Seven Moves To Rev Up Your Consulting Business
- November 28, 2016
- Posted by: Rochelle
- Category: Marketing + Selling, Running Your Business
It’s never too early—or too late—to fire up your consulting business. Here are seven moves you can make right now to position yourself for the work, the clients and the revenue you deserve.
- Revisit your business strategy. What’s your big picture plan for your consulting business? (Hint: if it isn’t written down, now is an excellent time to start.) What if anything needs tweaking or a downright overhaul: your target clients, services, delivery model, pricing, marketing, sales? Try this simple exercise: what do you need to KEEP doing (because it’s working brilliantly, not because you’ve always done it); what should you STOP doing; and what must you START doing to reach the success you crave?
- Take a deep look at your revenue and your clients. Start with knowing your numbers—by client, by service and by product. How does your revenue—in total and by segment—compare to last year and the year before? Is it sustainable—or would you be in serious trouble if a key client bailed or a competitive move derailed your pricing? And let’s not forget a qualitative review too: take a look at every client on your list—does the thought of taking them into 2017 with you make you smile or grimace? What would it take for you to jettison the bad fits to make room for more of your sweet-spots?
- Analyze your service and product mix. How much of your revenue depends on services you provide yourself vs. leveraged services and products? Be honest—are you operating as a freelancer or a business owner? Which better meets your vision? How can you “harden” your services and products to avoid big revenue swings while building the steady consistent growth that permits confident investing in your future? What changes in your service and product mix do you need to do more of what you love while building repeatable revenue?
- Set a stretch goal. What’s the one thing you’d be thrilled to accomplish next year—and that you are willing to dedicate yourself to no matter what? Don’t pick three or even two. Just one s-t-r-e-t-c-h that you’ll stay ridiculously focused on until you get there. Is this your year to write that book, get on the speaking circuit (for real) or commit yourself to developing a seriously steady pipeline of new client opportunities? What one thing could move the needle in your business?
- Juice up your marketing and sales. Once you know where you’re taking your business for 2017, your marketing needs a little effervescence to shake it up a bit. If you’re already clear on your consulting brand and overall messages, then focus on tweaks based on what you learned in 2016 (if you’re still struggling with your overall brand, stay tuned for my new ConsultantBrand course debuting in 2017). Maybe your sweet-spot client for one service is slightly different for a new one. Or you’ve had an emerging service area that needs some marketing, PR and/or sales investment to fully realize its potential. Perhaps you’ve isolated an appealing source for new clients and buyers—a social media channel or a digital marketing funnel to put your prospect-building on auto-pilot. Make your 2017 plan now so you can hit the deck full speed in January.
- Plan your year out on a calendar. It’s tempting to simply let the year play out, maybe bucketing key activities into four quarters, but RESIST. Mark up a calendar with key actions and dates, planning your marketing, sales and content around seasons, pivotal dates and events. Sure, leave room for serendipity. But plotting out your main moves not only holds you accountable, it prevents you from letting someone else’s priorities highjack your plan.
- Create yourself a feedback loop. Your business always needs an annual strategy check-up, but that doesn’t mean everything should wait until year-end. Build some feedback loops into your day-to-day work, marketing and sales. Keep a tally of your client wins and losses, noting what made them say yay or nay. Ask for feedback on your services and products at logical pause-points. In your digital marketing, use the tools at your disposal to evaluate your email deliverability, open rates, click-through rates, website visits, bounce rates, etc. Listen to your feedback as you go and make tweaks—or even overhauls—as they make sense.
It can be seductive to run your consulting business on autopilot, especially when your client work is humming along nicely and you’re busily doing what you love.
But avoid that apple: investing in the long-term health of your business is the difference between professionals and amateurs.
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Another set of great advice. I try to stay on top of this throughout the year. My practice also has certain engagement/ projects that (re-)occur every few years; it requires ensuring an ability to devote the necessary resources. I always re-assess and devote time to building prospects into clients; I track anticipated income as well