Consultants – Do You Really Have a Business?
If you’re a self employed consultant then this is a serious question you need to ask yourself.
Working as a consultant maybe you’re selling services or information of some type. Perhaps you even have physical products to sell.
But do you really have a business?
There’s a quote attested to Microsoft founder Bill Gates which is relevant here. Gates has said:
“If your business isn’t on the internet, then you’ll soon be out of business.”
Hence my question – do you really have a business today if you can’t be found on the internet?
Surely…..aren’t most consultants doing at least some of their business online these days?
As far as I’m concerned the answer is no, they are not. I regularly interact with other consultants and am staggered at how many of them continue to rely on personal networking, face to face meetings and referrals from their contacts as their primary, perhaps sole means of generating new business.
So, three important questions:
- Why is being found on the internet so important to your business these days?
- Can your business be found on the internet?
- Is your internet presence making you any money?
1. Why an internet presence is a mustYou already know why. If your customer has never done business with you before, and even if they’ve been referred to you through a networking contact, they will almost certainly be looking online to get information about you. Be absolutely certain that your potential customers will do this before using your services or buying products. After all, that’s what you would do isn’t it, as part of your due diligence in making important buying decisions? That’s why your business needs to be found on the internet.
2. What will people find when they go looking for you and your business?Do an internet search for yourself, and/or your business. How many listings do you have in the top 10 search results? Do you even show up in the top 10? Many of the consultants that I interact with will either have a website, albeit a very basic one, or they are thinking about getting one. Other consultants I know aren’t interested in having a website. Instead they rely on getting internet exposure through some sort of social media presence such as on LinkedIn. Would it surprise you then that I know of many people in the consulting field who either have no LinkedIn profile, or an extremely poor profile? Did you know that when someone Googles your name, in 90% of cases your LinkedIn profile will show up in the top 10 search results? So, what does your Linkedin profile tell a perfect stranger about you? Can they find evidence from your profile that you can deliver what they want? If your LinkedIn profile sucks, then take advantage of the many information sources online for how to develop a more compelling profile.
3 Unhelpful Things On A WebsiteA lot of self employed people incorrectly think that having a basic website with a ‘contact me’ form is all they need to do in order to acquire customers. In fact, as far as websites are concerned, the 3 least effective new customer acquisition strategies to have on your site are:
- The ‘contact us’ form
- A company newsletter that you ask people to subscribe to
- A widget where you provide potential customers the opportunity make an appointment to speak with, or see you
Getting Your Business OnlineDeveloping an online presence can actually be quite simple – you don’t even necessarily need a website, although it can be helpful. For example:
- Get your business listed on Google and Bing – the process…..Go to Google My Business – With Google Business you can also easily create a free website.
- Go to Bing Places for Business – registering your business on Bing also enables your clients to easily find you, and the physical location of your business
- You can also create a business page within Facebook – follow this link to learn how
3. Is your internet presence making you any money?Today, in the digital economy there are unprecedented opportunities for businesses of all types to use internet presence for both customer acquisition and income generation. In fact, it has never been easier for the so called ‘little guy’, consultants like you and me for example, to generate multiple streams of income via the internet. Following are a few basic concepts to illustrate how this can be done 1 Elements of your intellectual property can almost certainly be packaged into digital form and sold online e.g. information product, or products. The advantage of this is you are able to leverage your time, duplicate yourself. It’s possible to be in business 24/7. Also, there is no need to be tied down geographically. And…..access to products can often be automated. 2. A key ingredient for success in the online world is to develop and nurture an email list. This is all about creating a fan base of people who know, like and trust you (qualified prospects). 3. The process of acquiring customers to add to your email list is achieved by providing value via a sales funnel, starting with low, or no cost entry and then upselling to a core offer, or offers. 4. When you have an email list you can market to this list at any time you choose. You can promote both your products and also recommend others (for a commission). 5. Your list is an extremely valuable, and saleable asset when you want to sell off your business. The bigger the list, obviously the more valuable the asset.
Assess Your RiskIn summary, if you are self employed, and particularly if you are providing consulting or other types of services and products, you must seriously consider the risk to your future prospects if you haven’t at least developed an internet presence of some kind. More than that however, realise that the internet is a game changer for the self employed small business person or consultant. By using the technology available it is now possible to fairly easily reach your target audience and to be able to promote your products and services to that audience – that’s a given. The internet and digital economy also means that you can dramatically alter the way you do business, where you do business and how you earn an income. Here’s another way of looking at income or business that you’re missing out on if you’re not a part of the digital economy with your business. If your income is currently relying solely on you being physically present to deliver your product or services then you’re only going to get paid for the time are are actually present doing the delivering. If you want to avoid the feast or famine that is commonly associated with being a self employed consultant isn’t it time you started to act to change that by finding ways to put parts of your business online?
Growing your business online – getting startedIt really isn’t as difficult as many people imagine. For example, think about how you might monetise your intellectual property by developing some of what you know into some kind of digital product. This could be as easy as developing a ‘how to’ powerpoint presentation. Then, do a voice over explaining the content of your slides, convert the whole thing into a video and offer it as a product online. There are many other approaches to getting your products and services online. For example:
- Write an e-Book, guide, or comprehensive ‘how to’
- Create an e-Course, or manual
- Create checklists, questionnaires, handouts, basic ‘how to’ lists
- Prepare sales scripts
- Prepare and conduct regular podcasts and webinars