These days, it seems as if everybody has got advice for consultants. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? The problem for many consultants is that most aren’t actually trained in the art of doing business. Yes, they’re excellent at what they do, whether it’s education, finance or looking after cats, but most don’t have much of an idea about what it actually takes to run a consulting business, besides being a fantastic consultant, of course.
Focus On Relationships, Not Revenues
One of the first things that consults need to realise is that the value of their business is entirely based on the relationships that they forge. That means that when it comes to new clients, it’s always best to listen first, think and then start negotiating a price. The reasons for doing this are both practical and political. Practically speaking, you want to be able to make an assessment of the kind of services that they will need. Doing this will allow you to come up with a price that is actually suitable for the work that they want you to carry out. And politically speaking, it’s always best to build a rapport well before going in for the hard sell. Businesses and customers are way more likely to trust you, and pay you, once they’ve seen how reasonable, personable and qualified you are.
Use Software, Just Like The Pros
Top entrepreneurs know that the key to a successful business is nailing the process. The best businesses have slick processes, excellent communication and an understanding of what is going on in all four corners of their enterprise. In the past, getting this right required a tight-knit team and a lot of experience. But with the rise of multi-channel solutions software, organising a business has become significantly easier. Being able to keep tabs on all of the channels you use to reach out to clients is important if you’re going to maximise opportunities in each of those areas. And so now many consulting firms are using dashboards to organise their communication from a single hub and coordinate their messages.
Stay Supremely Flexible
Many consultants like the idea of getting paid monthly retainers for their work. As a result, they deliberately seek out clients who are willing to pay them month after month. But the monthly retainer somehow defeats the purpose of consulting services. The idea of consulting is to go into a business or a person’s life and solve a problem. It’s not to hang around indefinitely, collecting payment at the end of the month.
The best consultants ultimately end their retainer deals and look for new projects because they eventually solve the problem. They understand that business waxes and wanes. And so they use these opportunities to cultivate new networks and find new people to work with. Often it’s worth building relationships with other highly qualified professionals from industry who can offer their experience and perspective to a particular project. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you need to.
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