Note: Below is a modified transcript from part 3 (above) of a three-part YouTube series, in which I discuss how I started a six-figure DEI consulting business in 6 months.
After being laid off in March of last year, I made a conscious, intentional, calculated choice not to pursue another full-time job. Instead, I decided to dedicate my time and energy to starting my own consulting and coaching business.
In the first post/video, I share some background information about myself,
tell you more about my consulting niche or area of focus, and touch on why I decided to venture out and do my own thing.
In the second post/video, I share some of the things that I did BEFORE I actually launched my business––which I believe are things that significantly contributed to my initial success
And finally, in this third post/video, I talk about some of the steps that I took to actually launch my business and start generating revenue.
Part 3: 5 things I did to start attracting clients and generating $$$
Last year, I worked with about 18 clients over the course of just 6 months! I wouldn’t recommend doing this, and since then I’ve adjusted my workload and have tried to limit the amount of context switching that I do day-to-day. Perhaps in a future post/video I’ll share more about how I manage clients.
In this post/video, I’m going to share with you 5 things that I did to attract clients and start generating income.
So, here it is:
1. I held myself accountable!
You can ask friends, family, your significant other, a coach, a therapist, etc., to help you stay accountable, but ultimately it’s up to you to find and lock into whatever it takes to keep you motivated and forward thinking on your goals.
If historically you’ve had issues sticking to your goals or managing your time, it’s really important that you not only understand the root cause of your behavior, but ultimately, you must figure out what you can do or what tools or resources you can leverage so that you can stay on top of things.
Typically when you take on a job working for someone else, you have a manager, or managers (plural), and maybe even other folks on your team or in leadership who hold you accountable. When you work for yourself, especially as an independent consultant, you don’t have that luxury.
2. I figured out my business structure and systems, EARLY.
Now, I didn’t write what I think many people would consider a traditional business plan, but I did create a document in which I outlined, as much as possible, the structure of my business and the various processes that I wanted to have in place.
For example, when it comes to coaching, I have a fairly succinct, step-by-step coaching process that I’ve built out and have continued to iterate or adjust as necessary. I also figured out a filing system, if you will, early on. To keep myself organized, I have a variety of folders that I’ve organized by category and/or clients. I also use my calendar religiously and have a color coding system to help me monitor how I’m using my time.
Finally, I am a huge fan of “inbox zero”—which I know doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s something that works for me. If you’re not familiar, inbox zero is an approach to managing emails, in which you are constantly trying to maintain an empty inbox. I’ll say that I don’t maintain an empty inbox regularly, but I aim to get it there at least once or twice a week. Again, this doesn’t work for everyone, but my point in sharing this is to emphasize how important it is to stay organized.
And, as I mentioned in part two of this series, if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it or hire someone if you have the means to do so!
3. I came to know and stick up for my worth.
Make sure you do your research and charge for your services accordingly!
There are actually more consultants out there than you probably think, who are more than willing to help you figure out your pricing structure, and even willing to share their pricing with you. So don’t be afraid to ask people who are doing the work you’re doing, what they’re charging and/or how they’re structuring their pricing. And know that this is your business! At any point you can adjust your pricing or pricing model! Who is going to check you??
And of course, always make sure your pricing is fair and ethical, and properly aligned with your industry, experience, and ideal clients’ budget.
The last thing that I’ll offer up here is to always always be transparent and up front with clients about cost, and always always document your agreed upon rates using a statement of work or other document that both you and your client sign.
Oh wait, I lied… one more thing here… As a DEI consultant, I’ve been tried a number of times. I’ve had a good number of people ask me if there’s any “wiggle room” with my pricing. And you know what the answer is? No. There isn’t. And there’s so much more I can say about that, but I won’t go into detail here. But again, know your worth and stick up for yourself if and when questioned about your pricing.
4. I did free work!
I know this may seem contradictory to what I just talked about (i.e. know your worth), but hear me out!
I did free work. Yeap, free. Pro bono, if you will. I volunteered to speak on webinars and I also contributed to articles and podcasts. Let me explain:
When I was initially doing my research on structuring a coaching business, Icame across a business consultant named Terry Rice. He spoke about how much money you could generate by doing a few free speaking engagements. How? Well, in short, it’s an easy way to get your name and work out there. You volunteer your time, for example, to speak on a panel or on a webinar or two that has your ideal client in the audience, and clients will start coming to you.
Also, if there are lists that you can join (for example, someone added my name to a list of black DEI consultants), join those! It’s another really easy way to get your name out there and to have clients come to you vs. you having to look for clients and do more traditional sales tactics. I for one am not a fan of traditional sales.
Ok, so the 5th and final thing that I’ve done to continue generating clients and revenue…
5. I became a subject matter expert
I shared this in the last video, but I’m constantly learning and keeping my material and approach to my work relevant. And I always aim to present my best work, which has resulted in my clients referring other clients to me.
And one thing that I’ve found really helpful for landing clients, is to have some sort of material/portfolio/document that you can easily and quickly share with potential clients. The collateral should tell them who you are, what you do, how you can help them, and any other relevant information, such as a case study to showcase your work, your pricing, etc.
Early on, when i started interacting with clients, nearly all of them would conclude our initial call by asking me to send some sort of follow up material to highlight or share how I could best support them. Honestly, it was exhausting and not a good use of my time to have to create some sort of follow up materials after every single prospective client. So, I ended up creating a presentation deck with all of the information that I mentioned (i.e. my bio, service offerings, pricing, etc.) and now all I have to do is take about 5 minutes to customize it for the respective client, export it as a PDF, and send it to them after our initial call. It not only gives the client the info that they want and need, but I’ve noticed that not many independent consultants do this, and it’s a really great way to stand out and set yourself apart from others.
A polished document is a great way to initially show the quality of your work to your client.
The last point I’ll offer up here is that whenever I do initial calls with prospective clients, I ask a lot of questions to not only identify how I can support them (and also to confirm that it’s a good fit for me), but to also reflect back to them that I know what I’m talking about. Initially, when I started out, I had a template of questions that I’d quickly customize and ask clients during our initial calls. It was a great way for me to make sure that I didn’t miss anything upfront.
So that’s it for this series. Again, I really hope that this has been helpful, even if you just took one thing away from this post/video series, I think that’s a win!
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I’m also open to suggestions for future content. And finally, please subscribe to my channel for future updates.
Thank you again for supporting me and reading/listening. I hope to see you again here soon!