Best Practices to Grow Your Consulting Business – Tip # 12 – It Takes Longer Than You Think

Tip # 12 from our veteran consultant panel on Best Practices to Grow Your Consultant Business is that

It takes longer than you think 


Most everything takes longer than we think it should, including building your consulting practice. If you have not yet started your consulting practice and are thinking about it, it’s ideal to have at least a one year reserve. Remember, there are peaks and valleys in most consulting practices. By having a financial cushion, you help alleviate the psychological pressures in the valley times (along with the financial strain).

When you started your consulting practice, did you have a financial cushion or reserve? If so, please comment back with how much in terms of a time range – to give others a guideline or reference point on the variety of options.

About Deborah Siegle

Deb Siegle, Past President of Women in Consulting and Principal of Strategic Marketing Solutions, is an astute marketing leader and strategist with a talent for aligning a company’s products, solutions and messages with the customer’s needs. Deb was named one of the Top Women of Influence in Silicon Valley. She delivers practical and actionable insights to business executives and entrepreneurs. Deb is a recognized consumer and business marketing leader, problem solver and communicator who is an authority in market research, strategy, market and product development, and customer loyalty and experience. Deb is also the former president of Women in Telecommunications (WiT) and has also held leadership positions in other industry associations. Deb holds a M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.B.A. from the University of Michigan.


  1. I totally agree. And I had zero cushion when I started ….

    I also think there is nothing like hunger to get you to perform.

    There is never a good time to start. It’s like having children. Owning your own biz is an illogical leap of faith. You must be driven.

    Most important is having the right support system. With that, anything is possible.

  2. Deb,
    I had a couple years worth of a cushion… I was determined to leave corporate and make it on my own…even if it meant spending all of my savings. And, I did build a very nice practice in the first 18 months.
    However the one thing I did, that I tell my clients never to do….is, I got comfortable on a 3 year project, and stopped networking, prospecting and securing new opportunities – even if they were speaking gigs, off hour consulting, etc… – anything to keep the funnel of leads building.

    You may have addressed that in one of your earlier tips… but even 1 year reserve will not protect you if you stop selling.

  3. You make an excellent point Bernadette! Thank you!
    And, yes, one of the biggest challenges is to continue selling AND delivering.

    Networking is often made a lower priority while we’re in the midst of project, and when business is good. Yet, seeing the results from networking also has a lead time associated with it. It’s not usually a spigot you can just turn on and see instant results.

    So, make time for networking in the good times. In fact, always be networking. It’s an effective way to become known as the ‘go-to’ person for xxxx (whatever your specialty is).

    We do address networking in our Best Practices Tip #7 for those who are interested in reading more.

    As Bernadette points out, in addition to networking, you can do speaking gigs, along with continuing to prospect and identify new opportunities.

    The important theme is to always be doing something to feed your pipeline. (And, this ties back to Best Practices Tip #11 – Focus on What Builds Your Business).

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