My Top Lessons Learned As The Owner of An Independent Consulting Firm (Part 2)

To celebrate my fourth year in business, I’m sharing some of the not-so-great decisions and mistakes I’ve made since launching my business. I’ve put these lessons learned into two broad categories: (1) Business Structure and Operations and (2) Getting Clients and Generating Revenue.

For this second of a two-part article, I’m focusing on Clients and Revenue. I hope it helps you avoid some of my mistakes

Where feasible, adjust to what the market wants

For several years I struggled with deciding if I wanted to only offer the services that my team and I had expertise in or expand to add another, more in-demand service. Four years in and I’ve met the market where it is—we offer that additional service but do it by hiring subcontractors. This approach is less profitable of course, so after considering the pros and cons, I recently decided to hire the first employee that has the expertise.

Develop prices for your services based on several factors

Over time I learned several lessons about pricing. The first was that I was grossly underpricing my services. The second was that I needed to vastly increase the amount of incidental costs in my budget for long-term projects. This lesson was learned when a long-term project was delayed due to multiple changes required by the client. These changes resulted in significantly increased costs of the services provided by one of my subcontractors—and I had to eat those costs.

Another lesson learned is to find the balance between pricing based on the value your service(s) provide and what the market will bear and knowing how the different levels of the market can impact your value-based pricing strategy.

Ask for testimonials and referrals early and often

I didn’t start asking for testimonials until my second year in business and picked up the pace in the third year. Year 3 was also when my company started to receive unsolicited referrals. Develop a system to request and collect testimonials and at the end of each project, be sure to ask for referrals.

Refine your sales calls

Once I realized just how little I knew about how to conduct successful sales calls and how much I needed to improve, I started reading books and watching videos about nailing sales calls. I also made some radical changes in my approach and developed a few tools to help with this process. However, I still have a long way to go. While I can speak convincingly about our services and communicate our value, I still need to add consistency, and a defined structure, have a clear, direct pitch, and improve the follow-up process.

I hope these lessons learned will help you tackle some of these challenges early in your business.

To learn about some of the other lessons I learned in business, watch this video.

Did you know we have a business accelerator and membership program for independent consultants? It’s the Ready Set Go Consult Membership and we help them develop a winning operational structure, attract more clients, and grow their businesses. Learn more about the membership here.


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