Archive for the ‘Consulting’ Category

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.

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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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How to use LinkedIn to build expert status

Using Linkedin to build expert statusHow to use LinkedIn to build expert status – Are you wondering whether LinkedIn can help you build your expert status? Curious whether LinkedIn is anything more than just a fly-by-night social media portal?

LinkedIn is a unique social media site that can be a powerful tool when used appropriately. And one of the most effective ways to use LinkedIn is as a tool to help you build expert status.

Here are five tips to help you build your expert status on LinkedIn:

1. Be a valuable member of influential groups

Have you joined a LinkedIn business-related group yet? If not, a quick browse in LinkedIn offers a window into many online business groups. 

But don’t just join industry organizations. Consider frequenting complementary groups and becoming known as the resident expert in that group in your niche.

And don’t just post your own status updates. Answer others’ questions and demonstrate your expertise by giving back.

Not sure where to start when it comes to LinkedIn groups? Check out which groups your peers and colleagues have already joined.

2. Share your favorite book recommendations

Check out the LinkedIn "Amazon Reading List" application. It’s a great little app that allows you to share the business-related books that you like. Your chosen books are displayed right on your LinkedIn profile. Or, better yet, if you’re a published author, you can load your reading list with your own books–peppered in with a few other useful picks, of course!

Displaying your reading list on your LinkedIn profile is an effective yet subtle way to demonstrate that you’re active in your industry and that you’re an expert in your field.

3. Officially associate yourself with the movers and shakers in your industry

Are there big-wigs in your niche? Use your existing LinkedIn network to ask for an introduction from one of your existing connections so that you can be connected with the movers and shakers in your niche.

Become an expert by affiliation.

4. Ask for referrals from your best clients

You know who they are: the clients who think that you’re the greatest. The clients who love your work and what you do.

Don’t be afraid to request a recommendation or testimonial from your biggest fans. Nothing speaks louder than what someone else has to say about you!

5. Fill out the LinkedIn Honors and Awards section

If you’ve been nominated or won awards, don’t be shy. List ‘em in LinkedIn! 

Never been nominated for anything? No problem. Why not join the board of an industry association instead?

Take action on at least one of these tips on how to use LinkedIn to build expert status to see results today. Increasing your expert status can do wonders for your business, so have the confidence to see yourself as an expert!

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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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What is consulting?

What is consulting? Consulting is a career choice that offers professional or specialized advice to individuals and businesses for a fee. As a consultant, you will likely work freelance, although some consultants are employed by large corporations. A consultant may have one specialty or many. You may choose consulting as a full-time career or as a second job that provides extra income.

What types of consulting are there?

Consulting doesn’t have to be technical or complicated, nor does it necessarily require a diploma or a degree. All it requires is that you, the consultant, possess the specialized knowledge required to educate your client or perform the required services.

For example, you might offer personal consulting services. Personal consultants offer expert advice to individuals on topics like party planning, life coaching, dog obedience or home decorating.

Technical consultants provide advice on topics like home security, internet security, networking, and social media.

Professional consultants are usually specially trained or educated with experience in their field. As a professional consultant, you would provide advice on more complex topics like human resources, finances and taxation, business management and insurance.

Executive consulting is consulting at its most professional level. It provides advice on subjects like law and medicine. To consult in such fields, you must possess a high level of education, as well as extensive experience. However, not all consulting requires such specialization.

What do clients want from consulting services?

Clients hire a consultant to improve either themselves or their business. Consultants can help facilitate personal and professional growth, save their clients’ money, and increase efficiency in their clients’ lives or businesses. Consultants provide clients with information that they don’t already know, and that they don’t have immediate access to. As a professional consultant, you should leave the client satisfied with your services and better off than they were before.

What is consulting going to do for you?

Consulting is an excellent career choice if you are motivated, enjoy working with people, and prefer to work independently. You can set your own pace and your own hours. It is also an excellent way to network with clients and other professionals.

What is consulting’s future?

The outlook for consulting is excellent. As long as there are individuals, professionals, and companies seeking to improve themselves, their lives and their businesses, there will be a need for consulting services. Skilled consultants who provide useful advice will always be in demand.

Are you interested in becoming a consultant? Check out the Becoming a Consultant FAQs.

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Dreyfus model of skill acquisition

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition is a helpful concept to understand when interested in building your expert status. The Dreyfus model was developed at the University of California during the 1980s, and this model of skill acquisition is still relevant today.

The basic premise of the Dreyfus model is that students progress through five stages of expert status in this specific order: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.

In their paper, "A Five-Stage Model of the Mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition," brothers SE Dreyfus and RL Dreyfus discuss each skill level in great detail. In short:

Novice – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Novices adhere to specific rules. Novices do not think outside the box, nor do they exercise "discretionary judgment."

Advanced beginner – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Advanced beginners take a more holistic approach to the project at hand than do novices, but advanced beginners have a limited understanding of the big picture.

Competent – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Competency is achieved when you start deliberately planning your projects and when you have created routines and structures in your work.

Proficient – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Proficiency is achieved when you can effectively prioritize different elements of your project. You know that you’ve reached proficiency when you truly grasp the whole of what you are trying to achieve.

Expert – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

In the words of the authors, experts possess an "intuitive grasp of situations based on deep, tacit understanding." Experts forego rules. Instead, they make decisions based on analytical approaches.

Are you interested in learning specific, actionable tips that will help you jumpstart your expert status from novice through to expert–just like in the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition? Get Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status for free when you subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter.

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Consultant course – 5 great options for study

Taking consultant courses can be an effective way to jumpstart your career as a consultant. However, consultant courses aren’t always easy to find or aren’t necessarily in your area. Here are 5 great consulting course options for study that will help you launch into your next career as a consultant. Consider combining some of the below options for an even more effective method!

1. Self-study

Self-study can be a great way to get all the information that’s contained in a consultant course at your own pace. Self-study can be comprised of many different methods, including reading, researching, taking online consultant courses or speaking to active consultants directly.

2. Find or create a peer group (online or in person)

Do you know of any other individuals who are interested in taking consultant courses as well? Join together and share resources, motivation and insights. If you’re in an urban area, create your own starter consultant group. Ask around–both locally in your community and online. You’ll be surprised at how many like-minded people you may run into!

Your consultant course peer group can be in your own city or online.

3. Find a mentor

One of the surest ways to find success is to get to know someone who you admire and who has achieved the results that you hope to achieve. Speaking for an hour or two to a consultant in your niche can be its own consulting course! Mentors are valuable. Although busy, many potential mentors are happy to help out new consultants. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and connect with acting consultants in your area who specialize in your area of expertise.

4. Local courses

Consultant courses are not regular curriculum at universities or community colleges. However, you can inquire at your local business organizations regarding whether there are any consultant courses happening in your area.

5. Online courses

One of the most effective ways to become a consultant is to take an online consultant course, like Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap, which contains a number of workbooks, audio, and a one-year subscription to the insider’s edge newsletter.

Hopefully you’ve found these 5 great options for consultant courses helpful. If you’re considering taking a consultant course that must mean that you are seriously considering this exciting life change. Why not take the next step re: consultant courses and take action on one of the items above?

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Consulting expert manifesto

Are you interested in building your consulting expert status? Behold – the consulting expert manifesto:

1. Teach a course

If you want to fast-track your consulting expert status, arrange to teach a course in your niche. Sound scary? It doesn’t have to be. You can limit the enrollment and even charge low or free admission. An added bonus is that people who are likely to take your course are perfect prospects for your consulting services. Arrange to teach the course at an official sounding venue, such as at a university or in a prominent business park.

Adding the fact that you’ve taught such a course will give your bio a boost.

2. Write articles

Submitting articles to and having them published in trade or industry magazines–both print and online–can offer a quick upward jolt to your expert status. Being able to mention that you’ve been mentioned or written for a recognizable industry organization or publication will give your expert status an extra level of authority. In addition, having these articles published gets your message out to more prospects.

3. Perform radio and television interviews

Similar to writing articles, being interviewed or quoted on radio or television offers extra wow value to your online bio and resume. You may be surprised. Local radio stations are always looking for guests to feature, interview and call upon for commentary.

4. Understand the meaning of "expert"

Do you have the confidence to see yourself as an expert? One of the best ways to project your expert status is if you truly believe that you are an expert in your field. Don’t feel like an expert? Educate yourself! Subscribe to industry magazines, take courses, or join industry associations. Do whatever it takes to educate yourself in your field.

And, remember, in order to be an expert you don’t have to be the world’s foremost guru in your niche. No, you’re an expert to your clients as long as you know more than they do and are proficient in helping your clients achieve their goals or solve problems in effective ways.

5. Get more resources to jumpstart your expert status

Looking for more consulting expert manifesto tips? Give your expert status a leg up. Receive your free report now — get  Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status here.

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Who you calling an expert?

Who you calling an expert? Becoming a small business or independent consultant may seem out of reach to some of you because you just don’t think you’re enough of an expert to be a consultant.

Let me tell you right now that becoming an expert is not as complicated as it sounds. When you’re a consultant, you are offering your clients something of value–your expertise. But expertise doesn’t have to mean that you are the world’s foremost expert in your field. No, expertise just means that you have more insights than your client does on your given area of expertise.

For example, you may be a home staging consultant. Now, you may never be called on to provide staging services for Oprah, but you do know something about home staging, right? You’re passionate about home staging, you’re up on all the trends and you’ve even taking courses on the subject. And if your client is a color-blind bachelor who doesn’t know the difference between orange shag and a neutral berber carpet, then you are by all means a total expert in this situation. So don’t feel intimidated by the fact that you may not be a home staging guru to the stars. Rest assured that you can be an expert and provide value to your clients.

In order to build your confidence and really feel like an expert, there are numerous things you can do to jumpstart your expert status, from teaching a course, having an article published in an industry magazine, or providing services to a high-profile client in your community.

Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or are 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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Giving power to the entrepreneur within

Giving power to the entrepreneur within is something that many of us think about but few of us take action on. Whether it’s financial responsibilities, healthcare, our children, or one of the many other responsibilities that we face, sometimes the entrepreneur within gets snuffed out.

There are many benefits to having a regular 9 to 5 job, which can make it difficult to leave the safe-zone of being employed by someone else. However, there are also benefits to unleashing your inner entrepreneur, including making a killer hourly rate and having the flexibility to live life on your own schedule.

That being said, don’t give power to your entrepreneur within without taking the necessary steps to minimize your risk. Some of these steps may include securing a business line of credit before you leave your regular job, putting a substantial amount of savings aside to act as your buffer zone, doing plenty of research on your industry and connecting with successful people who are living the life that you want. Perhaps even consider seeking out a mentor who can guide you along your journey to giving power to the entrepreneur within.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a small business consultant, becoming an independent consultant, or starting a new career that is uniquely yours, take action today by getting serious about planning for your future. Where do you want to be in five years and how are you going to get there?

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