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The Five Steps To a Consulting Business Launch

1 - start right Feb 24, 2017
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You have an amazing track record, experience and drive. 

What you don’t have is clarity on what to do first and how to make to ensure you are focusing on the right things, at the right time and in the right way.

When considering or taking the leap from the corporate ladder to start your business you know that you're giving up a steady paycheck in exchange for autonomy, work/life balance and the potential to make more money.

You probably considered that the reality that when running your business you are Finance, IT, HR and Operations departments all wrapped into one.

But what you didn’t anticipate is the full impact of what it means to be your own boss.

When you are your own boss, you don’t have anyone telling YOU WHAT TO DO. And on the other hand, when you are your own boss, you don’t any ANYONE telling you what do to. So you sit and stare at your computer and ask yourself for the hundredth time, “What do I do now?”

The Solution – Your Roadmap to Success

While I am not your boss, I am happy to be your mentor. A mentor is someone who has been there and done that and can show you the way. It is my passion to help remove the mystery of what it takes to run a successful business AND reduce the overwhelm that comes with entrepreneurial life.

I have created this roadmap to show you the five stages that your consulting business launch will go through and how to master each stage in such a way that sets you up for SUSTAINABLE profitability and long-term success

Let me jump in and explain to you all of the stages and how they contribute towards empowering you to create greater success…on your own terms.

Phase 1: The PRE-LEAP Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: COMMITMENT to launching your business AND doing what it takes to make it highly successful.

There are lots of reasons that you may want to take the leap into consulting. You might be drawn to:

  • Having the ability to call the shots and set your own schedule
  • No cap to your earning potential
  • The opportunity to bounce around to different companies and add more value

While all of these consulting motivations are important, none are as important as your burning desire to become a BUSINESS OWNER because that is what you are leaping into. You are not changing from being an internal employee to external contractor. If you want to have any hope of longevity in this business, you have to see your transition from being an employee TO becoming an entrepreneur of a start up company.

Tactically, in this phase of your consulting business you need to:

  • Validate that consulting is a right fit for you
  • End your current job well
  • Set aside seed money to invest in your business and tide you over for the first initial months
  • Get your family and loved ones on board
  • Put together your contact list
  • Set a launch date

But in terms of your number one priority – you have to get your mindset to a place that you believe that you can be successful in this new venture and commit yourself to that success.

Phase 2: The PLANNING Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: Discovering your authentic brand and using it as the foundation of your business and marketing systems.

There is one critical mistake aspiring consultants often make at this phase: rushing through any brand building or value proposition exercise without taking the time to fully discern who their ideal clients are and their pain points and what expertise they possess that addresses those pain points and the value that their partnership creates.

When this happens, they build their businesses on what they think others want and expect from them and wind up feeling like they are hustling for that next client. OR they focus on selling what I call “second tier gifts” which are those things that you can do competently but don’t give you joy or energy and they wind up burning you out.

Tactically, in this phase of your consulting business you need to:

  • Discover your brand and create your value proposition
  • Name your business
  • Incorporate your company

Phase 3: The DESIGN Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: Building a world-class web presence and marketing systems that enables you to CONSISTENTLY fill your pipeline with viable and qualified prospects.

You do not want to under-estimate the importance of a world-class web presence. I get money may be tight when you are starting out but that old adage is true: you have to spend money to make money. With a low-quality brochure website, you appear to your future clients as the “bargain” option. All your efforts at networking events, speeches and getting referrals are lost when that future client winds up on your site and is not impressed and doesn’t take that next step to reach out for additional information.

The reality is that as consultants – what we sell is US…our knowledge, experience and personality. The only way that this becomes both evident and compelling is when we first discern for real what makes us distinct and compelling to a future buyer and then we manifest it in a high-quality web presence that includes a killer website AND powerful LinkedIn profile (after all according to LinkedIn expert Josh Turner, 76% of CEO’s are on LinkedIn.)

Tactically, in this phase of your consulting business you need to:

  • Invest in a high quality web presence (that showcases your authentic brand) that is on the level of what you ideal clients would expect from someone worth paying five and six figures for each contract. When you invest in your business this way, you are showing your future clients with your actions that you are not an expense to be managed but an investment that will generate a return.
  • Set up/optimize your LinkedIn profile
  • Select an email provider and set up your lists

Phase 4: The LAUNCH Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: Implementing your marketing systems and your daily routines to ensure you are meeting and impressing your next high-paying client.

All of your hard work has paid off and you, my friend, are open for business! In this phase you want to make sure that you end your current job well and let everyone you know that your brand new consulting business is accepting clients. 

You will want to capitalize on the initial energy your announcement will create by proactively pursuing leads and asking for referrals.

At this stage, you will also want to start making a marketing an integrated part of your life. It's time to create and implement habits that will ensure that your ideal clients are aware that you exist and motivate them to reach out to you for help. 

Tactically, in this phase of your consulting business you need to:

  • Create an exciting launch announcement
  • Start participating in networking events and other activities to grow your list
  • Actively using LinkedIn to grow your network
  • Start a weekly newsletter to reinforce your new business

And don't forget the most important activity - Pop the champagne and celebrate this HUGE milestone in your career!

Phase 5: The PRACTICE Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: Landing high-paying clients and delivering exceptional results.

When it comes to consulting, sales is not the second part of marketing. It is the first part of your consulting engagement.

Your ability to land larger consulting contracts is determining by one thing – your ability to position yourself as a strategic partner that is essential to helping your client’s bridge their most critical business performance gaps.

Your goal in your sales process is to be concerned about issues far greater than simply getting a signature on the dotted line. Your goal is to be able to pivot the initial contracting conversations from wants to needs and to be empowered to deliver a wide variety of consulting solutions that will add tremendous client value and create for them a powerful return.

This is the secret to increasing your per contract fees, number of contracts per clients AND your ability to guarantee client results.

This is what enables you to maximize each prospect that is in your pipeline, reduce your overall marketing pressure and to generate hordes of raving fans who will refer you to others. 

Specifically you will have to master the following skills:

  • What to do and say when you get a lead
  • How to obtain directional agreement with your future client
  • How to develop a compelling proposal complete with meaningful and meaty options
  • Ways to price your services (that get out of the trading time for dollars trap)
  • How to close the deal
  • AND the consulting know how and tools to deliver your consulting with excellence

And while all of these skills are important, none are more essential than having an ability to establish yourself as a winning partner and staying firmly out of the surrogate leadership or “pair of hands” traps.

Final Thoughts

So, how about you? We’re back to full circle to the first step, which is determining the real reason for your consulting business. The true secrets to sustainable success can be summarized like this:

  • Set up your business to be an enabler of your total life goals AND be 100% committed to those intentions. To make your business a success, you have to ALL IN.
  • Build your business foundation and fuel your launch on the power of YOU. Find out and OWN your expertise and don’t be shy about letting the world know about. Project to the world your value proposition in such a way that it will be unmistakable that you are the real deal and can be someone that can be counted on to deliver on your promises.
  • Avoid looking at sales as something you have to get through in order to get to the work. It is actually the first part of the work you and your future client will do together so you need to approach those initial conversations as a peer-to-peer, essential strategic business partner. You have to master your ability to pivot the conversation from wants to needs and set yourself to deliver maximum value (that commands higher fees.)
  • Marshall Goldsmith is absolutely correct when he says “what go you here, won’t get you there.” When you are experiencing the most success, it is time to reinvent the potential of what you can offer and to do this, you have to be willing to let some things go and start doing some new things that might feel scary, vulnerable and almost like you are starting over again. But if you build your business on your strengths, you have a foundation in place that will keep you steady in times of business transformation.

Always keep top of mind what matters most…to YOU. If you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.

My wish for you is that you experience your work-life as a source of passion and joy and that you can come home at the end of a business trip energized to be fully present in your personal life. 

Consulting is so much more than a way to make great money. As consultants, we play a key role in creating workplaces where employees can show up and do their very best work. We can empower companies to create products and deliver experiences that make their customer’s lives better. It is worth investing in yourself to be that person who can make that type of impact on the world.  

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