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January 7, 2010

The first $250k. Tips for starting your consultancy.

Lets say that you know what you need to know about taxes, company structures, accounting and general administration. That's the basic stuff and if you are not able to get your mind around that stuff then you may not have the seeds of greatness in you.

You have stepped out, and like everyone else you are spending a lot of your time trying to work out how to get clients, how to keep a positive cash flow, how to keep the pipeline full and how are you going to get past the paradigm of selling hours for cash.

It seems very hard, but you really can get to at least $250k within the first 9 - 12 months of your consultancy.

My advice would be to focus very hard on three fundamental areas.

a) Your brand, the message to market, and all of those things that close the gap between acknowledgement and action,

b) Your ability to sell at high yields, by focusing on developing relationships a the right level and leveraging these, and

c) Your ability to earn money without it being related to the hours you are working.


As you get out the gate you are probably quite focused on what you want your name, or your companies name to stand for. But very few if any of your potential clients have any idea of that.

So you need to get he message out...

Tactic 1: Make sure your LinkedIn profile talks about the value you offer. (Not what you do but the value it provides - important distinction) This cannot be sales-speak, but value-speak.

Not only that but make sure that your past clients and employers are able to post recommendations there. Why? Because they provide you a lot of leverage.

First they are in a public place that is quickly becoming the default networking tool for professionals throughout the world. Second, because once they are made publicly they are able to be used in resumes and CV's, marketing materials, and other promotional areas. (Like your website)

Tactic 2: Get a decent website made. Not an expensive world beater, but a decent site that quickly points them to your value in a way that develops trust. This means using your LinkedIn recommendations from Tactic 1, it also means smal lcase studies and ... maybe.. a blog?

Tactic 3: A Blog? I would do this anyway. I have generated a lot of interest and potential interest from the blogs I run, and it has helped me a lot to write better.

Getting the point across is hard. Blogging helps you be more creative, more aware of your industry, and better at concise writing.

BUT... no matter what you read, it is not really a good marketing tool. It is a branding tool. it is something where people can get some wisdom, minor advice, and get to understand the value you deliver.

Tactic 4: Start touting your brand. This means getting your intro pitch under control, attending networking events, writing articles in the mags and websites that your people read, and cold calling.

Yes.. cold calls work in consulting. But not to get a sale - to start a relationship.

Tactic 5: Stay in touch. Use your get to know you meetings to get to know them, not to sell. Selling will occur once they appreciate the value you offer, and they have started to value the relationship on a trust basis.

Sell Well

This tactic is an easy one. If you win the sale based on price alone then you might win... that means you are stuck on low price, low yields, with a client who is only going to continue to try to drive you lower. Wonderful situation...

Tactic 1: Do not refer to the work, but the outcomes. Always focus every conversation on the outputs of the work you are doing and not on the actual hours and resources you are going to deploy to get this done. The discussion on resources happens in the branding bit, as part of winning their trust.

Tactic 2: Leverage time where possible. A lot of my services income comes from leveraged revenues. Things like minimum monthly repeating fees and mentoring groups. In fact, we run a mentoring program for engineers throughout my country that keeps many of my people busy, and delivers outstanding engineers at the end of the process.

Charged monthly, based on outputs not on work. Why is this so important?

Leveraging Time

This is your year to start writing books, recording audio books and creating other IP that can be sold independent of you.

Tactic 1: Write a book for either self publishing or professional publishing. be prepared to market this a lot yourself, but ultimately you will be doing this primarily for the branding benefits. "I'll see you business card and raise you a book" is a heck of an impression generator.

However, you can also use the book to generate attractive revenues. It just depends on which markets you are working in and he level of potential demand you can generate.

Tactic 2: Develop Kits. Kits are great and I am presently working on one for starting consultants. A kit could contain many things, but the real focus is on providing enough packaged value that people can use immediately.

For example, a kit could contain:

- Audio instruction booklets
- Workbooks that work in with these
- Videos explaining specific issues and problems and how to get through them.
- Short booklets on advanced topics
- Examples, case studies and possibly even video testimonials and the like.

Tactic 3: Public courses. I love these and run them as often as I can do. My own plan?

- Never retrict entry. Leave it as open as the venue will allow for.
- Always have a handout with all the notes in it for the end of he presentation
- Don't give out the presentation. As Seth Godin says - they don't work without you!
- No loner than a days event. Half day is okay if you can generate the interest in it.
- Have several seminars ready to deliver. Not just he same one re-hashed and turned around
- If you are going to do a sit down and analyse it course, then charge more.


I hope these are of some use to you. Feel free to carry on this conversation in the comments below if you want to explore any of these issues further.

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