July 9: Consulting in Practice

On July 9th we continued the conversation about consulting as a business model by welcoming Adrienne Craighead into the studio. Here are the show notes:

Introductions:

Kasie Whitener, Clemson Road Creative

Shennice Cleckley, Smart Cookie Coaching

Adrienne Craighead, Torchbearer Business Growth Advisors

Theme for day:

Consulting in practice

Agenda review:

  • Learn more about Torchbearer
  • CRC Academy revisit / review
  • What is consulting?
  • How do consultants make money?
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Segment 1:

We don’t do a lot of self promotion on this show, but this month we’re focusing on the consulting industry and breaking down consulting business models and talking about how to become a consultant and how to make money as one — two different things. Last week we introduced the Clemson Road Creative Academy, a training and business development platform that is being offered by my company, CRC, to independent consultants. We featured Vanessa Mota of Mota Enterprises whose idea it was to start this certification process.

This week we welcome Adrienne Craighead of Torchbearer into the studio to talk about her practice, her journey, and Torchbearer’s decision to become CRC certified and join the 1st & Main Cohort.

Adrienne – tell us about you. Six minutes (or so) to give us your entrepreneurial journey and the overview of what Torchbearer does and who you do it for. Then we’ll talk about the initial POP of business – your immediate network and two rings out — and that slump, the exhaustion.

You’re a sales junkie, so prospecting isn’t what you wanted or needed from CRC. What brought you to the Academy?

Segment 2

So what does CRC Academy do? Well, we currently offer three services to support the operations of independent consultants. First, we teach methodology — how to actually be a consultant, how to deliver services in a consistent, predictable way. Our methodology, The R.O.A.D. can be applied to any service delivery in any industry. It’s a standard approach but it’s also a simplified way of organizing work so you know exactly HOW you’ll meet your customer’s needs.

Second, we develop the consultant’s marketing platform. She probably already has branding and a niche and some idea of how she wants to present herself and her firm. We help tease that out into marketing deliverables like blog posts and videos and we help her develop a system for creating and delivering on those marketing units. It’s a constant content-creation game in consulting, you have to be writing, speaking, and doing all the time. We help systemize that for our Academy learners.

Third, we offer project management services. We have a software platform we use to manage our client projects and we help the Academy learners master that platform and run their business with it. Our project management services are really about creating consistent, predictable behaviors that get results.

Let’s hear from Shennice and Adrienne about these three areas of service from CRC and how they are helping stabilize and grow your businesses.

Segment 3

So let’s talk about consulting in terms of inventory. There are two ways to think about your inventory as a consultant. The first is all the things you’re capable of doing. This is where our independents get into trouble. They spend a lot of time assessing a client and think, “I can fix so many things here.”

Most consultants have a lot of experience and a lot of expertise. When that’s the case, you can help a client in multiple capacities. Which seems perfect.

Until it isn’t. Until your help is too expensive. Too unfocused. Too much for either you or your client to really manage logically.

Think of your expertise inventory as units of work. Most consultants can write, broadcast (podcast) or deliver their expertise (workshops or coaching). So how do you transfer your knowledge?

What are your skills? What are your strengths? How do people respond to you as a speaker? A coach? A mentor? A writer?

Let’s hear from Shennice and Adrienne about these different ways of transferring knowledge and how they’ve tried, learned, and crossed-off-the-list different delivery methods.

The second way to think of consulting inventory is in terms of the time you have available. One easy way to do this is to start with a dollar amount — how much do you have to make per year?

Then determine how many hours, days, weeks, you plan to work.

When you divide your required income ($80,000) by your available hours (48 weeks X 4 days @ 6 hours each = 1,152 hours total — give or take 10 holidays and you’re at 1,092) $73 per hour. Not too unreasonable, right? But does anyone pay you for setting appointments? Answering emails? Driving to meetings? Networking? Probably not.

So come at it from a product perspective — what products do you have? A workshop? A one-on-one coaching? A podcast? A webinar? Think about the hours that go into that product — my in-classroom hours are a higher rate than my prep hours. There are admin hours associated with every onsite experience. Build out what the total value of that product is. Then decide how many of them you can realistically “sell” each week, month, quarter, and year.

Segment 4

You can patch together inventory to reach your required income. You just have to identify what you need to sell and then sell it.

A lot of consultants go after the big fish — the one or two clients they need to comfortably make their income. But they forget about building their pipeline for when these short term projects end.

A lot of consultants work too hard for small fish, the kinds of small, budget-constrained projects they think will lead to additional higher-value work but find the audience in these smaller projects isn’t the right one to be “wowed” by your expertise or experience. So the small gigs stay just that — small gigs.

Our friend Angelique Rewers calls this “bagging antelope” and “chasing mice” respectively. The big deals bury you in work and ruin your pipeline. The small deals worry you to pieces and don’t lead to anything bigger.

So what’s the right approach? A balanced inventory approach. In the same way a grocery store doesn’t just sell produce — it goes bad, right? Or hot dogs — not everyone eats hot dogs. You need to diversify your product portfolio and your customer base.

Let’s hear from Shennice and Adrienne about developing different products for their businesses and responding to customer demand.

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Start Something, Columbia! is lovingly supported by:

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