In fact, being a greenhorn in some ways is good for your chances of being a consultant. Want to know why? Read on.
Your Newness is Your Gift
Entering 2012, I had a private practice with two other clinicians. We were all part-time. I didn’t read any private practice consulting blogs. I read some business books and applied them to my practice. Then I decided to start blogging about what I was learning in private practice at www.PracticeofthePractice.com.
By all measures, I was a nobody. I was a random guy, discovering what worked in private practice and writing about it. Where was my authority coming from? What were my credentials? There were people light years more qualified than myself!
By being new, you bring some very unique traits to consulting:
- You don’t know any better
- While you learn, you share from a learner’s perspective, not from a teacher’s or guru’s perspective
- You’ll get stuck on things that your audience will get stuck on
- You can see the world as someone that is new sees it, because you are new
- You’ll be bold, when others “know better”
- You have very little to lose
Now that we have established that being new is actually a huge gift, let’s discuss where to start looking for opportunities.
Three Things You Have to Identify to Suceed as a Consultant
So how do you become a consultant who has influence and income? There are three things that you must identify:
- A pain that people care about.
- A pain that you have solutions for.
- A pain that people will pay for solving.
If iTunes had pushed their store prior to Napster getting in legal trouble, it would have been a flop. Instead, Apple thought:
- People wanted to have music that they could listen to guilt-free on an easy-to-use platform
- Apple already had the structure in iTunes to offer that music
As a result, iTunes has it fingers in everything from The Voice to your pocket. According to Fortune Magazine, Apple has made over $3 billion every quarter since 2012!
Apple understands this formula. Now let’s apply it to you, the brand new consultant.
First, you need to determine what is your current skillset and what pains it could solve. You may even want to take out a blank sheet of paper to really figure this out.
Here are some things that were in my skillset when I first graduated with my Masters’ degrees in Counseling and Psychology:
- Work at a runaway shelter
- Crisis management
- Behavioral intervention techniques
- Positive and negative consequence systems
- Youth summer camps
With these basic skills, I could start exploring a plan for creating more specialization and eventually a consulting “product.”
Once you determine your existing skillset, you should take those stated skills and start evaluating pains in the business world. What pains are there that need consulting?
Here are a few ideas that might be worth looking at with 10-years-ago-Joe:
Pain A: Staff are not motivated to perform and reach goals.
Solution: HR positive and negative consequence systems.
Pain B: The business world is grossly under-prepared for a crisis situation.
Solution: Crisis management in banks, offices, and call centers.
Pain C: People are negative in Business X’s office settings.
Solution: Integrating a positive culture.
After a careful evaluation, maybe I decide that Pain B is the best fit for opportunities, influence, and income.
So how would I grow my skills so that some bank or office would hire me to train their staff?
Over a three month period I would:
- Read the top five crisis management books and find common traits
- Write a 40 page e-book about crisis management and self-publish it on Amazon
- Break that book into 30 to 40 blog posts on my website
- Break the book into a seven-step plan, focusing on seven research articles about the issues, research, and problems regarding crisis management in the office setting. I’d create a five-minute video for each role within an organization. For example: “7 Studies on Crisis Management that No CEO Can Ignore,” “7 Studies on Crisis Management that No HR Manager Can Ignore,” or “7 Studies on Crisis Management that No Bank Executive Can Ignore”
Why This Plan Won’t Fail
There are a number of reasons that you would reach your ambitious results with a plan like this:
- You are establishing yourself as a curator of the best research, thus becoming a trusted voice.
- You are learning at a pace that exceeds most consultants.
- You are in a highly specific niche that will cure a pain and businesses will pay for.
- Your growing skills match the need.
As you learn how to become a consultant, you must see your newness as a gift, identify a pain that others are willing to pay for that you can solve, and keep growing your skills! Once you master this, just make sure you charge enough. For more on that, see my article: How to Structure a Consulting Proposal.
Photo courtesy of Steve Wilson on flickr