Consulting Through the Pandemic and Beyond

Join us for a conversation with veteran consultants about navigating the white waters ahead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 @ 1 PM Eastern, 10 AM Pacific, Free

Join a panel of veteran consultants to hear about what they did to weather another time of disruption and uncertainty – the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and how those lessons shape their business practices during this crisis. Their stories are designed to help you think through your own plans so that your consulting practice survives and thrives.

Here are some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Lessons learned from previous crises
  • Meeting the new realities head-on:
    • Adjusting your mindset
    • Adapting your business model and your services
    • Changing how you market and sell
    • Serving clients in an online environment (for the foreseeable future)
  • Maintaining your business and personal resilience


  • Mary Hiland, Ph.D., Hiland Consulting, and host of the Inspired Nonprofit Leadership podcast. After 26 years as a nonprofit executive, in 2002 Mary founded her consulting and coaching practice focused on boards and executives.
  • Susan Schaefer, CFRE, founded Resource Partners LLC in 2001, a consultancy focused on fundraising strategy and working with national foundations. Susan is the coeditor of the Nonprofit Consulting Playbook.
  • Don Tebbe, founded the first of his three consulting practices in 1993 after a 23-year career that spanned business and government and nine years as a nonprofit executive.


Click here to register. This event is free but pre-registration is required. (Nothing will be sold on this online event.)

‘Tis the Season…to Tackle Business Planning

tis the season for planning

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”

Social Media: A Must or A Bust for Consultants?

social media

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?”

Are you driving your consulting business (or is it driving you)?

Business Model

I was reading Seth Godin’s recent post, “Profitable, Difficult, or Important?”, and it struck me: that’s a tension I’ve felt throughout my consulting career.

Although the tension was inside my head, it showed up in my business model,[*] which means it eventually showed up somewhere else. You guessed it: In my bank account!

For example, early in my second consulting practice (I’ve had three), we focused on what we thought was important: serving small nonprofits. That proved to be both difficult, and, as you might guess, not very profitable. Continue reading “Are you driving your consulting business (or is it driving you)?”

Why Hourly Rates?

why hourly rates?

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?”

The Top 3 Reasons Why People Start Consulting Businesses

The Top 3 Reasons People Start a Consulting Business

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”

What Does Your Prospect (Really) Think of Your Proposal?

What do prospect really think of your proposal

As a consultant, how many times have you wished you could have been a fly on the wall as a prospect reviewed your proposal and those from your competitors? We might be gratified. We might be mortified. But oh, what we could learn!

I recently helped a client prepare a request for proposals (RFP) for consulting services that are outside my core area of business. And, I thought the client’s comments would make for an interesting mini case study on proposals and the proposing process. Although it’s only one data point, I think a lot of my client’s observations had to do with human nature rather than the particulars of this client.

Background: The client sent an RFP to 10 firms, nine of whom responded. This was a “short list” of firms recommended by the senior executive team and board members. The fee for this project will be in the $150–200K range. There’s also an opportunity for repeat business with the client for projects in the high five-figure range. The RFP clarified that my client was reaching out to a “select list” of firms.

Here are some of the standout comments my client made in the review process: Continue reading “What Does Your Prospect (Really) Think of Your Proposal?”

Don’t Make This HUGE Mistake When Starting Your Consulting Business!

The single biggest mistake that people make in starting their consulting business is thinking they’re ready just because they have strong technical skills or content knowledge.

They think that their years of experience in their field, their skills in some technical area, or their content knowledge is enough to start a successful consulting business.

Oh, Boy! Are they ever in for a rude surprise. In reality, it takes bringing together – harmonizing, actually – five sets of skills to have a successful consulting business. And new consultants typically have two of them at best.

The five skill sets are: Continue reading “Don’t Make This HUGE Mistake When Starting Your Consulting Business!”

Five Myths About Introverts and Extroverts

This post is a companion to our “Success Secrets for the Introverted Consultant” article.

Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton Business School has studied some popular notions and misconceptions about introverts and compared them with what the research literature says. And he identified five myths that don’t hold up to the scrutiny of research.

Myth 1: Extroverts get energy from social interaction, whereas introverts get energy from privately reflecting on their thoughts and feelings. Grant says that research has found that introverts and extroverts spend about the same amount of time with people and enjoy it just as much. Extroverts and introverts both “experience greater energy when they talk more.” And, introverts and extroverts “report the most energy when they’re talkative and assertive.”

So, what was the difference he found between introverts and extroverts? Sensitivity to stimulation. Introverts are more prone to be overstimulated while extroverts are charged up by stimulating activities. Bottom line though, introverts can be social. Continue reading “Five Myths About Introverts and Extroverts”