So, you have set yourself up as a self-employed consultant. You have lots of expertise in your area of business. You are waiting for the contracts to roll in, but they don’t. Or, you start off with a flurry of work, and it quickly dries up. What’s going wrong?
Here are 15 main reasons why self-employed consultants fail. The fails fall broadly into three main categories: business set-up, client communications, and the consultant’s own behaviors.
There is a lot of competition out there. Any new freelancer, and longstanding ones for that matter, needs to stand out from the crowd. When a prospect or client hear the consultant’s name, it should evoke positive thoughts of wanting to work with only that person. Too many consultants rely on their expertise speaking for itself, and forget they need a clear visual identity in their advertising. They need to have hard copy materials that include company name, logo, and branding. It is important to get clients to associate that identity with the expertise, and then they’ll keep coming back.
No Internet Presence
Potential clients needing a consultant will, more often than not, do an internet search. Add to that, when a consultant is cold-calling, it is incredibly useful to point potential clients towards a web page. Make that web page a lead magnet – well-designed and informative – and it will help hook clients in.
Charging by the Hour
For a consultant, charging by the hour is immediate death to their business. A solo consultant should only charge on value and only deal with buyers who can write that big check. For a client, especially when working with a consultant for the first time, charging by the hour is off-putting, because they cannot tell what the final costs will be and clients may think the consultant dragging out the process to bill more hours. Working out an overall price per job is much more attractive to clients.
With value-based pricing, the faster a consultant solves someone's problem, the more valuable that person is. If they fix one problem a day, everyone is happy.
Using Cookie-Cutter Solutions
Assuming “one size fits all” is a common mistake. Each client is different, and that means they have different working methods and require varied solutions for their projects. Consultants must learn to ask what the client wants, and discover what they need. This is the consultant that gets paid the big bucks.
Poor Client Focus
Many inexperienced consultants focus their business around what works for them – charging by the hour and cookie-cutter solutions are just two examples. All too often, consultants forget about client needs and structures. The most successful consultants always do their research, put themselves in the client’s shoes, and aim for results. They are there to solve the clients’ problems and must allow clients to define what solving the solution is to them instead of the consultant defining how the project will be successful.