April 21, 2021
6 minutes of reading
Comments expressed by Businessmen the contributors are their own.
When I started my career in communications consulting, my goal was to get on-site six-month contracts from large corporations that pay for the big hourly. I will extend the contract for another six months when it ends or moves on. I am more interested in getting a stable contract job than building business.
It worked well for about five years. Unfortunately, I got sick, had surgery and couldn’t work.
The hourly consultants are not paid when they don’t show up. And I didn’t show up for several weeks. The good news is companies keep calling to see if I’m free. Bad news – I can’t leave the house. Remote work not an option. My job is to work with executives to gather information to establish internal processes. I do not have external access to client systems.
During the recovery process, I decided to change business model and improve my processes. It’s time to build a business.
Most businessmen learn by trial and error. My journey is no exception. Even with extensive industry experience, a mentor and great business relationships, it was not easy to go in a new direction after my surgery. But I need to survive, and it’s hard to know what’s working or not working if you don’t try new things.
There are many aspects to being a successful consultant. I have perfected my process and believe these six have helped to scale my business.
1. Consultant or freelancer?
Freelance and consulting are two very similar but different business paths. One title is not more reputable than the other, but the prospect and the client may disagree, they like freelancers for short-term creative work and consultants for deep expertise in the industry.
When you’re just getting started, it’s easy to use interchangeable titles to describe who you are and what you do. Your goal is to get new clients and if potential clients are looking for a freelancer, you are more than happy to be a business person. This could be a mistake.
Most companies hire freelancers for projects that require creative skills and often see them as contract employees. They hire consultants to help restructure their businesses or implement company policies and procedures – and they’re willing to pay for it.
Freelancers and consultants can offer the same services and charge the same, but it’s best for your brand to choose the right title to reach the right customers. As a new consultant, you are the brand. It is important to always remember that.
2. Rate your services
Valuation is more art than science. Big consulting firms know the value they bring to their clients, and they charge the right fees for their expertise. You should also. To stay in business, you need to know what you have to pay for a business. That means understanding your business profits.
Most novice business consultants do not know their profits and work for low project fees or on an hourly basis. This strategy may help you gain customers, but it won’t keep you in the business. Know what you want to earn each year. Come up with a fee formula based on how much you want to earn. Focusing on potential customers will pay the price for your expertise.
As an expert, you are providing the expert’s skills and advice. Like large consulting firms, charge for your expertise. Know what you value. Charge for the problems you solve and the value you bring. Customers expect to pay for it.
3. When to say no
Your customers may not always agree with your findings and solutions. Sometimes, they will even refuse to implement them or ask you to change them. This is a difficult situation that may not be related to your work. Maybe it’s about someone who doesn’t want to change the status quo. When this happens, you need to find out why the client is against it so you can deal with it. If the customer still refuses to continue, you have two options. Do what the customer asks or says no and provide documentation of why your solution is right.
To say no, you must have confidence in yourself and the services you provide. They hired you to make an immediate difference. You should do it even if it means saying no.
It’s better to come up with the right solution than to blame a project that fails. Nothing worse.
Related: 7 ways to soothe ‘no’
4. Choose a niche
Choosing a niche is important for growing your brand. It differentiates your business and can help you identify what services to offer. It will also make it easier for you to be recognized as an expert.
Think about this before you start consulting. It will help you properly market your leads, research your competitors, and stand out from the crowd. You can always expand your services later, but a healthy business needs the right customers.
5. How to market your services
Marketing Your service is the key to a successful consultation. To keep your business running, you need to see marketing as a long-term plan. No strategy works for all. Test and measure different strategies until you find the ones that work for you.
Establish good lead generation strategies that include a website and speak-out social media platforms target audience. Keep it simple. It’s important for you to understand who you are, what you do, how you approach your target audience, and how to communicate with them to set yourself apart from your competitors.
6. How to manage your time
When you’re a busy consultant, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working for the client all day instead of focusing on growing your business. Even if you’ve worked on a similar project, each new project comes with different clients and challenges.
You will need to develop a plan and set priorities and a deadline at the beginning of each project. Create and use productivity strategies to keep track of your time. You will also need it project management tool to make sure you deliver on time.
There are other things the new consultant should know, but these six, along with your ability to adapt to changing environments, will set you on the path to success.