Archive for the ‘Business management’ Category

Consulting business plan template – free outline

Many people write to ask where they can find a consulting business plan template. Well, here’s a free outline of a consulting business plan template. It’s just an outline, though – see here for my full business plan kit, which includes the actual materials I use to help clients with their business plans.

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Business Overview
  3. Products & Services
  4. Sales & Marketing Plan
  5. Operating Plan
  6. Management and Organization
  7. Action Plan
  8. Financial Plan
  9. Investment Opportunity
  10. Appendices
    1. Personal Financial Statements
    2. Financial Statements
Having run a business and marketing consulting firm for the past 14 years, I’ve written countless business plans. Every last one of them counts, though. While I’m not someone who would ever tell you that you must follow your business plan to the letter – it’s a roadmap, not a jail term – I do believe that having a good sense of direction for your business is important. For most people, the process involved in developing a business plan is actually more important than the output. All the work and thought involved in figuring out where you’re headed is what will really drive your business.
 
With that in mind, if you are looking for a consulting business plan template, you want one that is easy to customize around your own business. Otherwise, if you follow a pre-written, off-the-shelf plan, how will you stand out from the competition? Your business plan, while following a prescribed template, should help create a business that is unique, sustainable and achievable.

In the meantime, it’s still okay to start exploring the kind of business you want to start, the marketing you want to do and the fees you want to set. You can start on your business while working on your business plan, if you want.

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50 people in line for our teleseminar tonight!

Wow, I must say I’m floored. When we sent out the invitation for Consultant Journal readers to take part in tonight’s free teleseminar, I was hoping that we might get 10 people to register. I’m being really honest here – it’s my first time doing something like this for Consultant Journal and I wasn’t sure how readers would respond. I felt there was a good chance many of you felt “stuck” in your lives, but I had no idea so many of you would be keen to listen in. (By the way, if you aren’t able to make the call, you can still register and listen to the recording later.)

As I mentioned, I’ve partnered with Gerrianne Clare of Family Guidance System to offer a FREE teleseminar for Consultant Journal readers. Tonight, Wednesday, July 6 at 5pm Pacific, I’ll be interviewing Gerrianne about:

  • A simple 3 step technique to move from “feeling stuck” to being “in the flow” to achieve positive, lasting results in all parts of your life.
  • HOW to keep negative energy and family stress from creeping into your business performance (and vice versa)
  • A little known unconscious habit common to many consultants and solopreneurs that can sabotage your work/life balance

Ready to get in the flow?  REGISTER HERE. (link removed)

I’m very excited about tonight’s call and look forward to “meeting” many of you on the line.

Nearing capacity for teleseminar – sign up now

Just a quick note to say that we’re almost at capacity with seats in this Wednesday’s free teleseminar. As I mentioned, I’ve partnered with Gerrianne Clare of Family Guidance System to offer a FREE teleseminar for Consultant Journal readers.

On Wednesday, July 6 at 5pm Pacific, I’ll be interviewing Gerrianne about:

  • A simple 3 step technique to move from “feeling stuck” to being “in the flow” to achieve positive, lasting results in all parts of your life.
  • HOW to keep negative energy and family stress from creeping into your business performance (and vice versa)
  • A little known unconscious habit common to many consultants and solopreneurs that can sabotage your work/life balance

Get reconnected to the life you want and uncover what’s getting in your way from having it. REGISTER HERE.

I’m excited about this Wednesday’s call and I’m looking forward to my first teleseminar with Consultant Journal readers. See you there!

Business moms – 5 things they won’t tell you

Business moms – Here are 5 things they won’t tell you about working from home.

1. Sometimes you’ll miss wearing business attire

While it can be great to work at home in casual wear–especially in the beginning–you may want to get ready for the day before you start working in the mornings. Freshening up and looking professional can help you get into work mode and can make your family take you more seriously.

2. Working at home with kids is not the same as working at home without kids

Let’s face it. Working at home with children in the house is simply not the same as working at home in an empty house. You will have to be much more mindful of taking telephone calls and scheduling conference calls when you’ve got children in the next room. Depending on your children’s ages, interruptions will happen and you may have to be flexible about working hours depending on your children’s needs.

3. There will be bad days

Just like with any job, there will be bad days as a business mom. Even I have my days! 

4. Sometimes saying no can be tough

Being a business mom can mean that you’ve got some tough decisions to make, especially when it comes to scheduling and saying no. As a business mom you’re juggling a lot of competing priorities, and sometimes it can be difficult knowing which route to choose, like when I received a dream call from a reporter who wanted to interview me four days after my second son was born.

5. Believe it or not, working at home can get lonely

While the idea of no longer having a boss and not having to spend time with co-workers may sound great, working at home can indeed get lonely–even when you have children at home. Here are tips for dealing with home office isolation.

While these 5 things they won’t tell you about what it’s like to be a business mom may focus on the negative, it’s important to remember that the good far outweighs the bad. The 30 things I love about being a parent entrepreneur are just a tiny sampling of the hundreds of reasons why I love being a business mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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7 reasons to use portable media in your business

Aah, smart phones, iPhones, BlackBerries and Droids. Are you part of the portable media club? If not, here are 7 reasons to use portable media in your business:

1. Stay connected

Use portable media in your business and stay connected 24/7. Check in on your business no matter where you are and never miss important last minute emails.

2. Maximize your efficiency

Use portable media in your business and avoid wasting time waiting for meetings, flights or any other moment where you find yourself waiting with little to do. When you’ve got downtime–even a minute or two–you can plow through email, check your calendar, or check in on your business online. One of the main differences between portable media and traditional laptops is that with portable media you don’t have to wait for the long boot-up time that traditional laptops need. One touch on your smartphone wakes up your iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid in seconds.

3. Be more active on social media

Use portable media in your business to keep up with social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. Posting to social media is quick and easy on portable media, especially if you take advantage of social media apps. Checking in on social media is a great option when you’ve got a minute or two between appointments.

4. Be on call for your clients

Use portable media in your business and be accessible to your clients whenever you want to be accessible. Respond to emergency emails from wherever you are. But be careful. Being an independent consultant doesn’t necessarily mean being accessible 24/7. Be sure to set boundaries and give yourself “me” time during which it’s okay to let business emails sit unanswered. Work/life balance is key, after all.

5. Access your data from anywhere

Use portable media in your business and rest assured that you’ll never be without your important data. Email addresses, phone numbers, reminders and calendar appointments are all at your fingertips wherever you are.

6. Consolidate your information

Use portable media in your business and sync your smartphone to your home computer.  Automatic syncing of your information means that you’ll spend less time  transferring files back and forth and more time generating business.

7. Personal perks

Use portable media in your business and reap personal benefits, too. Out on the road for an evening? Want to make dinner reservations? Want to see what movies are playing at your local theatre? Check in on your portable media unit from anywhere.

Are you interested in building your expert-status? Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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5 ways to use video cameras in your business

Video cameras are becoming more common as quality increases and prices decrease. Here are 5 ways to use video cameras in your business:

1. Tutorials

Use video cameras in your business to create video tutorials on basic concepts related to your business. Clients will appreciate these tutorials, and on-camera tutorials can save you time and money because you may be able to provide video tutorials instead of in-person training.

2. Social media / YouTube

Use video cameras in your business to promote your products or services via social media. Create simple how-to videos that provide valuable information and position you or your organization as an expert at the same time. Cross-promote these videos at Youtube, Viddler and on other video sharing sites to increase your reach. You can even pull the audio from your videos and package the audio as free podcasts to be distributed on iTunes and elsewhere online.

3. Insurance

Use video cameras in your business to document your workspace and to provide evidence in the event of an emergency like a flood, fire, or theft.

4. Client testimonials

Use video cameras in your business to capture client testimonials. There is nothing more powerful than the endorsement of satisfied clients. When done professionally, on-camera client testimonials can have powerful impact on your business. If your camera skills aren’t up to par, consider outsourcing this project to video professionals.

5. Interviews for information gathering

Use video cameras in your business to aid in your requirements-gathering process. Not all clients will be receptive to being on film, but others will find being on camera an added bonus. And for you as a consultant, you’ll be able to refer back to important meetings and decisions for clarification.

Are you interested in more tips on how to build your expert-status? Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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10 ways to use digital cameras in your business

10 ways to use digital cameras in your business:

1. Document for insurance purposes

Use digital cameras in your business to document your workspace for insurance purposes. Be sure to take photographs of your office detailing your business equipment and store the photographs in a safe place. These photographs could prove invaluable if a fire, flood or other disruption occurs at your home office or workplace.

2. Enhance your blog posts and articles

Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your business blog. Leave the photographs on your main website up to the professional photogaphers, but if you have a business blog use your digital camera to take relevant photos to enhance your blog posts. A picture is worth a thousand words!

3. Add benefit to client meetings

Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your client meetings. As a graphic design consultant, a client may indicate a color that he prefers or a logo idea based on an album cover or keychain. Having a digital camera at the ready will help you to capture the client’s desires digitally right then and there.

4. Document your work flow and efficiencies 

Use digital cameras in your business to document your work flow. Snap photos of your workspace as you work on a project. Notice piles of paper everywhere? A pattern of disorganization? Use the photographs to identify problems in your organization and make changes to improve your organization skills and efficiency.

5. Take photos of milestones

Use digital cameras in your business to document milestones. Get your first large cheque in the mail? Snap a photo. Land a superstar client? Take a picture of yourself with your big silly grin right after you hang up the phone. These photos make for great reminders and will help motivate you if you’re having a bad day.

6. Take photos of important events and functions

Use digital cameras in your business to capture notable events of interest to your clients. Did you sponsor a banner or table at a networking event? Did you win an award at a business networking award dinner? Taking photos of these notable events and posting them to your Facebook page, blog, email newsletter, website or other social media outlet will increase your brand power and status as an expert in your field.

7. Enhance PowerPoint presentations

Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Sometimes stock photography is not enough. However, ensure that the quality of your photos is up to par. If your photographs are blurry or low-quality, stick with stock photography instead.

8. Take mandatory photos

Use digital cameras in your business because it may be a necessity. Taking your own photos may be necessary depending on your niche. For example, an environmental consultant may need to take photos of the terrain and adjacent areas to include in an environmental assessment or report.

9. Use as a scanner in a pinch

Use digital cameras in your business if your scanner goes on the fritz. In a pinch, a digital camera can serve as a scanner if needs be. The quality isn’t great, but taking a photograph of a document and emailing to a client is better than having to retype it manually.

10. Create promotional or informational videos using still photography

Use digital cameras in your business to create YouTube or other videos. Did you know that you can create effective videos by linking still photographs together? It’s very easy and can result in effective videos that combine photographs and overlaid text.

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Who cares what they say anyway?

Are you paralyzed by what other people think? Are you afraid of being seen as a failure? Are you unable to live your dreams because of fear of criticism or because you’re afraid of what other people might think? We might not like to admit it, but we’ve all got fears.

Fear is one of the primary reasons that people keep on doing what they’ve always done. Change is difficult. Change is scary. But change is also what is going to move you into new areas of your life. Without change, you won’t climb higher than you already are.

Don’t wait for opportunities to fall into your lap, because they rarely do. Rather, you’ve got to make your own opportunities and design your own future – regardless of what other people think.

If you’ve got a desire to give power to the entrepreneur within but are worried about what other people will think, stop worrying right now. Who cares what "they’ say? Whether you’re concerned about what your parents, coworkers or friends might think, the most important opinion that you should be giving credence to is your own.

Of course, we all want support from those closest to us, like our spouses. But if there are relatively insignificant people in your life who don’t support your efforts, ask yourself how much value you should put on the opinions of people who may not have your best interest in mind.

Seek support from those closest to you and gain confidence in your own goals by arming yourself with valid information and by connecting to others who are already achieving success in similar areas.

And after all, who cares what "they" say anyway? At the end of the day it’s what you really think about your own life that matters.

Are you looking for support and guidance on your journey to a new career? In addition to the over 900 free articles here on Consultant Journal, we offer products to help you when ready to seriously take the leap.

Course and mentorship package:

Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap - With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

Guidebooks for independent learners:

Discover Your Inner Consultant: A Guide for Discovering What Consulting Business You Could Start – You’ve started thinking about becoming a consultant. Maybe you’ve mulled over a few ideas or maybe you’re stumped. But how do you choose a consulting business? How do you figure out what business would work best for you?

Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur For Moms: A Guide for Discovering What Business You Could Start – Are you looking at combining kids and career? Maybe you’ve heard about moms who have their own businesses and you’re wondering if it would work for you. But how do you know if starting a business would work for you? How do you make sense of all the opportunities out there and find one that works for you?

Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants – Learn a system for setting consulting fees and maximize your earning potential. Set your rate and ask for it with confidence.

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5 ways to deal with being scared

Having strategies to deal with being scared is crucial, because in life we experience a lot of fears. Be it fear of public speaking, fear about our businesses, or fear about starting over in a new career, you’ve got to have a strategy for dealing with feeling frightened. Take a look at the below ways to deal with being scared so that the next time you start to feel paralyzed by fear you’ve got a plan for moving yourself through fear into action.

5 ways to deal with being scared – Getting specific

1. Face your fear head on

Fear is almost always about the unknown. Typically, we experience generalized fear about a certain topic, for example, you might experience fear related to possible failure if you decide to become a small business consultant. But don’t get overwhelmed by the first stage of general fear. Force yourself to move deeper into your fear and ask yourself, what is it that you are really afraid of? Get specific. Write your specific fears down, such as:

  • I am afraid I won’t make enough money as a small business consultant
  • I am afraid I will be exposed as not having enough knowledge to call myself an expert
  • I am afraid that no one will want to hire me
  • I am afraid that I will fail and be embarrassed in front of my friends and family

2. Outline the worst case scenarios

Next, take each of your fears and address them. What would the consequences be if your worst fears came true? Write the worst case scenario consequences down for each of your fears. For example:

  • I am afraid I won’t make enough money as a small business consultant (Consequence: I will lose my home, my car and my lifestyle)
  • I am afraid I will be exposed as not having enough knowledge to call myself an expert (Consequence: I will feel embarrassed and ashamed in front of a colleague or a client)
  • I am afraid that no one will want to hire me (Consequence: I will feel embarrassed and I won’t have any clients, which means I won’t be making any money)
  • I am afraid that I will fail and be embarrassed in front of my friends and family (Consequence: my family and friends will feel sorry for me and I may lose some esteem in their eyes)

3. Own the worst-case consequences

Part of moving through your fear and getting out on the other side is to know that you can handle the worst case scenarios of all your fears. Take each "consequence" above and picture it happening. What would you do if the worst case consequence happened? How would you handle the worst case consequence? How would your life be impacted?

For the majority of our fears, the worst case scenario is usually not even that bad in the first place. Quite often, worst case scenarios simply involve feeling embarrassed. Generally, once we "own" the "worst" consequences we realize that the consequences are not as serious as we were making them out to be.

Further, 95% of our fears never even come true!

4. Create preventive solutions

Now that you’ve "owned" the worst possible results and faced the realities of your fear, you can do your best to prevent the negative consequences from occurring, where possible.

5. Set up your support system

Lastly, don’t ever think that you can go it alone. No matter how strong or intelligent we are, we are always in need of support. Friends, families, mentors and even neighbors are important pillars that will help you when the going gets rough.

Remember, it’s okay to be scared. In fact, fear can be a good thing. Fear can mean that you’re pushing yourself to try something new and that you’re out of your comfort zone. Don’t let fear paralyze you or keep you from achieving your goals. Use these 5 ways to deal with being scared and tackle your fears today.

Related posts:

How I overcame fear of public speaking

What are your biggest fears about your business?

Do you need to like public speaking to sell?

7 reasons to pay attention when something doesn’t fit

 

5 ways to help define success for yourself

If you’re already achieving success, it can be easy to sit back and keep on doing what you’ve always done. But don’t get complacent. Challenge yourself and your business to implement these 5 ways to help define success for yourself.

1. Go after more desirable clients

Don’t just wait for clients to come to you. Consider who you’d like to work with and make it your mission to make that person your client. You’ll be amazed at how your business can change when you start selecting who you’d like to work with — rather than simply accepting the clients who find you.

2. Teach a course

Are you passionate about your work? Would you like to spread that passion with young minds or likeminded entrepreneurs? Consider teaching a course, offering a workshop or making a presentation to your local business networking organization. You’ll be challenging yourself, sharing knowledge, marketing yourself and building your expert status all at the same time!

3. Diversify your income streams

Are you a consultant? To rev up your business, why not try something new and diversify your income streams? Don’t give up your bread and butter, but why not consider creating passive income streams for yourself?

4. Become a mentor

Remember what it was like when you were just starting out in entrepreneurship? Couldn’t you have used a guiding hand and someone to talk to who has been through it all? Consider becoming a mentor. It’s satisfying and rewarding at the same time.

5. Success isn’t always about business

Success in business can mean running a company that allows you to stay home with your children or take extended vacations. Success can mean better work/life balance or heading up a consultancy that actually makes the world a better place.

Success is whatever you want it to be.

No matter where you are in your career, try to incorporate these 5 ways to help define success for yourself into your daily and weekly routines. Don’t get complacent or cave in to fear. Take your life to the next level!

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