There is a lot of crap out there about consulting. A lot of crap from people who are going to promise you a 7 figure consulting income, and all you have to do is buy their book. And then when you front up the cash, what are they selling? A guide to selling other consultants on how to become consultants. It's a goddamn pyramid scheme is what it is. The chances of you making money in it? Sweet zero.
But consulting is still a great business to start. A consulting business has low overheads, almost all profit and a pretty low risk factor. It's a business that anyone can own, as long as they first have a great deal of expertise in one particular niche, field, industry or role. This isn't something you can just make up. It's something that must be worked at, and it's something you must have real world skills in.
This is why I started out as a marketing consultant.
I have years of experience in the field. I didn't wake up one day and call myself a consultant. I worked for about 10 years doing marketing and communications work, and that's the kind of experience you cannot buy. So when I set up shop with Reach Genius and our parent company Creatomic, none of it was hot air. I don't do hot air. I do real, practical work.
When you're starting as a consultant, pick something you have real and tangible evidence of your expertise in. A consultant's role is not to bamboozle people into thinking they're worth paying for. A consultant's role is to provide real, actionable value to clients.
Your first step to getting those clients is proving expertise.
Seriously. You need to be developing your intellectual property from day one. By this, I'm talking about creating content, white papers, educational materials, articles, books, podcasts...none of it has to be hugely popular, none of it has to generate immense amounts of traffic, it just has to be high quality. Don't just throw a bunch of things on a website and call it a day; ask what people who are your ideal customers want, and provide it in the form of real intellectual property.
Your value is you. Your value is your knowledge and your skill. You use this body of work to demonstrate and prove it to your audience so that they know you are trustworthy and that paying you for your services is the smart thing to do.
You generate your clients through your network.
When you have a body of intellectual property, your step to generating clients isn't going online and tweeting a bunch of things into the void. That's not going to move the needle. It's reaching out to the people in your network and demonstrating your value through your intellectual property that you provide to them and push in front of them.
When you've shown that value, it's about asking people for referrals, connections and work based on your intellectual property, Your network is full of warm leads, it's full of people who can help. Reaching out to them is the best way to generate business.
That's a basic introduction to building a consulting business. Here's something you don't want to hear. You're going to need to work hard. There are no 4 hour work weeks in consulting. But if you put in the time and put in the hours, you can turn it into a highly successful business. Believe me.