As your consulting business grows in popularity, you may find yourself in the favourable position of having too much business. That excess of work means too many leads coming in, too many requests from repeat clients and too many referrals from people who know and trust your work. As great as this situation sounds — it is a nice problem to have — it can be a bit overwhelming the first time it happens. So how do you work through it?
What to do when you’re overworked:
- Refer new clients to friends who work in the same field. I’ve had many referrals from my friend Anne, who has taken two maternity leaves. In turn, I’ve referred work back to her when I was on maternity leave, ill or busy with other projects.
- Outsource. Hire some subcontractors to do the job for you.
- Raise your rates. Price should appear where supply and demand meet. If you’ve got too much demand, raise your rates. Try this with new clients and not-so-favoured clients first.
- Delay your start date. Say you’re available in two weeks, a month, two months or some other specific time. Clients seeking professionals realize that the best, most experienced consultants can rarely start a project right away.
- Hire an intern. Get someone else to do routine and administrative work.
- Stop doing non-consulting work. Hire an accountant, office cleaner, photocopy shop or other party to do the non-consulting work you have. If you can make $150 an hour doing marketing consulting, why waste your time on cleaning the office, when you can hire someone for $20 an hour?
- Pace your proposals. Try to do several proposals at once, so that you can pick the cream of the crop.
Having too many projects on your plate is a great situation for any consultant. But struggling with the realities for the first time can be a challenge when you’re just weeks or months away from the feast or famine stage. Just take a deep breath and pick a strategy that works for you.