Top 10 Ways to Grow Your Consulting Business

I’ve been consulting full-time for over 13 years and a member of Women in Consulting (WIC) for close to 10 years. And during that time, I’ve learned a thing or two from my fellow consultants—many of whom are tops in their field—and test drove a few other ideas.

Below are my top-10 favorite ways to grow a consulting business. They follow no particular order, other than the way they came to me. All of them will benefit you—just don’t try to do them all at once. It’ll kill you!

  1. Outsource: Outsourcing is like purchasing time to do what you do best. You’re the revenue engine for your business. Spend as much time as possible on your bread and butter and outsource what isn’t to those who do that task for a living.
  2. Build a virtual team: Work with other consultants that you can bring onto projects as needed. There’s only so much you can do yourself. So if you want to bring in more business, if you want to win bigger projects of which your expertise is a part of, you’ll need others to help you do the work. Tip: EchoSign is a nice tool for managing the paperwork that needs to be signed.
  3. Get a business coach—or at least consider it: One of the best things I did for my business in the last two years is hiring a coach. Coaching isn’t just for the stuck, overwhelmed, or uncertain. It’s for anyone who wants take their business to the next level.
  4. Make yourself known: How can you grow your business if no one knows you exist? Build your website. Network. Join associations. Get out there.
  5. Get involved: This is one of my personal favorites for running a successful consulting business. In fact, I’d have no business without it. Pick one of your favorite organizations and become part of the team that keeps it going. You’d be amazed at what it can do for your business.
  6. Strut your stuff: Write articles, blog posts, white papers, a book. Hire an editor or a ghost writer or coach if you feel uneasy about writing. Or speak at events—start small and work your way up. Teach a class. Bottom line: make it clear you know your stuff.
  7. Go social: Social media is another great way to strut your stuff and get found. I’ve talked to several consultants who don’t see the point. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter if you like social media or not; if you audience does, you need to consider it—seriously. But start small. Don’t jump into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogging all at once—especially if you’re doing none right now. Assess your audience, your business, you—and pick the best one. Get it up. And then turn your attention to other tools.
  8. Don’t shoot from the hip: Develop a business strategy/plan. Nuff said.
  9. Reframe: When facing a challenge, ask yourself, “How can I reframe the situation, look at it in a different way, approach it in a different way, feel about it in a different way?”
  10. Get a board: Not a formal board of advisors or directors, but a small group of trusted colleagues whose opinions and experience you value. Set up regular times where you get together and discuss your businesses, gather input on ideas, and brainstorm on new concepts and solutions to problems.

What’s worked for you? Do you have any to add to the list? Any you’d remove? I’m always looking for good strategies and practices, so please share!

avery@aveconsulting.com' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

Comments

  1. What a magical recipe you’ve concocted here, Avery!

    I totally agree with everything on your list…these are the exact things that I work hard to balance every day as I manage my business. The balancing act is tricky because often our client projects distract us from the key ingredients to running/growing our businesses…my trick is to have a checklist that includes the key things I know I should be doing to take care of my business and I grade myself each day to see how I’ve done…looking at this information over time helps me see what areas are getting short shrift and where I need to boost my efforts to ensure that I’m supporting my business in the areas I know are important.

    Thanks so much for this great post…looking forward to others’ comments/thoughts/additions!

  2. Thanks Jen! And thanks for the additional tips! Your point is so well taken about the balancing act being tricky. I love your checklist tip and grading yourself. I especially like looking at the info over time.

    Which do you find yourself spending more time? And are there any that you maybe subconsciously avoid and what tips do you have for overcoming that?

    I gravitate towards a virtual team quite naturally, but I avoided outsourcing for the longest time because I didn’t think I could afford it or I didn’t have time to get someone up to speed or some other similar excuse. I finally couldn’t NOT do it anymore, and boy do I wish I had done it sooner. Now, when I’m avoiding something or saying no to something, I take a step back and ask why? What am I resisting?

  3. What I do easily: outsource, virtual teams, getting involved, getting a coach

    What is a struggle for me: doing a business plan (so I have my coach manage me on that!) and strutting my stuff (Who likes to brag about themselves? But it’s essential to feel like we are OVERdoing this to be doing it even remotely effectively!)

  4. Yeah, strutting yourself is tough, but the way it’s outlined above, it’s not bragging but sharing your thought leadership through writing and speaking. That’s a much better way for me. Now writing the copy for my website? That totally feels like bragging and is tough–and I’m a writer. 🙂

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