If you’re looking to start a consulting business, how ready are you for high-end clients? How clear is your unique offer to the marketplace? What will you do to get the message out that you’re in business? How will things run?
In this article, you’ll learn how to set yourself up for success mentally as well as the tangible, practical operational aspects, talking through 14-weeks of achievable steps.
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Many professional experts start a consulting business or a coaching business as solopreneurs or a small partnership team. They dream about making it big and landing 6-figure clients. They see themselves living a dream life where business is booming, clients are flooding in and money worries have pretty much vanished.
All of that is certainly within your reach! You have the expertise. You have the track record, perhaps testimonials from satisfied clients. As a professional in your field, you undoubtedly understand what high-end clients want and expect when they hire consultants and coaches.
You’re good at what you do, so drive your vision, own your worth and claim your success!
But you know what? If you don’t set about starting a consulting business by planning out strategically – so your (brand) message is clear and your offer compelling – no-one will know what you can do for them. And if you’re not able to actually persuade potential clients you can deliver on your promises, they will just walk down the road (literally or digitally) to your nearest competitor.
Certainly, if you’re hoping to attract high-end clients, you’ll have to put in some work to determine if you’re ready to uplevel your performance.
If you’re already established and looking at going back to basics, you can look at this as a business makeover. Make the right impression on your target audience and you can compete alongside the big players in the consulting industry.
You need to assess whether your current products are ready for high-end clients. You need to look how to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, ensure your services and products show great value for money, identify your ideal client characteristics, craft some irresistible messaging and use marketing strategies that work for your target audience.
If you’re ready to kick start and/or up level your business to attract your most ideal and high-end clients, let’s get started!
This 14-week business start-up plan will help you if you are:
- Thinking about starting a consulting business
- Have one or more ideas for an expert business
- Just about to start a consulting business
- Started a business in the last year
- Looking to grow an existing service business
- Looking to exit a business and start a new one.
Week 1 – Make Time for Success – Your Schedule & Getting Ready!
Week 2 – Discovering Your Purpose, Value, Expertise & Market Research
Week 3 – Laser in on your Perfect Niche & ‘Competition’
Week 4 – Branding & Connecting with your Niche Market through a Core Concept
Week 5 – Getting the Right Tools for the Job in Hand
Week 6 – Plan & Create your Free Giveaway
Week 7 – Connecting Up Your Marketing Funnel
Week 8 – How to Use Social Media the Right Way for Your Brand
Week 9 – Become an Author-ity in your Niche – Content is King
Week 10 – Dominate your Niche with Blogging
Week 11 – Adding In Multiple Streams of Income
Week 12 – Attract Hot Prospects & Build Your List – Marketing Game Plan
Week 13 – Client & Customer Conversion – Where the Profit Lies!
Week 14 – Automate your Marketing – Implementing Systems in Your Business
If you take week 1 as week 0 – preparation – this is essentially a 90-day (3-month) plan, which I wrote about in my last article: How to Use 90-Day Business Plans to Grow Your Business in 2021. It’s a good solid timeframe for getting something tangible achieved.
Implementing the Plan
When you think about the highest earning consultants, coaches or other expert professionals – and I’m even including the big firms here – what comes to mind? Track record, client bank, experience, expertise, and even charisma are often at the top of the list. But would it surprise you to know that those are not the most important characteristics?
In fact, while those things do help attract and keep clients, there’s one thing that is absolutely critical to their success, and you can’t even see it.
Totally true. In everything you do, whether in business or in life, your mindset is the determining factor when it comes to your success.
Your business plans are no different. I’ve seen it time and again. I can give you a 14-week plan but no everyone will succeed with it. Not because the plan isn’t good, but because the right mindset isn’t driving it forward.
I’m a big fan of James Wedmore’s Mind Your Business podcast, because his insights on mindset are so helpful to the growth and success of my own business.
I know, all this talk about mindset may sound a bit fluffy to you, especially if you work in a very deductive and analytical field. But implementing your vision and your 14-week plan rests on you being in the driving seat, fully on board with the strategy with your belief unwavering (mostly!)
If you’re mindset is wobbly, you will forever be attracting and working with clients who—while deserving and lovely—are less than your ideal when it comes to their ability to do what’s needed to work effectively with you, and/or their ability to pay what you’re worth.
So before you can realise your dreams of 6-figure clients, or even four- or five-figure clients, you have to do some internal work.
I’m challenging you to make some changes to your own way of thinking and understanding of certain elements of marketing, sales and service delivery.
Let’s bring these more into line with CEO thinking – and what the top earners in your industry already do, how they behave and how they teach themselves to feel about challenges and things.
Here’s three shifts you might need when starting a consulting business to make to help ensure you get your plan implemented effectively.
#1 The Power of a Great Attitude
One thing charismatic and personable people have in common is a good attitude. Think about it; you’ll never see me complaining about how the kids are sick, “again!” or that the satellite repair guy is 40 minutes late, or even that the car blew a tire.
More than just being personable, whinging about stuff like that – majoring in the minors, so to speak – it’s just a waste of energy. And I like to protect my energy!
Instead, you see their expressions of gratitude in everything. If the kids are sick, they’re grateful to have a business that allows them to stay home and play nurse. If the satellite guy is late, they’re grateful to have 40 extra minutes to read a book instead of watch television. And if the car died in the middle of running a week’s worth of errands, they’re happy to have found a mechanic who does great work at a reasonable price.
There’s always a positive to be found in every niggly thing that happens, and thinking in gratitude terms really does help your business energy rather than negative whinging that hinders your energy and productivity.
If you find yourself complaining – even in your head – turn your attitude around. There’s nearly always something to be grateful for, even in the worst situations. And when you can rethink and revise your attitude for the better, you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll attract a better audience, too.
#2 Growing Your Confidence
Here’s something else top-end coaches have in common: confidence. They believe in what they do. They believe in their ability to help others achieve the same thing. They walk on stage or join a webinar filled with the knowledge that what they are about to say will change the lives of those who are listening.
It’s not cocky or arrogant, it’s just confidence. And if you don’t have it yet, you can take steps to increase it.
Start by asking yourself, in any new or uncomfortable situation, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Of those worst-case scenarios, resolve what you have control over, and let the rest go. So if you’ve agreed to speak in front of a small group of business owners, and your fear is that you’ll flub your speech, practicing beforehand will greatly improve your confidence.
Next, get inside the head of someone who is confident in what you’re about to do. Walk onto that stage as if you’ve been doing it for years, and not only will you feel more confident, but you’ll be more confident. You can use the “as if” attitude in everything from creating a new product to closing a sale. Whenever you feel your confidence failing, just remember to act as if you’ve done this successfully hundreds of times.
Just like how the person you’re talking to on the phone can hear a smile in your voice, your potential clients can sense your mindset. And if it’s not up to the standards of the top earners in your niche, you’ll struggle to make the sale. Work on your attitude and confidence levels, and watch your income soar.
#3 Building Your Credibility
Your credibility, especially online these days, is worth mega bucks to your business. Merriam-Webster defines ‘credibility’ as: “the quality or power of inspiring belief”.
Almost all new consultants believe that the quickest way to gain credibility in the marketplace is to put up a professional looking website and get your credentials (aka CV) in order.
This is partially useful, yet in order to get potential clients to ‘see’ your credibility in a way that makes them want to work with you (or sign up for your service or programme), they have to understand how you can help them and believe that you can.
Just keep in mind, it’s less about you, and more about them.
The lack of authority status is the downfall of so many new consultants, because they simply do not understand the importance of doing the ground work necessary to establish their credibility before attempting to engage with prospective clients.
Laying Strong Foundations
Your attitude, confidence and credibility – go hand in hand. These aren’t just important; they are vital in the world of consulting, and coaching too. The very competitive nature of the professional services industry is coupled with the perception of consulting as a commodity. There is also a growing scepticism about the return on investment.
Taken together, this means you can’t just hand out a business card or talk about your great “deal” and rely on blind trust to win the client.
Although you may do some networking and appointments to sit down and discuss things with a potential client, you need to have some authority status to back it up and that usually shows up in your digital presence.
Since much of your prospective clients’ research on you will be done online, you need to make sure your digital presence is telling the story you want.
Face-to-face, you get a vibe about someone, right? You make a judgement about the fit? But nowadays, there’s a lot that goes on before a client meets you, whether that’s in an office or online via zoom. You need to find a way to build rapport online. Your profile and your marketing need to speak to your most ideal clients’ needs and resonate with what they’re looking for.
The only real way we have to judge the authenticity of others is by what they say about themselves, what others say about them, and how valid, credible and reliable the information is that they publish on their websites or in the blog articles, forum posts, podcasts or videos they share.
From the clients’ point of view, credibility is all that really matters when you get right down to the nitty-gritty of sales and marketing. You may well have created an awesome offer that you’ve packaged in the best way possible and have a top-drawer sales letter. And it can still get passed by without a second glance by potential high-end clients. Why? Simply because there’s no credibility behind it.
These new consultants and coaches have very little online content; they don’t have Linkedin connections and think Facebook, Instagram and the like are a waste of time. But think about it, would you do business with someone you can’t find out much about online?
The Price of Experience
Think about credibility like this: Would you personally hire a coach who had a lot of references and plenty of experience or someone who will be coaching for the first time and has no track record that you can check to take care of your business challenges? Wait… don’t decide yet.
Let’s say that the coach with the references and the experience charges twice as much as the inexperienced coach. Hmmm… you’d probably still opt for the experienced one, right?
OK… let’s say that the coach with no experience as a paid coach has been reading everything he could find about coaching and has taken business courses. This inexperienced coach doesn’t have client references as such but they do have letters from prominent people stating that they are insightful, a good listener and a reliable person.
Perhaps the more inexperienced coach has written a few good Linkedin articles or guest blog posts or you heard them on a podcast and they sound like they know about the kind of challenges you’re facing right now. Remember… the inexperienced one charges a lot less. Now the choices are getting a lot more even.
At this point, you might remember how hard it was for you to get your first job and, because this person has taken the steps to gain credibility by reading, taking courses, and writing articles you decide to give him a shot.
The above example is a bit ‘out there’ but very much representative of the way business works these days. The world is full of experienced consultants and coaches who have a great many references and clients don’t always choose the cheapest.
When you start a consulting business, you’re the new kid on the block, but you certainly have a great shot at breaking into the market and getting clients if you are willing to put in the effort to lay good foundations. If this is where you are, in summary, this means a focus on:
Working on your mindset
Establishing confidence and credibility in what you can do, and
Building an online presence that showcases it.
Then the most stressful decision in starting a consulting business you then will have to make is what to charge!
Strong foundations enable you to build big. This is why my 14-week plan for starting a consulting business is set out the way it is.
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