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Jay Niblick

Jay\'s Consulting / Freelance Blog

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Consultants Must Play on Their Strengths to be Successful

Friday May 30, 2014

Consultant strengths and weaknessesAs an independent business consultant, have you ever had a business or consulting task or procedure that seemed simple or easy to do while others around you floundered at the same task ?

Or maybe the opposite was true? Certain skills, mental tasks or conversations that you do in your business everyday are difficult, tiring and time-consuming for you?

Many times we believe we are more or less intelligent based on these metrics of "easy" or "difficult". The truth is, everyone has a set of talents that define what you're naturally best and worse at.

Our strengths are based on those talents, tasks and critical thinking skills that are easy and simple for us to accomplish. We call these our natural talents. Using our natural talents will energize us as opposed to exhaust us when we try to continuously use our non-talents. Non-talents are typically called weaknesses.

But a weakness by my definition is only a weakness if you are relying on that weakness to become successful.

As an example, let's say you had a natural talent of taking conceptual ideas and turning them into something useful or tangible. As a consultant this could be a valuable skill in interpreting an individual or companies hidden talents and assets. If you relied on that skill in your business to be successful and profitable everyday then you would probably succeed!

But this would be called a strength only because you rely on it for your success.

However, If you did not have a natural talent for organizational skills yet your job required you to be organized daily in order to be successful, then you would probably fail because you have just manufactured a weakness for yourself.

It would not be a weakness however if you did not have to rely on that skill to succeed. This is where you would need to outsource your inability to stay organized thus removing that weakness from your consulting business.

In order for us to truly be happier and more successful with less effort we need to rely on our natural talents to manufacture strengths for ourselves instead of attempting to be successful through our non-talents and creating weakness and struggle in our daily lives as consultants.

For more topics on strengths and weaknesses, check out these articles and websites:

• Consulting Success: Consultant Strengths vs. Consultant Weaknesses

• What's Your Genius? How the Best Think for Success in the New Economy

For a whole lot more information on how to become a successful consultant, check out theprofitableconsultant.com.

Consulting Business Best practices for Profitable Success

Friday May 30, 2014

Your Consulting Best Practices ButtonWhen you begin your journey, consistent application of best practices in business is ultimately necessary for any form of consistent revenue and success to show up as an independent business consultant. Especially if your business is home-based, you can't afford to be further distracted by shotgun style business procedures and processes that change from day to day.

Even marketing best-practices can be formulated to maximize your prospect reach without spending all day at it. Check out my last blog post on Marketing Your Independent Consulting Business for ideas on how to streamline your business' marketing procedures.

Consider these consulting best-practices links when choosing to streamline your consulting business towards a more profitable new year!

The Best Consultant Phone Systems for Your Home Based Business

Why Do Consultants Need CRM Software?

Outsourcing for Business Consulting Success

For more information on starting and sustaining a profitable consulting business check out The Profitable Consultant.

Marketing Your Independent Consulting Business

Thursday May 29, 2014

Market your consulting businessIn some ways, marketing your consulting business is much like marketing any other business. It requires a level of "pre-marketing" setup as well as a healthy dose of bravado that enables you to toot your own horn.

However, the most important thing to remember when you market your consulting business is that you're marketing your expertise and knowledge which comes from your experience that you've retained over the years. In other words, YOU are your business and you must market YOU!

This applies directly to most independent business consultants out there that don't rely on employees to speak, pitch or sell for them. You're the front man with lots of expertise and training to offer.

Even if you have a training or consulting package that you offer under a different name, the style and approach you use still belongs to you.

Tom Peters puts it best when he said in his book The Brand You 50 "Learn to market yourself into a brand that shouts distinction, commitment and passion"

Consider these 6 marketing guides when deciding on positive and bold moves towards marketing yourself towards being a successful and profitable consultant.

• Marketing Your Consulting Business: Do Consultants Need a Website?

• Marketing Your Consulting Business: Do Consultants Need a Website? [Part 2]

• Marketing Your Consulting Business: How To Create Great Brochures

• Marketing Your Consulting Business: 6 Steps to A Great Consultant Headshot

• Marketing Your Consulting Business:  Professional Email and Business Cards

• Marketing Your Consulting Business: Why Should You Brand Your Consulting Practice?

For more information on starting and sustaining a profitable consulting business check out The Profitable Consultant.

Having the Confidence to Charge What Your Worth

Wednesday April 30, 2014

Be confident and charge profitable consulting fees.When it comes to struggling with what your ideal consulting fees should be, you're not alone. Over 70% of consultants say that their biggest consulting business hurdle is that they are not making enough income to be a full-time professional consultant.

Fortunately it's not your lack of consulting knowledge or skills that prevents you from becoming a profitable consultant. It's your lack of confidence and and thus your willingness to charge the rates you deserve that keep you from thriving as an independent business consultant.

One of the fastest ways to create more profit for your struggling consulting business is to immediately raise your rates. Keep in mind that this strategy should only be used if you already have several paying clients and you are willing to let go of 20% of them in order to keep those higher clients that will provide you with the income to prosper.

With a little bit of math you can discover how many clients you need daily, weekly, monthly and yearly in order to succeed. Instead of increasing the workload have the guts to charge what your worth and become a profitable consultant.

Below are 2 links that will help build your confidence to charge profitable consulting fees:

Hourly Base Rate Calculator
Consulting Fees and Self Confidence

The Foundations of Profitable Consulting

Tuesday April 29, 2014

Don't let your consulting foundation fall apartIf you've ever sat and watched concrete dry, you'll know it is right up there with watching paint dry and grass grow. However, the difference between concrete, paint, and grass is that once the labor of hauling, mixing, pouring and waiting is done, concrete provides a solid foundation for you to build greater things.

Beginning a consulting practice as an independent business consultant can be more complicated than it first seems. Most new consultants go straight for the kill in their enthusiasm for that first big-ticket prospect. It's not until later they discover their business foundation is not as stable as it should be to scale their business and become a profitable consultant.

Here are 7 keys to building a solid profitable consulting foundation for your consulting business:

The Basics of Consulting
1. 5 Factors to Consider When Becoming a Consultant
2. Does a Consultant Need an Office?
3. 8 Steps to Branding your Consulting Business
4. 7 Consulting Business Insurance Types to Consider
5. 6 Simple Steps to A Great Consultant Headshot
6. Professional Email and Business Card Tips for Consultants
7. 5 Productive Software Tools For Your Consulting Practice

To read more articles on how you can become a Profitable Consultant, sign up at jayniblick.com

How Much Should You Charge?

Friday May 6, 2011

An important step in getting your new consulting business off the ground is to figure out what your rate sheet is going to look like. Sure, you want to help people with your expertise, but the work is also about growing a business and making money, right?

Even if you're offering some of the best services around, if your pricing is too high, people may not find it a good value and go elsewhere; too low and your bottom line could suffer.

So consider the three Cs of pricing, taking into account your costs, what the competition is doing, and your prospective clients' expectations. From there, you should have a good ballpark for setting the appropriate prices to attract clients.

The Book Consultants Will Not Buy

Tuesday July 29, 2008
Given the tumultuous economy and rocky business environment, the timing of Donald R. Keough's new book is pretty good. The retired Coca-Cola executive just published, "The Ten Commandments for Business Failure." As might be expected, it's a hard look at the mistakes made in business that can ensure failure and what to do to avoid them.

For consultants, this book may be one better borrowed than bought. By the author's admission, in this recent interview with The New York Times, it's probably not a book consultants will find endearing. A chapter discussing Keough's own glaring failure with the "New Coke" project, also contains a hard look at the role consultants play. But here, read the quote:

"Consultants will probably not be great purchasers of this book. There is nothing wrong with outside help. But they have to be there for a specific purpose, for some knowledge that you don’t have. These are usually very smart people, and they are very good at PowerPoint presentations. But you shouldn’t rely on them more than the people in your own company." - Keough

PowerPoint presentations? That's what consultants are good at - really? Certainly, the man is entitled to his opinion, but that one just felt like an unecessary dig. Regardless, I think this is a good opportunity to think about the relationship that you, as a consultant, have with a client and the critical importance of defining the value that you bring to a client in your consulting role. Let's say you have a long-term contract with a particular client, or even a client for whom you do smaller projects on an occassional basis. Outside of the initial proposal that suimmarizes your proposed work, how often do you sit down with the client to discuss the results of the project to-date, or for a simple "feel good" conversation about how things are going? Certainly, in most all projects, there are milestones that must be met or final results that must be achieved to note success.

In this case, I'm talking about having conversations that don't just rely on progress you can check off on paper, but rather progress in the relationship with the client. Does your client trust you? Is he/she able to share both positive and negative feedback about a project? Even if the project is meeting its original goals, does the client still view the project as needed and/or valuable to his company? Asking these questions may seem obvious, but they often get lost or forgotten during the course of a project. And the result is a client, like Keough, who eventually finds it convenient to blame "outsiders" for undue influence that pulled their company off-track. How do you ensure that clients find value in what you do? Leave a comment and let us know.

Freelancers Get Boost as Regular Wages Dip

Tuesday July 15, 2008
The workload for independent contractors is on the rise as companies continue looking for ways to cut costs while maintaining productivity levels. The good news for freelancers comes at the expense of employees as small business salaries took a .04 percent dip in June. That's according to a survey from SurePayroll that shows average salaries declining (except in the Western region) by more than $200 since the start of 2008.

Where are companies spending the money they're saving on salaries, payroll taxes and benefits? Hiring freelancers, of course. In fact, SurePayroll indicates June is the fifth month in a row that saw a rise in companies engaging contractors. Breaking down the numbers, the survey indicates there are around 3.54 contractors for every 100 employees. That may not seem significant, but you can expect to see those numbers increase as the economy continues to tighten the purse strings of employers. Hiring freelancers can be a less expensive option that comes with an easy out once a project ends.

As a freelancer, the key is to take advantage of the "positive" shift in the market. Do you use economic realities as a marketing tool? Let us know if your marketing efforts tout the cost-savings benefit of using your freelance services.

Freelancers Lose Copyright Battle

Monday July 7, 2008
A new ruling favoring the National Geographic Society has left freelancers on the losing end of a battle over copyrights and future earnings. A federal appellate court in New York backed an earlier ruling in an Atlanta court, stating that magazines and newspapers can resell collective works and not owe additional royalties to contributing freelancers.

According to this article from the Daily Report, the ruling ended a long-standing legal battle between National Geographic and a Florida-based freelance photographer. The gist of it is that the magazine repackaged earlier issues in a digital (CD) version, selling it as "The Complete National Geographic." The photographer's original work was included, but he received no additional payment for the use of the image. The court says, that's okay.

Why, you ask? The final decision concludes that as long as the product (in this case a CD) being resold is a duplication of the existing product (the magazine) - considered a "collective work," then there is no copyright infringement. It's essentially the same product. However, if a photograph (or an article) is taken from the original product and used on its own, such as on a website, or is assembled as part of a new work that differs from the original, then the freelance photographer or writer is owed additional monies for use of the copyrighted materials.

What do you think? Does the final ruling seem fair - or are freelancers getting the short end of the moneybag?

Consultant Tapped for SBA; Is it the Right One?

Monday June 30, 2008
Sandy Baruah has been named by President Bush to head the Small Business Administration (SBA). Despite Baruah's stint as a corporate consultant, the reactions to his nomination have been mixed - particularly given the challenges that small businesses (and the SBA) face in today's economy.

While working for Oregon-based Performance Consulting Group, Baruah advised companies such as Intel and Disney. However, other than that seven-year consulting gig, Baruah's career has been firmly in the world of government. Most recently, he has been serving as an assistant secretary of commerce.

While no one denies the SBA is in need of some good advice and strong leadership, this article from BusinessWeek pinpoints the many concerns with Baruah. Primarily, there seems to be debate about his experience with small businesses and the private sector, in general. With the SBA facing continuing budget cuts and criticism for handling everything from disaster relief loans to government contract awards, critics say Baruah may not be the right "consultant" for the job.

Just for fun... If the government were to contract with a consultant or a consulting firm to help put the SBA back on track, what type of consultant should they hire? An image consultant? A marketing consultant? Someone specializing in only small businesses? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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