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Episode 209: Client Acquisition for Exhausted Entrepreneurs—with Malla Haridat

Deb Zahn: Hi, I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. So, on this episode, we're going to talk about acquiring clients even when you're an exhausted consultant and the type of things that you need to think about and do to make it easier for you and far less exhausting and stressful. So, I brought on an expert in sales and client acquisition, Malla Haridat, and she and I are going to go deep into how to do this, and again, how to make it easier for you so that you keep your pipeline full. But you don't have a business that stresses you out. So, let's get started. I am so excited to have on my podcast today, Malla Haridat. Malla, welcome to the show.

Malla Haridat: Thank you so much. So, looking forward to this.

Deb Zahn: So, I know what you do, but tell folks who are listening what you do.

Malla Haridat: Sure. So, I'm a business coach and speaker and facilitator. I work with different companies and have professional development trainings around entrepreneurial mindset for my B2B work. And then I also work directly with entrepreneurs that are looking to grow their businesses, specifically in the area of sales, and run a group coaching program called Crush Your Sales.

Deb Zahn: That's right where people are crushing their sales.

Malla Haridat: They are, yes.

Deb Zahn: It's a beautiful thing. Well, and that's what we're going to dive into today, is how to get clients in particular for, and you suggested this, and I felt it on a cellular level when you said it for getting clients for exhausted entrepreneurs. And I'm sure folks are out there, and they heard me say that, and they're like, "Oh, wait, that's me." So, let's talk about that. So, if someone's a consultant and they're a solo consultant and they're trying to get business, how does the exhaustion actually come into play that look like?

Malla Haridat: Sure. So, we've seen this pattern several times. If you've run your own business, you land a client, you're so excited about it, you get the retainer in, you're working, working, working, and then the project is over. A month goes by and you're like, "OK, so where's the next project?" That's right. And then two months go by and where's the next project? And by the third month, you're probably scraping to find whatever you can find to get started on anything. And then what happens is I see this hamster wheel that continually repeats itself again and again and again. So, you're like trying to market, trying to market, trying to market, trying to market, and then you work, work, work, work and trying to market, trying to market. And what my thought is that there is a better way of doing it, right?

There is a way where you're going to set up what your marketing and your sales looks like; think through a plan that's going to work for you when you are busy. And I think that's the key, right? What does it look like for me when I'm busy? And then this way, this kind of brings you people on an ongoing basis so that ideally you don't deal with the gaps, but even if you do deal with the gaps, it's going to look totally different because you never take your foot off of the gas when you're busy. And I think that that's real for most of us because if you're dealing with clients, I know what it is to get the last-minute phone call or the last minute like "We know this is outside of what we asked you for, but could you?" And you're like, "Alright." So, it can be really hard to balance both of those things, but if you want to keep the business coming in, you've got to have the marketing and the sales ongoing.

Deb Zahn: And I think the misconception people might make is the hamster wheel is where the exhaustion comes from. It's not like that. You don't have time to rest those three months in between when you have no clients because if you've got nothing coming in, those aren't restful periods of time.

Malla Haridat: Exactly. The time that you have in between. For many of us, I don't think we've asked the questions that position us to think like an entrepreneur. And that to me is the game changer. There is work that you do in your business as a consultant, and you're probably awesome at it. There are always things that you can learn how to do better, always ways you can improve. And that's the fun part. That's the work I enjoy doing with the professional development trainings that I deliver. I'm always learning something new. But I think the difference is understanding that what you have is an asset, what you have as a business. And if you sit down and actually plan through what does that look like so that I get out to my ideal clients, how do I do that in a way that feels authentic to me?

And then the other half of it that far too often I think doesn't get discussed, which is what are my thoughts, my stories, my mindsets, my behaviors, my patterns around sales? Because during that free time, is it like I'm just going to have an absolute blast to live my best life, which I'm here for, which I am totally here for! Or do you have a way of, “OK, well, let me just spend an hour every day and then I can still do everything that I want to do during those gap periods.” But you've kind of thought through what that looks like first and that hour is dedicated to the real meaningful work that's going to bring clients in throughout the year.

Deb Zahn: I love that. And we're going to get to sort of that process, but you brought up something in terms of mindset and stories and history, which I think is so powerful, and it comes down to comfort related to sales. Now, someone like you, someone like me, we're comfortable with sales or however it is we got comfortable with sales, but why do other folks find that hard? Or if you ever found it hard, how did you get over that hump to where you're like, "Wait a minute. No, no, no, this is a good thing."

Malla Haridat: Totally. So, I know for myself that there were certain things I knew how to do well around sales. When I started my business, what I didn't realize is that gap, I like to talk about what you don't know, you don't know. And my challenge was is I could bring in a certain amount of money. I couldn't get past that number for a long time, and I didn't understand why. Clients love the work that I did. I was always getting referrals. And even if I sat down and did the numbers on it, I'm like, "Well, I could take on more work, but what's going on?" When I actually sat down for myself and started really unpacking the stories that I had told myself about what sales is about, how I show up around marketing. So, if you're watching this, for example, via video, you'll see that I am a black female. If you're listening via audio I'm also a short black female.

And in a lot of the work environments that I was in when I had gotten into different leadership positions, I dealt with a lot of people doubting that I had the leadership ability, that I had the capabilities constantly being challenged for whatever reason it was. And what I didn't realize was how those stories and those different examples of things that happened to me in the work environment had seeped into me starting a business because I was always checking myself and asking, OK, well this proposal, did you really get it out the right way? Or maybe there was something else extra because in my work I would've been questioned on it. I would've been double checked, triple checked on things. So, I brought over all those stories and all of those conversations, and yeah, that's why instead of getting out maybe two proposals a month or three a quarter, I'm only sending out one if I'm lucky.

And it's not because I can't do it's because there's always the stories and the conversations you're having that you may not even be present to. And so I find for a lot of people, when you get present to whatever your story is, that was my story and my experiences, but when you get present to your stories and how it's showing up in your work, that's when a lot of times everything starts to change because for most of us, we do know a lot of the tactics we need on how to sell or you do know some of the basics, but you got to get present to that story of how you're showing up. And then that's when everything starts to really shift in a more powerful way.

Deb Zahn: I love that because you're right, so many people might know enough of the basics that if they did it, they would do it. But that's why, and I know from having been in your membership, which is all kinds of wonderful and fabulous, that you have accountability, but you have the accountability that helps people surface their stories. Because once it's on the surface, then you can work with it. If it's shoved way down and it never gets surfaced, then you're going to repeat patterns and not know why. And if there's no accountability, then you kind of get to do that for as long as you want to do that.

Malla Haridat: Totally. It's got to be safe. I'm glad you called out Deb. It has to be a safe space. I've received sales coaching in the past, or I've read different books in the past, and it has the accountability part to it. And that's important. Don't get me wrong. You do need someone kind of checking in with you like "Did you do what you said you were going to do? And what does that look like?" But then you got to give people the safe space so that if it doesn't work out because inevitably it's not going to work out. That's life life-ing. Do I have the space to talk through the conversation and really be honest about why?

I encountered this actually last night on a training. I'm delivering a training for over 30 hours on how to really help entrepreneurs uplevel their businesses. We had this amazing guest speaker come in and she overwhelmed everyone, but that's OK. And she did such a great job on market research. They're all left with their heads spinning. And we finished under the workshop and I said, "Look, we've got 20 minutes left over here. What questions do you have right now about your business?" And no one had a question.

And I'm like, "What do you mean you don't have questions?" And the response, the best response they could give me was, "Well, we think that we got enough information." And I'm like, no. "See, that's the challenge right there. The gap is that you got the information. I understand that everyone is a verbal processor, so I totally own that. You can type in the chat, I'm fine with that. That's OK. But you've got to now understand you're in a safe space. If you want to ask a stupid question, you totally can, but I need you to ask it because otherwise you're going to walk away, think you learned something, think you understood something, and then it's going to show up in your business six months from now, and you don't understand why you can't get the clients."

Deb Zahn: That's right. And I think you just highlighted something so critical that I want to emphasize it, which is it's not just about knowledge. It's not even just about skills. It's your confidence in being able to apply it and the stories you tell yourself and the feelings of self-worth and fear in all of those things will either make or break whether or not you're actually going to apply those knowledge and skills. And that's huge. And if you don't have a place where you can talk about it and say, "Well, what if I send this proposal and they think it's dumb?" And-

Malla Haridat: Totally.

Deb Zahn: I've had that feeling. I had that feeling, particularly when I started consulting where I'm like, "Oh my gosh, what if this is going to be a huge embarrassment for me because X, Y, and Z." And we're all creative people. I mean, we are almost story storytellers. We can make up all kinds of things in our head.

Malla Haridat: Of course, of course, of course.

Deb Zahn: But I love that as of having a place where that's how you gain the comfort. It's not just take this tool and do this thing with it.

Malla Haridat: Right. And to your point, Deb, it's also the thinking work that for a lot of entrepreneurs, people don't really recognize sometimes the amount of thinking work that goes into being an entrepreneur. You have to create the strategy for your business. If you don't have the sales coming in, if you don't have the clients coming in that you want to have, let's sit down and think through what you're doing and what needs to shift. And for a lot of us, I'll own it myself. I'd rather do sitting down and thinking, I kind of got to get in the zone for that sometimes. It's not always my first forte, let's go. Let's make things happen. But the thinking is then when you now sit down to do the work, you do know what to do. You know what to tell your team to be able to do, and then that's where you wind up spending way less time on things because there's a plan, there's a system.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And I love that. And you have to do it for yourself because if you Google how to do something, you'll get so many contradictory answers.

Malla Haridat: Yes, we totally will.

Deb Zahn: That say, "Absolutely never do this." "Always do this." But you got to think about what actually works for you, and then pay attention as you go along. I love that. Now, I know one of the things that you also talk about and I think is so critical is having a process for sales and not just a wing and a prayer it will all work out. So, for those that aren't convinced, hopefully they've listened to enough podcasts or seen you talk that they're convinced, but just in case, why do you have to have a process for sales?

Malla Haridat: You have to have a process for sales because if you do it halfway correctly, you're going to grow, and you need to be able to equip the people that are going to support you with that growth as to how do you do what you do. So, that's the good side of it is it works, which it should hopefully. Then you want others to jump on board. The other part of it is, and that's the part that I think for a lot of us of why we don't like having a process and we don't like thinking through it, is you also need to always be stepping back and evaluating where your gaps are. where are the areas you need to reiterate? What are the things you need to change because this is not working or that's not working? And I mean, when I think of what my business looked like before the pandemic to what it looks like right now to where we may be five years from now, you're going to always be updating and changing things.

You may find new ways of being able to get the business out there to people, new ways of marketing or things like that. So, I think that's a real opportunity when you lean into it. But the first times when you start looking at it, you're going to get overwhelmed because you're going to realize there is a lot. There it is. But if you figure it out how to be able to get started, then I recommend that you just take things one quarter at a time, look at a few things that you want to be able to shift during that quarter.

The rest of it is what it is. OK. Again, safe space. This is not about building the perfect model from within 30 days. That's not going to happen. But if you really drill down on those steps, that's the part that brings me great joy is I've watched it with a number of people who are very, "I don't want to be salesy. I don't want to beat folks over the head." Good, then let's build the process that works for you. Let's take our time. Let's build the process that works for you, for your company, your brand, your people. And then the beauty is that once we actually put it in place, yes, you have to tweak it and edit it, but that thing works and that excites me because you are not scrambling then on a regular basis to find clients.

Deb Zahn: And I love you said, even if it works half the time because isn't that the truth, it doesn't have to be perfect. So, if a consultant right now, solo consultant has zero process, like they got nothing and they hear you say process, and they're not sure what that means, what would be some of the first things that you would suggest they do?

Malla Haridat: Sure. So, the first one is you need to start writing down right now every single day, what do you do around sales? And I use that term very loosely. It's how you define sales, and it's how you define the activity you're doing around sales. It's not for me to judge, right? Because for a lot of people, when they hear the word sales, we think of going in to go buy a car, someone beating you over the head.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Plaid jacket.

Malla Haridat: Yeah, no, no, no, we're not doing that. So, how do you define it? And what I find for a lot of people is they've never thought through this process, they've never thought through, well, what do I actually do in order to get it? For most of us, we were like, when people first get started with me, a lot of times they've been relying a 100% on referrals. You didn't have to think through what your process was. They just kind of came, which is great. But then what happens now when you want to put the pressure on and you want more muddy? OK, so what are you actually doing? And that's why I don't believe in this very prescriptive plan.

Yes, there are definitely steps of the actual formulaic steps of what sales does look like, but to begin with, for most businesses, much rather, you sit down, think through what are you doing right now, what does that look like? And then over time, we can start adding in additional steps of where I might see the gaps are Half the time the other person will see where the gaps are and can adjust them. And then that's where you can really start to build a plan that's sustainable versus me telling you, "Well, I do it my way, do it my way," because that may not fit you and I don't want that.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, the formulas, I have to say, I've seen way too many, oh gosh, they just turned my stomach. Because they forget that human beings are involved, and human beings don't react to formulas the way that we would like them too.

Malla Haridat: Totally, totally. Well, and let's break that down. Let's get real fun with this. The other challenge with the formula is the person who's given me the formula, do they live the life I live? Probably not.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Malla Haridat: Probably not. So, my ultimate favorite one is there's a lot of conversations around sales that men are putting out there, which is awesome. I want to get the male worldview. I want to get that perspective. As a woman I'm going to do it differently. I just am.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Malla Haridat: And so even if you have, and I've seen it happen a lot of times, even if you're getting advice, sometimes you may not be getting it from someone that's in the same worldview as you. And so then you've got to break that down on multiple layers on what that looks like. That's why I rather, let's just start from the beginning. What are you actually doing? Rather than us trying to create this brand-new formula that's totally uncomfortable to you, you're going to stop using after three days, just like you quit the diet on January 3rd.

Deb Zahn: Wait, wait, wait, wait. People make it to the 3rd? What?

Malla Haridat: I'm just saying, if you just went all out and you, you know, cleaned out your refrigerator and all you have are just the meal plan you already set up. Right?

Deb Zahn: I'm saying then I can make it to the 3rd.

Malla Haridat: Total commitment, total commitment. But even to your point, even in that case, it's really hard. It's really hard. No, start with your strengths.

That's the key is how do you do it naturally really well, and let's model what that looks like and drill down into that versus me coming up with a formula that works for me and my personality and my type of clients. So, for example, for years I kept coming across sales things that help you sell products. I have a service-based business.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Malla Haridat: So, a lot of my B2B clients that I've worked with for years and built these amazing relationships with…people don't always in sales, they don't always talk about the value of the lifetime relationship or how much a client's going to spend with you over the long term. So, a lot of the strategies that I use going in with donuts and food for a meeting because it always makes people happy, right?

Deb Zahn: Oh yeah.

Malla Haridat: You don't see those types of things in B2C sales and rightfully so because it's a different type of a conversation that most people have. But then if I know that there are certain things that do work really well for how I do it, I need to figure out how do I replicate that across the work that I'm doing, rather than trying to now put someone else's formula, their template on top of my work and stop using the things that actually do work for me, which is I like long term.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, yeah. And being a consultant is another example who did do a product plus is services. The way we went after the product is there's a small handful of us that did a product, was totally different. The sales approach related to that was very, very different. It had some overlap, but we had to come at it with fresh mind because none of us had a real marketing background. And we had to even question, did we think marketing was the right way to sell this? Are we really trying to sell this business by business, by business, or we is there some bulk version that we could use? We had to sit down and think very carefully about if we have this beautiful thing that we have reason to believe is going to be marketable because it gets people result that they need in our market, we got to look critically at how we did our service stuff and only take the stuff that's actually going to be helpful.

Malla Haridat: Totally. Totally. Yeah.

Deb Zahn: And it worked.

Malla Haridat: Well, I'm glad to hear that it worked, but your example is brilliant. I so that's why one size doesn't fit all. I mean, I love that you share that and being able to ask those critical questions, kudos to you, Deb, on being fearless and having people around you that were fearless seriously on asking the questions about it. Because far too often we're like, "No, I'm just going to take this formula, put it on top of something," and yeah, that doesn't work.

Deb Zahn: And I have to say, going back to the mindset thing, I think one of the things that helped was we had created something and we knew how helpful it was going to be to folks. We knew it was the thing that folks were missing, and if they had this, it was going to reduce frustration, help them make decisions, sort of all of the things that were really necessary during this big market shift. So, we overcame whatever stories we had in our head because we also had the story of we're on the planet to help people, and if we're on the planet to help people, then get over yourself and get out there and sell this in a way that people are going to be able to consume it.

Malla Haridat: So, now you're talking about vision and you're pulling at heart strings and everything inside of me because that is, I think, another critical piece that's missing from sales. A lot of times we're looking at the transaction. We love the work that we're doing. Let's say you're a consultant and you do a service that you love, you really enjoy it. But it's like, but I got to get more, I got to get more, I got to get more. Well, one of the best ways to distinguish your work, and definitely one of the best ways to tackle the hard part about putting your brand out there and creating that awareness with your ideal clients is you got to get tied into your vision. So, I will out myself with you on this one, Deb, that until I got clear on my own vision doing things, being able to have amazing conversations, this publicly was way outside of my comfort zone.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Malla Haridat: Way outside of my comfort zone until I realized that well, no, my goal is to help transform lives through entrepreneurship so that they're able to create legacy in their world. That's what I'm here to do.

Deb Zahn: Woo.

Malla Haridat: And Maya, if you don't sit down and shut up and get out of your own darn way, that ain't going to happen.

Deb Zahn: Well, I wasn't getting any business because I was just going out to get business. And then I realized, wait a minute, I'm trying to get, when I first started consulting, I'm trying to get business from organizations that I used to work at that I fundamentally cared about their wellbeing. I was worried about their wellbeing. And that's where the vision comes from. It. The vision didn't come from, and I want to make X number of dollars.

Malla Haridat: Exactly. Exactly. When you get tied to that and when you believe that, then you can live, what I believe is the mattress sales is service. It sounds cliche, it sounds very corny, but it's true. And the sales become way easier when you live that. The challenge is that for a lot of us, we haven't pulled that apart. We're still focused on like, well, I need to make the money. I have these bills that are due. I got to pay the taxes and all. And that's true. That's all true. But if you start first with that piece that's going to light you on fire about your work and about your business, and make sure that message gets out there to others, and there's a way to do it strategically so you're not exhausted. I want to be clear about that. Right? We're not going for that. That's where your customers come from because they get tied in. I'm not surprised. They're totally tied in your case to what you believe and why you do this work. Of course, they want to hire you. That's a no-brainer.

Deb Zahn: And you can't fake it because they can tell the difference between faux excitement and the real deal, and that you're on their side. They can tell the difference. And so that's the other reason why your vision has to be real. And that's why I love the way you're talking about, it has to be real for you, and it has to be your vision, not someone else's vision that you plucked off the internet. It's got to be yours.

Malla Haridat: Yes, yes, yes.

Deb Zahn: And you make the t-shirt.

Malla Haridat: You make it and you're proud to wear it. That's like you are clearly proud to wear that t-shirt with those clients because you like that meant something to you in that regards. Totally.

Deb Zahn: Oh, I'm so glad you brought that up. So, there's also technical parts to actually acquiring clients. So, if you've done sort of the work that you're talking about, sort of figured out what your stories are, thought through, what's your sales processes, definitely, definitely, definitely have your vision. What are some of the technical things? Can you walk us through that? What's the path that gets you from zero client to now you're able to bring your goodness to a client?

Malla Haridat: Yes, totally. So, one of the things that I work with clients on every quarter is that we sit down and set what their sales goals are for the quarter. What is it that you want to earn for the business? Basically your sales projections. And for a lot of entrepreneurs, we have a fuzzy idea of what that is, but now let's sit down and really work through what that looks like. How many of these offerings do you want to pitch? How many of these products do you want to be able to offer? What does that look like in nuts and bolts? And then from there, then you actually have to do the tactical work of to reverse engineer. So, then what does that mean on a monthly, on a weekly, a daily basis? So, is this a timeframe, for example, in my business where I'm just going to spend a lot of time cleaning up some of the processes because sometimes that's the case.

You may have enough clients that are coming in right now, you're feeling really good. So, I'm going to spend this quarter cleaning up my processes. Awesome. Break out on a weekly basis what things you're going to work on. Give yourself some freedom because it's never working quite as quickly as you want to. That's OK. But really sit down and scope that out so that now, two quarters from now, three quarters from now, when you're going to be really out there pitching more frequently, you have how your customers are going to come into your world. Do you have both your lead gen, how people are finding you and you're going to stay in relationship with them connected. A big one I find for a lot of service-based entrepreneurs is the follow up process, right? That one alone, I think we all need to spend hours on. How do you follow up with your prospects, with people who have expressed an interest, but the response is not now.

So, that could be one of the areas. And a lot of times when people are looking for how do I do this on a long-term basis? I'm like, it's just then it's building up your follow-up process. What does that actually look like? Because that's where you're losing your money, to be honest. You may not even have to do so much more where people know about you. It's just making sure that you continue to follow up with people. I've purchased things from entrepreneurs that have sold to me for years in their newsletters where I didn't purchase right away. They kept following up, it worked. Right? And vice versa. I've landed a number of clients where every six months, every year or so, especially if after the initial phase has kind of worn off, I still reach out to them, how are you doing generally, how are things going?

Here's some wins I've had. Tell me what's going on in your world? Because that could be one of those tactical things that quarter that you work on is just creating that process and then obviously doing the work behind it. And then the third thing that I would say is how frequently are you actually pitching your offers? And pitches look different for different people. Some people it's sending out the proposal, and so maybe there's one or two per quarter you send out, and that's fine. And for others, it may be actually getting on the phone. It may be kind of talking through with prospective clients what their challenges are, asking questions, being open, which is always fun for consultants, what's going on? What? Tell me what's happening and what I need to know. And maybe instead of you not tracking what that is, this quarter you start tracking how many times did I get on a phone call?

And I won't call that a traditional discovery call, but you're just asking questions. You're just trying to learn more about where the client has pain points and where they need help. And really positioning yourself as that expert that can help them solve those problems. If you start tracking that piece alone, could from one quarter to the next, you're going to land clients. There's no doubt in my mind because there's going to be someone that's going to say, oh, I never thought about it that way, or, this is interesting. Can you send me? And then it's golden from there.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and the technical pieces aren't divorced from the heart pieces. So, talk a little bit because I know this is something that's important to you, and I love it when you talk about this of the way to do it, that still brings the heart, still ties to the vision. Even when you're following up with folks, they feel it. Talk about how in the sort of best of all worlds, what does that look like?

Malla Haridat: Sure. So, one's a big one, and I think there's a couple of things that I offer to support people with that. One is that I think you have to have a safe space where you can talk about some of the challenges that show up when you start doing that. Because the minute you make a plan, what's the phrase? We make plans, God laughs or whatever your belief is.

Deb Zahn: Somebody does.

Malla Haridat: Somebody's out there laughing at me right now. So, the minute you start to plan, you need to know that the other is going to show up. And I think the first thing is that I recommend being in a community, but at the very least have a safe space where you can have those conversations and be OK when whatever hits the fan, hits the fan. Because you're trying to actually implement and execute this strategy, right? Because it's going to show up. And then I think that there is something to be said about either working directly with a coach or just having a really powerful, I know that some people do it through journaling. They'll definitely do it through having one partner. I have a really good entrepreneurial friend that whenever it hits the wall, I know to call, pick up the phone and call her. Could she just going to get me right back on the horse again?

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Malla Haridat: We're going to keep moving forward and will remind me of, oh, what did you say your vision was again? Oh, are you doing that now? No. OK, go back and go do that again.

Deb Zahn: You know who mine is, it's Ms. Shaunice.

Malla Haridat: Oh my gosh. Totally rockstar in that area to keep you on your horse.

Deb Zahn: If you have to have a partner, Shaunice Hawkins is the perfect one because she's amazing.

Malla Haridat: Oh, totally. Because you're not going to leave that conversation and thinking the same way you entered it because she's totally transforming you to go right back to what you said was important to you.

Deb Zahn: And you're bringing up vulnerability. So, we haven't said that word, but that's really what you're talking about, is vulnerable enough to say, "Hey, I'm feeling some feelings around X and it's getting in the way of me doing Y and having a place or a person or a way for that to come out."

Malla Haridat: It's my work to be frank. It is such my work because the vulnerability, that one, we could... Wow, it would take me years. And I would even just want to just be in the conversation because how do you resolve that is it just takes time to unpack it because to your point, you need to be in a place where you can feel safe. And then for the other person, it's going to take time sometimes for them to feel safe themselves. So, I won't even point to any of my clients on this one. I'll just point to myself, the way that I had to operate when I've been in professional environments is always been having to put up this shield of being this professional woman and always showing up and having it together. And so then I'm a disaster when I first start working on being vulnerable about where my gaps are, right?

Because I've been trained, I can't show weaknesses. I cannot show flaws or faults in the work that I'm doing because of how I'm often perceived within professional environments. But yet, that's the very thing for a lot of us that is keeping our businesses back. So, I think it's twofold. I think you have to have the ability to be willing to talk about those areas and discuss them and be even aware that they exist. And then you want to give yourself a little bit of time. Because every time that I think that I've unpacked certain parts of this conversation, my coach gets me on the phone, I've got tissues. "I don't like you right now because you're making feel this way."

Deb Zahn: You thought you had carry-on baggage, and it turned out you checked some and you didn't know.

Malla Haridat: Check some and over the weight limit, Deb, keep it real over the weight limit, right?

Deb Zahn: Oh my goodness. Yeah. I know when I started as a consultant, I was, and I was at a firm, so I was with really good people, but I was being watched and I couldn't understand why it wasn't just working for me. And I was too embarrassed to say it out loud. I was too embarrassed to say until I started talking to who became, well, he was already my husband at that point, that I don't know how I'm going to get clients. I don't know how I'm going to do this. But I was so afraid to say that to anybody else because I played out the stories in my head of what their responses were going to be. Which by the way, were no one's response. But I had them all figured out in my head, or so I thought.

Malla Haridat: Oh, Deb, we're so going to blame this on what happens in school and work environments right now. Can I help you with that for a minute? Can we have fun? Right.

Deb Zahn: Feel free.

Malla Haridat: When you're, listen, when you're a baby and when you're a kid, you have no problems asking.

You have zero problems in asking whatever you want you ask for. And if you get told no, you'll go back again. And you'll ask with total fearlessness and without challenge, but through the process of school. And there's some beautiful things about school, don't get me wrong, but that's one of them I don't like. And then definitely in the work environment, the further that you work in the work environment, the more those patterns become entrenched. Yeah. You're not allowed to ask questions. That's why when I have a group of entrepreneurs who are newbies, they'll ask all the questions. When I have a group of people who have been doing it for a while, it's one of the hardest groups to crack the nu on.

Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah.

Malla Haridat: Because you can't be vulnerable.

Deb Zahn: Right? And you add personal trauma to that, and you got the whole cake now, it's baked, but it's possible to break through it. And the more you surface and attend to, the easier it gets.

Malla Haridat: The easier it gets, and the more you find yourself working with the types of clients that you wanted to work with because you are showing up differently. B, you'll definitely be landing the projects. I can see it firsthand. I used to take projects because I knew it was a good project. I now take projects that are good projects that I really want to work on. And there's a difference.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Where you're like, let me at that.

Malla Haridat: Oh, definitely. Let's have at this.

Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Malla Haridat: It shows up.

Deb Zahn: It does. And clients can feel it, and then they want more of it because other consultants show up and, "Hey, look, I put on a suit for you. OK." That's as deep as that goes. So, that is the difference. So, we could talk for ages and ages and ages, but obviously you have so much goodness to share with entrepreneurs who need this kind of help. So, where can folks find you?

Malla Haridat: Sure. So, my website is my name. It's I actually have a promotion that I'm offering right now that is a 21-question assessment. So, for my consultants in the house, I know you will love it.

Deb Zahn: Nice.

Malla Haridat: OK. It is 21 questions that you want to ask yourself that will help you get to the seven-figure level. And I put this assessment together very intentionally. This is not something that's like, oh my gosh, miracles are going to happen. When you get to question one and you realize that question one about how you actually bring people into your world as a prospective client, and you can't answer it as, yes, it's OK. It's OK. I've been through all of them, I've answered no to all of them. It can happen. But I know that this is the tool that for a lot of us, we're looking for some sort of metric of what are the things in my business that I'm not paying attention to that are keeping me from making more money? And so I purposely put this assessment together after working with hundreds of entrepreneurs. And I'm like, "If we start with just one question a quarter, watch what's going to happen to your revenue." It transforms. It really does.

Deb Zahn: Oh, that's beautiful. And we will have a link to that in the show notes. So, let me ask this because I know that you love what you do, but it's not all that you love.

Malla Haridat: That's right. That's right. That's right.

Deb Zahn: How do you bring balance to your life, however you define that.

Malla Haridat: Sure. So, balance, the first thing is I definitely start out first thing in the morning because if I don't do it first thing in the morning, it will not happen. So, for me, my non-negotiables are my quiet time in the morning, whether it's prayer, whether it's meditation, whether it's yoga, I tend to switch up depending upon how I'm feeling that morning. But I have to kind of center myself with that first thing. And I'm not a morning person, I should emphasize, right? I am not. But it makes a difference because then when things hit the wall during the rest of the day, you are already centered really at where you need to be at. And then number two, and I did this years ago and didn't even realize it, but the reason I wanted a business was because I wanted the flexibility to spend time with my family.

And this is long before I had a child. I wanted the time to spend it the way I wanted to. And I've been really, really intentional about keeping that going with my daughter right now. There are different times where clients are asking me, "Would you be interested in this or interested in that?" No. The family priority's got to come first, like her hours, her time, the times that I want to be there and be present, I schedule that out first, and then I'll go back in and work around the rest of the time in terms of for the business. And you get creative with it. You learn that you need to hire, get more team members, which was really powerful for me to be able to make that switch and not spend all the time myself doing the work. But I think having the team and more importantly, having the vision of where I needed to put my focus, which was on my family, has really been very helpful in keeping that balance.

Deb Zahn: I just love that. Well, Maya, thank you so much for joining me. Now, folks don't know this, and I'm just going to be, I have been trying to get you on my podcast…you know how long I've been trying to get you on my podcast. And all I know is like because we met when we did when Shaunice's. The fabulous Shaunice Hawkins put us on Connected Guest and it's all event together, and I'm like "Her, her. She is amazing, and I need her on my podcast." And what I was, was persistent. Wasn't I consistently…

Malla Haridat: Persistent? And I love you for it, Deb. Thank you. Thank you.

Deb Zahn: Oh, good.

Malla Haridat: Thank you.

Deb Zahn: I'm glad we made it happen. And goodness knows, we could probably do a dozen of these. So, I thank you so much that you took the time to share all this with us.

Malla Haridat: Thank you tremendously, definitely.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up in a lot of other great content, and I don't want you to miss anything.

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So, as always, you can go and get more wonderful information and tools at Thanks so much. I will talk to you on the next episode.

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