How to Design the Ideal (and Most Profitable) Consulting Business

If you’re a high-achiever SURELY, you’ve considered starting your own consulting business by now (if you haven’t already.) There is no shortage of advice and mentors that can help you learn how to market and sell yourself. But the reality is…

…Growing a consulting business is unlike any other business!

To achieve sustainable success, you have to think broader than just finding clients.

You needs to implement a system that will can empower you to predictably and consistently:

  • Attract and connect with your exact perfect client who has needs and challenges you are passionate about solving
  • Establish a relationship with those future clients and demonstrate your credibility that can and will provide relevant and meaningful solutions
  • Convert those leads not just into buyers but long-term strategic partners that will position you to do your best work

Positive self-talk or shameless self-promotion won't transform your mindset and your fears about not having what it takes. It's having a system that you can rely on that will give you the confidence to pursue big dreams and goals for your consulting success.

In this article, you’ll find the 5 Stages to Design the Ideal (and Most Profitable) Consulting Business which shows you exactly how to set up your consulting business right…the first time.  

Phase 1: The PRE-LEAP Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: COMMITMENT to your own success. 

There are lots of reasons you might want to be a consultant. 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 CONSULTING BUSINESS OWNER because that is what you are leaping into. The number one difference between my mentees who have massive success and those who constantly struggle (or give up) is their commitment to doing whatever it takes to make this business work regardless of setbacks and challenges. 

To get this type of inner commitment to your success, you need to:

  • Get validation that your truly want to be a consulting business owner and that the job itself is the right fit for you. There's lots of ways to make money as an entrepreneur - running a consulting business is only one way. Make sure that is YOUR way and the work itself is a fit for you (not just the perks that go along with being a consultant.)
  • Set definite goals for your business with dates and metrics. A goal without a defined date is actually a dream. You need to say what you will accomplish by when and start taking the appropriate actions towards that end. 
  • Invest properly in your business and your own professional development. This is really hard for smart consultants but the fact is that to run your business, you have to learn new skills and create new systems. Having expert support will not only equip you with what you need, it will help you sidestep wasting time and money on what won't create results. 

Phase 2: The PLANNING Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: CLARITY on who is your ideal client and the value you create for them. 

The key to your success is define first who you serve, then what you do. You want to build your business on who you serve from two perspectives: 

  • Demographics (e.g., age, gender, role in organization, company size, industry, etc.): This information will help you focus your marketing to create the best results and gives you insight into what your clients really want and need.
  • Psychographics (e.g., your clients pain points and needs, why they would want to hire a consultant, their greatest aspirations, their vulnerabilities and fears, etc.): This information is what you'll need to identify the value that they are REALLY looking for from you, what motivates them to find someone like you AND creating marketing copy and content that connects with them as a whole person. 

Rushing through your brand building is a huge mistake. If you do, you'll find yourself taking any client (even if they are not a fit) and wind up feeling like you're hustling for the next one. Therefore, take the time to fully answer these foundational questions: 

  • Who is your ideal client? What role do they hold in the organization? What company size is most relevant to your expertise? What needs do they have that motivate you to action?
  • What is your expertise? What do you offer that addresses your ideal client’s needs?
  • What value or outcome does your consulting create? What tangible business results can you help your clients create? What intangible value do you provide? What transformation can you invite your clients into?

Phase 3: The DESIGN Phase

The critical success factor of this phase: Building a CREDIBLE web presence that positions you to CONVERT leads into viable 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.

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. 
  • 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: Implement a CONTENT marketing system that enables you to CONSISTENTLY fill your pipeline with viable and qualified prospects.

A content marketing funnel is how you leverage your knowledge and intellectual property in the form of speeches, blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, social media posts, etc. to connect with your future clients. 

The goal isn't just to have content. It's how to align your content to:

  • Create awareness that you exist and that you have THE solution to address the biggest pain point of your perfect client
  • Establish credibility with those future clients and engaging them to be in your network
  • Nurture the relationship with your future clients and actively enticing them to take the next step to meet with you to explore the the potential of partnering

In this phase of the work, you don't pick a handful of marketing tactics. Instead you need to:

  • Figure out a marketing system that works. Identify what you need to do to get front of future buyers and what lead magnets you'll use to get them on your list. From there you need to create the right messages and hooks to motivate them to go from your list to your calendar.
  • Once you got the system down, you need to identify your daily marketing routines and habits. Even when you have a client that you engaged in, you have to consistently have your focus on finding the next one. To this end you'll need to have routines to do marketing activities such as: 
    • Posting in your blog
    • Sending out a weekly newsletter
    • Engaging on social media
    • Participating in networking events
    • Doing speaking engagements or pro bono assignments
    • And so on...

Phase 5: The PRACTICE Phase

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

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.

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

Bottom-line: 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. With that type of commitment, along with really good process outlined in this article, you can have that rock-solid confidence that you can and will be a highly successful consulting business owner. 

 

Looking for Actionable Tips, Insights and Inspiration to Help You Grow Your Own Purpose-Driven Business?

Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates right to your inbox. Your information will not be shared.

As a special thank you'll also receive my FREE video/audio training on How to Navigate Critical Career Crossroads. You'll discover 5 smart strategies that'll give you clarity on your next and best career move and the courage to make it real.