#10 in Our Continuing Series on Consulting After 50
You know you want to go into consulting—you’ve been thinking about it for years. Creativity guru Julia Cameron tells us to cast our dreams ahead of us, and as we move towards them, they will take on substance. But to do this, we need a plan.
Business planner Arnab Ray says there are no shortcuts to success. The entrepreneurial journey is extremely difficult and challenging but if pursued with a plan, it enhances your chances of success. He has developed a roadmap for entrepreneurs that can help the would-be consultant move out of inertia and into action. Here are the four steps.
- Which projects gained the most traction with bosses and co-workers?
- What innovative designs did you develop?
- What cutting edge, or newly polished, methods did you use?
- What feedback did you receive?
- What parts were you the most passionate about?
- Can you see any commonalities across these projects?
Together, these high points in your career crystalize the dream that lies before you. It describes the consultant you can become.
Once your vision is clear, use your research skills to understand the environment and marketplace in which you will work. What patterns and trends do you see? What are clients looking for? Which projects are getting funded, who funds them, and most importantly, who is getting funded? These are your competitors. They can provide you with the benchmarks you need to measure your own skills. Develop your value proposition by starting at the end of an imagined project and work backwards from there. What special value or tangible benefits will the client receive because of hiring you? Spend time differentiating your services from those of your competitors. Then summarize your analysis into a 2-3 sentence paragraph. This will become your first marketing tool because it explains why clients should hire you.
Now that you know where you want to go, you are on the road to consulting success. Ray suggests taking a bird’s eye view of your overall services and then drilling down to the specific functions that will support your business structure. You need to develop a whole series of plans—for marketing, services, management, day-to-day operations, and finances. Creating them takes brainstorming, research, interviews, and endless thought and discussion—but it’s such an interesting and engaging way to spend your time, because it’s all about your future. After you have done some initial scoping, your strategies will become clearer and will provide the framework for your business plan.
Like any road trip, the excitement really sets in when you can see your destination. There is still lots of hard work ahead, but each step gets easier as your new reality starts to take hold. Don’t expect the transition to happen over night—realizing your plan takes time. Many of the consultants I interviewed took up to 18 months to complete their transition. Some who have attended my workshops over the years were thinking five years down the road at the time and now they are well-established consultants. Your timeframe relates to your own circumstances and your readiness to act. The key thing to remember is that a good roadmap gives you the information you need to start your consulting journey. What are you waiting for?
Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up and Management: A Guide for Evaluators and Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Cameron, J. (2009). The Artist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.
Collamer, N. (2013). Second Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. New York: Ten Speed Press.
Ray, A. (2012). Entrepreneur’s Road Map – Idea to Implementation. http://www.arnab.co/entrepreneurs-road-map-idea-to-implementation/
SEE https://www.barringtonresearchgrp.com/blog.html for more articles on Consulting after 50!