Top business consultants know the tricks of the trade, helping them to create a long list of accomplishments that span a variety of industries.
There are several crucial components that mix together to form the perfect balance of professionalism and approachability, and these are not taken lightly by the experts. Experienced business consultants know that the key to success is meeting the clients’ expectations, which can range from expertise to training to timelines.
A Straightforward Approach to Prep Time
More often than not, clients are eager to get down to business. While many hope to see overnight results, researching, planning and implementing take time. While it can be difficult for new consultants to set time frames for themselves and the client, this is a vital aspect of a well-oiled relationship.
Even if you expect the work to take months, it is absolutely necessary to provide an honest time estimate, or you may appear unprofessional in the end. Developing a time line is easier than you may think, as long as you allow sufficient room for revisions and client modifications.
Creating a String of Manageable Tasks
To begin devising a time estimate, break down the project into small tasks. List everything from the initial meeting to the final presentation, and assign a reasonable length of time to each task. Be sure to include additional hours for research, discussions with the client, phone calls and inquiries, and laying out the information in appealing manner.
It is all too easy to underestimate the length of time required for a consulting endeavour in the early stages of a career, so if you are struggling to set limits for each task, it might be helpful to enlist the assistance of a mentor or acquaintance. If you have yet to make any contacts in the field, seek the advice of a professional association, preferably one of which you are a member.
Catering to the Client
Once you are satisfied with the total number of hours required for the project, present it to the client in its purest form. However, the business owner does not need to account for every minute, so it is wise to split the tasks into larger groups and allocate a specific amount of time for each section.
For example, divide the project into a series of four or five phases and provide a few details about each phase. This way, the client will know where their hard-earned money is being spent, without acquiring an opportunity to dissect the length of time attributed to individual tasks. Remember, anyone can lay the groundwork, but only the top business consultants can follow through on a deadline.