TEN TIPS FOR SUCCESS AS AN INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT
KEEP A CONTINUOUS MARKETING CYCLE GOING – NEVER LET IT STOP
- Don’t fool yourself into believing that promises of work will turn into contracts, that early or existing clients will last forever, or that something will turn up. Successful consultants market better than the rest.
- You’ll need a continual activity cycle that creates prospects on which you can work. You will develop some of these into clients who, in turn, will give you referrals or new contacts which you will turn into more prospects.
- Think of marketing as a daily activity; not weekly, monthly, or when you feel like getting a newssheet out.
- Our guide concentrates most on winning business and keeping it, because we know from 18 years experience and thousands of independents we’ve helped, that this activity and associated skills will make or break your business.
FOCUS ON YOUR OFFER AND KEEP IT UNDER REVIEW
- When we spend two days coaching new independent consultants, nearly a day of this can be spent in helping them to get their offer right. Think about exactly what services you are offering to prospective clients and how these services will benefit them and their business?
- Can you say what you do in 30 seconds?
- Keep reshaping and repackaging your offer for different target groups and to get in tune with new trends.
ACCURATELY ESTIMATE THE NUMBER OF FEE DAYS YOU CAN CHARGE IN A YEAR
- One reason many consultants find it increasingly difficult to succeed, is because they are just freelancing, rather than setting up a sustainable business model which accurately estimates the number of days they can spend fee earning, winning business and organising the business.
- The fee days you can charge in a year and the business income you need to generate, should determine the average fee rate you charge.
LEARN HOW TO SELL
- Even if you think you have all the skills needed to win business contracts, review them, tune them up and make yourself better than the rest.
- Consultative selling is more like negotiating than selling a product. It can be fun, since you are selling both you and your business. Best of all, it makes your client feel great about both you and your service.
- Having confidence in your unique selling proposition, (see ‘Focus on Your Offer’), will give you confidence in using your skills to agree a brief, to present and write your proposal and to secure the contract.
WRITE WINNING PROPOSALS
- Once you’ve ‘opened the door’ by great marketing and excellent selling, it is your proposal that will give your client confidence that you can do brilliant work and that you are the one your client wants to work with.
- Each proposal must be tailor-made for your client for this project, even though you can use a professional format and template time and time again.
- Even if you don’t have to tender, or there is no competition, always approach each proposal you write as if you are competing with the leading consultancy in your field. After all, you’re often competing with client insecurity, where the client can decide to do nothing at this stage if your proposal doesn’t persuade them.
ALWAYS AIM TO DELIVER MORE VALUE THAN THE CLIENT EXPECTS
- Delivering great value starts from the initial meeting, before you get the work and includes how you deal with your invoicing, collect your payment and stay in touch after the project completion.
- Recognise that when you are retained by a client on a long-term contract, the honeymoon phase can turn to mere acceptance and then restlessness before divorce. Keep coming up with ways of adding zip, zest and real value into the relationship.
THERE’S NO BUSINESS WITHOUT SHOW BUSINESS
- Get yourself known as a presenter on a specialist subject
- You may hate presenting, or you may think you’re already the best in the world, but as an independent consultant you need to do it increasingly and continually improve.
- You need great skills, but you also need to invest in great support media, each and every time.
INVEST IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
- When you’re not working for an established organisation any more, it is easy to get out of touch with the ‘know what’, the ‘know how’ and the ‘know who’ that you need in order to continue to offer your clients the best, professional service. So you’ll need to have a rolling, yearly development plan to plug these holes.
- Try to find at least one hour a day to learn something new that might benefit you and your business, or your clients and their businesses.
- Find a mentor or coach
BUILD A PRODUCTIVE NETWORK
- Avoid the one-way networks, where everyone sells at each other. Instead, choose the productive networks, where all parties are learning and developing together.
- Build your own network, as well as joining other networks.
- Choose different networks for different business benefits e.g. professional development, idea generation, research and understanding different sectors etc. Don’t just think about lead generation
BUY OUR GUIDE AND JOIN OUR NETWORK
- We left the best tip until last! Check out our guide here and now! For each of the last six years, our best selling “Essential Guide to Earning a Living from Independent Consultancy” has been updated, added to and the tips, ‘know how’, ‘know what’ and ‘know who’ proven in practice by thousands of satisfied independent consultants. Buying the guide gives you e-mail access to the authors, free updates and access to our person-to-person and online support network called www.entrepreneursuk.com.
What Consultants and Clients are Saying
“The upside of ideas is that entrepreneurs are like the genie in the bottle – they can’t stop them pouring out of their head. I have always found a good litmus test to be this: mix together what interests you and what you are good at. Consider what irritates you as dissatisfaction is a great producer of ideas – and envision yourself in the process”
“People ask me how to become an entrepreneur and I can’t tell them. It’s something innate. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.”
“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage”
“Being an entrepreneur is like being a policeman – you are never off duty”