We hear it over and over again from new consultants and coaches … the hardest thing about being a consultant or a coach is knowing the right way to spend your time. This challenge can be met by focusing in a few key areas:
First, examine your motivation. Why do you really want to be a consultant or a coach? Are you in it because:
- You love to help people have a better life and you like to share your experiences to benefit others?
- You were downsized and your resume makes you look “unhireable” and since you just don’t “fit” anywhere anymore, you might as well give this a shot? (Plus you heard the money’s not bad either.)
Guess which motivation gets the best results?
Second, focus on others. The most successful consultants and coaches in our network know not just why they want to help others. They have a knack for getting the focus turned onto those with whom they want to work, and they do it quickly.
As you’re breaking into your marketplace and trying to get known, it’s easy to fall into the trap of sharing all of the wonderful things that have led you to where you are today. You have so many great things to share about who you are.
Big, big mistake. Here’s why.
You’ve just met two guys at a networking event. Here’s how they introduced themselves:
Al: “I’m a coach and I work with small business owners to help them reconnect with the reason they wanted to get into their own businesses to begin with. Together we create a plan to help them design the life they really want! What do you do?”
Bob: “I’ve been in C-suite positions in different industries for the last 20 years and I have a ton of experience in solving all kinds of business problems like my last gig where I saved the company. They hired me because they knew my Wharton degree started me off on the right path and since I earned it I worked with (insert run down of resume highlights here). Now that I’m a consultant/coach, I get to show other executives and owners how smart I am and how if they hang with me, I can make them smart, too.”
Who’s going to be meeting you at Starbucks, Al or Bob? We’ll wager it’s Al because he’s almost immediately focused on you, not on himself.
Also notice that Al’s been quite specific about his target. He mentions small business owners.
This leads us to our third area of focus … targeting your efforts.
Setting a consistent target allows you to hone your message to issues and challenges that speak directly to your target. Al knows small business owners have a tendency to work IN their businesses and not ON their businesses, and wants everyone he meets to know he has ideas for them.
I can hear you already, “But if I say I work with small businesses and I meet someone from a big business they won’t think I can help them.”
Wrong. If you show you’re engaging, humble, and interested in others, anyone will come away from that introduction wanting to sit down for coffee.
Bob? Well, he’ll work with anybody high up enough in an organization with a C-level title who is qualified to write him a big check. He’s not drinking coffee with a new friend any time soon.
Fourth, spend your time wisely. Building a coaching or consulting practice takes consistent focus in three key areas: marketing, business generation, and serving clients.
In the beginning, your efforts should focus on keeping 200-300 suspects in your sales funnel at all times. That means you have to get out from behind your desk at home, out of your pajamas, and go meet some people in your target.
Once you’ve added suspects to your funnel, it’s up to you (and only you) to ensure you keep them swarming around your funnel. You can do that by:
- staying in touch through social media
- connecting and reconnecting often (lots and lots of coffee!)
- nurturing those who might not turn into prospects, but are great referral sources
- getting known as an expert by your target audience
- volunteering to serve on local nonprofit boards
- doing public speaking
The list goes on and on.
When you’re starting out, the legwork is yours alone. Once you become established and have a few clients under your belt, they can become referral sources for you.
The answer to the question, “How long will it take me to get established?” is based solely on the work you’ve put in.
If you spend peak business hours behind your desk in your PJs on Facebook, it WILL take longer.
If you present yourself like a “Bob,” it WILL take longer.
If you gain one client and stop adding suspects to your sales funnel, it WILL take longer.
Maintain consistent focus between marketing, business generation, and serving clients, and you can build a successful consulting or coaching practice.