The Challenges Faced By Small Consulting Practices – Part 3.
Last week and the week before, I introduced some of the challenges faced by solo-consultants and small consulting firms and provided some recommendations about how consultants may address them. The first post introduced the first 6 challenges consultants must deal with, and last week’s post dealt with another 6 challenges. This week’s post discusses the remaining challenges. The full list of challenges is replicated below:
- Maximize retainers
- Pre-screening/client selection
- Content development
- Freebies and pushing out the free line
- Marketing automation and funnels
- Automating key functions
- Outsourcing non-essential tasks and activities/delegating
- Creating a value-delivered model as opposed to a billable time model
- Moving beyond one-on-one services and embracing one-to many services
- Creating passive revenue streams
- Writing books/courses/video Programs
- Keynote Speaking
- Systemizing what you know and licensing it to other consultants to deliver
- Referral programs
- Collaborate with others
- Continuous learning
- Life/work balance
Getting out on a stage and addressing a large audience is a great credibility builder. Very often, it will lead to enquiries from members of the audience about your services and lots of new clients can be won from this source. You should welcome opportunities to speak at business seminars, chambers of commerce, industry groups etc. This presumes that you are not troubled by the prospect of public speaking and that you have something coherent and interesting to say.
Systemizing What You know and Licensing It To Other Consultants To Deliver
Although some projects are completely bespoke and cannot be systemized, lots of what we do for clients is repeating what we have done for other clients. This provides the opportunity to create mechanisms for approaching and completing assignments, in much the same way as a pilot follows a structured checklist every time he prepares a flight for departure.
We can leverage this knowledge by documenting our methodologies and by branding them. In this way, we can create the opportunity to license the methodologies to other consultants or to businesses that want to do their implementations in-house.
Most consultants have a wide network of colleagues with a wide array of specialty skills. Projects frequently come up where a consultant may not have the skills or industry specialization to deliver for potential clients. This presents the opportunity for the consultant to refer the business to a colleague or another consultant with the required knowledge and skills for an agreed fee. This works both ways in that you may be prepared to pay a finders fee to colleagues that bring lucrative business your way.
Collaborate with Others/Affiliates
Sometimes projects are quite complex and require an entire team of consultants, at different levels of experience, to deliver for a potential client. It is useful if you can bring this optimum team together for the client, perhaps under your leadership, to increase the likelihood of delivering a successful project outcome.
If you have programs and content that can be sold in an online environment – such as eBooks, videos, webinar recordings, training sessions, podcasts – you can significantly increase sales by developing joint venture partnerships with affiliates in your particular space. This creates market reach that would not normally be open to you, in exchange for a share of the revenue. With packaged content in particular, there is virtually no additional cost incurred by you and every incremental dollar you gain through affiliates could be considered bonus income.
When we work as consultants, continuous learning is part of our stock in trade. We learn from new projects. We learn from new clients. We keep our ear to the ground to learn about new techniques and new technologies. And, most of us are curious people with an inherent desire to learn new things.
The combination of all of these things allows us to continuously deliver significant value to clients, many of which may not be exposed to all of the new knowledge that comes our way. This offers us a competitive advantage when clients are evaluating whether to run a project entirely in-house or whether to bring in outside expertize.
Those of us in private practice, particularly consultants that run a solo practice, are always challenged by the question of when to quit working each day and retain some measure of balance in our lives. The pressure to make a buck when the sun shines can deflect us from the reality that we need to have some balance in our lives, if we wish to keep fresh and sharp. Who says we have to work 12-hour days and encroach on our weekends? Nobody. We generate this pressure on ourselves.
We need to get a grip on our lives and ensure that our families and loved ones get to spend adequate quality time with us. We also need chill time on our own or with our buddies. The best way to achieve all of these things is to get into the habit of scheduling family and leisure time in much the same way as you schedule appointments and analysis time in your business. Put it into your weekly planner. A sample of a useful weekly planner can be downloaded from the following link.
This concludes this short series of blog posts about the challenges we face as small business consulting firms or solo consultants and how we may address these challenges and turn them to our advantage.