Consulting – How To Be Successful

Consulting is a wonderful occupation, because you can tailor it to suit your individual style and personality, as well as any particular business experience you already have. Getting started in consulting isn’t always easy, but here are some general tips and ideas to help you be a success.

A good place to start is asking other people for advice – not help, advice. Most people love giving advice, and the funny thing is that when they give you advice, they inadvertently end up helping you! Be very clear and explicit when you describe your business to others, and be specific about the services you provide. Talk to everybody about what benefits a client can expect from using your services, and let them know exactly what it is you have to offer. This is vital – nobody is going to employ you as a consultant unless they understand what it is that you can do for them and their business.

Selling your services as a consultant is no different to selling any other product. For example, take widgets. If you were selling widgets to someone else, you’d tell people how great your widgets are, what makes your widgets different and better than any other widget they can buy, and how your particular widget can make their life better. The main difference with consulting is that clients usually don’t understand what benefits they are likely to gain from using a consultant, so you may have to work a little harder to sell them your services. After all, people already know about widgets, they may have bought widgets in the past, they’ve enjoyed the benefit of using a widget before, so it’s only necessary for you to sell them the idea of buying YOUR widget.

You’ve probably heard many times that the customer is always right, and that’s just as true for consulting as any other business. Remember, your clients are the most element of your business, so treat them that way. After all, without them you wouldn’t even have a business. Happy clients tell other people, and that word of mouth advertising is the most powerful boost your business can get.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to be something you’re not. Stick to your known areas of competence and don’t overstep the boundaries. Sometimes a client might ask you to do something you’re unfamiliar with, and it’s better to be honest and say you don’t know how it’s done, than taking it on and messing it up completely.

Remember, too, that just like the client can choose whichever consultant they want, you have the right to choose your clients. So if you’re not comfortable working with someone, don’t take them on as a client. It can be hard at the beginning to turn away business, but in the long run you’ll lose more than you gain if you take on a project that isn’t a good fit, takes time away from other good projects, and makes you unavailable for some other great opportunity.

Look around for joint venture arrangements. It’s likely that there are plenty of other businesses that offer complementary services for your clients. Set up a reciprocal arrangement with them. This can be a great way of getting clients when you’re starting out. Joining together with some other companies also means that you set up package deals or other incentives for clients, and share some of the costs of attracting new business.

Finally, try offering some of your services for free, helping out on a community project, or giving potential clients some sort of gift to attract their interest. Don’t over do it, particularly when starting out, but it all helps to promote your business and attract new business opportunities.