When starting out on their own, many independent consultants take a broad approach to establishing their business plan, trying different things and periodically adjusting their strategies and goals until they find what works best for them. However, a client that needs to outsource a project will look for the specialist that fits their project. It's in an independent consultant's best interest to focus their efforts on excelling at a specialty. Here are some tips that can help you to define and communicate your areas of expertise.
It may feel limiting to confine yourself to a specialty, but remember: you're an independent now. You are flexible and can evolve into the role in which you feel most comfortable. Consider these four steps when sitting down to define your niche:
See if this sounds familiar: a potential client asks you what you do, and after you explain, they just look at you blankly. It's a problem many independent consultants have— how to describe a complex career. There's no easy quick fix, but there is a key mindset to adopt when describing what you do to a potential client: what you do depends on who you are speaking to. If you are attending an IT trade show, you're going to have a different line about what you do then if you are at an HR summit. Both industries can use your services, but use their own terms to communicate with them.
In addition, it may be helpful for you to sum up your consultancy in a slogan-like sentence you can memorize and repeat. Put it on your website; make it a part of your brand. Make it short and snappy, and people will be more likely to remember it. If you practice, the next time you get "the question," you'll be ready.
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