Announcing the 360IT Partners Professional Learning Series for Hampton Roads Small Businesses

September 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bits and Tips, Management Coaching 

Don’t miss a great opportunity for networking and learning the latest IT trends and challenges from the best of  local experts in Hampton Roads. We hope you will join us for the first session which is designed for small business to be prepared for any type of disruption or disaster in  business operations. Well known moderator Cathy Lewis will lead the panelists through an excellent dialogue and your questions as well! See the flyer for more details:

Final 360IT Partners Learning Series flyer

Anyone Can Be a Consultant

June 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Management Coaching 

by Susan Long-Molnar, President

The recession resulted in an interesting bandwagon for the consulting industry. Although the consulting industry’s roots probably date back to the prophets who were often slain for unacceptable advice to their kings, over the years the need to consult and the need for advice have matured into an industry which I find perplexing.

Understand you are reading this blog from someone who named her business Managing Communications Consulting seven years ago without really having any idea what that last word would mean to my clients or for that matter, to my livelihood. I was just tired of corporate meetings, downsizing, centralizing, decentralizing, and rationalizing the need for effective communications. I just wanted to help business owners and management teams communicate their brand to all of their audiences, engage their employees, and grow their businesses.

Assuming that if you have experience and knowledge you can easily transition from corporate nine to five to the role of consultant by printing the business cards and networking is probably not based on very sophisticated thought processes. Yet, it happens. I have met dozens of newly created sole proprietors identified as consultants, from business to facilities to training and even hired guns for departments which don’t exist. As a professional communicator (notice I didn’t say consultant), when I strike up a conversation, I often find business owners, six months to a year since start up, struggling to communicate anything positive about their status or revenue growth. Instead, for many, the elevator speech shifts with the latest trend or newest potential partner or even worse, leaves the other party totally confused and asking half way through the conversation, “Now what do you do?”

The word “consult” implies that you already know how to do something. If you have experience in identifying issues, analyzing data, implementing strategy, or finding solutions, you might then be in a position to consult. It’s not just about having work experience and skills in an industry. Ironically, what I found was that I was pursued for what I knew how to do, and then, realized when a client relationship developed, my opinion became just as important as the doing or implementing for marketing, PR, or communications. It has taken me several years to realize that clients may not expect me to do anything except evaluate and guide them toward results.

Most of what I know about consulting has come from my clients. The service of consulting often becomes the means for differentiating businesses. The architects and engineers want to do more than design and plan. They want to be viewed as consultants who can offer solutions. Even auto repair shops and spas want to be viewed as more than the provider of very tangible services.

Even if you have the know-how and ability to establish relationships, you may not necessarily be the right person to consult others. Ask yourself or others considering a new business in consulting…

  1. Do you like working alone most of the time?
  2. Have you thought how you will reinvent and rejuvenate yourself?
  3. Is consulting just something to do until you find another position with a company? If so, how are you communicating your goals and interests to others?
  4. Are you realistic in your pricing, marketing, production capabilities, and client expectations?
  5. Have you developed clear boundaries you will accept for your business, from the services you will or will not provide to the compensation you will accept to “get in the door”?
  6. Do you have a communications plan for your business with key messages, a clear value proposition for your services, and the resources to successfully tell your story?
  7. How well have you researched your target markets and have you selected them for the right reasons or simply because they represent an industry for which you have some experience?
  8. How long can you maintain a level of income which may be far below what you have acquired in the past?

And…be sure you understand that you are the bottle washer. You probably will carry out your own trash. Get used to making your own appointments. All the while, don’t lose sight that you are probably the source for the only communications which your potential client will have with your consulting business. Be on…all the time.