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The 10 Myths of Starting a Consulting Business


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Everything from "I'll be able to bill 40 hours/week" to "Cold calls are the way to go", Mary Ellen Bates explains why those old myths need to die. Presented at the SLA 2019 Annual Conference.

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The 10 Myths of Starting a Consulting Business

  1. 1. The 10 Myths of Starting a Consulting Business Mary Ellen Bates June 16, 2019 @mebs
  2. 2. “Consulting is what people do when they’re between jobs” You can’t both start a business and look for a job Consultants aren’t part of the “gig economy” – they’re running a business @mebs 4
  3. 3. “The services I provided as an employee will be valued by consulting clients” Employees are paid to maintain processes Consultants are paid for outcomes If you’re a consultant being paid for process, you’re looking like an employee @mebs 5
  4. 4. “I know what my clients need” No, you don’t yet know what they need, value and will pay you well for Reality-check interviews are essential ( @mebs 6
  5. 5. “I’ll be able to bill 40 hours a week” At least half your time will ALWAYS be non-billable: Marketing Administrative Marketing Professional Development Marketing @mebs 7
  6. 6. “I won’t have to work as hard” “I can do this part-time” It takes 400 hours of solid, unbillable work before you can expect your first client ( @mebs 8
  7. 7. 400 hours? REALLY? 0-100 hours: find out who your market REALLY is 101-200 hours: word-of-mouth marketing starts 201-300 hours: results of marketing visible, inquiries coming in 301-400 hours: you land your first PAYING client @mebs 9
  8. 8. “Once I’ve written my business plan, I’ll be set” Business plan? What business plan? What are your measurable 12-week outcomes? @mebs 10
  9. 9. “I should make cold calls to generate business” Fish for clients with a net, not a line Attract, don’t chase after, clients No one appreciates or trusts cold callers @mebs 11
  10. 10. “I should focus on finding retainer clients” They aren’t good clients: They pay for process, not outcome They pigeonhole you They lull you into complacency @mebs 12
  11. 11. “I should price myself low to start out” You’ll wind up with price-sensitive clients You’ll get low-value projects You won’t find clients who will sustain you @mebs 13
  12. 12. “I can do this on my own” You may be a solopreneur, but you’re not alone SLA LMD Consulting Section, Build an accountability team Cultivate a mentor @mebs 14
  13. 13. Plus a few bonus myths! @mebs 15
  14. 14. “As soon as I have a web site, I’ll start getting clients” Your clients won’t be Googling you A web site is only supplemental material You have to give them a reason to come to your site @mebs 16
  15. 15. “This client can’t pay me, but it’s good exposure” Working for someone who doesn’t pay you only attracts more of the same FIND a way to add value and get paid FIND a way to ensure strategic exposure @mebs 17
  16. 16. “Being a consultant is easy” It’s the hardest job I’ve ever loved In business since 1991 and I still do scary stuff You learn how to function while scared @mebs 18
  17. 17. WANT MORE INFO? Assn of Independent Information Professionals Mary Ellen’s Tools & Resources for Solopreneurs The Reluctant Entrepreneur: Making a Living Doing What You Love @mebs 19
  18. 18. Slides at Mary Ellen Bates +1 303 772 7095 @mebs 20