5 Tips for building a top notch consulting business

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

You already have the expertise and the contacts. So what do you do next? Here's a good place to start.

1. Find a way to exploit specific knowledge gaps.

Your prospective clients most probably have smart talent. If they didn't, they would want to hire a full-time employee, not a consultant. Your prospective client seeks outside expertise because they're exploring unfamiliar problems, markets, or methodologies. They need objective insight that cannot be provided in-house. That's where you come in. Although your knowledge is specialised, teach whats transferrable so your value is remembered and applied  in your absence.  When the basics are not enough, you'll be called in again.

2. Focus on relationships, not revenues.

Consulting is a business based on relationships. Listen before you speak. Never discuss cost before first discussing your client's specific needs and objectives. Few businesses look to hire consultants on a regular or recurring basis, so make sure you're keep in contact with connections and always be on the look out for opportunities. Above all else, maintain good rapport through your work. Reputation is everything, and it's vital to be trusted by clients.

3. Sell results, not services.

Want to be paid by the hour? Then you will always remain a commodity. Instead, let clients realise and focus on the value you create and bill on scope of work and the end result - the value. Discuss how you your expertise will be used. Provide alternative cost scenarios and value-adds, starting with your baseline requirements.

4. Employ a flexible structure.

Some consulting firms thrive on recurring revenue or monthly retainers. If you however have done the job right and you have solved the client's problem, be ready to move on. You decide which is best for your client. Remember, your reputation is everything.

5. Always be closing.

To succeed as a consultant, as much time must be devoted to acquiring new business as performing assigned tasks. Any downtime should be reinvested into business development. Presenting a mix of case studies, testimonials, and client showcases can also prove a powerful business driver. Prospective clients want to see what you've done, so they know what you're capable of doing.

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