Starting a Consulting Firm? Here are 7 Lessons I Learned

Consulting may sound like the easiest businesses to start.

You already have the expertise and the contacts… all you have to do is get your first client, right?

While there’s some truth to that, you know it’s never that easy.

Here are 7 tips I’ve learned about starting up a consulting business.

  1. Find ways to use specific information gaps
  2. Focus on relationships, not revenues
  3. Sell results, not services
  4. Always be closing
  5. The more you charge, the less they complain
  6. The day you start losing them
  7. Be professional about billing

Find ways to use specific information gaps.

An information gap is where someone is missing information needed to complete a task and needs to talk to you to find it. You will help them fill in the blanks.

Focus on relationships, not revenues.

Consulting is a relationship based business. Wise consultants always listen before speaking. Never talk costs before first knowing the specific needs and objectives. There are a lot of businesses owners actively looking to hire consultants. Contact as many people as you can help.

Remember this, opportunities come every day while great opportunities come every now and then. The only way you will catch a great opportunity is being ready. Practice and learn every single day.

Sell results, not services.

Price by the hour and you’ll be viewed like everyone else, a commodity. Instead bill based on scope of work and end results.

Always be closing.

Every business needs to get exposure and clients, and you have to be willing to sell yourself. You will always need to be making contacts to get more business. It’s imperative that you constantly ask current clients for more work and also ask them if they know of other similar businesses that can use your skills. This is an ongoing networking process that you need to develop to establish a long-term business.

Keep in mind that if you talk to a person that is interested in what you offer and you don’t “ask for the sale” you just waste your and the other person time. Always be closing.

The more you charge, the less they complain.

One of the first things I learned is that the more money a client pays you, the less they will complain.

Large paying clients know that if they want to continue to grow, they have to spend money. When doing so, sometimes things work out, while other times they don’t, but at the end of the day, they have to keep investing.

On the other hand, smaller clients don’t have that much money. So, if they hire you and you mess up, they usually don’t have the luxury of hiring someone else like the larger clients do.

When you first start off, you may have to take on smaller paying clients, but your goal should be to transition to the larger paying ones as quickly as possible.

The day you start losing them.

You never know how long a client is going to stay with you, therefore do whatever you can do to keep them. Here’s what I used to do to ensure that clients stay as long as possible:

  • Set expectations from day one – let them know what they should expect and when to expect it by.
  • Ongoing calls – I suggest you have weekly calls with your client but your arrangement may be different and it might only require calls ones or twice per month. In this 10 minutes or less call you want to tell your client what you have done since your last call and see if they have any questions.
  • Monthly reports – with everything you did. Include visual aids. You should go over the report with the client over the phone or in person.
  • Monthly surveys – at the end of each month, send your clients a quick survey. The survey needs to have specific questions that help you improve the quality of your work. Include questions such as “how can we make the monthly report better?”

Be professional about billing.

As a consultant you should be able to do basic accounting to monitor expenses and client billing.

You should set up one day each month to generate bills and track those individuals who haven’t paid you. This is your accounts receivable. It is very important because late payments by clients can kill a business before it gets up and running.

I automate most of this task using software like Freshbooks and WHMCS.

Running a consulting company takes time, it can be stressful and it can pay very well. Learn from your mistakes and only take on clients you can actually provide results to because being with a client is like being in a marriage.

Why ask Angel?

Like most people, when I get a comment, email or a voicemail with a question I answered directly to that person.

While I still do (depending on the person and question) I feel more people will benefit if I answer the question with a video posted in my YouTube channel.

Angel AndersonSo, I decided to start answering your questions with a video instead!

Each video will be 5 minutes or less answering ONE single question.

Submitting a Question

I want these videos to be fun, personal, and helpful!
Please use common sense and show courtesy with your questions.

  1. Please keep your question under one minute in length. If it goes a little over, that’s fine, but please keep it concise and to the point.
  2. If you have a website and URL, you’re allowed to share it only once during the recording. For example: “Hi, my name is Jane Doe. I have a blog called Jane’s Doe at JaneDoe.com. My question is…”
  3. Spammy, disrespectful, or deeply private questions will not be considered for these videos.
  4. Either type your question in the comments below, upload a video to YouTube and send me the link or use my SpeakPipe page for audio voicemails

SpeakPipe.com, a fantastic web service that allows anyone to leave me a voicemail message through the Internet. All you need is a microphone.

2 Ways to Get notified

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and YouTube will let you know when I upload a new video.

If you prefer email, simple enter your email address below and every monday you will receive a new update.








Time Hacks

Since the beginning of my military career I’ve been put in stressful positions, managing large groups of people and equipments, and running a lot of different programs.

On top of that I had to “make time” for my wife, my two kids, school, my online business and the people I coach.

Because all these things, I started reading books and taking training about productivity, time management. It took me a long time to change my mindset of time management to self management and embrace lean methodology.

“At the end of the day, we all want to do more by doing less.”

Here is the list of my top 8 time hacks in no particular order.

  1. Quit watching TV
  2. Send short emails
  3. Use Unroll.me
  4. Live by the 10 second rule
  5. Quit multitasking
  6. Capture everything that matters in one central place
  7. Respond to your email in batches
  8. Shut off pointless alerts

Quit Watching TV

If your time is limited, you know there are more important things you should be doing instead of watching TV. If you need to relax, go exercise, spend some time outside with your family, go for a walk, or even listen to an audio book.

Send short emails

Keeping all of your emails short will save you a ton of time if you send and receive a lot of emails like I do.

Use Unroll.me

If you have a Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook.com account, you need to use Unroll.me, which rolls up all of your subscription emails into one convenient, daily email.

The 10 second rule

The 10 second rule is something I learned a long time ago from Robert Plank. Robert once said to me “Angel, if it takes you longer than 10 seconds to make a decision, you are wasting your time and my time and I will make the decision for you”

Even if you are not one of those people who takes forever to make a decision, this hack can change your live.

Quit multitasking

Multitasking is terrible for your focus and productivity, and it makes you more prone to errors, affects your memory, and even adds stress to your life.

Capture everything that matters

Capture everything that matters in one central place if you keep unresolved tasks, things you have to do, people you are waiting on, commitments, etc, it will cause you to get distracted.

Capturing all your ideas in a central place like Evernote will give you more mental space to think about bigger and better things.

Respond to your email in batches

Schedule time to read and respond to your emails. Use the inbox zero method to handle your emails instead of dealing with messages as they come in. This compartmentalizes email into a few chunks of time in your schedule.

Shut off pointless alerts

New alerts don’t cost you much time, but they cost you a ton of attention.
Every time a new alert comes in, you look at it because “it might be important”.

Each alert distracts you for a few seconds and it takes you a –delete this up to a minute and half to get back into what you were doing. If you get 30 interruptions each day via alerts that is at least 30 minutes you are wasting.

I would love to hear what you think about these time hacks.
Please write your comments below.

Clarify the problem first

The first step to solve any problem is to clearly understand what’s going on.

You want to identifying WHAT is happening, WHERE is happening, WHEN is happening, WHAT is the frequency of “the problem”, and WHO is affecting to have an effective approach.

Any problem solving effort that begins with…

“I know what the problem is, so what we are going to do about it is” is doomed to failure before it begins.
clarify the problem
This mindset leads to several obvious errors.

  1. Because the “obvious solution” is often just a band aid.
  2. This mindset closes the possibility of innovative solutions that are better suited

The best way to solve your problems is to ignore the “obvious solution”, and spend a little time examining the problem.

Clarify the problem first, the you can follow the other 7 steps from the Eighth step problem solving model outlined here.

Email marketing for Photographers

“One challenge photographers have is being the one people think when looking to get some pictures done.”
email marketing for photgraphers

Most people search on Google, ask friends on Facebook, and somethings on Twitter and pick a “good” result from the Google search or one that a friend recommended.

If you are a photographer and you are marketing your business, you are off to a good start. But most people won’t remember you a month later. If they are not ready to hire you on your first encounter you may not get their business.

Email marketing solves that problem

Email marketing helps you get more business by sending regular updates. Regular updates give the recipient more reasons to choose you as their photographer when the time comes.

How?

  1. People forward their emails to friends and family to share good information.
  2. Regular email updates let you build a relationship with people interested in your services.
  3. Prospect can become clients in matters of seconds by simply replying to your email.

Your first step is to use a service like Aweber, then add the web form to your website, then you can find people to sing up for your emails.

Building a subscriber list

Your family, friends and social networks are a good start asking for subscriptions and they can send your emails to whomever they thing will be interested in what you are offering.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to subscribe your your email updates, if you want people to subscribe you need to ask for their subscription.

Ask people if they like to get your email updates when you book them. You can also include an invitation for people to subscribe in your portrait packages.

What happens after people sign up?

After a person subscribe your your email updates you want to welcome them right away. Let them know how they have sign up successfully and them they what they can expect from you.

Every email after that is a change to turn that subscriber into a client. But…because you have permission to email them as long as they are on your list, that doesn’t mean that every email you send is a “hard sell”.

Instead send regular updates, tell your subscribers what is new, and what you learn.

Each email should ask the reader to do ONE thing.

  • Ask your readers to response via email.
  • You can ask survey your subscribers to know what they want.
  • Ask them to book in advance.
  • Tell them to go to Facebook or Twitter and say hi.

Sending out regular updates automatically

They will be times of the year you will be busy taking pictures and you wont be able to write and send regular updates. Thankfully you can send regular updates automatically by connecting Aweber to your blog. Every time you post a new blog, it can be sent to your subscribers automatically or at a pre-schedule time and date.

By now you should have a clear picture of what you need to do to get your email marketing started. But if you still have questions or you want to see a video explaining in more detail this information simply enter your email in the form below and I will send you the link to the video.

In this video you will also learn the 8 places you should be collecting subscribers.

So go ahead, type your email in the form below to gain access to this video.