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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Fall in Love with Systems – Systems 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Harness Your Energy – As 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.
- 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.
- ???… 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.
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Text and images are © 2018 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.