Never stop networking and always be selling. That was Amy Rasdal’s key message when she spoke to consultant members from San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange (SDEE) on January 31, 2019 at a workshop held at LabFellows.
Amy Rasdal has been an independent consultant for 15 years focused on medical devices and large internet projects through her business Rasdal Associates. Every time she sends an email out promoting her business, she gets several requests about being an independent consultant. She launched Billable at the Beach® to give people a jump start in independent consulting.
The SDEE Consultants Group is a group of SDEE members who provide consulting services spanning IP management, organizational behavioral, strategic marketing, website design, startup fundraising, business development, and more. Browse the SDEE Consultants directory to learn more. Amy Rasdal led the workshop walking us through the top 5 things to know about consulting. Here is her list:
1. It’s Easy to Get Started
Getting started as a consultant is pretty easy. All you need is a computer, phone, and your experience. The work can be the same as your corporate job, only better because you’re in control, deciding when you work, where you work, how you work, and who your work with. You can be billable as soon as next week.
2. It Takes Hard Work and Risk
Amy explained that a solid consulting practice is built through hard work and a willingness to take risk. You have to work hard to bring in the business and perform quality projects. She says, “No check goes in my bank account unless I bring in the business.”
3. People Buy Your Experience
Becoming a consultant is not the time to tackle a new industry of area of expertise. Amy says people buy your experience. People are going to hire you because of the skills you've built up over the years.
4. Business Can Start Strong and Fall Off
When you first get started, all the people you’ve worked with in the past will want you to continue helping them on a consulting basis. Once you’ve worked off what Amy calls “pent up demand,” you have to figure out how to reach beyond your primary contacts and extend your business development.
5. Always Be Selling
Amy advises to never let a day go by without doing something to promote your business. She says doing billable work is the easy part but keeping the pipeline full is the hard part. Amy recommends setting aside an hour a day to work on bringing in the business.
How to Get Started
Amy outlined a 3-step action plan to start generating revenue now:
- Define your value proposition by outlining your services with a focus on the benefit to the customer. She advises to “draft, iterate, and go,” and not get bogged down with uncertainty because 80% is good enough.
- Make a list of > 100 people you want to tell about your consulting. Generate a big list of everyone you know. Consider that they may pass it along and tell their colleagues and friends.
- Send emails out to your list. Amy advises against an email format where the list is in the BCC field. Instead she recommends using a program like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, or Vertical Response. Or just send them one at a time. It takes time, but the personalization goes a long way to make a stronger connection. Then book meetings and phone calls with those who respond who are most likely to hire you now.
Amy’s final advice: Never, never, never stop networking!!