Become a Consultant | Consultant Journal

Consulting Reboot

If you’re at this stage of your consulting business journey, you’re ready for a change. In the Reboot stage, you give your existing business processes, branding and offer a shake, so that you can get back on track.

If this is you, you’re probably experiencing the following:

  • You’ve had some initial successes, but you’ve hit a road block. Maybe a key client or team member turned over, your industry or market shifted, or you hit bump in your life.
  • You may have experienced personal or business challenges that led to a major change. Health, relationships, caregiving, financial and other pinches may have led to a few big or small bumps.
  • The way you were landing projects, bringing in clients, or getting work done worked for a while, but you hadn’t put in place recurring, scalable, predictable model, so that you could be assured of ongoing success
  • Maybe what you had in place was leading to feast or famine cycles, where you might have a large amount come in for a short time, but then you got so busy that you couldn’t keep up with maintaining the systems for marketing, selling and getting paid.
  •  Perhaps you ran into situations where there were communication barriers, contract or invoicing barriers.
  • Or maybe your business is doing pretty well, but you feel like it’s time for a reset, a new way of moving forward, and you know you have the ability to take it higher, if you can just refresh your existing assets and processes.

The great news is that your existing investments and experience can help you with finding the way forward. If you’re open to change, a growth mindset and you’re coachable and willing to make changes, you can find your footing again.

Does this sound like you? You could also be at Startup or Scale Up.

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Consulting Scale Up

Once you pass the Startup phase with your consulting business, you’re ready for Scale Up. If you’re at Scale Up, you’re probably hitting a number of targets:

  • You have $3,000 to $8,000 a month in recurring monthly income
  • You’re focused on your business as your main work
  • You’re open to ideas, input and training so that you can make the mindset shift to building a business team, scaling your business, delegating work, and getting ready to pay yourself a six-figure income
  • You’ve got at least the basics behind your business systems, although you may still need to shift to where that revenue, client intake and workflow becomes more automated, predictable, sustainable and scalable
  • You want to take your business beyond its initial offer and start leveraging your intellectual property so that you can achieve scale by selling products, building a team to take on more work, or hiring in coaches and consultants to take on part of your offer
  • You recognize that the skills that got you to this point mean you can put the processes in place to build to $500k, $1M or more, but that you’ll need more sophisticated systems and a mindset shift to do it right

Where are you in your business journey? You could also be at Startup or Reboot.

 

 

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Consulting Startup

If you’re in the startup phase of your consulting business, you’re probably working through some common processes:

  • What’s my business?
  • How do I make my business stand out?
  • How do I get clients and how do I keep clients coming in the door?
  • How do I price, set fees, negotiate with clients, put together quotes and get business?
  • What systems do I need in place to get paid, manage workflow and grow?
  • How do I get my business to the first $100k or $250k?
  • How do I make sure I have a sustainable, recurring model that helps me avoid feast or famine cycles and provides for stability and growth?
  • How do I set goals?
  • What skills do I need to hone for selling, financials, automation and delegating?
  • How do I build the leadership and management skills to pivot to a business mindset, so that this business becomes more than a job and leaves me with the energy to focus on what gives me energy, income and opportunity?
Does this sound like you? You could also be at the Scale Up or Reboot stage.
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Practicing self compassion

Self Care - person holding glass of water

We are at an unprecedented time in history and in our lives. You, as an entrepreneur, may be dealing with a big set of unknowns right now, for everything from your work to your home life to where your groceries are coming from.

If you spend much time listening to the news or social media, it wouldn’t be surprising to come away feeling all the things you “should” be doing. We live in a capitalistic society and we’ve been taught from the time we were small that our worth comes from our productivity, whether that is as a worker, a volunteer, a caregiver or partner. The messages about measuring up are really strong. (So strong that my book is all about setting fees, so you can imagine how I’m doing at working through that same messaging!)

It’s hard to undo all that messaging in a crisis. For many, even if you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, you’re in a crisis and working from home, not simply working from home. Maybe you’ve got grocery deliveries, children, pets or a partner interrupting your work. Maybe there isn’t any work to interrupt. Maybe you’re getting crisis messages from friends or family at the same time. Maybe you’re the one feeling in crisis. It’s not a typical “work from home” scenario.

I don’t want to add to your list of “shoulds”. But I will gently suggest that you practice kindness with yourself. Whatever your day looks like, however well or not well your day is going, try to find a few moments to practice some self care. Even if it is a simple act of caring for yourself, allow yourself that. You matter. You’re worth it.

 

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The Corona Virus for Small Businesses

Corona Virus

How should small business owners manage the corona virus, aka COVID-19? It’s a question on the minds of many entrepreneurs, as Fortune 500 companies announce new protocols for travel, meetings and even use of coffee cups. At Consultant Journal, we know many entrepreneurs, small business owners and consultants wonder about the business impact.

Refer to the CDC, WHO, your local health authority or another reliable, science-based source for health information. Their recommendations should inform your decisions. Keep in mind that recommendations may change. In the meantime, based on current information, you can take the following steps:

Managing Employees

  • If you have employees, you’ll want to review the steps you take to make sure they are safe from illness.
  • Wipe down and clean surfaces frequently
  • Encourage workers to stay home or leave work if they have symptoms noted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Instruct workers to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, elbows or shoulders, not their hands
  • Encourage frequently soap and water handwashing for 20 seconds or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Make sure staff have access to well-stocked washing facilities
  • Encourage waving or nodding for greetings
  • Consider whether racism or profiling may be affecting your employees and review HR protocols to help provide emotional and work support

Client Engagement

If your business meets with clients in person, you may want to look at your policies and processes to help keep clients and yourself healthy. Think about what’s actually needed for your sales and marketing:

  • Wave or nod instead of shaking hands
  • Keep washrooms well-stocked with paper towels and soap
  • Bring along hand-sanitizing hand wipes or cleanser, if access to washing facilities is difficult
  • Consider which appointments must be made in person, whether trips are necessary and how you can make better use of teleconferencing and web meetings
  • Offer flexibility for cancellations related to health, review your fees and pricing around cancellations for illness and suggest tech tools for managing communication as needed
  • As with employees, check that racism and profiling are not affecting your work and look for opportunities to improve engagement, diversity and human rights
  • Update your website, social or client communication to let people know how you’re managing health and what options you are offering
  • Make sure you have two-way communication options for clients.

Business Process Review

From a business point of view, you may also need to take precautions:

  • Look through your HR policies, including paid time-off, sick leave, caregiver, short-term disability benefits and policies. Look for opportunities to offer work from home, make-up shifts, sick days, leave or other flexible conditions that promote health and wellness
  • Review internal and external communication policies and protocols. If there is a shut down, how will you inform staff and stakeholders, for example?
  • Do trial runs and document practices for using telemeetings, including teleconferences and web meetings. You may be already doing these, but sometimes employees, contractors and clients may be new to the experience.

Business continuity

  • Prepare your company for the possibility of a shut-down. Review what you would need to do to maintain inventory, reserves and contract fulfillment.
  • Take some time to review your childcare and family caregiver situation; encourage employees to look into options too, including working from home
  • Take a look at your cash flow and what a change to sales or staffing could do. Consider arranging financing ahead of time, as part of business continuity preparations
  • If you haven’t already, you may want to look into business continuity plans and insurance
  • Look for opportunities to automate business processes to minimize disruptions and make sure any credit cards, lines of credit and other investment tools are up to date. Some tools you may find helpful include Zoom, Slack, Google Docs, Trello
  • As with employees and clients, review whether racism and profiling may affect your business or those around you. Look for ways to address issues, provide better support and be a better member of the business community
  • You’ll also want to stay up to date on news around the virus. Be reasonable and make sure you’re using reliable news sources. The CDC and your local health authority are likely good options.

While COVID-19 may impact your business or your personal life, this situation also presents a good opportunity to modernize and automate your business and determine where you can create the most success with personal contact. You may actually find some of the steps improve your workflow, customer engagement, employee retention and other important performance indicators.

Related to Business Management:

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What social media platform should I be on?

 

Social Media Platform - person watching train from platform

 

Running a business can be hard work – made even harder by all the choices out there. If you find yourself asking, “What social media platform should I be on?”, that’s understandable. Friends, colleagues, competitors, clients and even the big social media platforms themselves are only too eager to make a recommendation…and a sale!

What social media platform is the wrong question

Many small and mid-sized businesses end up scrambling to embrace an array of tools and technologies. But asking what social media platform you should use is the wrong question to tackle first. Sure, you’re going to want to look at social media tools and they may well be part of your final decision. But, as we note in our Consulting Fees book, that’s not the first question.

What to consider before you choose a social media platform or tool

  • Start with your end goal in your sights. Coming up with a solid marketing plan and sticking to it is more likely to bring you toward your goal than signing up for an Instagram or Twitter account, just because you see competitors or even friends doing it.
  • Think about your target clients, their needs and what message you need to get across.
  • Review your competitors and what they’re using – and see if you can determine what’s effective for them.
  • Think about your brand, your messages and the ways to connect with clients.
  • Look at where your target clients hang out on social media, how they’re finding you now, and what your web analytics and other tools show is working.
  • Again, meet your clients where they’re at. Try surveying your existing clients to find out what they’re using.
  • Put some tracking tools in place, so that you can start measuring your efforts and figure out what’s working. Google Analytics is free and easy to install and can help you figure out what content engages your clients and drves them to your site. Other apps, like Twitter, have some basic tracking, but you can also look at more sophisticated offerings.
  • Take a look at all the social media available. Start with one or two solid options. Trying to market on multiple platforms will tie up a lot of resources and can be exhausting.
  • Put together a social media calendar and plan your content.
  • Look for opportunities to reuse and re-market your content.

Establish goals for using social

It’s critical to know why you want to use social media. Some common goals include wanting to:

  • Build your brand
  • Create awareness about a problem your clients face
  • Help clients discover how an issue affects them
  • Nudge clients toward envisioning a solution to a problem they face
  • Position your company or your solution as the best offer for solving that problem
  • Affirm clients who have already purchased from you
  • Get existing clients to come back
  • Generate referrals

What social media platforms do you use?

Related

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Social Responsibility Coaching Spaces

Sometimes, even for the most successful entrepreneurs, life comes up out of nowhere and gives you a hard dose of reality. It can be hard to pick up yourself, your family and your business.

Most supports for people in crisis look at counseling or mental health. And, often, the supports available to entrepreneurs involve large-scale projects, like business continuity planning, crisis communications or revamping a business plan. Sometimes, you just need a guide to help you out of the crisis.

As part of our corporate social responsibility, our founder, Andréa Coutu, has decided to open up 1-2 coaching spaces for entrepreneurs on a sliding scale basis.

Aimed at helping people who already have other crisis supports, such as counseling, in place, these sessions are meant to bring Andréa alongside you, while you get your business back on track. This is business coaching, not counseling. But Andréa has complemented her years of experience as a business consultant and educator with further training in psychological first aid, trauma-informed practice, collaborative problem solving, inclusive practice and indigenous cultural safety. She also draws from extensive lived experience and lay advocacy experience with navigating complex health, education, legal and social services systems.

So, if you’re facing tough times or historic or current barriers, we welcome your application. Space is limited. If you think this may be a fit for you, apply at https://andreacoutu.typeform.com/to/H7hBqs. There are limited spaces available at $125 for 45-minutes per session for up to five sessions ($625).

If you’re not sure whether you’re a fit, take a look at the form and apply anyway. I won’t judge you by the size of your crisis.

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Are you friends with your clients and vendors?

I’m a people person. I like people. And I like talking. I don’t like being fake, though, so I tend to be straight up with people. As a result, I find that I connect with a lot of people. Because I run a business, this means that some of my clients and vendors have become close friends over the years. In turn, many of my friends seek me out as a supplier.

I grew up in a small town and so it seems completely normal to have such blurry boundaries in my life. In a community, people do business with people they trust. If you trust someone, it makes sense that you might sometimes see a friendship emerge. And, if you have friends who need business services, you may sometimes find yourself in a business relationship with those friends. Sure, it makes for some complicated dealings, but it means that there’s some authenticity to the business relationships you have. Why would you treat your clients and vendors any differently than the other people in your life? Trust is at the core of any relationship, whether it’s business or personal.

That being said, boundaries are important. If you do find yourself socializing with clients, service providers, suppliers or others, you may want to think about ways to keep the relationship feeling safe and sustainable. Often, working with written agreements for business can help keep things clear.

Are you friends with your clients or vendors?

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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.

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Entrepreneurial FOMO: how to deal

Entrepreneurial FOMO can affect even the most confident of entrepreneurs. Here’s how to deal with entrepreneurial fear of missing out.

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