As the owner of Called for More - New to Consulting I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and people who are starting their own consultancies. I absolutely love the entrepreneurial spirit and the people who have the guts to just go for it. Having launched my own management consulting business over five years ago, I have firsthand knowledge of the knuckle-biting terror of going it alone. I made a lot of mistakes before I wised up and invested in myself and my business! Luckily, I'm more stubborn than most, so I didn't give up, but it's not easy, and there's not a lot of easily accessible information out there for folks.
Today I'm going to save you some time, money, and heartache. See, there’s a common pattern most new consultants follow on their path to success. It goes something like this:
- Give in to the calling you’ve had forever to do you own thing
- Get a website
- Get business cards
- Tell everyone you know all the services you can provide
- Go to some networking meetings looking for clients
- Freak out that you don’t have any clients
- Wonder if this was a big mistake
- Look for jobs
- Try again
- Maybe land a client
- Write a bunch of blog articles
- Go to more networking meetings
- Land another client from referral
- Stress out that you’re not doing it right
- Hire a business coach
- Go to more networking meetings
- Start doing it
- See results
- Breathe easy
- Love your life
At least, that’s best case scenario. Some people give up at the look for jobs stage. I'll be honest, it was my drug of choice for years until the last time I got hired for a perfectly wonderful job. That's when I realized I didn't want a job now, and maybe not ever!
The truth is we put a LOT on the line when we put ourselves out there as consultants and not being instantly successful is not only scary from a financial standpoint, it can feel humiliating…even shameful. We are usually very high performers and high achievers which is good...and bad. It's bad because unbeknownst to us, we develop a fixed mindset about being good at what we do. And almost every time, that fixed mindset means we avoid like the plague anything that will challenge our labels of ourselves.
This was especially true for me. After all, I was a business consultant, and my business was limpy…I felt like an imposter and was sure no one would want to work with a loser like me.
Guess what kind of mojo I was projecting?
Yeah. Not good.
Now the good news was, I kept at it through sheer stubbornness and desperation, and found a mentor who taught me what I needed to know (just in time).
My first recommendation if you’re starting out is to get a coach and mentor who gets what you’re doing, is connected with your vision, and can give you tactical support to get there.
However, I know not everyone is in a position to do that right off the bat. So let’s pretend you DID hire an amazing coach and mentor (ahem) and we were working together, here would be the first thing I’d suggest you do.
Do NOT make your website yet and do NOT start telling everyone about your business.
Instead, spend as much time as you need figuring out your service ‘menu’ and core service offering. Get very clear on exactly what you will offer, how you will do it, the things you’ll provide. Now, keep that to yourself because nobody cares. Ouch! I know. But what they DO care about is how their life will be different after working with you.
What will change? What will be better? How will they feel? What financial benefit will it have? What emotional benefit?
THAT is what you are selling! That is what should be on your website. For an amazing resource on branding, check out Storybrand by Donald Miller. He’s got some great tools to help you clarify this even more, but remember above all; your client is the hero of the story, not you. Focus on their journey. You are the guide.
I hope this was helpful. If you like talking about this stuff as much as I do, please visit my free Facebook group for consultants and consultants-in-the-making!