So you want to learn how to be a small business consultant.
Every business consultant has a key skill set they rely on in all areas of business consulting. I’m going to teach you the same skills I use as a consultant that have been extremely valuable to my career as I know it will help you in your consultant career.
I’ve been both a small business consultant and a B2B consultant for many years, the consulting skills below are what helped me get the best end results for my clients.
Small Business Consultant Or Small Business Coach?
First, it’s important to know how to clearly distinguish the differences between a small business consultant and a small business coach.
The reason I bring this up is because students get these two roles confused quite often. They often refer to themselves as a coach and cosultant, but still offer the same skill set and services to clients.
Truth be told, if you get the two confused, you’ll look unprofessional and that’s stating kindly. The last thing you want is to look foolish in front of your prospects and potential clients, right?
A small business consultant mainly works on strategic planning and problem solving for clients. It is your responsibility and priority to teach your client how different processes and systems work. You should also have the skills to teach your clients how to implement these systems and how they work for their business.
As a consultant, you could be responsible for planning and implementing marketing strategies, marketing plans, business models and frameworks. You should be experienced to plan strategy sessions with the companies you work for.
A small business coach has the ability to help clients become successful by focusing on their personal development. You’ll be responsible for keeping your client focused on their goals, helping them avoid distractions and procrastination. You’ll need to help your client stay mindful of the journey and how actions end up as results.
It’s not your job to help your student by taking action for them, rather you should be encouraging them to take the action, it’s a part of their development. Rather, it’s your job to help your students find the answers they seek. You guide them in the right direction and let them be the decision maker. Encourage the student, but let he or she take lead.
You can be both a consultant and coach, most of us are when you have the complete set of skills needed. It’s important to understand that there’s a clear difference between both roles.
Just because a client says they need business consulting doesn’t mean coaching isn’t needed. Most people use business consultant over business coaching. While you may do otherwise, I always ensure my clients learn the needed skillset to complete their journey. Of course, many don’t have an end goal, but they do have goals set and we should always set realistic goals to achieve.
Be The Smartest Person In The Room
Your knowledge is your value proposition, it’s what you bring to the table and it’s what clients/students will heavily depend on whether they choose you or not.
If you don’t have a strong skill set, you’ll never make it. You should be reading books and content daily, I always say to “practice what you preach.” You need to be confident in everything you do and knowledge builds confidence.
I want you to learn how to be a great business consultant, business coach, but really both. You need to be a great learner and student, be a great listener. Be a great problem-solver. You can be the smartest person in the room. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, it’s going to pay off for you.
Experience Matters And Plays A Big Role
If you’re just now starting out, it’s going to be tough to land consulting jobs and coaching jobs. If you don’t own a business, it can be tough. Knowledge is powerful, but you can’t replace real-life experience. It’s just a fact.
Before I founded my first company, it was tough to get consulting leads. When I did, I was always asked about my experience but I didn’t have the real-life experience at the time. Anyone can start a business. If you’re serious about being a small business consultant, consider starting your own small business. You don’t have to stop offering business consulting services, you can continue to learn and you can get the real-life experience you need by starting your own business.
You can be a freelance business consultant. There’s nothing wrong starting as a freelancer, I did. I wasn’t a business consultant when I first started out, I was a ghost writer. I made a lot of money as a freelancer, long before I ever had a business. You still need a website to drive traffic to, but you don’t need a business to start consulting for businesses.
You Must Be A People’s Person
As a consultant or coach, you’ll be dealing with people all the time. Some people are very easy to get along with, others are much harder to deal with. Everyone has a background and story, you’ll be introduced to about every possible personality you could think of while being in this industry. It happens to us all.
The better you are at reading people, the less distractions you’ll have. When you can tell who is serious about your services and who is not, you’re going to save time and effort. Again, this is where you need the real-life experiences of dealing with people.
In short, I would suggest you become a people’s person, be the one that everyone gravitates to. Be the one that gets all the attention, that’s the small business guru that does great. Demand their attention but let your results speak.
Speaking Of Results…
I don’t want to discourage anyone, I’d rather motivate you all to reach your goals if you want to know the truth. However, if you can’t deliver the results, you won’t be around very long. You’ll be able to fine tune your skills with practice and experience, but never use a client to “test.” Again, start your consulting business and experiment with it on your own terms. Never use a client for that.
If you can be the consulting ace that gets the results, you’ll never go hungry again. And here’s the thing, when you get great results for a company, they tell their friends. Deep down, we all want to be successful. If you found a consultant that grew your business by 4,000 percent, you’d tell someone about it, right? Some of you may not, I can hear you now. “Hell no, I want it all to myself!.” Rightfully so, but mouth-to-mouth referrals are powerful. You know you’re doing a great job when you’re getting referrals.
Results will always matter and you have to be able to deliver them.
What Niche And Market Area Do I Focus On?
Some of you will focus your consulting on a specific niche while others may have the experience needed to help with most problem solving challenges businesses face.
If you focus on a specific niche and market, you may need license and certifications. Most will not, but some will require that such as legal consulting, tax and insurance.
With that being said, you’ll need to figure out if you’ll focus on local businesses or work nationally, even internationally. What types of businesses will you consult for? Will you work with small business only or will you target enterprises and larger companies? You can target who you want to, but you want to know where you’ll focus your attention starting out.
Learn The Common Problems Businesses Face
If you want a leg up on your consulting career, learn what common problems businesses face and how to provide the solution.
Many small businesses face similar problems and challenges. The better you can understand these problems and concerns, likely the better solutions you can offer.
You learn a lot through your own trial and error. I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my career, we all make them. You have to experiment a lot, you have to willing to test different strategies as a consultant. Of course, you always want to have their best interest at heart. Growing a business is not easy and hopefully, you do have experience growing your own business and having that experience you need to provide a great service to others.
Any advantage you can get is important and if you know most of the challenges that businesses face day-to-day, you’re going to instantly become an asset for that business. Leverage your knowledge!
Writing Your Business Plan
If you’re going to take your consulting business seriously, you need to work on your business also. That starts by writing a business plan.
Some of you know how to write a business plan, some of you may not. It’s very important. I’m often questioned about this, especially by freelance business consultants. I do know you can grow a business without it, many have proven this same point. Even so, the structure and foundation of your business is crucial. That’s what your business plan is.
You need to put a special focus on your business model. What processes and systems will you use? How will you price your services? What will you outsource? Then you have important elements such as your company mission, goals and
Building The Systems Of Your Business
From the beginning, you need to be focused on how your business runs. You need the correct processes and systems in place to optimize your own business. You’ll be judged by how your business performs. Nobody will invest in your consulting services if your business isn’t managed properly. Your business will always be a reflection on your capabilities as a consultant.
Anything you can automate in your business is going to save time, money and effort. You should be building templates to use, formats for content,
Building Your Marketing Plan
Marketing your consulting business has to be a priority. There’s a lot of business consultants out there, many that have been consulting for years. If you want to make an immediate impact, you have to stand out in a crowd.
You’ll need to learn how to leverage social proof, build trust and build your reputation, show your potential customers what you can do.
The results I get my clients are authentic, millions of dollars (sales results from my new 5-Step Blueprint Formula program) A tip I’ll give you, document everything you do. Document your strategies, your success and your failures. Yes, even your failures because you don’t want to make the same mistakes again. It’s ok to make mistakes, this is how we learn, but you must learn from them.
You Have To Be Honest With Yourself
Do you think mindset matters? I promise you as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, it does. Mindset is everything, especially for those of you that are just starting out in small business consulting, being a business coach. You need 110 percent confidence to do this job, you really do.
Go back to the importance of learning, knowledge is priceless. Be the type of consultant that loves learning and teaching others. I tell this all the time, but I’ve been learning something new (relative to my consulting) every day for the past 11+ years. As a business coach, I learn (long-term memory) by teaching my students and clients. I learn by doing my videos and keynotes. It implants what I’ve learned and helps me absorb everything I’ve learned.
Most of you will likely have to contact your consulting leads by phone or Skype. You know you’re great at your job when you can confidently answer every question they ask. That’s how you know you’ve reached that level. If you can’t answer every business question you get, it’s going to be a concern for your client. This is another reason you need to learn the most common business issues owners face as I mentioned above.
Always Track Everything You Do And Their Results
One of the mistakes I made early in my career is the fact that I didn’t track my results, both success and failure.
I know I already mentioned this a little, but I wanted to state why it’s important. Case studies are one of the best topics you can cover. It validates what you do and it can be used to turn potential customers into leads.
You also need to learn what strategies lead to success. For example, when you do A and B, you get C. These case studies will help you learn, but again, it validates your credibility.
As I said before, learn how to leverage social proof, especially if you’re new to the block and you don’t have testimonials, reviews and feedback to that nature.
Lastly, be yourself.
You don’t have to a personality if you don’t want too. There’s a lot of business consulting professionals that do nearly all of their work behind the scenes.
People do gravitate to people that have a personality, but in the end, it’s all about results. If you provide results, you’ll be employed for many years to come.