“I am a Consultant.” This declaration is probably heard more these days than the question “What is your name?” More than at any other time in history, this economy has compelled educated highly skilled professionals to seek to earn a living by attempting to ply their trade as consultants. So how does the “standout” consultant rise above the masses of tenderfoot claimants who are just temporarily between jobs? Or, even if you are one of the freshly minted masses, how do you stand on the shoulders of giants to pick the fruitful opportunities that the old guys have been neglecting.
There are “Six Keys to Success” that are essential to building any winning success plan. These attributes are integral to building your brand as a consultant as well. These concepts have been adapted to meet the complex demands of modern day enterprise building.
- Information: Become known as a trustworthy subject matter expert in your field.
- Image: Go out into the world every day and look, sound and act the way you wish to be perceived.
- Initiative: Always act on the basis of sound planning and good research, which leads to the pursuit of effective strategy.
- Confidence: Through dedicating your self to winning small victories, you will be emboldened with the confidence that you've done your best; this will be the basis of the momentum that propels you to success.
- Capital: The greatest source of future revenue and profits for your business will be determined by the purchasing and cost decisions you make today.
- Contacts: You must assemble a winning team. You alone will never possess all of the skills and abilities required for perfection, nor will you ever be able to earn every certification or degree needed to answer every question.
Every successful entrepreneur needs to gain a general mastery of the “Keys to Success”. However, there are four specific tactical applications of these concepts that you can use to help carve out a niche for your consulting brand. You can immediately incorporate these four strategies into your practice in order to gain a leg up on the “competition”.
4) Building Your Brand by Optimizing Purchase and Cost Decisions
It has been said that the number one reason for business failure is under-capitalization. Yet stories abound of legendary business successes that lacked adequate resources in their formative stages. Conversely, well capitalized businesses often fail miserably. What ultimately proves to be the key reason for the success or failure of most businesses is passionate entrepreneurial leadership and visionary strategic planning.
Yet when it comes to business success, money certainly matters. However, in many cases it isn’t how much cash you have access to that determines viable cash flow. More importantly, spending the cash that you have efficiently has the greater impact on long-term business success or failure. The greatest source of future revenue and profits for your business will be determined by the purchasing and cost decisions you make today.
In fact, many well capitalized businesses tend to purchase things outright with their cash rather than pursue other more optimal ways of acquiring the things they need. Some well capitalized businesses often tend to try to find a reason to buy everything; instead of finding a way to avoid buying anything. In many instances, having the money to buy something often creates the false perception that the company can “afford” acquisitions that are often ill-advised or more appropriate at a later date. Should the business ultimately fail, they are then stuck with a lot of illiquid assets on their balance sheet and defaulted loans or angry investors.
It is important that you look at each cost and purchase decision you make as a link in your “value-chain”. In other words, does the associated price and terms of making this acquisition add long term value to my business? Does making this expenditure enable me to offer a higher quality product or service to my customer? Making purchasing and cost decisions in this way also puts you in the habit of thinking about your business strategically at all times.
Making good purchase decisions doesn’t always mean getting the lowest price. Spending a few dollars more for a higher quality product or with a better established supplier can often lead to more satisfied customers, quicker delivery times and even gaining referral business from the supplier. Also, it may be possible through negotiation to convert a prospective vendor into a business partner instead. Sometimes this can be done without having to pay anything.
For instance, it may be worth more to the local sandwich shop to cater your roundtable meeting of local Executives for free or reduced costs in order to market their business to the purchasing managers and decision-makers attending the conference. You should always be looking to cut deals that benefit your bottom line, rather than being a free spender of your company’s scarce resources. Other ways to cut costs may be to share office space with strategic companies, bartering your goods and services in exchange for the things you need and buying used office equipment and furniture rather than buying these things new.
It may not always be easy to weigh every factor of each individual purchase. However, failing to examine the key factors of buying may prove to be disastrous. As the fictional character Gordon Gekko stated in “Wall Street”, the classic Hollywood film “A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place." As difficult as it is to find the money to start and grow a successful business, surely the last thing you want to do is make the avoidable cost and purchasing decisions that often lead to ultimate business failure.
In summary: You and you alone are responsible for controlling the quality of your brand. The image you present and the information you transfer to the public are signs of your dedication to quality and the soundness of your ideas. There are many vital aspects that contribute to successfully building a powerful brand for your consulting practice. Whether you are a long time practicing consultant or a novice to the field, utilizing these helpful brand building tactics, as well as a general application of the Six Keys to Success should definitely help you stand out from the crowd in this economic environment.
Vince Rogers is the Principal Change Agent at Vince Rogers & Associates www.vincerogers.biz
Vince Rogers & Associates works with businesses, non-profits and high achieving individuals to formulate winning “Success Plans”.
The foundation for each success plan is tailored around optimizing the management and mastery of the “Six Keys to Success”: Confidence; Capital; Contacts; Initiative; Information and Image.
His books "The Very Best of Disguised Limits" book are available to buy or download free @ www.lulu.com
The complete article Building Your Brand as a Consultant by Utilizing the “Keys to Success” Is featured as the †Cutting Edge Topic in the 2013 Pfeiffer Annual: Consulting