How many of you consider yourselves to be consultants? I’m guessing almost all of you are consultants. Sure, your business card says Creative Director or Account Executive or Media Buyer, but in the broadest sense of the term, all of those jobs are consulting roles.
With that in mind, let’s consider some interesting points made by Alan Weiss, president of Summit Consulting Group in East Greenwich, RI.
What is the most important thing to know about the consulting business?
It’s really a marketing business. Even if you go into it with a great approach or methodology, that’s not nearly sufficient.
What big mistakes do consultants make?
They charge by the hour. As a solo consultant, you should only bill on value and you should only deal with an economic buyer—somebody who can write a check for you. Don’t deal with a middleman.
I used to think that most consultants were undercapitalized and that was their big problem. What I know now is that the main problem is self-esteem. It doesn’t matter what their age, gender, or culture is, most consultants do not see themselves as their clients’ peers, but as subordinates. They’re obsequious and they come to the job hat in hand. If you want to make six figures, you can’t have that mindset.
How can consultants begin to view themselves as peers, rather than subordinates?
You have to create intellectual property and become a thought leader. You have to own a niche. When you do, people will come to you. You can go out there with a kind of pizzazz or you can have the image of a vendor.
On the thought leadership point, Weiss adds that he made $2.5 million from his first book, The Consulting Bible, not from book sales, rather because decision-makers saw his name, HarperCollins, and the word “strategy.”