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9 Essential Steps to SIMULTANEOUSLY Develop & Deliver Consulting Business

Life’s great as a consultant when you’re bustling through a project. Until the project’s done. Then you pop your head up and life’s rough while you’re hustling to get another project. Until you land one. Then you’re back to bustling…

…and on it goes. Hustle and bustle. Feast and famine. Grins and grimaces. The bane of independent consultants’ existence. Except it doesn’t have to be.

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You can win and work business at the same time. Heck, you can win and work business and still have time to hang out with your family, watch old Victor Borge videos, play hockey and spend an hour guzzling beer with the guys after the game. If you know how. (How to create time, not how to drink beer.) Below are nine steps to set you on your way.

9 Essential Steps to Simultaneously Develop and Deliver Consulting Business

  1. Treat New Business as a Client – You wouldn’t blow off a client that paid 30% or more of your revenue would you? Guess what, new business delivers at least that amount of annual revenue for most consultants. “NewBiz Co” demands the same diligence and dedication as any other client, and that means at least one day per week of attention.
  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource or Delegate – Whether it’s administrative tasks or analytical work or even key parts of projects, you’ll find your life is richer in many ways if you release your iron grip. Offload to your subordinates (if you have them), freelancers, subcontractors or even your clients.
  1. Fall in Love with SystemsSystems and processes are your route to freedom. I’d bet 90% of the tasks you perform during a typical day are routine. Presentations, proposals, deliverables, outputs, emails, and outreach conversations are just a few areas where templates will save you time and improve quality. It’s much easier to knock out a few business development calls when your Pipedrive account tells you exactly who to call, and you’ve got a script prepared. Systems also make it easier to outsource/delegate.
  1. Unlink Effort from Value – If you are paid for your time, every non-billable hour feels like a tax on your wallet. Then, your desire to maximize your current billings crowds out the need to develop business. Stop being sucked into time & materials projects. Even consultants who have escaped time-based fees often equate effort with value. As a result they overwork projects. Most overwork is not appreciated by clients, and the bottom line is: if the client doesn’t value it, it doesn’t have value.
  1. Build Capacity Into Your Project Designs – Delivering outstanding results quickly doesn’t mean you have to be 100% devoted to a project. By mapping out your project, you can identify choke-points, and ways to create some free time while ensuring the project ticks along smoothly.choke-point-joke
  1. Build Capacity Into Your Contract Structures – Clever thinking in your proposals can create time to develop business. For example, you could offer a discount for the option to take a “vacation” during the project. Or you could offer faster results for a significant premium, then use that premium to hire a subcontractor.
  1. Harness Your EnergyAs an independent consultant you’re not tied to an arbitrary, nine-to-five work day. You can make the most of the hours when your productivity peaks, and that’s a huge advantage if you tap into it. Find your high-energy time blocks and organize your days around them. Since I’m productive in the early morning hours, I block out all interruptions during that time and produce a typical day’s work by noon. That leaves plenty of hours to devote to business development or playing hockey, both of which occasionally leave bruises.
  1. Dual Purpose Your Activities – Client site visits are perfect for walking the halls and drumming up business. Every successful deliverable is the basis for a high-impact marketing piece and an opportunity to gather a testimonial you can distribute.
  1. ???… What’s Your Secret? – How have you increased your ability to deliver outstanding work for your clients while developing more business?

The essentials above are just a starting point. I want to hear what you do to develop and deliver business at the same time.

By the way, you may enjoy these related articles:

6 Ways Consultants Can Create Leverage, and

The Two Extra Hours You Need are Right Here.


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8 Comments
  1. Ken Acer
    January 20, 2016 at 8:43 am Reply

    Thanks David. John Sengenberger from CMU Tepper sent me the link to your newsletter. I just started my own consulting firm, Global Launch LLC, to do marketing consulting and am really enjoying it. Based on your comment, I’m going to check out Pipedrive. It looks pretty simple and inexpensive. Thanks again for the tip. Please add me to your mailing list.

    • David A. Fields
      January 20, 2016 at 9:04 am Reply

      Congratulations on your new consulting firm, Ken! You’ve embarked on an exciting, rewarding adventure. Yes, I think Pipedrive has a good product and most of the consulting firms I work with use a Pipedrive funnel that I’ve customized specifically for consultants. (Note, I have no financial relationship with Pipedrive.)

  2. Diana
    January 20, 2016 at 12:30 pm Reply

    Great post, David. Some of my past contracts were so challenging that I felt I was stealing time if I did anything else. I often didn’t realize was that I was slipping into deadline obsession and missing alternative ways of getting things done. It’s easy for me to forget that getting new work is more about listening and learning about new clients’ problems than about pitching myself and my methods. In a weird way, it’s refreshing to mull over different problems than the too-familiar ones with a challenging contract. Sometimes, it gave me new ways to look at those too-familiar problems. And, when prospects expressed interest in engaging my services, it boosted my faith in my abilities, not only to help them but also to succeed at my current contract.

    • David A. Fields
      January 21, 2016 at 8:31 am Reply

      Diana, you’ve raised a great point: new clients help you deliver better work to existing clients. I wonder how many consultants forget that? Also, this is perfect: “getting new work is more about listening and learning about new clients’ problems than about pitching myself and my methods.” Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  3. Lori Silverman
    January 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm Reply

    My approach is simple: On the days I’m working onsite or speaking at a client event, I do one thing each day (at a minimum) for business development. It could be sending a follow-up email, a call to someone new (I’m on a private FB page where there’s call list each month set up for us), responding to a blog article that someone else wrote (these have often gotten me magazine interviews or podcasts), responding on private business oriented FB pages to what someone posted (doing so just got me an interview for a keynote talk), writing a new post for my blog, sending a personalized thank you card, putting an unsolicited book in the mail to someone I read about or met at a conference with a note about why it’s being sent, submitting a keynote speaking proposal … the list goes on. On other days, I do several of these items. It’s all about integrating BD with prep work and delivery.

    • David A. Fields
      January 21, 2016 at 8:32 am Reply

      Outstanding approach, Lori. Do you keep a list of the little business development tasks with you so that you’ll know what to do when you have a minute or two in the middle of the day? How do you prioritize which new business task to do if you only have time to do one? I’m sure many readers will enjoy seeing your answers!

  4. Debbie
    July 20, 2017 at 11:45 am Reply

    I like to use my lunch break to reach out to someone. Virtual lunch meeting.

    • David A. Fields
      July 20, 2017 at 11:47 am Reply

      Nice, Debbie. Turns any lunch into a social time that also happens to build relationships, value and business. Great idea for those who like to commune with others while they’re eating!

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