If you’ve passed the litmus test (shared in a prior post) which would suggest that launching a consulting business “may” be a good path for you to consider, you are now ready to put together the overall business plan.
This does NOT have to be a long, drawn-out or tedious process. Especially if you are “boot-strapping” the business with your own funding, as I did (i.e., seeking no investors). The areas to be covered are simply meant to ensure you have carefully considered key variables to support the effective launch, ongoing management and growth of your business.
The starting point is defining your value proposition. That is, clearly describing:
- What it is that you are EXCEPTIONALLY GREAT at; better than most
- Goals and objectives that you can help someone (an individual or organization) achieve
- Problems you can help solve or avoid
- Risks that you can help to mitigate
In a nutshell, being a consultant means you are expected to have the scars of experience to guide someone to success in a given area (or areas).
The reality: If you’ve been in the working world for more than 10-15 years you likely have 3-5 concrete areas that you could build your value proposition upon. Being that we are our own worst critics, it might be good to have a conversation about this with a trusted advisor. Someone who has significant business experience and success who can listen to you describe what you do on a daily basis and tease out of these activities some “dragon slaying” tales.
Said another way, a value proposition is NOT about activity. It is about results. For example:
- Do you have a demonstrated strategy for increasing customer loyalty and employee morale in a customer service environment, while at the same time lowering costs? If so, by how much was customer loyalty and employee morale increased, over what period of time? And, what % of company revenue did your service organization’s costs represent before and after the above accomplishments were realized?
- Are you a GREAT project manager who can get projects done on time, within budget and/or help a company get a languishing project back on track? If so, what types of projects do you specialize in (i.e,. business process improvement, IT system implementations and/or upgrades, post merger-acquisition integrations, etc.).
- Can you help an organization become compliant with regulatory requirements (i.e., HIPAA, SOX, OSHA, etc.) and/or eliminate the risks of becoming non-compliant?
- Do you have any particular certifications or advanced degrees? Note: Please do NOT lead with these. The market really doesn’t care about your degree(s) or certification(s). The market cares most about what you are able to accomplish. Once that is quantified, it is then important to back that up with the demonstrated experience, references as well as degrees and certifications.
If you “truly” passed the litmus test, you should easily be able to identify 3-5 areas for which you are a recognized expert and/or high performer. You’ll want to embellish on these to fully describe the value (results) that someone can expect to achieve by engaging you to help them with similar matters.
And, finally, I would suggest that, in addition to describing the “technical” (or domain-related) aspects of your value proposition, you weave in the “special sauce.” I’ve found that this often involves the ability to get things done with and through other people. Let’s face it, you could be the sharpest technical / domain-related expert with the most degree(s) and/or certification(s). But, if you don’t work well with other people, you simply won’t get much done.
This is the time to toot your own horn. And, the content will serve as the foundation of your marketing plan.
In closing, this may be the area you spend the most time on: adequately honing what you want to offer the marketplace because you are REALLY good at it and REALLY enjoy doing it! Otherwise, what’s the point 🙂