When I built my business, the question of how much to charge for my services was an unexpected hurdle. I needed mentors and examples I could use. I knew I wanted to create a course for emerging entrepreneurs; not knowing people who were offering that kind of service, however, I had to seek the resources I needed for myself. I had to educate myself before I could educate others.

Thus, I became a consumer, a student of sorts. I took several courses to give me firsthand knowledge of the content, value and style of existing offerings. At the same time, I built up an email list and sent targeted surveys, asking upfront questions about people’s needs. I brought in people who were more experienced than me, and I listened to them carefully.

Here are some lessons I learned about learning lessons:

1. Ascension is your priority.
I found that speakers of certain courses were charging $10,000 for a “mastermind” session. They were valuing their services so highly that they were basically prohibiting entrepreneurs on startup budgets from attending. That didn’t make any sense to me. It seemed like highway robbery.

I wanted to make a course for entrepreneurs who were just starting out; in order to excite those customers and show them I understood them, I had to make the price affordable. The course was cheaper than perhaps it should have been, but crucially, the course’s value was overdelivered. The result? Ascension. They wanted more.

2. Be the change you want to see.
Perhaps it sounds sappy, but I built my company on a need I felt personally. I needed mentors but found it difficult to meet them. I needed advice. So I built my company based on that need. I realized the power of connection by creating my own Facebook group for entrepreneurs and seeing firsthand what a difference it can make to have a safe place to share ideas.

3. Be yourself. Really.
We hear this advice so often in the personal sphere: Just be yourself! But it’s not used often enough in entrepreneurship. Authenticity and honesty are vitally important traits if you’re going to form meaningful connections with your audience. Great leaders and speakers can appear to a live audience almost exactly as they’d appear at home to their spouses. Practice making your service personal.

4. Those who can, teach.
From experiencing many business courses myself, I learned that the most helpful courses were led by people who’d actually been there and done that. Plenty of speakers were willing to preach, but if they hadn’t practiced what they were describing, their advice was only abstractly useful. Do your research, and find yourself a practiced teacher.

5. Weed out scams.
A scam isn’t just a fake rental property on Craigslist; scams come in all shapes and sizes and are sometimes difficult to distinguish from genuine, useful services. I have seen many people launch courses -- with some of those people being very high-profile, with charismatic personalities and colorful branding. Glitzy presentation can easily sway you, but look for content first and foremost.

The thought leaders you should be listening to have a wealth of content to share, and you can find it on their social media pages, websites or publishing outlets.

6. Talking about money is OK.
If someone sells you a course about building an eight-figure company and then completely skirts the subject of money, that’s a red flag. I’m not afraid to talk about finances with entrepreneurs. I say honestly, “I’ve built this company, and I want to teach you how I did it.” Avoiding money in that conversation would be insincere and unhelpful.

By educating yourself as you build your company, you can be the change you want to see in the business world and make meaningful connections with your audience before you even offer them anything. Ascension is a beautiful thing. And it doesn’t cost $10,000.

Author's Bio: 

Rick Martinez runs Biz Academy Online, a course dedicated to helping cultivate passion, purpose and entrepreneurial business hacks. Biz Academy is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. Find out how to channel your passion into business and make more by subscribing to Rick's life hacks.