How to Get Clients in a New Market with No Connections

Get-Clients-No-Connections

Here’s a consulting question I received as part of the “Ask Michael” series:

“My target customers are mid-sized manufacturing companies.  I don’t have any connections in my networks to the decision makers of such companies.  Besides cold calling, how can I reach the decision makers of my target group? “

This is a common question. Many consultants find themselves in when they are new to consulting or have moved to a new geography.

In response to this question, I would ask:

  • Have you attended any trade shows for this industry?
  • Have you written any articles for the publications that the decisions makers in this industry read?
  • Have you put on any talks or workshops for this industry?
  • Have you run any type of webinar or online program for these executives?

Cold-calling can work. But it takes a lot of work.

The approach I prefer is:

  • Figure out who your ideal consulting clients are
  • What their biggest problem(s) are
  • Offer them something of value to show them you’re an authority and expert
  • Then you’ll be well placed to have a discussion with them about how you can help them

This is a quick outline of a much more detailed process you’ll learn in the Marketing for Consultants program.

How to Become a Consultant While Working Full-Time

Full-time-work-Consulting

Here’s a consulting question I received as part of the “Ask Michael” series:

“Michael,

One of my greatest concerns about incorporating and starting my own biz is loss of access to unemployment benefits and jobs should I decide to re-enter corporate America if the biz does not do as well as expected financially.

I’ve seen some peers get laid off, start their own biz, lose unemployment benefits, access to corporate jobs because they see you started your own company, so they don’t want to hire you corporately anymore, so while you’re waiting for the biz to grow, financial survival has been hard for some.

Your thought, tips, ideas on moving through this dangerous maze during a very difficult economic time?

Charles”

Hi Charles,

This is a common situation and question I get. It sounds like you’re unsure whether consulting is right for you. You have hesitations in jumping into the profession full-time.

One idea for you is to start consulting on the side while you still have your corporate job. Continue Reading

Consulting Associations List and Websites

Just the other day I got another email from a blog reader that is starting a consulting business asking what consulting associations I would recommend.

This all depends on your location, what you are looking to get out of it (certification, networking, etc), your budget and so on.

So instead of making a recommendation (which I can’t because there are just too many variables) here is a list of consulting and related associations you may find helpful.

Association of Management Consulting Firms
Association of Professional Consultants
Canadian Association of Management Consultants
Independent Computer Consultants Association
International Association of Registered Financial Consultants
Institute of Management Consultants
International Council of Management Consulting Institutes
Professional and Technical Consultants Association
American Marketing Association
Direct Marketing Association
Canadian Marketing Association
Word of Mouth Marketing Association
The National Association of Sales Professionals
Direct Selling Association
National Retail Federation
SMEI The worldwide professional association for sales & marketing
Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization
Information Technology Association of America
IWA – International Webmasters Association
International Association for Wedding Professionals
International Branding Association
International Advertising Association

There are many, many more associations out there. So if you think I missed one that you’d like to see on this list, let us know in the comments below.

 

What Tools Do You Need to Start Your Own Consulting Business

Whether as a primary or supplementary source of income, starting a consulting business is a fantastic way to market on your existing skills and interests. A consulting business allows you to remain in control of your employment life, but it also puts all the responsibility on you to remain gainfully employed in this new venture. Therefore as with any new business, success in a new consulting business requires starting with the right set of tools.

Inner Tools

Before getting to the tools out there in the world you’ll need to gather to start your own consulting business, there is a separate set of tools you’ll need first if your business is to ever succeed. This prerequisite set of tools are inner tools, that is knowledge, skills and, above all, desire.

If you need training in any areas, it’s best to know now and get a move on it before it comes around to sabotage you later.

Before venturing to start any business, consulting or otherwise, a person should always take the time to ask themselves some serious questions…and answer honestly. Questions such as:

  • What skills you have to offer as a consultant? (IT, fundraising, design)
  • What skills do you have to run a business? (marketing, accounting, HR)
  • Are you willing to work long hours? Collect overdue payments?
  • Are you willing to go out and network? Conduct your own marketing, including market research?

In short, a consulting business requires you wear two hats at once: Consultant and Business Owner. And both roles have to be up to par. Fortunately gaps in skill and knowledge can always be filled if the desire and willingness are there. But if you need training in any areas, it’s best to know now and get a move on it before it comes around to sabotage you later.

A Consulting Business Plan

The best businesses start with a plan. A good idea is only that – a good idea – until it’s put into action, and the most reliable way spur effective action is with a plan. But more than that, when you go out looking for startup capital to fund your business, the people you’ll be asking for money are going to want to see your business plan.

Creating your business plan also gives you time to address all the foreseeable challenges ahead before you’re presented with them. For example, will you be consulting people one-on-one or in groups? Where will you perform this consulting? Who is your competition and what makes you different? How do you plan to dominate this competition? Who is your target demographic: the social/economic profile of your ideal and anticipated clients? And how do you plan to reach them? Continue Reading

What Pokemon and My 10 Year Old Son Taught Me About Bootstrapping

My 10-year-old son loves Pokemon trading cards, though for the life of me, I don’t understand why. Lately, he’s been taking initiative around the house, doing odd jobs to earn money.  Now that he’s got some cash, he’s eager to burn it on a $12 pack of 60 Pokemon cards, and is badgering my wife and I to take him to Target so he can buy them.

Being a cheap bastard, I think $12 for 60 cards is an outrageous ripoff, and I told him as much (leaving it to him to figure out that I’m a cheap bastard).  My wife and I refused to let him spend $12 on 60 cards, and I suggested he find some other way to acquire Pokemon cards.

His first ideas were even worse:  He said he could buy 25 cards for $8.  Or that he could trade them with other kids at school (keep in mind that the school prohibits buying/selling/trading stuff…), though the last time he did that, he got ripped off by one of his friends (which is exactly why the school prohibits this kind of thing).

I told him about start-up companies that start with little or no funding, but have a lot of needs:  computers, office space, furniture, employees, marketing, etc., and how they have to bootstrap to make things work until they have enough cash to pay for the things they need.  I told him that bootstrapping often means figuring out Continue Reading

Start Your Consulting Business Affordably

Today’s guest post was written by BCB reader, Kalen Smith. Kalen writes tips about financial management and consulting over at Engineer-a-Business.com

Some businesses can take weeks or months before they generate revenue. Bill collectors don’t wait for your business to take off. It is important that you manage your expenses carefully in the early months while you are building your client base. You also need to be careful after your business takes off, because economic problems and delinquent customers are a fact of life for every business.

First of all, you need to estimate your expenses and know how long you will be able to pay them yourself. Ideally, you will have saved up enough to cover both your personal and business expenses for several months before you go into consulting. In this economy, this isn’t always possible. Many professionals are forced into being freelancers after they have been laid off from their full-time jobs.

Keep Your Confidence in Check

Small business owners sometimes get overly confident about their abilities to save money in times of prosperity. It is easy for them to return to the mindset they were in when they were doing the same task for a fixed salary. They forget that they are on a feast or famine cycle.

Know Your Limit
This is why you should always review your budget. If you make 10% more than you expected one month, there will probably be another month when you are down by at least 10%. Don’t splurge excess earnings. Invest them in something that will provide a measurable return for your business. If possible, invest in something that is fairly liquid or provides an immediate return in case you end up in a bind later on.

Save Money with Technology
One of the best ways to save money is to be up to date on technologies that allow you to work more efficiently. The average monthly phone bill for a small business is about $75, but email and services like Skype are free. If you have to maintain a record on everything you do with your business, reduce your printing costs by keeping those records electronic whenever possible.

Play it Smart
Obviously, don’t be pennywise and pound-foolish. You need to justify spending money on new equipment. Try to take advantage of free and open source software, rather than spending several hundred dollars on an official version of a program that does essentially the same thing. Take advantage of discount programs on new software and equipment, but make sure you know what you are buying.

Becoming a freelancer in a recession isn’t impossible. For many unemployed professionals, it was the only way they could survive. In order to make it in this economy, you only need two things: faith in yourself and a disciplined strategy for saving money.

Consulting Ideas to Make Your Mark

So you want to break into the field and are looking for consulting business ideas to launch your new career. Getting started can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

First let’s clear up one big misconception. Good consulting ideas come from a wide-range of specialists and areas of expertise. When you say “consultant” most people instantly have the image of a business consultant, a marketing consultant, someone in pr consulting or even management consulting. But things have changed…

Nowadays you can be a consultant in almost any industry imaginable. That’s why we now have wedding consultants, SEO consultants, social media consultants, cosmetic consultants, food consultants and mining consultants …. boy-oh-boy the list goes on and on. Continue Reading

Using Online Marketplaces to Generate Income

I have no idea who created this video but if you’ve ever wondered about offering your consulting services through elance.com, guru.com, odesk.com or any other online marketplace, this video does a pretty good job at outlining the benefits.

The author won’t reveal his whole method, seems like he stops at part three, and maybe his secret ‘OD’ stands for over-deliver? Who knows.

He’s likely trying to sell something here, a course or book on his “method” most likely.

The video is a bit loose, but it does make some good points. Mainly:

1. That online market places aren’t only for low paying jobs
2. That this is a great way to get your feet wet, add some new clients and test your skills

Top Reasons to Start a Consulting Business

Choosing to start a consulting business could change your future, for several reasons. Business owners often seek the assistance of a knowledgeable professional to get their venture off the ground, improve sales, build a stronger client base, or fine-tune struggling marketing efforts.

Whether or not you’re already involved in the field, there are a variety of paybacks that stem from helping others shape their own successes. If you are having doubts about the possibility of starting your own business, I think it’s important that you first explore the long list of benefits to joining this field.

Low-Cost Venture
Getting started in the business consulting world may prove to be an enjoyable experience. Unlike many other start-ups, this type of work requires very little equipment and can be performed in a variety of settings, including a home-based venture. If you own a computer and a few basic office supplies, the brunt of your shopping is already done. In fact, start-up costs can be so low that you may be able to establish your own business without any need for investors or bank loans. Continue Reading

3 Tips to Start a Consulting Business

In this video Josh Feinberg provides 3 tips to help you start a consulting business. This video is geared towards IT or computer consulting but the principles can be applied to any consulting field.

Here’s the summary:

  1. Consulting is as much about people skills as it is about technical ones.
  2. Don’t worry too much about having certifications
  3. Small business owners want complete solutions, not just consulting often, but implementation as well.

Josh’s video will be elementary for many. That said there are some good principles. I should also mention that it looks like Josh has a course for IT consultants or at least that’s what following the link on his video seems to get it. I don’t know much about Josh and haven’t seen his product but if you’re in the field you might want to check it out.

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