Today, we’re going to talk about consulting startups, or how to start a consulting business and grow fast.
This livestream will be loosely based on this article: 7 Skills To Become A Business Consultant
For a couple of reasons, the first is it is being that so many companies have sent the workforce home that they’re working remotely, that we are working … It’s interesting because I was joking with my wife, we have been kind of preparing for this for 13 years now because we work from home, so we have gotten used to working from home.
So it’s just kind of something that we do, and everybody else now was working from home. So there are the challenges of working from home, of remote work as the kitchen is right downstairs, there’s the family room is right there. You can go and just do whatever you want unless you have discipline and fortitude and all that other stuff.
But one of the reasons I wanted to talk about consulting startups or becoming a consultant is because right now is a great time to branch out on your own if that is something you’re interested in. So there was actually, we wrote an article a long, long time ago, probably three years ago, Seven Skills to Becoming a Business Consultant. So I’m just going to drop it in the comments here.
For those of you who are over … if you’re on my personal profile then flip over to The Done For You page because that way you can ask some questions there. If you would like to ask questions, which I highly encourage you to, we don’t get much interaction on these things yet, which is fine, whatever, but I still like to know that somebody is watching. So that’s good.
But basically, when it comes to the kind of consulting startup that we’re looking to pull off, there’s a couple of things that you need to kind of take stock of. So there are some assets that you have that you might not necessarily even know that you have. So some of those assets are your experience. The value, kind of the things that you’ve been through, the things that you’ve lived through, the things that you have gone through in your life or in your career, they have value.
So the fact that you navigated the waters on a stormy acquisition deal or the fact that you were able to lead your team of 12 to a product launch in half the time that it normally takes, or you are a programmer who navigated, who facilitated bringing six government databases together into one database and then rolled it out to an entire organization, or whatever. So those are all challenges that you have been able to get past and.
Everybody has those challenges, the thing is kind of taking stock of your inventory and understanding what kind of value that brings. What were the high points in your career? What were some of the things that you were able to do and live through? So that’s always one of the … It serves a dual purpose.
The first is the more you can bring to the table, the more you can charge, the more value you’re going to have for your clients. But it also means every consultant, every coach, they sell themselves to a degree. So the fact is you’re going to have to sell yourself to your clients on a very consistent basis. It’s not just the first time but then every interaction after that, there’s still some amount of selling that goes on. You need to cultivate and nurture that relationship so that they get value at every turn of it.
So what does a consultant do? What does a business consultant do? Very simply, the answer is a business consultant helps its clients. At the end of the day, that’s really what they are there for. Now, coaches and consultants are a little bit different. So the way I look at … or I actually read something a while ago, a coach is going to ask you the questions that will help you arrive at the destination yourself. So a coach is a little bit more like a therapist in that they ask the questions and they pull that thing out of you.
A consultant is going to be the person who researches said thing. They perfect it. They write an instruction manual on it and then they give you that instruction manual and say, “Here, go do it on your own.” So in both situations, you’re leading your client to water, but the tactics are just a little bit different.
I am more of a consultant than a coach. I tend not to ask questions. So I tend to draw on my experience and my knowledge and my skills, and my knowhow and then answer questions before the client even knows they have those questions, AKA Done For You. I mean it’s just I’ve naturally fell into this role based on my own skillset. Whereas a coach, a coach is going to lead you to water through your own realizations. That’s really the primary difference between the two.
What do you need to be a consultant to actually do a consulting startup, a shop, a gig, whatever, what do you need?
What do you need to start consulting business?
First of all, you need a website. You need to have somewhere online that says this is what you do, this is what you specialize in. This is what you’re an expert in. These are the kinds of clients that you serve.
Whether it’s software companies or management teams or executives, or you’re a consultant for consultants or whatever. You have to basically plant your stick in the sand and say, “This is what I do.” And that is through a website.
2. Landing Page / Lead Magnet
Then you also need like kind of sales funnels and sales automation and sales processes, and all that other stuff, you need the inbound thing too. You need a landing page, you need a lead magnet. Something that talks about what you do. A six to eight-page report that talks about your skillset or even help gives an aha moment to your prospective client that shows that you are the expert that you say you are.
For example. So let’s say you’ve led a programming team to consolidate six databases into one and roll it out to a company. So your lead magnet is going to be technical in nature. You might talk about SQL and Queries and all that other stuff, and you might talk about the databases or the programming language, or the four things that you did to consolidate these databases so that when a prospect goes through it they read themselves into the story.
They’re like, “Oh, geez. I mean, if he helped them do this then he’s going to be perfect for helping me do my thing.” So that’s where your lead magnet comes in. It also is immediate gratification. So people who download that lead magnet, read that lead magnet, they’re going to be able to just know really, really quickly that you know what the hell you’re talking about. So that’s the idea there.
3. Automated Webinar
You’re also going to need an automated webinar because a consulting startup – business consulting – is a complex sale. It’s also an expensive sale. So it’s not like we’re selling a $37 consulting package. No way. Your consulting startup funnel is going to be, somebody signs up for your webinar, on the webinar you’re going to pitch a strategy session or an action plan call or whatever.
On that strategy session, you are going to sell them into your coaching package. That probably is going to be a proposal. So you’re going to send them out a proposal and then they’re going to be able to check it out, check out the deliverables, the timelines, all of that stuff, and then say yes or no. Then as long as they accept the proposal, then you get paid and you onboard your clients. So that’s kind of the buying cycle of a consultant.
In the meantime, you have marketing automation that’s running in the background. So if they sign up for the webinar but don’t attend or don’t schedule a call, they get emails about that. If they don’t sign up for the webinar they get emails about that, but the emails and the SMS messages and all that stuff really just fire when they’re supposed to fire based on what they do. Then you would split test those pages.
Top Skills of a Business Consultant
Basically, the biggest thing is that you have a trust-based relationship with your client. You’re really supposed to serve your clients in what they need you to serve in. It’s going to be something that you have experience in or else they wouldn’t be doing business with you.
At the same time, you set the parameters around that relationship. If you only want to work from 9:00 to 5:00, then in your proposal or you need to state that you only want to work from 9:00 to 5:00. It’s not you don’t expect that you’re going to be getting an 11 o’clock phone call saying, “Hey come fix this now.” You want to aside from just making sure that your client understands what they’re going to be receiving, you also need to make sure to have your own guidelines communicated in there so that they know what’s going on.
How you make money as a consultant?
How you make money is an interesting thing. There are all kinds of different ways to offer products and services out of your consulting startup. The most common is going to be like a contract-based relationship. Where you sign a six-month or a 12-month deal or a three-month deal, or whatever, and every month you get paid this or there’s like a certain fee for the life of that 12-month contract. Typically that’s all going to be a proposal and then invoiced.
You can do a month-to-month consultant relationship, but a lot of times the consulting startup projects that you take on are going to be project-based, or at least that’s how they’re going to start. They’re going to start with project-based work. So that project is going to have a fee, it’s going to have a dollar sign associated with it, which is fine. Maybe that extends to a recurring monthly relationship and maybe it doesn’t. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be some sort of an invoice thing. That’s how you end up making money.
There are a couple of other ways. I mean you can do a portion of revenue, you can do a portion of the profit. You can do a percentage of new sales on a product line or something like that. You can do an equity relationship too. It really just depends on what you’re looking to get out of it, how many clients you’re looking to take on, how complex the deal is, what you’re doing for the client. But those are just some of the parameters in generating and figuring out how you’re going to make money.
Now people skills are your biggest asset when it comes to a consultant. Even the first couple of folks that I hired for us, I was most worried about how are your email skills, how are your phone skills, how do you communicate with clients? Really at the end of the day, the communication piece is paramount.
I’m a copywriter so I tend to dig into this stuff more than perhaps I should, especially when it’s text-based because I am so deliberate about the words that I choose in everything that I write. It’s watching me write an email to somebody I’m sure is grueling because it’s like, “Where are backspace, backspace?” Unfortunately, it’s just how it works.
In your consulting startup; being personal, being approachable, being able to communicate with your clients and your client’s teams even are going to be some of your biggest assets. One of the biggest things that that you need to do in order to make sure to get right.
Another thing is business consultants are always learning. At the end of the day, business consultants are reading. They are trying to learn more. They are looking for ways that one client can feed another client. Something that one client is doing, move it into a different vertical or from a different client. Then kind of spur the insights here? It’s one of the benefits of working with multiple clients. It’s one of the benefits to your clients when you work in multiple projects or multiple verticals.
I actually was listening to a book called Free PR this morning. The author was talking about bringing your PR staff in-house. It’s a great idea, rather than hiring a PR company because your in-house PR person is going to do better than your PR firm. I totally get and I understand.
Serving and working with a bunch of different clients, I can’t tell you how many realizations that I’ve had. One client is doing something in one space, in one silo, like in one vertical. We move it to another vertical and then all of a sudden this vertical take-off. We move it to another in this vertical. It’s just this cascading effect. If I wouldn’t have learned it over here, I would’ve never applied it here.
In that sense, you’re learning from everything around you and putting it into your consulting startup. You’re learning from books, from courses, from clients, from even going, leaving the office, and just taking a walk around Walmart and seeing what some of the big corporate companies are doing with their ePrint cards or whatever, like their pricing. There are all kinds of different ways that you can leverage technology and leverage what other people are doing to consistently learn and bring it back to your clients. That’s really the goal of it all.
The lens that you look at the world through, that’s unique to you. The questions that you ask are unique to you. The realizations that you have and the experience that you have are unique to you. So you turning around and helping your companies, helping your clients with those realizations is what is going to keep you around and what is going to keep you getting paid. So that’s the benefit of being a consultant right now.
Now saying no to consulting startup work. I mean, saying no is you obviously want to make sure that you’re doing the thing that is the highest and best use of your time, without a doubt. Now, that’s really all I’m going to say there. I mean, if it doesn’t serve you, if it’s not in your wheelhouse in terms of experience if it’s not in your wheelhouse in terms of pricing, don’t do it. Just say no. That’s all.
Let’s see, how to become a business consultant as in starting up. So your business consulting startup can be and should be entirely virtual at first. So you should master the tools that you need to grow online in an inbound based environment, which means you need to master websites, you need a master email marketing, you need to master webinars, even live streams. You need to engage and embrace the technology that will let you reach out to more people and that is especially true right now.
Who knows what’s going to happen after this lockdown lifts, are people going to go back to work? Maybe. Are companies going to just start selling all their office buildings because it worked well enough from a remote standpoint? Maybe. Are all of a sudden environmental regulation going to come down because smog is finally lifting and rivers are cleaning all because we haven’t left their house in a week and a half? Maybe.
There are so many different things that we don’t know yet and that’s the biggest thing. So you mastering these virtual tools right now and using this as an opportunity to get into and understand how business is done virtually is of huge benefit to you and your freedom and your fulfillment and your satisfaction moving forward.
So leverage your website, leverage Zoom, leverage, Skype and Slack and email marketing, and all of those things for your consulting startup. When you’re starting up or in growing your consulting startup, the things that you must do right now because it will let you continue leveraging your business in the future.
Your business can be entirely virtual. It needs to be entirely virtual. Literally, every client that you need is right in your pocket. You can reach every client through your cell phone. So the goal is understanding that there are different ways to engage them. How warm somebody is, is … Engaging a prospect now is about embracing the ad funnel, embracing how people go from being cold to being warm relatively quickly.
So that’s the idea behind ad funnels here. I’m going to pull up … so I’m hoping that this is going to share okay. But what I wanted to do was kind of pull up a little … So I’m going to stop sharing my screen and I’m going to show my entire screen and then I’m hoping that you’re going to be able to see this. So I’m going to pull up just my iPad here. All right. So you should be able to see my screen right now. Then what I can do is I can actually write here. Can you see that? All right, cool.
This is an app that I use called Notability. I love it. But anyway, so we’re just going to leave this stuff. Now as people engage with you, how it works is you have this rolling window or you have cold traffic and then you have warm traffic. How it works is over here you have your social media profiles.
In your consulting startup, these are people who are Facebook, Instagram, whatever. They haven’t necessarily done anything but they’re becoming aware of you. So this is what we call awareness and then the rest of this equation is AIDA. So awareness, interest, desire, and action.
Now, AIDA is something that’s been around forever. So I think it’s 130, 140 years old. I learned about it in Marketing 101, and I thought it was shit at first. Not really, but literally I learned about it and I was like, “Oh this is interesting,” and then quickly forgot about it. Then once I discovered that this is kind of what I do only online, you read it in a textbook and because you read it in a textbook, like in your mind, it doesn’t really apply to how business is done anymore. So I just kind of discounted it.
Then as I start learning how to drive traffic and build sales funnels and everything, I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s what this is. I mean, it’s AIDA.” So your awareness is your social profiles. So you can think of this as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, even your blog. So these are people who are learning about you but they haven’t necessarily done anything just yet.
So the next space over, people who have taken an interest in you. These are people who like your stuff, they share your stuff, they opt-in, so they engage with you on a more deep level than just kind of viewing your stuff. So they here are raising their hand and saying, “Yes, I want more.”
Now, usually, there’s some sort of a buying mechanism or a sales mechanism that pulls them over into this next stage of your consulting startup… Which is desire. So here there’s usually like … I’m going to pick purple, a VSL, a webinar, VSL for a video sales letter, a webinar or maybe a case study, or an advertorial that increases their desire and gets them to click a CTA, which is a call to action. That call to action is going to be buying something. So pull out your credit card and purchase. Yeah, basically pull out your credit card and purchase.
That’s how you make money from your consulting startup.
Another one here is going to be a sales call. Now, your CTA is going to lead to action. Oops. So the action here, and the action is going to be your order form, so order form, shopping cart, invoice, contract sign. Yeah, whatever that ends up being.
So what happens is they progress from cold to warm and this is how the sales material ends up taking shape. So they have … you start here, you have your social profiles, Facebook, Instagram, whatever. Then they move over into like the piece. They like or share or opt-in. So now they are committed and the interesting piece can be broken down even further.
But then they go through some sort of sales material, sales call, VSL, webinar. There is some piece of copy that transforms the relationship from, “Hey you’re pretty cool here,” to all of a sudden, “I want to do business.” So that’s where this transformative sales copy ends up being. Then here we actually present them with the thing where they take their action, the order form, invoice, contract. Then over here, here we have our fulfillment. Oops, full bill. That is terribly ugly, but you get it. So fulfillment over here.
Now, what we do from an ad standpoint is we’ll start with cold and then we warm them up, and we follow them as they progress through their cycle. So if they visit the blog, if they like us on Facebook, whatever, then they start seeing our cold ads or that would be a little bit warmer ads.
The cold ads go in here, and then here ends up getting some more ads. We get them opted in, which sends them into a sales piece. Then if they drop off, if they don’t buy after watching the webinar, then they come back in from an ad standpoint. We try to pull them into the shopping cart. All of it ends up working together and pulls them through the sales process.
Your consulting, your consulting startup companies can be the same way. People are going to warm up to you, then they’re going to opt-in for your email list because of your lead magnet. They are going to register for your webinar. On the webinar, they’re going to be pitched a call to action to then jump on a sales call. Then they’re going to sign a contract. So that’s how the relationship ends up unfolding.
So hopefully you got all that. All right, cool. So let’s see, I’m going to pull this from the stream, and then I’m going to share the screen again. We’re going to go back to our post, Seven Skills You Need to Know. All right, perfect.
What To Offer Your Clients
You might think about offering a daylong business consulting startup package. I have had a lot of friends and clients who basically say, “It’s $10,000 a day, $5,000 a day. You fly me to where you are and I will work with your team. $25,000 a day to help you get your shit straight.”
That has worked out pretty well for a number of people. I haven’t done the travel thing, but we have been paid for days and hours and everything. You might consider a monthly consulting retainer where you do work on the phone with them or virtually, or you have some deliverables that you pull off for them. You can do digital products or memberships that kind of bundle your knowledge into a course, and then offer to consult on an upsell, and then books and eBooks kind of fall into that same model.
If you’re really ambitious, you can do a multi-day event. Obviously not right now because no events are allowed to happen anywhere ever again, but you can do some multi-day events. If they are even still around in six months when this thing lifts, who knows, everything might be Zoom?
Many of our clients are moving their events to Zoom and to other virtual platforms. Yeah, they’ll still work, the live events, but will they work as well? I don’t know. I think we’re training people with this moment to expect digital. The adoption has had to be so quick and so rapid that it’s just we’ve moved them into something else, into something different.
When I got started as a business consultant, I was doing consulting startup work. Then what I found personally was that when I wanted somebody to do something or when I told somebody to do something, they didn’t do it. Then that made me feel like shit because they didn’t do it. They didn’t follow through, they didn’t execute. Get the results that I knew they needed to get because it was their execution.
I started doing it, writing the copy, writing the emails, writing the sales copy, whatever. That led me to create Done For You. So that was kind of the transition that I went through in my business. The goal really is you need to specialize in something.
Specialize in one thing. You don’t want to just be a business consultant, you want to be a sales process business consultant. Also, you want to be an expert in automation, an expert in tech, an expert in business coding, evangelist, superstar, or whatever, an outsourcing business consultant. You want to make sure that whatever it is you’re doing, you specialize in that space.
You want to focus on that thing because then clients are going to be attracted to you like a lightning bolt. They will be. So just specialize in something, and that something needs to match your why. It needs to be something that you are passionate about. It needs to be something you wake up in the morning. You feel like giving the highest and best use of your time to your clients.
When that happens, then you can scale your business to the Moon. You can do so effortlessly and enjoyably. There’s a lot of syllables in those words. At the end of the day, that’s really all there is to it.
This video, of course, is streaming on Facebook and YouTube, so you can watch it anytime. There’s literally an entire masterclass worth of nuggets here. If you have any questions at all, go to doneforyou.com/startsetupanactionplancall. We’ll jump on the phone and walk through the business model, the sales process. All of that stuff and put together an action plan for you to get started.
If you have any questions at all about anything then go to doneforyou.com/gsd. There’s a little from there you can ask the questions.