If you have a business that makes and sells physical products, you’ll want to come back tomorrow. I know zero about that. BUT if you’re a consultant and want to launch a new service offering, I can definitely help you.
In a past life, I was employed by Deloitte, KPMG, and Arthur Andersen. I was also a project employee for Navigant Consulting, Protiviti, and RGP. Regarding business consulting, you might say that I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt(s).
Half of my business now is helping solo consultants build successful practices. (The other half is working with professionals in career transition).
Recently, I have had the absolute joy of helping a client launch a new service offering. I want to share some of the strategies we used to try to ensure product/market fit – and her sanity.
1. What have you enjoyed delivering in the past?
As a solo consultant, you’d better enjoy what you’re doing (at least some of the time) or you’re going to be miserable most of the time. And, not surprisingly, a miserable consultant has miserable clients who block their suggestions at every turn.
Take a stroll down memory lane and think about projects you’ve done that were interesting for you and valuable for your clients. Write down specific points. Are there any things in common between your favorite projects? Type of client? Industry? Activities you did? Scope of project? Types of skills used?
Pick a few ideas to explore in more depth. Could you turn any of these into a service you’d like to deliver?
2. What are your best skills?
It’s easier to make a great impression and not get stressed out if you’re using your best skills. Being in a flow state where time slows down is powerful and feels great!
Are you a wiz at research? A fantastic facilitator? Terrific trainer? Make sure your new service has some of these in it to potentially increase the wow factor for your clients.
3. How do you like to work?
Delivering services is hard work. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. How do you like to work? Alone? In a team? Virtually? In an office?
While you can’t always control this, you can focus on specific types of projects or clients to have a better chance of working in your ideal situation – at least part of the time.
4. What is your industry expertise?
Often, it’s easier to target industries you understand and have worked in previously. While you may think you have a service that could apply to any business, your prospects may not agree.
Prospects like to feel that you understand their pain and their challenges, and your sales cycle will be much easier and shorter if you can point to past successes with similar types of clients in the same or similar industry.
Also, launching a new service will take longer than you think, and by the time it’s ready for prime time, you may feel like you’ve been hemorrhaging money and time.
The fast path to the cash, at least in the beginning, is sticking close to what you know.
5. Who is your ideal client?
Who are your people? What type of client “gets” you? Do you feel comfortable selling to small business owners or to the C Suite at a large company? For-profit or nonprofit organizations?
Knowing who you want to get in front of will dictate the type of marketing you do and where you do it.
As a solo consultant, you need to jealously guard your time. Consider your time an even more precious resource than money. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.
And then there’s opportunity cost. If you’re going off in 10 different directions, your messaging will be bland, you’ll be anxious and exhausted, and you won’t be spending time on the activities that are more likely to lead to success.
There are certainly more things to consider, but this list is a good start.
Please remember that you are your business as a solo consultant. The more you the person enjoy what you’re doing, the more successful you the professional and your business will be.