The good news is that, if you’ve been following this series on “Launching a Consulting Business” and have taken the steps outlined, you have essentially LAUNCHED! Congratulations! You are among the few who have dared to do so.
If your experience is like mine, however, you don’t (yet) have clients pounding down your door. This will come (if you are VERY good at what you do). The fact is, opportunity is all around us.
For example, I was recently contacted by 3 companies I’ve previously worked with (2 customers and 1 consulting firm I managed on a prior client engagement). Each of these companies have a project (opportunity) they’d like my help on. After developing each (defining the scope, objectives, timeline, level of effort, etc.), I’ll be taking on 2 of them and delegating the 3rd to a member of my team.
What I have outlined so far in this series, and will share in subsequent posts is: how to get there. So, in addition to what we’ve discussed so far, what follows are other strategies to identify and/or create opportunities.
The first thing to cover is what I do if/when a company contacts me about, or I find (online, or otherwise), an opportunity to respond to an RFI (Request for Information) or RFP (Request for Proposal).
What I have found is that in “most” cases the firm making the request is merely “beating the bushes” to obtain a number of proposals for comparison purposes. And, the requesting firm “often” already knows who they are going with, but they need these other bids as fodder for comparison purposes and/or to comply with their corporation’s purchasing policy.
As such, I only respond to RFI’s or RFP’s when I know that I am on the inside track, because I’ve worked with them before :-). The point becomes, if you do the other activities previously outlined, and what I’ll cover next, you won’t “need” to respond to RFx’s.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t respond, especially if you aren’t doing anything else – for a fee. In fact, if you aren’t busy, give it a try, as it will provide practice in writing proposals and, if the opportunity presents itself, to pitch your offering to the requesting firm and potentially even land the deal. I LOVE that!
If you are interested in monitoring RFI and/or RFP activity, there are online portals (one that I’m particularly familiar with) that provide a method for suppliers/vendors (like us) to connect with buyers (like our prospects and customers). It is called Ariba (www.ariba.com).
In summary, you simply setup your profile (company name, contact information, nature of services, etc.). And, as buyers post RFx’s you will be notified of any that are in your “wheelhouse.” You can also peruse the open opportunities to determine if you need to tweak your profile to expand your net. From there you can respond, per the buyer’s defined process.
And there is more. Once you have a customer (or customers) in Ariba (as I do) you can use this portal to submit invoices and monitor the process of the client reviewing, approving and submitting payment (all electronically, of course) for the services you have rendered.
Give it a try!