How do you grow your small business consulting practice? I’ve been a small business consultant a long time, and these are small business plan checklist essentials that have worked for me. I think they’ll work for you, too. Here are 18 steps to becoming a small business consultant.
Whether you call yourself a consultant, coach, advisor or mentor, these steps will help you develop skill sets as well as grow your business. The Coach-Consultant Concept A small business consultant works with clients on strategy, planning and problem solving, and helps clients develop business skills and knowledge. These topics range from designing a business model or marketing plan, to determining which marketing techniques to use and how to use them. You’ll often help clients learn how to plan and implement projects.
When you put on your coaching hat, you don’t give advice. Instead, you help the client find the answers from within themselves. Don’t get hung up on titles unless you want to strictly follow the ICF definition. You can call yourself a consultant, advisor, mentor or coach, and most clients will understand that it means you’ll help them solve problems and grow their business. Pay attention to the outcomes the clients seek. You need both consulting skills and coaching skills in order to be effective and provide real value. I have been working with micro business owners and solo entrepreneus for over 20 years and I rarely find one that doesn’t need both coaching and consulting.
It’s true: they almost never approach me and ask for straight coaching. They ask for practical advice and brainstorming. But in the search to find solutions and to map out a strategy, a small business owners will stumble unless they do both the personal development work and the business development work that leads to success. You cannot be an effective consultant if you don’t bring value to the small business owner.
Be relentless in your ongoing skill building. You become more in-demand and can charge higher fees based on the your wider the breath of knowledge and expertise. It’s rare that a small business owner will entrust their business to a small business consultant who has never owned a business before, or to a consultant who doesn’t have a high level of expertise in a specific topic area. An expert is defined as having 10,000 hours of experience with the topic they claim as their expertise. Before you get down to the nitty-gritty of designing your business and getting clients, figure out why you want to be a small business consultant and help this specific target audience. Knowing this will keep you going when you hit the inevitable speed bumps along the way to buiding your business and serving your clients. Determine what “success” looks like for you personally.