Strategies for scaling your independent consulting practice: A guide to growth
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work and the way that companies do business. Three years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that nearly one-third of the world’s population would be freelancing. With numbers like these, it’s little wonder that many professional freelancers are looking at how to take their careers to the next level. You have taken the leap from freelancer to starting a successful independent consulting practice; now what?
In this article, we discuss how, as a freelance consultant, you can create a successful, thriving independent consulting practice.
The establishment of a consulting practice enables opportunities for growth and increases your reach and capabilities exponentially.
Not only is it possible to take on more work, but by cultivating a team of freelancers, you now have access to a network of other skills and expertise upon which to draw, allowing you to get on with the business of running your business.
Having established consulting practices, many freelancers are faced with the challenge of how to maintain the momentum and position themselves alongside more traditional service providers in order to win top clients and contracts. Fear not, this doesn’t have to induce sleepless nights or hours of despair.
Here are some top tips to help your consulting business reach new heights:
Be a leader among men (and women)
Now that you have your own independent consulting practice, it falls to you to forge new paths and position yourself as a voice of authority in your given field. In order to win the confidence of prospective clients, it’s important to be visible in and vocal about your industry, whether it be trends, technology or know-how. There are some straightforward steps to take to achieve this, the first being creating content. Whether you write a thought leadership article and publish it on LinkedIn, your own blog or guest contributor pieces for other publications, not only will this give credence to your consulting practice and create brand awareness, but it will also help you attract the hottest talent so that you can offer clients the best in the business.
Teamwork is the dream work
Cultivate a team of seasoned professional freelancers who are leaders in their fields. As a former freelance consultant yourself, you understand the levels of skills and expertise that are necessary and as the owner of an independent consulting practice you only want the best working with you.
Growing the right team doesn’t necessarily mean that there is just one person for the job either.
Quite the contrary, one of the huge advantages to drawing your service providers from a pool of freelancers is that you can find niche suppliers and you can expand and contract with the workload.
Foster good relations
As the owner of an independent consulting practice, you are the outward face of the business. So, relationship building is key. Networking with fellow freelancers, consultants, business owners, enterprise executives is all part of the job.
- Clients – Your clients are your most precious commodity. It is very important to look after your clients and treat each one as if they are your only client. Create solutions before there are problems, build systems that will enhance their business, help them boost their bottom line.
- Suppliers – The freelancers in your network are gold. Their professionalism, expertise and experience are the backbone of your business. Build solid relationships with suppliers and encourage them to push themselves professionally – the better they are the better your offering.
As a freelancer, you worked IN a business. You were in the thick of it, producing and delivering to clients. Now, as the owner of a consulting practice you work ON a business – you have oversight of everything and are now responsible for a bigger picture. One of the things that happens when you move away from being a solo freelancer to being a business owner is growth, not just in terms of revenue, but in terms of volumes clients, workload, and suppliers.
There are vast numbers platforms and tools that have been ideated to improve workflows, systems and processes, that make us more productive, efficient and accountable. So, wherever possible, automate tasks and digitise processes. This will not only ensure that nothing slips between the cracks but will also streamline your business and improve operational efficiency.
The pandemic has opened up the world of work. Three years ago, no one would have imagined having board meetings over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, let alone hiring a consultant on a different continent in a different time zone. But COVID-19 has shown us a new way of working where you can quite literally be anywhere and still do your job, as long as you have a reliable internet connection.
With almost 20% of the global population working remotely, there is no need to be limited to just your local market. The world is your oyster.
Create a buzz
Marketing is a key element to getting any business up and running. Positioning yourself as a thought leader and creating your own content around your areas of expertise is one way of getting the word out about your independent consulting practice, but there’s so much more in terms of marketing that you can do to be effective.
- Digital Assets – Creating a killer website that showcases who you are and what you offer is a must, not only for prospective clients but also to attract top talent. Automated emails highlighting your offerings or containing case studies are also great ways to share your business with prospects.
- Get Social – there are certain social media channels that are well worth investing time and effort in. LinkedIn is one that you should pay particular attention to. Creating a page for your independent consulting business will give you access to a much broader audience, and the advantage to LinkedIn over other social media platforms is that you will be speaking to business professionals, your audience. LinkedIn also offers great networking opportunities via its Groups, and the chance to share informative and engaging content about your industry and what your business can offer.
The sky is the limit
Think big and be bold. Now that you are the owner of an independent consulting practice your job is to work on the business, not in it. Your thoughts should be how to grow and expand. And what better way to grow than to expand your offering.
Offering your clients with a turnkey solution, not just one element, will increase your revenue and position your company as leading the way in its field.
In conclusion, the journey to creating your own consulting firm to be reckoned with need not be fraught and filled with fear and anxiety. The key to success is to step up and set your sights on what lies ahead and commit to growing your independent consulting practice by implementing these simple but highly effective tips.