The Successful Consultant

Barriers to entering the consulting business are few. Anyone can seek to sell his or her knowledge and experience to another party who needs their assistance. The paradox however is that building a successful consulting business requires far more than expertise in a particular field of endeavor.

First, the aspiring consultant must know the market for his or her particular area of expertise. Who are your prospective customers? What are their specific needs, and how much are they willing and able to pay for such assistance? The likelihood of success is far greater if there are many potential clients who place a high value on your expertise.

Next, the successful consultant must establish a portfolio of products and services that the market wants, demands, and is will to pay for! To create an on-going relationship you must have more than a single product or service to offer. Otherwise you will be doing “project” consulting which has a limited life span and you will need another client to replace lost income when your “project” is completed.

Pricing is tricky! First as a consultant, you will have competition from those who freely share their expertise, from free information on the internet and from “how-to-do-it” books on almost any subject. Fortunately, the perceived value of “free” or low cost advice is low.

To sell your products and services they must be affordable to the chosen market. Your real value, however, is not wisdom or advice, but rather in the ability to achieve successful implementation. When your work generates revenues that far exceed its cost, you will have satisfied customers and be able to charge accordingly!

When you have identified your market, products and services, and your pricing model, you must then communicate directly to prospective clients who you are, where you’re located, what you have to offer and why you are the obvious best choice among their available alternatives in order to obtain their business.

Having done all of this you may feel that your consulting business is a success, but the final step is to document your billable time and collect the resulting account receivable from the client. In some cases this may be the most difficult element of the whole process.

In a start up or turn around situation, cash flow can be a barrier and your client’s first need will be to pay daily operating expenses. Also, there will always be those who seek to take advantage by using your services and “forgetting” to pay for them.

In such situations using third party collections agencies can be ineffective and costly. The new consultant is advised to incorporate an effective in-house collections process within his or her own establishment in order to collect all funds earned.


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