Best Practices in Running Your Communications Consulting Business

Strategic Startup:
Founding a Consulting
Best Practices i n Running Yo ur Communications Consulting Business
Fairleigh Dickinson Uni versity – Madison, N. J., July 22, 2014
Barbara Zelasko Commmunications Management
Personal Assessment
Do you really want to be a consultant?
◦ Are you just between paid positions?
◦ Are you truly entrepreneurial?
◦ Can you self-promote with confidence?
What do you have to offer?
◦ Your core capabilities
◦ What do you really want to do?
What are your values?
◦ Define your personal and business principles
◦ How do you see your own worth?
◦ How do you view your clients?
Barbara Zelasko Communications Management
Situation Assessment
Times have changed—Employers may see consultants as freelance or in transition
◦ Are you willing to take a contract position through a recruiter—this is a temporary job, not true
◦ Do you have the constitution to assert yourself as an authority?
◦ Are you in it for the long term?
Examine your commitment
◦ Are you willing to manage employees and vendors?
◦ Manage client expectations?
Choose your clients
◦ Is the working relationship tenable?
◦ Does your client have your back?
◦ Will they pay you?
Barbara Zelasko Communications Management
Strategic Business Planning
Define scope of services
◦ Articulate your concentration
◦ What is your point of difference?
Determine your target market
Not just industry
Dollar range
Terms – markups?
Create your business strategy and marketing plan—on paper
Do you require a complete business plan?
Are you going to be a 1099 worker, corporation, LLC
Expanding Services?
Build in flexibility
Barbara Zelasko Communications Management
Earning Clients
◦ Trade association participation bears fruit
Deploy your marketing plan
◦ Online presence—keep it professional
◦ Print? Speaking engagements?
◦ Create your image
◦ Reflect your truth - Let go of ego
◦ Accept your value - Overcome insecurity
Image Materials
◦ Portfolio – Online, Take along, Leave-behind
◦ War stories
◦ Business cards
Barbara Zelasko Communications Management
Retaining Clients
The reputation you create for your clients is your reputation
Focus on client needs
◦ The money will follow
Be honest and fair
Maintain consistently high standards
◦ Language, style, and professional communications guidelines
◦ Performance
Treat employees and suppliers well
Set borders
◦ Hours of operation
◦ Timing, condition, and format of materials from clients
◦ Be cautious about pro bono work—volunteer judiciously
Keep your discipline
◦ You are at work at home or in your own office
Make sensible business decisions
◦ Plan for expenses—you have to pay taxes and expenses
◦ Hire a CPA
◦ Reinvest in your business—updated technology
◦ Save—your accounts could disappear overnight
Be ready to consider unforeseen opportunities
Barbara Zelasko Communications Management
Reconsider the Big Step
What kind of bird are you?
◦ Do you want to put a toe in the water or take flight?
Think before you leap
Barbara Zelasko Communications Management
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