From the category archives:

consulting trends

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So many good posts from the past week that a few good things fell by the wayside.  I’m glad I’m now offering different links over on Bulldog Simplicity that focus on, not surprisingly, ways to remove the complexity in your business and personal life.  Enjoy these; I hope one or more have an impact on your consulting business.  And, as always, please provide a link in the Comments to posts that you found helpful recently.

Is It Stupidity or Laziness?  Who should you be focusing your marketing efforts on — new customers or prospects? Bill Kennedy has a no-nonsense answer.

15 Insights from 15 Years.   A look back at 15 years in the advertising and PR business, but most of Indra Gardiner’s observations are dead-on for consultants and small business owners too.

Arm Your Sales Team With the Necessary Tools to Grow.  You can look at this post in one of two ways — if you’re moving past the entry-level consultant point you need to be thinking about this kind of stuff.  And if you’re not, the companies that Mark Suster is talking about may need your help implementing these processes.  Go find them.

The 11 Harsh Realities of Being an Entrepreneur.  Keeping in mind that the target audience for this site are people who are new to consulting and/or new small-business owners, this list from the OnStartups.com site provides a good grounding of the challenges you face.  There’s another interesting post on this site this week called 23 Tweetable  Startup Insights from Seth Godin, where the writer says he followed Seth’s blog for the past few months and captured a bunch of thoughts that work for startups and entrepreneurs.  Also worth a click.

No, That IS NOT a Competitive Advantage.  I’m cheating here a bit, because this post was published this past summer but someone tweeted it this week.  The writer, Jason Cohen, has a blog that is now one of my favorites because it focuses a lot of attention on differentiating yourself in competitive markets.  Read this post, but explore the A Smart Bear site a bit (starting with the rest of this series). 

Top 25 Small Business Tips.  A very quick read of 25 ways to run your business more effectively from a variety of successful consultants and online marketing experts via Marco Carbajo.  There will certainly be a few you think are obvious,  but it’s worth a couple of minutes to see if there are any you aren’t doing today.

Professional Services Firms and Social Media.  This post provides a summary of some recent research (and the recommendations) around how professional-services forms are using (or are not using) social media. 

The 39 Social Media Tools I’ll Use Today.  The headline alone does not scream simplicity, but this post by Jay Baer does provide a great overview of what people use to keep track of everything they’re doing with social media.  Worth a look.  You probably won’t use all 39, but you may find a few new ones to try.  Jay also did a nice interview this week with SmartBlog on how to build a better corporate blog that’s worth a look.

22 Tips to Differentiate Your Brand Presence.  There are a lot of consultants and small businesses jockeying for position against people with similar products, services, and approaches.  Is yours differentiated from the person down the street?  Pam Moore offers some suggestions.

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The perfect encore career? Consulting

by Peter Osborne on October 19, 2010 · 0 comments

This post was written by Consultant Launch Pad co-founder Michael D Brown, who has worked in the chemicals industry for more than 30 years, 12 of that as a consultant. 

Peter and I have written in the past about consulting as part of a portfolio career – a career made up of many different diverse careers.  There is another career type known as an encore career – that last (or next to last) career move of a lifetime.  I have met and advised many potential consultants who are exploring the consulting profession as an encore career.  

Consulting makes an excellent transition to retirement and a perfect encore career.  There are strong arguments that consulting as an encore career maximizes the lifetime value of a person’s total career by extending the total working time beyond that normally allowed by today’s traditional corporate career.  Properly managed, a consulting encore career draws from the experience and skills of all previous careers and combines those with a pace on a glide slope to eventual retirement.

 For more on encore careers, watch this inspiring and thought-provoking 44-minute webcast hosted by Charlie Gibson for Merrill Lynch with a panel of experts (and actual “encore-ists”).

Are you approaching your consulting as an “encore career?”  What advice would you give others thinking about it?

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Thinking about consulting?

by Peter Osborne on June 22, 2010 · 0 comments

So you’ve been out of work for far longer than you — or anyone else in the family — ever expected.  You had — or more correctly, have — something special but nobody seems to be seeing it.  Nobody’s calling back, and that ”perfect job” you applied for attracted 200+ resumes within three hours.   And now your severance is gone.  Or will be soon.
 
So what’s next?  Assuming the issue is not your failure to develop a compelling personal brand or effectively help recruiters and hiring managers find you, for many people the answer to the What’s Next? question is exploring consulting or project (1099) work. 
 

 You won’t be alone in making this decision: The number of people who have been out of work for more than six months hit 6.7 million in April 2010, nearly 46% of the unemployed.  The New York Times says we’ve lost 8.4 million jobs in this recession and many of those jobs aren’t coming back.  As many as 23% of U.S. workers are operating as consultants, freelancers, free agents, contractors, or micropreneurs, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The percentage of unemployed workers starting companies rose to 8.6% in 2009, a four-year high, with the biggest increases among people 55 and over, according to the Challenger, Gray & Christmas outplacement firm.  The underemployment rate — which counts people who have given up looking for work and those who are working part time for lack of full-time positions — rose to 17.1% in April, from 16.9% in March.

The trend toward “portfolio careers” — where individuals cobble a career together from multiple consulting (or 1099) engagements is growing and demand for high-end temporary business talent is not focused on cost-cutting projects but on driving innovation.

But not so fast.  Even with a great value proposition or skill, it’s not that easy.  First you need to think through whether you have the temperment for the ups and downs of this strategy.  Then you need to think about company structures, the sales process, and a myriad of other things.

Recapturing what you used to make may not happen for years, if ever.   The percentage of new projects you win will be much lower than you might expect.  Many people warn that you can’t do a full-time job search and consult at the same time…at least not effectively. For many people, the process of selling yourself is more daunting than a root canal and may require skills that are somewhat alien to those you had when your company was giving you direction.

On the other hand…

The best way to find a full-time job may be through an “audition strategy,” where you demonstrate your value to a full-time employer prospect through a short-term project.  Many people think that’s the best way to separate themselves from the masses these days.  And this may be a way to pay the bills and prevent you from taking a job that will make you miserable.

This site is designed to help you make the decision and then, if you move forward, be successful.  In addition to unique content, we will also provide links to other sites with great advice and content.

So, what scares you about making the leap to consulting or project work?  What will help you make the decision or be more successful?  Simply put, what kind of content can we offer that will make this a site you’d bookmark?  Please send us your thoughts at  peter at consultantlaunchpad dot com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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