As we step into 2023, it’s the perfect time to reflect on where we’re at in our careers.
What about your work do you like?
Do parts make you miserable?
This is also the opportunity to take full ownership and accountability. You choose this every day. And you have the power to make a change if that’s the right decision for you.
The way you’ve always worked
Let’s be honest: we were likely brought up with a suggested structure. A strong vision of what we’re “supposed to do.”
It’s the traditional structure that feels ingrained in us. Go to college, get a good job, and climb the corporate ladder. But is that really what you want? For some, it’s a great path and provides financial upside and stability.
But it’s far from the only path, and comes with a number of downsides that you likely know well. And our ever-changing world has provided incredible opportunities to get away from that path if you choose to. You can take complete control of where and how you work, which still provides financial upside but also a huge amount of flexibility and fulfillment.
Making money online as a viable career path
Outside of the traditional structure are hundreds of opportunities to make money online. Willing buyers include companies interested in your expertise, and consumers interested in your physical and digital products. Technology today has made this easier than ever before. You can buy a domain on Google and launch a landing page on Carrd within the hour. You can start a TikTok, share stories of your learnings, and sell a course on Gumroad all in the same day.
Of course, those are products you need to create and market to sell. And while the platforms exist to make it easy, it’s far from a cakewalk. However, there is one product that needs no creation, has been fine-tuned for years, and requires significantly less marketing.
That product is you.
You have a breath of professional experience. You’ve changed companies. Helped them achieve incredible outcomes. With those experiences come learnings. And you can add tremendous value to other companies with those learnings to help them avoid mistakes, skip trial and error, and achieve their goals.
This is being an expert consultant. With this, you're not tied to a specific company or location. You can work on a variety of projects for different clients, and you can choose the hours and work schedules that work best for you.
But as we know, there are no handouts in life. And there isn’t with consulting either. Consulting is running a business. And starting a business is not easy. It takes work, grit, hustle, and rejection. It takes overcoming fear and imposter thoughts, which we ALL have. It takes setting your own structure, scheduling meetings with yourself to get tasks done, and staying disciplined. The reward is there if you're willing to put in the time and effort, and not give up when it gets hard. With the right mindset, skills, and tools, you can create a successful consulting business that gives you the financial reward, freedom, flexibility, and potential for the increased earnings you desire.
Solving the biggest consulting business challenge: consistency
So the question is, what would it take to have a sustainable consulting business that meets my goals?
Well, first you need to decide your goals so you know what “good” looks like. And once you’ve done that, you need a sustainable process to find and close clients. You need a pipeline so you always know where your next client might come from.
But can’t I just rely on the marketplaces like Upwork or Catalant or Business Talent Group?
Short answer, no. Here’s why: you’re reliant on someone else to get you business. Anyone can sign up for those platforms and bid on projects. This means every new project gets dozens of proposals within hours. The only way to “win” is to be on them religiously, bidding on projects and trying incredibly hard to win. You might bid on 20 projects before you win one. Is that a good use of your time? Not in my mind. I’d rather create a sustainable way to maintain my business without spending countless hours bidding on projects that I’m unlikely to win.
So, how do we do that? Let’s look at a few best practices (we’ll elaborate more in-depth in topic-specific posts).
Here are three top tips for building a successful consulting business:
1. Hone a niche
- This is hard but crucial. You want to differentiate yourself from the other talent. If you pitch yourself as a “jack of all trades,” how will anyone know what you’re actually good at and choose you over the competition?
- You need a niche so that when a leader or founder meets you, they know exactly what you do, how you add value, and how you differentiate yourself. It's essential to find a specific area of expertise and develop a niche. This will help you stand out from other consultants and make it easier to attract clients.
2. Networking and outreach: calls lead to proposals which lead to closed clients.
- You need to be on calls with potential clients on a weekly basis to fill your pipeline and keep the momentum going. Most people don’t want to do this; they just want a client to land in their lap. They’re also the ones without consulting businesses. You need to be on the phone, asking questions, and sharing your experience to have the potential to close. There’s no way around this. Also, be active in your network and beyond. Share in the Slack communities that you’re a part of. Attend industry conferences and events, join relevant professional associations, and connect with other consultants on social media platforms to expand your network and opportunities. If you put in the work in, results will come.
3. Work efficiently with your non-earning time.
- Your time is precious. It’s the only thing you can’t make more of. Everything that’s not client work is non-earning. Though, unfortunately, some of it is still required. So, make sure you spend time on only the things you absolutely need to focus on. Do you need to spend hours fine-tuning your website? Do you need to design that logo? Do you need an LLC before you start any client outreach? I’d argue the best use of your time is setting up calls. If you’re trying to find clients, everything else is less productive. Maximize the output of your efforts, and stop wasting time with things that don’t move the needle.
It’s 2023 and this is the best time to monetize your experience outside of a “traditional” job. It requires you to put the work in, but the opportunity is right in front of you. The world has changed in your favor, and it’s time to take advantage of it.
And that’s why we built Mylance. We want to remove your non-earning activities as much as possible and help you build a sustainable consulting business.
I help tech professionals refine your consulting niche so you can land 5-figure per month consulting deals.