6 steps for fast-tracking profitability in your consulting practice

Advice aimed at entrepreneurs and small businesses tends to be heavily product-oriented, but in reality the majority of US small businesses fall under the “Professional, Scientific, Technical, and Other Services” category (excluding public administration) — comprising a total of 8,268,206 small businesses.

Of course, operating your own consulting practice brings with it a host of unique challenges — the value of your “product” can be difficult to quantify, project demand naturally fluctuates, and opportunities for automation and scaling can be limited, among other things. For those looking to get profitable as soon as possible, we compiled a few important steps to take when starting out:

Be intentional with your niche

Waiting for demand to set a focus for you muddles your message, delays your ability to brand, and often won’t give you the clarity you want or need anyway. Take the time to determine exactly what your passion is (and where that intersects with your experience and expertise) and market yourself with that niche in mind from the get-go.

If you’re intentional about establishing what you offer, and who would best benefit from your services, you’ll be able to craft far more effective messaging for your target audience, and design your business with the ideal customer base in mind.

(Actually) differentiate yourself

Consultants can feel like a dime a dozen — even within your own specific niche — so take the time to familiarize yourself with the immediate competition, and determine a few tangible ways your value prop differs from (or improves on) theirs.

Invest some time in social media

Maintaining an active, professional, and informed social media presence takes little time, costs nothing, and helps show prospective (and current) clients that your business is both knowledgeable and current when it comes to the niche you operate in.

Set up a LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter page (and consider Google+ as well for SEO purposes), and then spend some time once a week finding relevant articles, studies, etc. to post to your accounts. Automate this process by getting a free account on Hootsuite.

Track projects to keep scope creep at bay

The consulting world is increasingly leaning toward fixed-bid projects, and you don’t want to find yourself losing money by falling victim to the dreaded scope creep. Find a system that works for you to track projects in real-time, so you can anticipate project or cost overrun, and communicate with your client about the changing scope (and thus possibly deadline or cost) of their project as soon as possible.

When starting out, maintaining excellent relationships with clients is paramount to the success of your projects and ultimately the profitability of your firm, so remaining prompt and transparent with project communication and updates will ensure that you remain on the same page, and on their good side.

Add value outside of project work

Part of maintaining good relationships with clients means positioning yourself and your firm as more than just a service provider. Steer away from a purely-transactional relationship by finding creative ways to engage clients outside of project work. Hosting an after-work event for clients, introducing different clients to each other to build partnerships, compiling a regular newsletter of industry-specific news, articles, and studies relevant to your clients, and contributing to a client’s community outreach initiative (financially or otherwise) are all unique ways to prove yourself to be a trusted and valuable asset.

Step up your follow-up game

Don’t let your follow-up fall to the wayside — or worse — get forgotten in the fray. Successful consulting firms invest in customer relationship management systems (CRM) to keep up with client preferences (among other things), and ultimately improve their conversion rate and close more deals. Small firms starting out might not initially feel that such automation is necessary, but it’s better to imbed these processes in how your business operates sooner rather than later, and doing so will help you keep a consolidated database of client information.

Regina Mullen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Regina Mullen
Regina is the Workforce Management Expert & Content Marketing Associate for Replicon. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.
Get started today.
Set up a free trial based on your business needs. Start Free Trial

To succeed post-COVID, CFOs need an attitude adjustment

The CFO's past objectives were accommodating stakeholders, delivering the right numbers, and profitability. Now, they must center employee connection, wellness and satisfaction, Replicon's CEO says. September 27, 2020 The following…Read More

The Digitalization Jigsaw Puzzle: Saving a Spot for Integration

When it comes to running a business, it takes a village. And by village, we really mean more of a city - an often hectic, ever-growing population of systems that…Read More

Global Compliance Desk – Czech Republic

Changes to the Annual Vacation  Calculation in the Czech Republic An Amendment to Act No. 262/2006 Labour Code [ Act No. 285/2020 Coll. ] which was approved by the government…Read More

Miscalculating wages by a few cents led to this company paying a six-figure lawsuit

West Marine Products, which operates a chain of retail stores across the United States specializing in boating supply and fishing equipment, recently settled a class action lawsuit involving 707 former…Read More

Employee time tracking is dead

iBeacons, Bluetooth Low Energy, Proximity sensing and the obsolescence of time tracking as we know it. Businesses have to track the time their employees work for a variety of reasons,…Read More

How Sarbanes-Oxley Impacts HR Departments

Ever since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was passed in 2002, following a spate of high-profile corporate scandals, companies have had to take a wide range of precautions to ensure that…Read More
  • Cloud
  • In The News
  • Corporate
  • Professional Services Management
  • Project and Program Management
  • Shared Services Management
  • Time and Attendance Management
  • Workforce Management
  • Customer Feature
  • Feature Update
  • Time Intelligence
  • Industry News
  • Webinar Recap
  • Global Compliance Updates