The First Six-Figure Contract and How It Helped Me Scale
You’ve probably heard the quote that success happens when opportunity meets preparation. Well, I can certainly attest to being prepared when a great opportunity was presented to me.
In March 2020 I decided to host my very first webinar. Not my first as a business owner—my very first webinar period.
The title of the webinar was Now’s the Time: Learn to Search and Apply for Federal Grants and I had 23 attendees from all over the US.
I was very nervous, but I was over prepared, as usual, so I was confident things would go well if the technology cooperated.
A few months later I collaborated with three other grant women consultants, created what we called The Nonprofit Chatroom, and co-hosted six consecutive weeks of webinars on different aspects of grants—readiness. writing, government grants, grant compliance, and program evaluations for grant-funded projects.
I learned in 2020 that webinars were a great way to get the word out about Grants Works so I hosted several others, recorded them, and then shared snippets on social media or tried to sell access to them. After all, I put in a lot of time to develop them, and they were really detailed. I’ve since learned to not add so much detail.
An opportunity came
In January 2021, I received a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop a federal grant management training series for a large foundation.
I prepared a solid proposal and asked my close sister-friend who is a business development VP and a pro at preparing huge technical proposals to review it. I uploaded several snippets of those webinars I described earlier and then took a deep breath as I pressed submit.
About a week later I learned my company was selected to develop the training.
I was elated.
In just a few weeks I had to vet and hire an instructional designer, a professional editor, build a project budget and implementation plan, negotiate the contract, and more.
I hosted the project kickoff in mid-February and got to work.
And work I did.
I had to build the training series from scratch. No script, no copy, no nothing except the experience I gained over the years.
I started with a content outline and started writing.
The instructional designer advised that I write the voiceover script as I developed the content, knowledge checks, and other parts of the training. She built the course in a tool I’d never heard about called Articulate Storyline and, many versions later, the course was done.
But this isn’t about the course, it’s about the ability to land that first big contract because I had experience from preparing and hosting several free webinars in 2020.
Who knows? Maybe the organization learned about my company because of either the snippets I shared on social media or because someone from the organization participated in one. I never asked.
The deadline for that project to be completed was June 30th. We made the deadline and because we did a great job, I continue to work with that client to this day.
I learned way too many lessons from that experience to list here but I’ll list a few.
- Building that training series helped me really understand the value of "knowledge commerce" and it was the springboard for Grants Works Academy, a website I created on the advice of a business coach. GrantsWorksAcademy.com is the central location where all my company's grant-related online training can be accessed.
- Every action we take to improve the business helps us serve our clients better.
- What may seem like unrelated projects actually have a connecting link that has helped make me a better consultant.
- You never know who is watching and observing you so always try to present the best version of your business. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it should be a good and authentic representation of your consulting business and the services you provide.
- Your reputation precedes you.
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