The Most Essential Skill You’ll Need to Succeed in Your Consulting Practice

Jul 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Business Start-up Strategies, Coaching/Mentoring Success Strategies, Create Additional Streams of Income

by Becky Regan

After reading the first article in this series in my last newsletter, you may have completed the self-assessment questions to determine whether self-employment as an independent consultant is the right career path choice for you. Now that you’ve decided to select self-employment as your next career choice, what other essential skills do you need in order to run a successful consulting practice?

When I started, no one told me how critical it would be to market my business. Quite honestly, I was clueless! It’s become increasingly obvious over the years I’ve been in business to realize that marketing is the most critical skill you’ll need to grow your business over time. I’ve heard many marketing gurus say that as a small business owner your primary skill becomes marketing while your secondary skill becomes your chosen field of expertise.

My ears perked up when I first heard this statement because I felt as though it was backwards. I thought you had to first be an expert in your field versus being good at marketing your business. But after further consideration, it’s clear that if you can’t or don’t attract clients, it won’t matter whether you’re knowledgeable in your field! You won’t be able to sustain your business long enough for it to matter! And soon you’ll find yourself back in the job market for full-time employment.

In transitioning from full-time employment to your own business, as a part of your exit strategy try to secure a contract with your current employer. In doing so, you’ll have immediate work, ongoing cash flow and a reference to use in marketing your business to other clients. It also makes the statement that you left your last job on good terms with your former employer.

An amazing transformation slowly occurs over time once you’ve become self-employed as you embark upon developing and executing your marketing strategy. You’ll find that you’re continually marketing through different a mix of mediums.

Begin with the basics by identifying your target market. Create a visual image of your ideal client sitting across the desk from you. Who are they? What are their demographics (age, sex, socio-economic, size & industry of organization they work for, education, etc.)? What interests do they have? What publications do they read, what functions do they attend, what organizations and groups do they belong to? Get a clear picture of your typical client because you need to build your marketing campaign around that vision to attract that client.

Once you’ve defined your target market, you can begin to build a targeted, effective marketing campaign. Identify how much you can afford to spend over the first year and literally calendar out your marketing strategy using a mix of marketing endeavors such as speaking, building a website, direct mail, networking, advertising in publications and more.

Effective ways to market your business include:

  • Speaking engagements
  • Website
  • Postcards and other direct mail campaigns
  • Newsletter (hard copy or email)
  • Networking
  • Advertising

Marketing is very simple in that it boils down to connecting with potential clients to build effective business relationships over time. That’s the bottom line: you want your target market to remember you and contact you when they need your services. You have to continually remind them that you’re there to help them when they need you.

While the ultimate goal of marketing is simple, your marketing strategy and plan development is complex. It will cost you many thousands of dollars and hours to build an effective marketing program for your business. Give it the consideration it deserves as it will make or break your success as an independent consultant. Marketing truly is the most essential skill you’ll need to develop to build your consulting practice.

Copyright 2010, Regan HR, Inc.

Becky Regan, M.A., CCP began her own consulting practice in 1995, Regan HR, Inc. to provide human resources consulting services to businesses in California. Her work as a consultant includes the full spectrum of HR technical expertise with an expertise in compensation studies. In addition to consulting with clients, in 2008 Becky expanded her practice to include online marketing of her custom HR products and established coaching programs for developing HR professionals. For more HR tips and to receive her FRE*E special report, visit http://www.ReganHR.com

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