6 Steps to Getting Your First Consulting Contract
In 2014, companies spent $42.4 billion on training according to The Training Industry Report. After locked in an $80,000 consulting contract last week, I can attest to the fact that solopreneurs and lifestyle entrepreneurs have the opportunity to add significant income through paid consulting. The opportunity is there, you may just not have known how to find it.
Getting a company to hire you and give you a consulting contract may test the limits of your comfort zone. You wonder if you’re qualified to approach a company. When you think about the details, you get frustrated because you’re not sure how to build a consulting business.
My first business was a service company in the bread industry. My second business is a lifestyle business that involves a good deal of paid consulting with companies all over the world. How I book contracts is not a mystery and you probably have the skills and knowledge to land the deal. Here are six steps to building a lucrative and freedom based consulting business.
1. Make a list of your areas of expertise.
To get the contract, you have to understand what areas you could possible train on. Tap into your experiences to see what you enjoy and are knowledgeable about. Write those areas down somewhere. List as many as you can come up with.
2. Start with targeting companies where you live.
I have a consulting contract to train in six countries next year, but my first contract was in my former hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (I now live on Maui). You want to start locally because there’s a good chance you have a connection with a local company. Also, you can show a local company that you’re part of the community and are committed to doing good work.
3. Get a meeting with the owner or a decision maker.
Another reason to start local is that you have to talk to someone who can make the deal. Chances are you aren’t going to make deals with Fortune 500 companies when you start out, but you can get a consulting contract at a local restaurant or factory. After you’ve identified your areas of expertise, research nearby companies to determine which has a problem costing it money that you know how to solve. Tell the owner that you want to show them how they’re losing money. Ask for a quick 20-minute meeting over coffee.
4. Prove your fee is worth it to solve the problem.
When you get the meeting, show up and prove you know what you’re talking about. Your research is a big part of proving why you should get the contract. Don’t show up with a lot of promises but no content. This meeting is to prove you can help this company stop losing money. Prove it.
5. Make it legal and deliver.
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s to always get a contract. Getting a contract is Business 101, but many entrepreneurs are too trusting. Pay a lawyer to draw up a contract that lays out what you will do and what you’re getting paid. Once the contract is signed, get to work.
Again, GET a contract. I can't emphasize that enough.
6. Get a referral, a testimonial, and scale.
The first contract is always the hardest, but if you deliver value that business owner will recommend you to other businesses owners. Make sure they’re happy with your work and ask for referrals and a testimonial.
These are the steps, but they’re meaningless if you don’t take action. This week, identify some companies where you live that you can approach. Figure out what problem you can solve at these companies and how much your time is worth. Get a meeting and prove why you’re the best person for the job.
This can be your primary business or a nice additional revenue stream. You can travel the world while getting to help amazing companies be more efficient. Don’t let mindset traps or self-limiting beliefs convince you that this isn’t possible. You’ll never know until you try. All a company can do is say NO. If they do, move on until you get that YES.