My book, Getting Started in Consulting, is the most popular “Getting Started” offering in Wiley’s entire series. It’s now in its third edition.
Here is some advice, expanded, that I recently posted in response to a question on AlansForums.com. While aimed at people entering the profession, it’s probably useful for those changing their practice or trying to reinvigorate it.
1. When you launch a solo practice, have 6 months of normal living expenses tucked away, minimum.
2. Try to acquire the complete support of those around you: family and close friends. You’ll need a support system.
3. Find a key trusted advisor WHO HAS BEEN THERE AND DONE IT to help you avoid 468 mistakes.
4. Call everyone you know. Explain your value and ask for business AND referrals.
5. Understand that you are in the marketing business every day of your life for the next six months.
6. Never generalize from a specific and ignore ALL unsolicited advice. (And be careful whom you ask.)
7. Focus on your value and improvement of others, not your income.
8. Minimize and even ignore any short-term metrics.
9. Hang with positive people.
10. Get a divorce from your methodology. It’s not your lover, it’s your tool kit.
11. Speed is as important as competence. Get back to people immediately, send proposals quickly, delay nothing that’s oriented toward creating business.
12. This is a relationship business among peers. Learn to dress, speak, and comport yourself as a peer of your buyers. Ignore everyone who tells you to “dumb down” anything.
13. Never be afraid of losing business. It’s the quickest way to lose business. Instead, focus on boldly acquiring business.
14. Invest in marketing and in your own development. You cannot cut your way to growth or reduce you path to success.
15. Generalize to the maximum extent you can. This broadens your buying base. Specialists are far too vulnerable to competition, technological change, and superior brands.
16. Avoid conceptual and theoretical partnerships and alliances. “Show me the money” is your mantra. Most “collaborators” want your money or your talent for their own benefit.
17. Educate yourself. Read the Wall Street Journal (or equivalent), daily newspapers, business journals, and so on. Learn what issues are most affecting your prospects.
18. Obtain the correct insurance (E&O and liability) and incorporation (usually a subchapter S or LLC in the US). Run from anyone, including attorneys, who tell you that you don’t have to incorporate.
19. Create and broadcast your own intellectual property. You can’t thrive being derivative of others. “Turkey Soup for the Aura” or “Good to Much Better Than Great” aren’t going to distinguish you.
20. Always try to talk in person, which is three-dimensional. Phone is two-dimensional, and email one-dimensional. If you think spending six hours a day on email and social media platforms represents marketing, you will fail as a consultant to corporations.
21. ALWAYS price based on value, never on time units. Don’t be as dumb as the lawyers.
© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights. reserved.