The greatest truth about Solopreneur consulting is that it is a marketing business. If you expect to be successful, then you must artfully package yourselves and your services and promote to those with the money and motive to award high-paying projects.
The ability to view oneself as the ultimate product, creating and executing self-marketing strategies, requires a good amount of self-esteem and a dollop of fearlessness. Not everyone has what it takes. To be successful in the consulting business, it is necessary to model yourself as a consulting company of one and learn to swim like the big fish do (if not where they do).
Let’s first get your self-esteem on track. Learn to fully own and value your skill set and communicate your self-worth in a healthy way. You’ve acquired an impressive array of competencies over the years. That knowledge base is your calling card, your brand, your intellectual property.
Never position yourself as subordinate to the client. The Solopreneur consultant is a peer. You have unique and valuable expertise that the client does not possess. That is why you are needed.
Second, reflect your self-esteem in your pricing and stop billing hourly for your work. Solopreneur consultant extraordinaire Alan Weiss, author of The Consulting Bible (2011), recommends that Solopreneur consultants bill on a project basis only and avoid billing hourly.
In fact, Weiss advises that you not work with a prospective client who insists upon an hourly rate, because the amount of time it takes to produce the deliverable is not the issue. The impact of that deliverable on the organization is the issue and the two must not be confused.
So when you’re in your next prospective client meeting and you’re talking turkey, reach a mutual understanding with the client regarding the project’s objectives and clarify how your success will be measured. Ask your prospect to explain the impact that meeting those objectives will have on the organization. Let the answer determine your project fee.
Weiss also says that if your intellectual property, i.e. your work, will help an organization save a significant amount of money or measurably improve its marketing position and/or sales, then the Solopreneur consultant should receive 10% of the value of the gain. In other words, billing on value = billing on outcomes + impact, hours be damned. If your client is too obsessed with hourly rates, nickel and diming on costs, then find another client.
Third, incorporate content marketing into your self-promotion strategies. Content marketing provides competitive advantage, leading clients to view the published Solopreneur as a thought leader and a cut above. A monthly newsletter or weekly blog will let you broadcast your business acumen, but Weiss insists that Solopreneur consultants go one step further and write a book.
Whether you self-publish or manage to finagle a traditional publishing deal (Weiss did, but you most likely will not), Weiss urges Solopreneur consultants to get themselves into print and it doesn’t matter how many copies sell. The axiom “publish or perish” is no longer limited to academia. Additionally, Weiss points out that speaking at business association meetings is yet another consulting career-booster, as are teaching and presenting webinars.
Finally, do not be shy about approaching friends, family and former co-workers to discuss new business opportunities. Spell out to folks what it is you do, the clients you usually work with and the projects you like to take on. Always keep in touch with your network and remember to help them out, too, because it’s good karma.
Thanks for reading,