I've worked in executive management for many years, and I now aim to provide consultancy services. How do I penetrate the market?
I provide assistance in management structuring and operations for startups, and the restructuring of dysfunctional businesses and mergers to maximize profit and minimize loss.
First, let me commend you for "making the daring leap" from the "safe" world of a full-time job to the far more volatile - and consequently more exciting - world of consulting. When I made the transition a few years ago, I found the two biggest challenges to be (1) how to monetize my services (AKA put a dollar value on my areas of expertise) and (2) how to sell those services in formal and informal ways. I found the second challenge more difficult, because during my long career in corporate/executive roles, I didn't have to "market" myself; I merely had to jump in, roll up my sleeves, and do what needed to be done. Now I have to get someone else to pay for the privilege! It's exciting in its own way. And when you get that first client to say "YES," you will experience a tremendous adrenaline rush.
As your first step, I recommend that you create your personal brand. This does not have to be as elaborate or complicated as you might imagine it to be. If you're interested in learning just how to go about it, say the word and I'll be happy to help.
Best of luck to you in your new venture - expect, plan for, and work toward greatness!
First of all, try to use the relationships you built in the past few years. These are your starting point. Think big, and take little steps. Keep in mind that the market must know about you and your services. When we are small is more dificult to big companies to hire your services. Start in smaller companies, get referrals and climb to the top.
Create a good website and be present in the social medias, you will need be seen. Work on your image.
Create a plan to get you started. Outline what you want to do, how you will do it, your competition, competitive advantages, marketing plan and financial plan.
Use referrals and relationships to get you started and build references, your process and your client base.
Develop a marketing plan using the marketing equation to build the message. This should be coordinated across all your marketing - i.e. website, elevator pitch, business card, etc.
Find an adviser or coach to help you get started.
Your most valuable asset will be your existing network. I suggest you let them know what you are offering. Listen to them to see where you can help any of them. Ask them for recommendations. Also use trusted contacts a as focus group to hone your offering. Finally, I would suggest that you use social media, particularly LinkedIn if your potential clients are businesses, to raise profile and contact potential clients.
Every executive who loses their job or retires becomes a consultant with no clients. There are many consultants who offer similar services to what you are proposing. So the challenge for you is to develop your unique selling proposition - what is unique about my services, and how have I helped companies using my unique approach? Then you need to utilize all the social media platforms to let the world know about your personal brand. You will find that you can't sell consulting services. Clients have to find you and the vehicle these days is social media e,g. blogging, tweeting, etc. Good luck,
Check your network. I guess that You have already good contacts with people involved in your area of busienss. Take care to your previous company that would suit You for diversion of customership, kind of commercial abuse.
Maybe you will join Linkedin and begin to make connection?
As with any business I recommend a business plan, define your ideal client, create a client avatar, hang out where they hang out, solve their problems etc. You'll have more work than you know what to do with in no time flat.
Focus on the relationships you've developed and nurtured during your years of experience. These are the people who will get you started -- either through hiring your expertise, or referring you to people they know who could use your expertise.
Relationships are the key to success. If you're not already on LinkedIn, set yourself up there. Now make connections with people you know. Next search for your desired relationships, and find out if you know someone in common. If you do, ask that person for a referral. Make it easy for them -- simply ask if you can use their name; don't ask them to make the contact for you (it's not their job to represent you). If they offer, great.
Develop a clear, concise description of your expertise and your approach to consulting. Determine how you want to consult, and develop this so that you can respond when someone asks, "What can you do for me? How do you work?" Be prepared.
Good Luck, John!
The best advice I received when I was starting up my consulting business was to "give it away". Go to Chamber of Commerce's and BNI's, meet people, learn their needs and volunteer your services free of charge. Once you have built this small and referable clientele for a period of time the quality of your work will precede you to the next potential clients. Yes, at first there will be no income. Remember you are trying to sell yourself, not what you can do, at least at the beginning.
Also may I suggest writing articles in your field of expertise and posting them to association sites that deal with your type of work and sites such as this one which attracts diverse business groups.
Hi John, going from Corporate to having your own business is a great step. It might sound daunting in the beginning but the satisfaction you will get once you get going is tremendous - well done for the leap!
You need to have a good plan of action + a business plan which will direct you to the right direction + a good experienced business coach that understands here you are going and can work in tandem with you and take you all the way. If you need help, all you have to do is ask.
Good luck and enjoy the ride.
Dear Mr. Lomax, I have owned my own company for over 30 years. I can tell potential clients that I have gone through the paper work MBE, GSA, NSA, private sector contracts. I do a lot of Networking with different organizations. I also have a lot of contacts from my own companies. I have found that a lot of companies what to go or become bigger. When they see the paper work they don't want too do it. That is where my company comes into the picture.
There are some great answers here but in a nutshell your initial priorities should be:
1) Find your point of difference and brand yourself with it. What is it you can do that is better than other consultants and how can you get that across in a few seconds. There are literally thousands of consultants starting up every day, so find your niche and 'sell the story'.
2) Create a presence. Use the aforementioned branding in your website and social media. Write articles for magazines and blogs, give free seminars at networking events and so on; but make sure everyone remembers you because of said branding, as much as what you demonstrate.
3) Price your offerings according to your abilities and 'street cred'. Basically, start by keeping close on pricing to others, (but not cheaper, as that will also cheapen your image), and gradually increase, as your standing in the consulting industry also increases. Many think they have to be cheaper than the competition, in order to get work. This is not necessarily the case, as they may not be as good as you and may not have identified the same niche as you. Plus, those needing help are usually more interested in getting it from the best, than the cheapest.
4) Leverage existing contacts and seek out new ones. No matter how much marketing you do, nothing works better than being recommended by people in the industry. Unfortunately the adage "it's not what you know, it's who you know", still applies.
Obviously there is a lot more to it than just these four points, but they should give you a good start.
Good luck and all the best,
Bryan Young, (Mr Retail) :)
Great feedback from the Mosaic Hub Community - to net it out:
1) Define your Value Add / USP and what problem(s) you solve
2) Identify your target Decision Maker (role/industry)
3) Communicate 1) and 2) to your network.
I agree with those who are suggesting that your network is the key. Consultants are a dime a dozen, and very few customers are stupid enough to hire one based on their website or search rankings. Get business from people who know you to build up your track record of success stories in your capacity as You LLC. Join professional associations - ones that are made up not of other consultants but of your customers.
Unfortunately, it doesn't make all the difference if you were a great executive manager when you start your own business. You need to learn how to sell. It is not just networking and showing your resume. That may get you started but you need to be trained in a selling system if you really want to make a successful business. Your past colleagues and connections may get you started but, believe me, it is a different world when you are selling for your own business. (And if you haven't read the E Myth that should be your first step.)
When you are starting out you have to be very focused on who you can serve very, very well. Many of the comments given are great and true. For me, it is this simple formula on the top view:
1) know exactly what you have to offer that is valuable and understand why you are unique
2) know exactly who wants what you have bad enough to pay you. learn everything you can about them. Immerse yourself in their world and know them better than anyone else who may offer similar services. That insight will point you in the right directions and will show you ways to reach that audience
3) use your professional network to help reach your target audience
Your success will be found in how well you are able to do these three things. Use your network to help you. Find mentors. Consult with others who specialize in various areas where you might need more help, such as go-to-market planning, networking, selling, lead nurturing, etc.
My best advise is this: You can't do it alone, so don't be too proud to ask for help, even in areas you feel you have high expertise. We all lose perspective when we are very close to something and deeply vested in it, so take in all the input you can get. It's amazing how many people you can surround yourself with that want to help you succeed...you only need to be humble and put yourself out their and make it clear that you can use all the help you can get.
I would say , take calculated risk . Do a thorough market analysis to see the demand and supply . Then you can start with linkedin creating a page , Email Marketing also would be good start .
Congrats John on a very bold decision.
Many possible options depending on where you want to make a beginning.
Firstly you need to reach out to as many people as possible. Certainly it has to be combination of Contacts/personal discussions and technology support - whether thro' website or linked in or any such forums to reach many people simultaneously and reach the audience where you may not travel.
Second part which I think is more specific to consultancy services - we may quite often deal with situations where we are actually telling the prospective client that they need an outside help (expert, consultant etc.). To me that is more difficult an needs practice to sense the situation where you would step in to help.
Lastly you should build some showcase project (even without charge) to do prove a concept or an idea. Word of mouth publicity can come from such small but important steps
Hoe that helps
GOOD for you! Just keep in mind that consulting services are highly competitive these days (everyone and their brother claims to be a consultant) I would suggest that you find a niche for your specialty. I, for example am focused on Native American organizations and helping businesses penetrate the Native Market. Think about what your potential target clients might find MOST appealing about you and your skills? Best of luck to you!