Archive for the ‘Becoming a consultant’ Category

Consulting goes mainstream

More and more people are choosing consulting as their primary or secondary mode of income. Consulting as a career has become widely accepted, and more frequently preferred in today’s busy world. There are many reasons why consulting has gone mainstream: do any of them apply to you?

Consulting goes mainstream: what does it mean for you?
 
Career satisfaction
 
Becoming a consultant allows you to pursue your passion and get rewarded for it. Let others pay you for your consulting expertise while you enjoy what you do best. You can also control how busy you want to be; take on as many or as few clients as you want.
 
Convenience
 
As a consultant, you set your own schedule. You don’t have to answer to anyone else. You can work from the comfort of home in a stress-free environment. With today’s technology, keeping in touch with clients and peers has never been easier.
 
Cost-efficient
 
Consulting usually has low start-up costs. If you operate from home, you may write off expenses such as utilities and house insurance. You may also write off a portion of vehicle costs if you use your car for business purposes.
 
Notice the difference
 
When consulting goes mainstream in your life, you will also notice an improvement in your work/life balance. When you work for yourself, you can make the time to have lunch with a friend, visit your mother, or walk your child to school. And if you want to work all night, you can!
 
Make the decision!
 
Don’t get left behind while consulting goes mainstream. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy what you do, and set your own pace? As a consultant, you can have this, and more. There are so many reasons why consulting has become such a popular profession; start planning today for your new consulting career.

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Why starting a side business beats the stock market

Sowing seeds in a side businessStarting a side business may be the best thing you can do to get ahead. As with second jobs, a side business can be a way to generate income on top of your existing work.

Consider this. Let’s say you start consulting as a side business. You manage to average $500 a month. That’s $6,000 per year. To get the same returns from investments, you’d need a 5% return on $120,000 or a 10% return on $60,000. Sure, the investments are passive, but you have to have them to make that money. If you start working on the side, you can start making that money right away.

In fact, because of tax write-offs, you may find out that more of the business income remains in your pocket than the investment income does.

Of course, you don’t want to be scrambling to work when you’re 90 years old. So it makes sense to use your side earnings to pay down debt, save for retirement or meet other financial goals. If you’ve got a nice emergency fund and you’re meeting all your financial goals, you might be able to use your side business to pay for other dreams, such as vacations.

What could you do with an extra $500 a month?

Nobody told me

 

NOBODY TOLD ME

there’d be days like this

where I’d wake up in the morning

feeling like it’s just another day

But then the email piles up

The phone’s ringing

A pile of papers crashes to the floor

I’ve got to schedule 6 appointments

File those darn taxes

Buy more printer toner

Fix that stupid fax machine

Chase down those unpaid invoices

 

Nobody told me

THERE’D BE DAYS LIKE THIS

when I started my business. Or maybe they did but I sure as heck wasn’t going to listen to them. No way, buddy. I’m an entrepreneur. Let’s get this party started. Or at least that’s how I felt at the time.

 

Nobody told me there’d be days like this, where I feel like I’m losing my mind and I can’t believe I’m in charge and there’s no one else to ask. Nobody told me there’d be days like this.

 

But then a client emails and tells me

What an amazing job I did

And a friend asks if I want to go for a long lunch Thursday

AND I CAN

And my kid’s sick but I don’t have to worry about childcare

Because I don’t have to ask anyone but me if I can work from home

And I’ve got dinner cooking on the stove

I just accepted a delivery

Tomorrow’s meeting is over cocktails with a long time friend turned business partner

A dash to the printer’s to pick up business cards means meeting old friends

My best friend and I never know whether to write off dinner
because it’s always business and it’s always pleasure
and we wouldn’t change a thing

And I can’t decide if my friends are
ENTREPRENEURS
because they’re my friends or
if they’re my friends because they’re entrepreneurs
but it doesn’t matter because my entire business world
is made up of my friends

Now the mail is here and

I just picked up a cheque

And it has my name on it

And a note from the client that has such heartfelt thanks that I tear up a bit.

Nobody told me there’d be days like this.

And I wish they had

Because days like this are what makes

being an entrepreneur

So rewarding. So real. So me.

Analysis paralysis cures for small business owners

Analysis paralysis cures for small business owners - don't get hit by the ballYou see the ball flying toward you, but you somehow can’t get out of the way. You’re too busy looking at all the other options – run, jump, dive, heck, even duck. All you need to do is stick your glove in front of the ball, but you can’t even do that. You can’t move a muscle.

And then the ball socks you right in the jaw.

Ouch.

Actually, let’s emphasize that a little. OUCH! (Add !*&#&^ % if it fits, too.)

That sort of paralysis on the playing field can happen in your business too. And, while it may not break your jaw, it can really hurt.

If you’re like a lot of small business owners, you may suffer from analysis paralysis. That’s where you’re so busy analyzing what’s going on and worrying about where to go that you stop making any moves at all.

Perhaps you’ve had one of those mornings where you look at consulting business advice, flip over to the news headlines, panic a little at the economy, hit refresh on your email, Google for marketing tips, log on to Twitte in hopes of finding salvation…you’re thinking a lot, but not much is getting done.

That sort of analysis paralysis can hurt your business.

But there’s help available. Right below here on the same page, in fact.

Six cures for analysis paralysis in small business

1.      Breathe

Take a deep breath. And let it go. Then take another. And let it go. Just simple and focused. It’s the very first thing you ever learned to do after you were born. And going back to it once in a while can help you regain your focus.

2.      Consider the cost of stalling

If you’re stuck, not much is getting done. What’s it costing you to not be moving forward? Start thinking about what it’s costing you to be stuck and you may realize it’s easier to take a step.

3.      Abandon perfection

Few things need to be perfect. Sure, I’m not going to tell you to put bad stuff out into the world. But getting it right doesn’t have to mean getting it perfect. Just get it out there. Refine as you go along.

4.      Define your goal

If you’re stuck, it’s surely on the way to somewhere. Find one goal you want to move toward. Make that your focus, not the analysis leading up to it.

5.      Figure out the steps on the way to that goal – then take a step.

Put together an action plan for meeting your goal. Then choose the first step and go for it. You won’t move forward if you don’t take a step. (Read about SMART goals, if this is new to you.)

6.      Get support

When you’re questioning your every move, sometimes it makes sense to solicit feedback from your inner circle. You’re your own worst critic. So talk to some people who can look at what you’re doing through fresh eyes.

 What’s keeping you from moving ahead?

5 tips from a Vancouver business plan writer

Are you working on a business plan for your business? Are you feeling stuck or having a hard time getting started with your business plan? Here are 5 tips from Vancouver business plan writer Andrea Coutu:

1. Just get started

For many, writing a business plan can feel like a daunting task. All those tables, charts, figures and all that research can feel overwhelming. And what do we tend to do when feeling overwhelmed? Procrastinate! But don’t let your tendency to procrastinate or to strive for perfection get in the way of your business planning.

Not sure how to move forward? Like any large project, a business plan is best tackled in bite-sized chunks.

An effective place to start is with a table-of-contents style outline. Here’s a sample business plan outline that includes 10 sections. 

Start by listing those 10 sections, and then brainstorm whether your unique business plan requires additional specialized sections that pertain to your specific industry. Aim to have twenty sections (or sub-sections) in your outline.  (Don’t worry, you can always cull them later. But it’s great to brainstorm quite a few sections to get your creative juices flowing.)

Once you’ve brainstormed a tentative outline, pick the section that is the most appealing to you (or pick the section that you feel will be the easiest part of the business plan to write). And now you’re on your way to writing your business plan.

Related to business plans:

2. Research is a launching point for networking

When writing a business plan it’s integral to do research. Research can take many forms, including analyzing market research or simply chatting informally with others in your industry. Ideally, your research will include both formal and informal research.

When seeking feedback and doing research, why not enlist some friends, peers or mentors to help answer some of your burning questions? Not only will this help improve your business plan but it will help expand your network at the same time.

3. Know your strengths and weaknesses

Are you a master marketer but couldn’t multiply your way out of a paper bag? Or maybe you are the opposite – are you great with numbers but find networking or selling yourself to be a painful prospect

Get to know yourself. And if there’s an area of your business plan that you know is a weakness for you, consider bringing in extra help from a professional business plan writer in your area.

4. Connect the dots

It’s great to set high financial goals in your business plan. But don’t forget to connect the dots regarding how you are going to reach your goals.

This is why your sales and marketing plan is important. Outline a step-by-step plan regarding the specific actions you are going to take to help achieve and exceed your goals.

5. Get a second set of eyes

Once you’ve got your business plan to a final draft stage, now is the time to enlist someone you trust and who will also provide sound, constructive feedback. And don’t just get feedback from someone who always supports you. You want someone who will help you identify both the strengths and weaknesses in your plan. So choose that second (and third!) pair of eyes wisely.

Writing a business plan is something you can definitely do on your own. However, for an extra leg up or to leverage someone else’s expertise consider hiring a business plan writer to help you put together an effective business plan.

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Last day to get the Consulting Start-up Course for $127

Today’s the last day to get the Consulting Start-up Course (Become a Consultant – How to Make the Leap) for just $127. That’s 35% off the regular price!

Become a Consultant - Consulting Start-up CourseThe course includes audio lessons, worksheets, exercises, discussion forums and a full guide. You also gain access to the full Consultant Journal library – Discover Your Inner Consultant, Consulting Fees, Become a Consultant and more. The ebooks alone are worth more than the $127 tag, so this is a great opportunity.

Just use discount code jan12 at checkout – offer expires tonight at midnight!

Sample business plan for consulting

Planning aheadUsing a sample business plan for consulting -  Is it okay to use a sample business plan for consulting, as opposed to creating one from scratch? Of course it is! In fact, starting with a template is wisest since it will save you time and give you a springboard to start from.

Compare apples to apples

There are many free business plan templates on the internet; the trick is to find one that most closely fits what you have in mind for your business.

Don’t just choose the first plan you see; make sure that you choose a sample business plan template from a similar industry. Why? Because a plan that applies to starting a retail business, for example, will not be easily applicable to starting a consulting business.

Choose a sample business plan template that best fits your needs and goals. Be sure to choose a sample business plan for consulting; it will provide you with the framework to create your own plan.

You’ve found a sample business plan for consulting. What next?

Once you find a plan that you want to work with, study it closely. How much of it applies to you and your business? You will probably discover some great ideas and approaches that you can utilize in your own plan. Make notes of what you would like to incorporate in your plan and what might be missing.

Whatever you do, don’t copy the template word for word because odds are your business isn’t a cookie cutter business! Customize the sample business plan for consulting to make it reflect who you are, what you are offering, the vision you have created, and how you are going to achieve your goals.

Compare your sample business plan for consulting with this sample outline. Does your chosen template cover all the bases?

If you’re not sure how to get started, consider taking small business training. If you’d like a better understanding of consulting fees and how they’re calculated, take a look at our guide on consulting fees.

Remember … It’s beneficial to use a sample business plan for consulting rather than reinventing the wheel. However, customization is key. By finding a sample business plan that you like, and by changing it to suit your future consulting business, you are taking the first steps towards becoming a successful consultant.

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8 consulting lessons they don’t teach you in school

8 consulting lessons they don’t teach you in school – From setting rates to firing clients, university curriculum doesn’t quite cover the ins and outs of consulting! Here are 8 consulting lessons that you won’t learn in academia:  

1. Marketing doesn’t have to be a pain.

Marketing can be viewed as a necessary evil or as self-nurture.  Marketing doesn’t have to hurt. Learn to love marketing and networking, and you’ll reap the rewards.

2. You don’t have to be outgoing to succeed as a consultant.

Shy? You can still build a business network even as an introvert. In fact, introverts bring special skills to their businesses. Learn to leverage your personality – be it an introverted or extroverted one.

3. Firing your clients is an option.

Not being treated with the respect you deserve? Is your client an annoyance or a money pit? As a consultant, firing your clients is always an option!

4. How to set consultant rates.

Setting consulting rates is one of the most important elements of your business.  Find out everything you need to know about setting consulting fee rates right here.

5. Sometimes saying no can be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Every time you say yes to one thing you’re in effect saying no to something else as a result. Do you want to be a specialist or do you want to be a generalist? Should you "do windows"?

6. How to build your expert status.

Consultants get hired for their expertise. Here are some excellent tips on how to build your expert status–even if you’re not the world’s leading expert in your industry.

7. What to do when a client doesn’t pay.

It’s bound to happen eventually. Do you know what to do when a client doesn’t pay? Here is an outline of the steps you should take when a consulting client doesn’t pay.

8. Consulting rules: From work-life balance to choosing your own co-workers and clients, here are 8 reasons why consulting rules.

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Business plans for consultants

Business plans for consultants – Are you considering starting your own consulting practice or repositioning your current consulting business? Have you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and started outlining your consulting practice in a business plan? If not, this article will help you structure your consultant business plan.

What will a business plan do for you?

Business plans for consultants should do the following:

1. Provide an estimate of costs before you start. Determine how much money you will need for start-up costs and for day-to-day operations. (Generally, I recommend keeping an emergency fund of 6-9 months at all times.)

2. Help you obtain financing. If you require any financing your lender will require a solid business plan before lending you money or establishing a business line of credit.

3. Clarify your business needs. What kind of advertising will you do? How much money do you think you’ll make in the first and second years? Business plans for consultants will provide you with the answers you need to start planning your consultancy.

4. Provide a framework for developing your business. Consultant business plans are roadmaps for you to follow.

5. Increase your chance of success. The time that you put into developing your business plan will pay off in the end. By fully researching your future consultancy business, you will be better prepared for any eventuality.

What’s in a business plan?

Are business plans for consultants different from other business plans? Yes and no.

The general format of business plans for consultants follow a normal business plan outline. Here’s a simple business plan template to get the ball rolling.

However, business plans for consultants also require some specialized sections. Are you putting together a business plan for consultants? To fast-track the completion of your business plan and to ensure you use accurate numbers, check out our guides, workbooks and courses in the Consultant Journal store, including the invaluable guide on consulting fees: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants. You may also want to consider taking small business training to ensure that all your bases are covered.

Business plans for consultants provide a detailed map of future business, reducing your risk of losing track of your goals. By following this map, you greatly increase your chances of success. As long as you’ve done your research, and taken the time to really plot your course, your business plan will be one of the best time investments that you can make.

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Putting together a business plan

Putting together a business plan can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t get hung up on the format or the end result. In fact, it’s not even the end result that is important. Rather, it’s the process of putting a business plan together that is the truly important step!

This is because by going through the steps of putting together a business plan you are forced to sit down and answer the tough questions about your business, such as "How will I differentiate myself from the competition?", "How much will I charge?", and "What will be my marketing strategy?"

Putting together a business plan:

1. Set aside some time to put together your business plan.

Putting together a business plan starts with setting aside time to do it. If you are busy, particularly if you are working another full-time job, it can be difficult to squeeze in the time.

Our tendency is to put off work that feels a little scary and out of our comfort zones, like putting together a business plan. Often it’s merely the thought of putting together a business plan that feels scary, but once you get into it it’s really as simple as answering a survey and then crunching a few numbers. So don’t let fear put you off. Schedule a few three-hour chunks into your agenda to work on putting together a business plan. And when the time to put together your business plan rolls around, don’t procrastinate. Get to work!

2. Find a business plan template that you can use as a guideline.

Putting together a business plan is much easier if you can use a template or boiler plate as a guideline. When putting together a business plan the idea isn’t to copy your template exactly. Rather, use the template as a jumping off point. Feel free to add or remove any sections as necessary.

To help you put together your business plan, here’s a bare-bones consulting business plan template to get you started.

3. Start putting together a business plan.

Putting together a business plan is as easy as sitting at your computer, putting your thinking cap on and starting to type. When you run into questions or sections that you don’t know the answers to, start doing a little bit of research.

However, it’s most effective for you to work on the business plan yourself and only ask for assistance on very specific questions that you are unable to answer.

Often there are community business organizations that will help point you in the right direction to resources and potential contacts who will help you complete the gaps in your business plan. Enlisting help and feedback from someone who is already doing the work that you plan to do is one of the best ways to approach putting together the difficult parts of your business plan.

Are you putting together a business plan? There are a number of resources that will help you hone in on your business in the Consultant Journal store, including an excellent guide to helping you set your rates to ensure your success. Start putting your business plan together today.

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