you said. And one thing I'd almost reframe for you and for the listeners is you said I haven't had success thus far. Right. And it's like, I would challenge that immensely because you're able to do what you're doing now in a position that you love in part, because those experiences you had, like, what does success even mean?

Right. And so a lot of success is how we define it, maybe internally or even worse externally from other people, what quote success looks like. Right. But I would say success is doing what you love every day and feeling fulfilled and empowered in your work. I don't care how much money you make. I'd rather have so much fulfillment in my life than a billion dollars in my bank account. Then I feel like shit about myself. Right. 

So, yeah, I think we can all use some benefit from self-compassion and self-love and reframing success in our own lives so that we can feel good about ourselves, bring confidence to the people that we work with and ourselves, and enjoy each day, each week that much.

[00:25:33] Jonathan: Yeah, thank you for that, man. appreciate that. And so let's dig into, how to pick your niche. I don't even know where to begin, with asking about this, cause it's such a huge topic, but where do you begin when you're coaching people through how to pick their niche?

[00:25:50] Bradley: I'll start with me. Cause I think I'm a good example of I did quote “operations” at Uber, right? Which meant I would basically be in charge of growing the markets, maybe launching a new market, a lot of supply demand dynamics, right? Growing the driver base or growing the rider base, kind of whatever it took to grow.

And we define that at Uber as operations. Nobody else outside of Uber knows what the hell that is. if I told you I did operations at Uber, you’d nod and say, okay, but internally you'd have zero freaking idea what I can do. So if I go to you, let's just say you're a company and I'm looking to consult for you.

If I tell you that I did operations at Uber, you, you know nothing, it is completely useless. And so I learned over time how to pitch myself and pick my niche. So two of my biggest accomplishments at Uber were launching Uber Eats in different markets, right? As you said, Miami and Milan at the beginning. So if I were talking to a marketplace company, which normally I would be, if I was interested in consulting for them, since that's the majority of my experience, I would tell them probably… 

I would start off saying, I launched Uber Eats in Miami and Milan and Uber Freight in the US and I specialize in launching two and three sided consumer facing and B2B marketplaces. So it's kind of a lot there. I would tailor it depending on the company. If they were consumer facing, I would focus on Uber Eats. If they were B2B, I would focus on the Freight experience, but me coming to you and saying, I launch two-sided B2B marketplaces.

Now, you know what I do. Right. It's much clearer to you. And so what I tell people, the exercise I go through is I say, okay, what is the situation where you start talking to a company? And that company says, holy crap, thank God I found you? Like, you are such a perfect person to help solve our problems.

Like, oh my God, where did you come from? How did you fall into my lap? So for me, my first client, and I got very lucky with this, but my first client was a series A self-driving company that was launching a food delivery marketplace with their self-driving cars. They had the whole autonomous tech going, or at least they thought they did.

And they were looking for someone to come in on the op side and figure out how do we actually launch this food delivery marketplace? So when I came to them and I said that I had been there, done this for a billion dollar company twice. I know the playbook and I can basically help you skip a year's worth of mistakes. 

For them it was a no brainer. It was holy shit. How did you fall on our lap? It didn't matter what I asked for from a pricing perspective, like they were in. So what is the situation for you as you are the consultant where that happens? And I push people. Don't tell me that you grow revenue for small medium-sized businesses.

Great. I know nothing about what you do. I don't, you don't do marketing for B2B companies, not helpful, right? Like what super, super specific. Nobody wants to get specific. They want to keep it broad. They want to open up the gates to every company to consult for which ends up getting, you no clients. And who is the very, very specific client that you make the biggest change for. And then that's going to be your niche.

[00:29:22] Jonathan: There's a lot there. That's really, a lot of important things that, that you hit on. And so when you first said, I forget the exact words, when you said, like how you pitched yourself to this company that made them go, Ooh, like I have to hire you. Like, there's no way I can't hire you. You mentioned kind of like a value based result, and it was framed in like the past, like in the past I have gotten this result, and I specialized in doing this basically. 

And so it's like, oh, you did that in the past. Like, that's exactly what I need to do. So please do that for me. Right? That's essentially like what I'm seeing here that's happening is, is the exact job that they have to be done, speaking in marketing terms is something that you've done before and you know how to do it, so they should just hire you to do it, right?

[00:30:12] Bradley: That's right. It's in a perfect world. Your quote, verbal pitch is I specialize in X, Y, Z, based on my experience doing it at this company. Right. And so that way, as you said, you know what I do, and I've now validated myself that I'm likely to be able to provide you with the outcome that you're looking for, assuming you’re right on there with what they need. That's the big assumption there. 

But assuming that they need that outcome, your job is to legitimize yourself. And the best way is to say, this is my specialty. And I did it at this company ideally more than once. And so I can do it for you.

[00:30:55] Jonathan: And just the fact that you've done it in the past too I think legitimize legitimizes the fact that this situation that you're addressing is real, because if like the thing that you solved in the past, if you solved something in the past for one company, it's probably a situation that, you know, lots of other companies are experiencing as well. 

And in that regard, you've already kind of figured out your market in a way, like, just based on that situation that you're solving, like you don't have to theorize at all. It's just based on your experience, you know, what other companies are going to need.

[00:31:30] Bradley: It's amazing. This is coming up for me. So many people ask, is there a market for… enter my niche here? Right. And I ask them, are you employed by a company right now? And they say, yes. It's like, okay, great. Do you, does your company have competitors? Of course. Great. So there are by definition, dozens, if not hundreds of companies that need your expertise, period. End of story. Right. So is there demand for what you're doing? Yes, you've already proven it.

[00:32:00] Jonathan: Yeah. Bingo. Okay.

[00:32:02] Bradley: It's that simple, right?

[00:32:03] Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, and then the other part there that I thought was super important was that it needs to be a super specific situation. and I know this is a fear that people have, which is, which is going too specific and kind of closing the doors to other situations where they could be helpful.

Cause yeah, you know, maybe someone could just be a general B2B marketer and start their own like B2B marketing agency or something like that. Consulting firm, whatever. But then, like you said, you get no one that way, because it doesn't really appeal to anyone, but like, what would you say to this person who's afraid of going too specific because they feel like it'll close doors to other people.

[00:32:47] Bradley: Number of things. The first thing I'd tell them is that how many clients do you need to hit your goals? And the answer is probably two, maybe three. And so are there 10 times that number of companies that need your niche? Yes. Great. You'll be just fine. Right? So you don't need to have a million potential customers as a consultant.

You need a few dozen max. And so no matter what your industry is or how niche you get, I don't care. You could say I'm an SEO expert for B2B FinTech, series A companies, right? It sounds pretty damn niche. And I guarantee you, there are hundreds of companies that fit that bill, right?

So A) you're not going to niche yourself down too much. I've never seen it done. And number two is you're not shutting the door to other companies. You're saying this is my specialty, but adjacent companies are often going to benefit from this anyway. 

And I'll give you the example of, so I ran at Uber freight more of our automation, operations team. So it was all about how do we scale the business using process and product, as opposed to throwing people at the problem? Right. And I started talking to this insurance tech company. And I started just asking them questions about how they were thinking of scaling using process and product instead of people.

And I was just curious, I was just asking question after question after question, which A), I learned a lot about the client B) legitimized myself as just kind of an expert in this space and 45 minutes in, and the guy just turns his back on me and he's like, wow, you clearly know your stuff. What are you doing these days? Like, can you help us? 

Right. So it didn't matter that I had zero experience in insurance. Right. I would never pitch myself as an expert in insurance marketplaces, but my expertise in operations and automation, which is broad, but worked for this company, right. So you're not going to shut the door. It seems like you are. And I understand the tendency to feel that way, but if you can just think that A) there's a number of companies with your niche B) you're not closing any doors. Hopefully that gives people some peace of mind and they can go in there and hone their niche pretty specific.

[00:35:02] Jonathan: Totally. And, just to comment for listeners just briefly, you know, we're talking a lot about consulting, but all of this applies to cohort-based courses. And that's kind of the reason that, we're talking about this, like picking your niche, that formula, I specialize in XYZ based on you know, whatever experience I have that applies to cohort-based courses as well. If you're going to pick your niche, and format your offer as a cohort-based course instead of consulting, for example. 

So, that makes a lot of sense Bradley, that you're not really closing doors. And even if, you like were, let's say in this hypothetical scenario, even if you were you know, declaring yourself like so specific that other people feel like you don't serve them. Like you can corner that market, right? Like corner that market, get at least 50% of the clients in that market. And then expand later, right? Like you can expand to become more generalist or, you know, at least expand to one other adjacent market, later, if you want to, right?

[00:36:06] Bradley: I think that's the key, right? You never expand more general. You add a new customer segment, right? Because if I create a course for every freelancer, for example, I'm going to get none of them. That's just, no one's going to resonate with my message if I help every freelancer launch their business. Right. So we've gone with experienced tech professionals, seven to 12 years of experience in a major business function, which is still pretty broad.

Like I would challenge us to get even more niche than that. But when we expand, we might expand to more of the creative side. Maybe we'll help writers. Maybe we'll help photographers. Maybe we'll help, I don't know. Right. But, or maybe will help the segment of the population that has worked for 50 years and now wants to work part-time in their quote retirement years.

Right. So they want to consult using all of that experience. Right. We don't have any of those people in our community today, but that's a huge segment we could go after. So when I expand, I will target, I will have dedicated landing pages, messaging, ads, all that kind of stuff towards those people, which is a hell of a different message than take your seven years of tech experience and consult for startups. 

Right? So. you almost, you have to be niche no matter what, it's not an optional thing. I don't think any company has ever grown by saying, oh yeah, we service everybody. Right. Look at every company. 

I mean, Quora is a good example. They started as a, it was only for Facebook employees to get their questions answered. Right. Now they do every question in the world, but at the beginning it was just Facebook.

[00:37:41] Jonathan: Oh, I didn't know that. That’s interesting. Okay. So I think we covered niche pretty well there. So let's go to the third topic, which is how to set your rates with value based pricing. So where do you begin to coach people through this process?

[00:37:57] Bradley: It's my favorite topic. So people were taught to think we're gonna, we're spending our time. So I need to charge for my time. Right. And what is my time worth? And then I try and come up with the calculation. And when you really think about it, what are you bringing to that client? You are bringing the years of experience you have, you are bringing the thousands of dollars you've invested in yourself, whether it's education course, materials, coaching, whatever it is. We've all invested in ourselves with both time and money. And we've gotten our butts kicked probably at these companies. I don't care where you've worked. You've had tough years.

You've had tough times. You've gotten tough feedback at certain points. Those that is what you're bringing to the table, right. You're bringing years and years and years and thousands of dollars of experience and learning to a company. And they're hiring you for an output. Right. So that my first client we'll just go back to them.

Since I already gave the example, they were wanting me to help them launch this food delivery marketplace, which if successful A) would be of course revenue generating for the company. But it was also a milestone on their fundraising journey. Right. This wasn't just, hey, we're, we're wanting, you know, 20 hours of Bradley's time.

It's we want these outcomes. So I'm not charging for my time. I'm charging for the outcome to the client. So I really challenged folks, what are you driving for the client? And then what's that worth, right? We can't take a hundred percent of what it's worth, right? If I bring you a million dollars to your company, you're not going to pay me a million dollars.

That doesn't make sense. Right. A lot of other people contributed to making that million dollars happen, but I played a role in that. So I'm not going to charge $55 an hour for my time. I'm going to charge for at least part of the output that I'm driving for you. And I think that helps with the confidence as an individual to go in there and say, I'm going to charge you 12 grand this month for my work.

And they always ask, how much time is it going to take? What is the hourly rate? It's, that's not the point here. Right? We need to set boundaries about how available I am and all that kind of stuff. But the point is, this is what I'm driving as an outcome for your business. Right. And that's the mindset that I want everybody to get in.

And that's why the niche ends up being so important because the better the niche matches with the client need, then the better the value and clearer the value that you're bringing. And so, you know, again, that first company that I worked with, I didn't know this at the time. It was my first client. I was making things up as I went.

But when I, I would know now that I could have asked for almost anything and they would have said yes, because it was such a good match.

[00:40:44] Jonathan: So, how do you begin figuring out? So once you figure out, okay, I'm going to base my pricing based on value. And that could be, that's just, you know, instead of per hour, that's a fixed monthly rate essentially. Right. I mean, usually, usually it's based on month. Right. And so how do you begin to figure out what to charge at that monthly amount?

[00:41:12] Bradley: It's such a good question. And we've wrestled with this at MyLance for the best way to pitch it. And you kind of need to come at it from a number of different angles to really get to a number that feels right for you. And so the first thing we do is we have a basic calculator and anybody can recreate this or find it on our website, but it's essentially saying.

If you take your previous full-time job or your new full-time job, if you were to have one and just picture what an amazing compensation would look like, what's something that you could get that would be just mind-blowingly good. Include bonuses, include equity. And then we add a 40% buffer on top of that.

And we basically break that down into if you worked 45 weeks a year and 40 hour weeks. What is a number that you get as an, as a per hour rate, and we're not going to charge hourly, but we're going to just use this as a baseline of benchmark. So let's just say you did all these calculations and it came out to 250 an hour.

So we're going to take that number then we're also going to take, go back to your goals. What are you trying to get as a consultant? What does good look like? Do I want to make 10 grand a month? 20 grand a month, a hundred grand a month, five grand a month? And so what is, and then how many hours am I willing to work in my consulting business?

What kind of hourly rate do I need to charge to hit my goals? Right. What's reasonable? If I want to make 20 grand a month and I only want to work 10 hours a week. Well, we have it out there. We know the number, right? It's very clear. So we're going to take our goals. We're going to take our calculator and then we're going to try and estimate value to the client.

It's very hard to quantify this. It's hard to come up with a number, but I really just challenge people to think, what kind of output are they getting? Are they going to be able to raise $20 million because of you? Are they going to be able to increase their sales by X amount? Are they going to reduce their costs by X amount?

Like what value are they getting? And let's just try and come up with something that just guess, right. Are you making a hundred thousand dollars worth of value? Are you creating 10,000? Are you creating a million? Like what does this look like? And we're going to come up with a, with an hourly rate and then based on how many hours we think it's going to take us, we're going to come up with a monthly retainer or a project-based depending on what it looks like.

And we're going to say, how does that feel? It's let's say we came up with 15K a month. Okay. How does that feel? If it doesn't feel scary? It's not high enough. And I'll be honest, I've gone pretty damn high with some clients. And the worst thing that happens is they say that's too high. And then you ask them to counter.

You never negotiate against yourself. Right? So if you throw out a number first and they say that's too high, A) good, you got to your No, and B) you, then ask them. Great. What do you think is reasonable? What do you think is fair? Let them go. Often, the number that they say is way higher than you would have pitched.

Right. If you were just doing it hourly based and you know, a hundred dollars an hour, whatever it is. But there's, it's not a perfect system. It's really hard to come up with that value based pricing number. And so that, that's why this is such a long answer. but you gotta come up with something that feels right and probably feels a little bit scary.

And then that's going to be the number that you should go with. My last tip on this is be super specific. Do not go in there telling people it's 20 grand a month. It sounds completely made up and it is. Right. Go in there with it's going to be $19,750 a month. Much harder to argue with that than, oh, it's 20 grand. It's twenty-five grand. It's 10 grand. It's completely made up.

[00:44:50] Jonathan: Interesting. Could you even do like 19,238? Like what'd you go that specific?

[00:44:58] Bradley: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. The thing is I have been challenged. Oh, how did you get to that number? At some, like, you need a way to get there. And there's so many ways you can get there. Like almost no matter what number you pick, you can get there. I did one where, oh, my time is valued at X dollars per hour. I gave you a 12% discount because I'm excited to work with you.

And so based on this number of hours, I got to $18,537. As long as there is a calculation, which frankly there always is that can get you there. Just realize you might be pushed on how did you get to that number?

[00:45:34] Jonathan: That's a super cool method because it's actually different than what I thought you were going to say. Um, it was going the direction that I thought, and then it took a turn in a good way, because it was kind of like, you know, the process in my mind, um, just kind of thinking back at it, it's like, use a calculator to figure out, what you would be making per hour, or want to be making per hour, figure out your income goals and then bake in like the value you're bringing into your client.

And then you guess like you have to guess, right. There's because pricing is so, like you said, it's so, um, what's the word? Arbitrary.

[00:46:08] Bradley: Yeah.

[00:46:10] Jonathan: But then the only way to make it not arbitrary is to test it, is to pitch it. And so I think the way I thought you were going to take it was okay, like go with your initial guess, and then if they take it, like, if they accept the offer, try to go higher with the next client next time, but you're you kind of shortcut it, like it's okay.

Go higher. Like it should feel scary. Go for that number. And then, I guess if it is, you know, if it is too high, they'll just tell you, and that's not like the end of the world. They'll just tell you. No, and then you're like, okay. What would you like, what would be an acceptable price for you? So it's just an easy conversation.

I think, in my head, at least, I don't know if this is true for others, but I think I tend to over-complicate it. And I think of like end of the world scenarios, if I go too high, they'll look at me crazy and they'll just tell me no, and that'll just end the deal right away. But that's just not the case.

[00:47:04] Bradley: It's not, and especially if you've done a good job in the proposal and scoping phase where they're really excited to hire you. And frankly, you shouldn't agree to a project with anyone that's not really excited to hire you. Right. It's just not worth your time and you won't get a good rate. So assuming that you've done a good job there, no one, I’ve never been laughed out of the room or heard anybody who got laughed out of the room for a high rate.

Like, no, one's going to think you're a clown for trying to value your time at X dollars, right? Yeah. If you go and ask for $5 million for 10 hours of work? I mean, It's hard to imagine that that would be there. I'm sure there's someone in the world that, you know, Mark Cuban might be able to do that for some company.

Right. The sharks on shark tank think that they can. but like, yeah, so we all know what's reasonable. and then just go like a little bit above that and scare yourself. Anyone that I've pressured to do this. I say pressure is not the right word… encouraged to do this has thanked me, every single one. They said, thank you for pushing me, I got a much higher rate than I thought I would. 

[00:48:07] Jonathan: That's super cool. Bradley. well I really hate to cut this conversation off cause I feel like we could definitely keep going on all these topics, but we also covered some really good ground. And I learned a lot and I know our listeners learned a lot, so very appreciative of your time.
And I do have two kind of quicker questions that I like to ask at the end for you before we officially part ways here. 

And the first one is: what is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a cohort-based course creator so far. And how did you solve that challenge?

[00:48:40] Bradley: That's a good question. My, the first cohort I ran, I had no idea what I was doing and I completely made it up and I did my best. And at the end I ran a feedback survey. And I think the average we got was a 6 out of 10 on the zero to 10 scale, which is not terrible, but it definitely wasn't great. And the hardest part about this is I had another cohort kicking off in a week and I did not want to get another six out of 10.

So I jumped on the phone with as many customers as I could. And I just said, give it to me straight. What was good and what could have been better and let's focus on what could have been better. And in the next four days, I completely revamped the entire cohort for the next month and ended up getting I think a 9.2 out of 10 on the next cohort.

And I think the lesson here, you said, how do I fix it? You're going to get tough feedback. If you're putting yourself out there at some point in your life, it's going to happen. And look, there is a 24 hour period where I was really upset. I'll just be honest. It was pretty devastating and there are two ways I could approach it.

I could basically give up and be really sick, feel sorry for myself and be really sad, or I could say, okay, like feedback is a gift and I'm going to get better because of this. Yes. I'm going to feel sad for myself for 24 hours and then I'm going to get the feedback and do what I need to do to make it great.

And, and I did that. And so I'm proud of that recovery. But that was incredibly difficult, and those four days were crazy.

[00:50:15] Jonathan: That’s super cool and humble to be able to take that feedback and apply it like that. Uh, random question for you. I actually wanted to ask you earlier, but, did you happen to pay for any kind of help to transition from consulting to cohort-based course? Or did you do it all on your own?

[00:50:31] Bradley: I didn't. I will say I probably would have benefited if I had, as I said, the first cohort, I had no idea what I was doing and I was completely making it up, which is kind of silly. Right? There's so many best practices people have learned before me. I was reinventing the wheel and would never recommend that. The cohort actually it became a course because middle of conversation just like this, someone was asking for my help and I had always just helped people for free just, you know, casual conversations and in the middle of the conversation, I said, well, I have this course. I didn't have a course. Well, I have this course that I can just help you launch your consulting business.

And we have 12 modules and I can walk you through every step of the way. And she said, wow, that would be great. And I said, yeah, I'll just take 7% of your revenue for the first six months of your consulting business. And she said done, like on the phone. So very cool. At the same time, then I had to go build a course.

So I almost like didn't have time to like, go get all of the best practices and learning. I wish I had. but I just made it up on the fly.

[00:51:34] Jonathan: Yeah. Interesting. Awesome. Yeah. I love that story of just saying yeah, I have a course. And then having to kind of really make that quickly. That's awesome. 

So cool, Bradley. Well, how can listeners keep in touch with you?

[00:51:48] Bradley: Go to We have a newsletter that they can just sign up for. It's free. Also our HQ product, which gives you a website, gives you invoicing, gives you access to a lot of our resources. It's free as of this recording and won't be free forever. So go to our website. You can sign up for that. You can of course check out our accelerator as well.

And then you can find me on LinkedIn. I post quite a bit on LinkedIn. I highly recommend people do it just to get the word out there. People don't like to self promote, but I suck it up and do it. So, Bradley Jacobs on LinkedIn, you know, founder of MyLance. So you'll find me, check out our website.

[00:52:22] Jonathan: Love it. Well, again, thank you so so much Bradley and see you around.

[00:52:27] Bradley: Great. Thanks for having me. It's fun.

[00:52:28] Jonathan: All right. Cheers.

[00:52:34] Jonathan: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, hop aboard If you'd like to be my matey, I would love for you to message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. And remember always captain your cohort, always be my matey, and never lick an iceberg while your ship is passing by.

How to Get in Touch


Popular posts from this blog

How to Start Your First Cohort-Based Course ~ Gautham & Aruna

How to Construct Reverse Testimonials ~ Sean D’Souza

How to Build Your CBC in Public ~ Kevon Cheung