In the lead-up to the holiday season each year, I keep the leftover Halloween candy close as fuel for my professional holiday tradition: planning. If there’s one thing I can attribute to the growth of my consulting practice over the years, it’s this regular practice of taking stock of where I’ve been and what’s to come.Some find the timing of this ritual odd. After all, if your business is like mine, many clients are blasting into the busiest weeks of the year. As their consultant, you are experiencing a similarly demanding period.
Oddly enough, I find this the perfect time to start brainstorming about my business’s next act. Why? Because it’s easy to lose some perspective once you’re away from crunch time. I used to take some planning time in early January, and somehow, the fall’s enhanced hustle and bustle feeds my desire to push my business to new heights. Continue reading “‘Tis the Season…to Tackle Business Planning”
Business was humming, yet I had heard a regular refrain that made me doubt my marketing efforts. In the era when Facebook and Twitter were taking off, people regularly asked whether I was promoting my business, books, and ideas on those platforms.
I had toyed with the idea. Each time I inventoried the pros and cons, I concluded that those often-vital marketing vehicles did not suit my business model or my professional goals at the time.
It’s no secret that social media can radically change your business’s fortunes. Plenty of consultants supercharge their fan base, their prospective client pool and their credibility—and thereby their income potential—through an active social media presence. If you are wondering how fervently to pursue this time-consuming but potentially game-changing strategy, here are some questions to consider. Continue reading “Social Media: A Must or A Bust for Consultants?”
Many veteran consultants aim to secure retainers with their clients—and that is a valid goal. Or they’ve heard that “project fees” (charging a flat rate for projects) are the way to go. Retainers provide consistent income over time, whereas hourly rates clearly depend upon the number of hours you work. Similarly, charging project fees is another way of moving beyond time-for-dollars limitations, but this requires Continue reading “Why Hourly Rates?”
If you browse through the consulting section at your local bookstore or search on Amazon, you’d think that #1 among the reasons people start consulting businesses is to “make millions.”
First off, I have absolutely nothing against making a good living. And, depending on your target clients, services, and appetite for business growth, consulting can be a financially rewarding career path. Plus, depending on your business savvy, it’s possible to build your business into an asset that can be sold one day.
But there are multiple good reasons people create a consulting business. I know and have worked with plenty of very successful consultants. Those I respect most have sustainable practices because they have a balance of motivations that keep them in this field. They seem to agree that consulting feeds the soul, the bank account, and the need for independence. Continue reading “The Top 3 Reasons Why People Start Consulting Businesses”
Here are five ways you can boost your confidence as a consultant.
As you start a business, it can be tempting to set up shop, secure a client or two, then expect that things will continue to pop. I was guilty of this myself at times.
I thought that my busy first year would translate into a busy second one. So, I enjoyed the newfound flexibility that came with the occasional slower day. I planted flowers in the garden and met friends somewhat regularly for lunch… until I realized that I was being premature in my comfort. Continue reading “Are You Confident about Your Confidence?”
When you first thought that you might consult, did you assume that your years of experience in the trenches would propel your new career path forward? Most of us learn quickly that this field is filled with talented people. Yet the overarching trait that keeps consulting businesses at full capacity isn’t talent—it’s hustle.
You likely know professionals less skilled than you who have sustained themselves over time due to sheer will. They befriend the key connectors in town and have mastered the art of closing the deal. While it’s a difficult admission to make, these endurance activities are every bit as important as knowing the content of our respective fields.
Many new consultants view hustle solely through the lens of securing clients. Yet it is necessarily multi-faceted: Continue reading “How’s Your Hustle?”
One of the biggest investments you will make as a new consultant is in those who will provide professional services to you. At a minimum, you will likely consider engaging an attorney and an accountant. Given their influence on your early business decisions, you will want to do all you can to ensure that you pick the right attorney and accountant to help set you up for long-term success.
When selecting these advisors, referrals are clearly worthwhile. Ask other small business owners who they recommend, but consider limiting your survey to firms that are similar professional service firms. Also, attorneys and accountants often refer clients to each other, so if you find, say, an accountant whom you like, request a referral to an attorney, or vice versa.
Don’t hesitate to interview your top few candidates. These are core advisors that you might turn to time and again, especially your accountant. Your goal is to set up for a long-term relationship, so if you find an attorney who is, say, too formal or too alarmist for your taste, you are likely to be unhappy with your choice.
There are three general categories that you want to give advance thought to for each of these key advisors: Continue reading “Attorneys and Accountants: Your Quest for the Best”
If you believe that choosing good clients makes consulting life more blissful—and in my experience it certainly does—then you might consider putting the same weight on the projects you take.
“Hold on,” you might be thinking. “If I am going to be choosy about both the client and the project, how in the world will I ever find enough engagements to put food on the table?” Of course, the opposite can also be true: “The more risk factors associated with the jobs I take, the higher the likelihood that I don’t do good work and risk jeopardizing my reputation.”
You certainly reserve the right to make decisions affected by both ends of this spectrum. But there are some basic criteria that tend to make engagements flow more smoothly for all of us. Consider these factors as you learn about your next job. Does the proposed project: Continue reading “7 Signs of a Good Consulting Project”
What if you got to set your own personal speed limit? That vehicular dream might not happen any time soon, but if you run your own consulting practice, you do have an opportunity to set your professional speed. By that, I mean that you can decide whether you are taking a Sunday drive or a lane on the Consulting Autobahn. And you can do so for an unlimited number of issues, from setting your hours to growing your business.
One of the most fabulous things about this career path is that you can set and reset each parameter depending on your life circumstances and goals at a given time. Continue reading “Set Your Own Speed Limit”
Consulting gets a bad rap. Sometimes you can feel the hidden eye rolls when you tell new acquaintances what you do for a living. Professional associations largely ignore us. There are heaps of consulting jokes (some of which are admittedly funny).
Yet most in this field are generous entrepreneurs who go above and beyond for their clients—and for each other. Yes, the competition for jobs can be stiff, and it’s understandable that we might want to keep some ideas close to the vest. But there are many reasons for us to collectively cultivate more flattering images of consultants. Continue reading “You Can Help Turn Consulting Taboo into Trendy”