In my wildest dreams, never did I ever envision starting a consulting business.
Consulting can seem like the fast-track to entrepreneurial success. So much so, it is often listed as one of the easiest business ventures to explore. I mean… all you would have to do is add your skill set, throw in your rolodex, subtract all the distractions of a ‘day to day’ job, and that will equal success, right?
The above is definitely a great start, but venturing out on one’s own calls for laser focus and a teflon coated ego.
My endeavors have spanned the globe and I have owned a plethora of businesses; consequently, my rolodex has grown substantially. From working for one of the top telecommunications entities in the world to being mentored by a billionaire media mogul I have learned many entrepreneurial lessons.
Maybe you’re a barista. Maybe you’re on the Hill. Or maybe you’re a teacher. Whatever you do, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, it is possible for you to turn those hard skills into a consulting business. Here’s how you’ll do it:
Uncover and understand your client’s distinct inefficiencies.
Your potential client did not become successful by hiring lackluster talent. More than likely, they are venturing into uncharted waters and need some expertise. Simply put, their internal staff for the specific project, market, or process at hand are in unfamiliar territory, and they need outside assistance before things reach a point of critical mass.
This is your opportunity to shine.
Today’s consulting firms must address their client’s immediate need. Let’s use the example of my firm, The Exigency Group, which helps clients who have specific needs in communication solutions or niche management affairs. From professional athletes and corporate executives to politicians and entertainers alike, our clients don’t usually call us when things are running smoothly. They have plenty of in-house talent to solve day to day concerns.
Rather, they seek us to communicate and collaborate with internal staff when things have gone off the rails, or before they reach that point of critical mass. When an internal impasse has occurred, that is your niche. That is where you will live, and you need to own it accordingly.
Relationships, not money should be the driving force.
The consulting world is espeically relationship driven. The key to becoming successful and generating that income you’ve always dreamed of is a deep understanding of what makes your clients tick. Find out exactly what their objectives and goals are before you even think about talking numbers.
If you’re still struggling to figure out how exactly to start your business and what to sell, start here.
Sell attainable results, not rigid services.
You are more than a ‘list of services’ on a website or brochure. In fact, your client may not even know exactly what ails them, therefore nullifying a “list” of services approach.
You want to be known as a results-driven firm. Put your results in the forefront, then up sell the additional services you can offer.
Retainer? Well, sort of…
Simply put, as we have previously stated, your goal is to attack the problem, provide the customer a solution, and then move smoothly on to the next project or client. That means you are running like a well-oiled machine. Long term projects can be lucrative and enduring, but also require copious amounts of manpower and support, plus that would be more along the lines of a permanent staffing situation as opposed to consulting. Do not hamstring yourself in the beginning stages of your business.
Contract out the disciplines your internal staff does not handle on a day to day basis. This allows you to be flexible in handling your client’s needs, reduce overhead, and assess risk with a careful eye.
Time, time and more time.
Prepare for long hours, at least initially. In the beginning, it will take a laser like focus to make headway. Any time spent outside of actual client associated tasks will be in business development. Think of it as a 1 to 1 ratio. Promote and develop your business continuously, and see the fruits of your labor on a more consistent basis.
Now is the time to push forward. Develop a list of references, testimonials, and actual client case studies. Logging your accomplishments will go a long way in establishing your voice as one of the go-to firms when a project arises.