Tag: tips for success

Staying Organized as a Consultant



The job description of a consultant often requires dealing with multiple clients at the same time, which makes staying organized essential. Even if they are tackling a single client at a time, a consultant will need to be thorough and show expertise in all areas while handling tons of documents, files, and information. That is why it is imperative for them to assign a specific order to everything, so skimming through it doesn’t prove to be a hassle for them. Also you need to ensure that no details fall through the cracks. Following these guidelines will help any consultant in going through the workday -every day- without getting caught up in chaos.

Keep an Organizer and Structure Your Day on it

It is very important to keep a schedule of all the activities that you have planned for that day. By looking at the schedule, you will not forget any of the important tasks and will also be able to determine the time you need to devote to each activity. There are times when your schedule is flexible and the spaces can be used to carry out other activities. Keep in mind to develop a schedule which is not overwhelming and does not require you to perform one daunting task after the other.

Always a Good Idea to Take Down Notes

Taking notes is essential whether on a handheld device or on paper. There is no way that you’ll be able to store tons of information in your mind. Without leaving any room for error, the better option is to get everything jotted down so that you can always return to it in the case of a confusion.

Use the Amazing Features of Your Smartphone

Smartphones have eased our lives to a great extent. It acts as an organizer as well as a medium to take down all the notes. You can even set alarms and reminders to remind you of an important task right on time. Most of all, it helps you staying in touch on the go with all your clients not only through phone but also through the emails.

Keep Everything in Files and Folders

All the important documents and information must be organized in files and folders according to the name of the client. This way you will not be able to lose any of it and there would be no chance of mixing the materials of two clients. Rushing through all the papers will make you look irresponsible and non-serious in front of your clients.

Prepare a Kit of All of Your Essential Tools

All the essential tools and accessories should be with you at all times. Whether you are driving or in another city, you’ll need to have an access to all the necessary items right away. This will help you in not spending a minute of being helpless or unproductive and will also serve to enhance your reputation in front of the clients.

Have you been able to manage all the chaos? If there was something else which helped you greatly in being organized then do share in the comments below.

How Do You Keep The Momentum Going?

This can be a scary time, and it will probably happen to you at some point. It can lead to feeling flustered and pulled in many directions, scrambling to keep up and to sign new work, regardless of the type of work.

Take a deep breath, and keep calm. Nothing can hurt you worse than desperation, which can lead you to accept terms you normally wouldn’t, lower your pay scale, or even cause you to panic which might turn off potential new customers.

So what can you do to keep clients around, to keep them coming back, and to help bring in new business, without having a dry spell? Here are some tips:

Retention: Keep existing clients happy and coming back. It’s an old adage but it’s true, your best customer is an existing customer. A client who knows your work and is happy with your results is a client you can turn back to in lean times. Keeping up with the client and reaching out with new ideas or projects is much more likely to be successful than cold-calling strangers. Having continuing small projects for a client, can make the dry spells a little bit wetter. The Harvard Business School says that increasing customer retention by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Do your homework and keep doing it, sometimes you can see an opportunity for a past client before they do.

Stay involved with them: In business, it is very easy to fall into an employer-employee dynamic, where you are being paid to perform a service. Involving a client in the process turns them from employer to teammate. They know the needs of the work better than you, even at your most researched. Giving them tasks, asking them for advice, running drafts past them makes clients feel part of what you do and part of the solution, which gives them a sense of pride in the work that you do with them. This alone can seal the deal for future work.

Only as good as your last job: Do good work, always. Starting your business and becoming a consultant is a rewarding job, but it isn’t an easy one. Put in the hard work, always. Go above and beyond. Drop the jargon and really connect with your clients. A lot of consultants like to obfuscate the work, to make it seem like an esoteric or mystical formula for success. Instead, make it accessible, and teach them. Word of mouth is key to bringing in new business, so for each client, show them that they are paying you for a job that you know how to do and that you will work hard to get it done. If you do it right, you’ll get more work just out of the word of mouth that helps build your reputation. Don’t sell yourself short in money, quotes, or time just to get the work in the door. That will only come back to bite you in the end.

Stand for something: An emotional bond is the easiest way to make a potential client into a lifelong customer. Shared values, creating a fun work environment around you, and being a simple, straightforward and honest consultant can make you a brand that your clients believe it.

Find pain points: Somewhere out there is a business who is struggling with the exact thing you can help them with. Somewhere out there is someone who is craving exactly what you are selling. Figuring out who that is and finding them is no mean feat, but it is a key to constantly sourcing new business. This article from Forbes is about writing a “pain letter” rather than a cover letter to get hired. But read this from the perspective of a consultant, and think about how it can apply to potential clients:

“If the organization is growing fast, they’ve got growing pains. It’s hard to keep on top of everything that needs to be done. Sales may be booming, but infrastructure undoubtedly lags behind. That makes customers unhappy. Systems are breaking at the seams.

If the organization is large, it may be slow to react to market changes – most large organizations are. They may be having trouble responding to their clients’ needs. They may have so much red-tape bureaucracy that important projects get stalled.

Universities are short of cash. They’re competing with private educational options and community colleges for dollars. Most universities have done a horrible job staying connected to alums, students’ families and their own communities, because they didn’t need to do those things before. Now they do.

Not-for-profits are learning that they’re competing against one another for mindshare and funding, and competing with for-profit companies too.”

Google alerts should become your best friend. Narrow down the pain points that you are best equipped to soothe. Can you help step in as management in the merger of two companies? Have Google alerts set for companies being acquired and mergers. Reach out before they even realize there might be a stumbling block in the road, and you can quickly become a savior.

These are just a few tips. There are so many ways to keep clients coming back and to bring in new work, you just have to be consistent, keep calm, and work hard.

Landing your First Consulting Gig

pexels-photo-largeSo you’ve decided to start consulting, perhaps based off of this post I wrote. That’s great! The only thing you need to do to start down the road of being a consultant is call yourself one. Startup can cost as little as business card printing and getting a business license. But becoming a working, professional consultant, that’s a different story altogether.

So how do you land that first client, and move into the professional sphere?

First, I want you to think about where you want your business to be in 1 to 5 years. The best way to achieve success in the highly competitive world of consulting is to focus on a specific aspect of consulting and become the go-to expert. So one of the things to keep in mind before getting your first client is how you want to attract the second, third, and future clients to you and your consulting.

What is your elevator pitch? In just the time it takes to get from the lobby to the office, can you explain concisely and passionately why you are the right choice for any business? Why are you the best consultant they could find? Refine this pitch before you start your search for the first client. Make sure it lines up with your future vision of your work. What makes you and your services different? What kinds of consultation do you provide? Financial management? Marketing development? Operations streamlining? Management assistance?

Develop a marketing plan. You’ll need to know which businesses can afford you. Which will benefit from your services. Which have pain points that need immediate addressing. Set out a marketing plan early.

When someone asks you what time it is, don’t take away his watch. By this I mean, it is easy for a new consultant to remove responsibility and place it on themselves. But doing a task yourself correctly doesn’t fix the business, it just shows you can do that task. It’s not sustainable for yourself or for your client to just do what needs doing. You need to communicate effectively, teach others without talking down, prepare effective data and proposals that can be referenced later. That’s the only way you will address the systemic issue that called you in in the first place. You need to teach your client how to read and use his watch efficiently. Don’t just give him the answer and walk away. Don’t just take his watch because he doesn’t know how to use it. You are there to teach him how to use his watch.

Don’t just focus on the subject matter. Yes, you have to be an expert to consult, and study in your field is tremendously important. But you also need to be able to explain concepts to the layperson. You need to understand the process of consulting, not just the area of business that you consult on.

Do your homework on fair market value for your work. Know what the competition is charging, know what organizations are paying, and understand that you are just starting out. Your value is what you say it is. You don’t want to overvalue yourself to start out, since you are new to consulting and just starting out you might dig your own grave with your contract price. Charging more than you can provide in service will be an early nail in your coffin. On the other hand, don’t undervalue yourself. You have to make a living, and set the pace for future jobs. You don’t want to be seen as hackneyed or cheap and unqualified.

Start organized to stay organized. There are few places in life where documentation of work accomplished and hours accounted for is as important as it is in consulting life. Most clients don’t look for a consultant until there is a need for one. That is, there is something already broken that they need fixed yesterday. There is an urgency to the client’s needs when you come on board, and you must stay organized and well-document while hitting the ground running. Focus on what is a priority, and what your workflow is on a day-to-day basis. Keep a running to-do list that changes every day based on necessity, but never loses projects or lets tasks slip through the cracks. Consulting is a results-based business, so make sure you understand that you are proving your worth every day, and what can you do, right now, to make the biggest impact?

Once you have all of this under your belt, it’s time to go get your first client.

Tap your network. In the days of Linkedin and marketing events, it’s extremely easy to get in touch with past employers, coworkers, and peers. The clearest path to a client is your network who can make introductions for you. Start the conversation with them. Use them for introductions. Remember faces, names, cocktail party stories.

Next, you’ve done all this research and narrowed down your skills and the market they apply to. Start knocking on doors. Start taking people out to lunch. Find them where they live (proverbially speaking, don’t literally go to their homes) and meet them there.

From Ramit at iwillteachyoutoberich.com: First step is to niche down your market. By age, location, interest, income level, and so many more options.

 Then, find out where they go to find solutions. Get in their heads:

  • -Want to pitch to moms that blog about children? Go to The Mom Blogs and start with the ones under “Popular Blogs.”
  • -Looking for physical or massage therapists within 50 miles of your house? Yelp should get you started easily.
  • -What about tech startups with over $1 million in funding, with more than 10 employees, but less than 50? Here’s 100 of them.
  • -If you want to do… large dog grooming and sitting, well there’s probably a local pet store or dog park near you where owners are all congregating just waiting for you to offer them a solution.

Listen closely. Over the last few weeks, people have been coming to my weekly video office hours saying things like, “But Ramit! I have this idea and have NO IDEA where to find customers!” My response is always calm, yet you know that anger boils closely below. “What have you done to research your audience?” Have they emailed a few people? Taken them out to lunch? Asked complementary service providers if this is a good idea? The answer is almost always no.