8 Tips for Independent Consultants to Jump-Start Business
As a Certified Professional Organizer® one of the services I offer is coaching new professional organizers to help them start their business and guide them to success. Here are eight business strategies that can help any independent contractor build their business and position themselves for victory in a competitive market.
- Own your decision. Whenever I am asked, “How do I start a business as a consultant?” my answer is always the same: “Say you are one!” If you’ve made the decision to follow your bliss and do the work you were born to do, own it! If you are starting out part-time and still working a job, forget to mention the job when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Don’t say, I work at a real estate office, but I’m starting my own consulting business, just say with pride and confidence, “I’m a consultant!”
2. Get comfortable with public speaking. I remember the first time I spoke in front of a group. My heart was pounding so hard, I thought everyone could see it. But with time and practice, I can now face an audience with self-assurance. Public speaking is a great way to get clients. You are not only offering information, but also establishing yourself as an expert. I was a member of Toastmasters International® for ten years and I cannot say enough about how helpful that was.
3. Network, network, network. People are more likely to hire you if they have met you personally and had a first-hand experience of who you are. When I first started my business in 1996, I joined the Chamber of Commerce and started meeting other professionals in my area. I also networked at my church, within a business exchange group, and through a business women’s club. Anywhere there are people, there are potential clients. Decide what to call your business, get business cards, and tell everyone you know and meet about your service.
4. Build a website as soon as you can. A website will help position you as an authority in your field and also serves as a great way for people to learn more about you. Brochures are nice, but a well-developed website rocks!
5. Become a household name. Think of a hook – a story that might interest your local media. Then pitch your story to your local newspaper or radio station. When I first started my business, I called my local paper and said, “I have a great idea for a story!” How could she resist asking, “What is it?” I said, “How about a story tracking a senior citizen as they downsize from their single family house into assisted living?” She was sold, but I didn’t even have a senior on board yet. I contacted our local assisted living facility and asked if they could recommend someone that fit this category. I was put in touch with a lovely woman and in a couple weeks we were front page news. Paid advertising is great, but nothing beats free publicity.
6. Ask everyone for referrals and recommendations. One of the best proven ways to get new business is through a referral from someone who is well-regarded and well-connected. Once you tell someone that a mutual friend, client or colleague has referred you, you already have one foot in the door.
7. Believe your price. One of the most frequently asked questions from people starting a consulting business is, “What do I charge?” If you start out too high you won’t sound convincing, and the people to whom you are quoting your price will sense your lack of confidence. If you start out too low, you may get the job, but you might end up feeling resentful and underappreciated. Ask yourself, “What is a fair, but competitive price for my time and expertise?” Other factors are how much you need to earn in order to remain motivated, to pay your bills, and feel valued.
8. Trust the Universe. Until you get established there are going to be times when business is slow and you might think you won’t make it. If you truly believe you are doing the work you were put on earth to do, you have to have faith that the Universe will support that belief. Hang in there and know that as long as you are giving it 100%, you’ll be ok. So many times, when I reaffirm that truth, the telephone rings.