At 440 Industries we believe in creativity and in the power of passion. At the same time, however, we know that passion is not enough and in order to succeed in business, entrepreneurs and freelancers should be almost unreasonably persistent in the pursuit of their goals.
We are consultants. In time we developed a wonderful culture of assistance and teaching which we pour every day in our courses, classes, and talks. The purpose of this post is to share what we believe is the way towards building a solid consulting organization in the creative industries.
Artists and creatives are clients like no other and need to be understood if we wish to help them reach their goals. In our years of practice, we’ve assisted designers, musicians, and even tech startuppers focusing on what they know best while leaving the rest to us. We never had a meeting where we disclosed a magic formula. Business is very much like going to the gym, if you build the right habits and you become accountable towards yourself, great results are sure to come. No shortcut will ever impact the long term success of a company, as much as consistency and attention to quality.
In this post, we share some of our most heartfelt advice, when starting a consulting firm. We believe that companies, in their initial stages should grow relying on nothing but the founder’s own character and expertise.
For each of the topics addressed in this guide we shortlisted the most important ideas you should reflect upon as you design your career in consulting. We kept each section short and to-the-point in order to make this a time-effective reading which hopefully will inspire you and give you some thought-through advice on how to get started in this line of work.
This post can be complemented by the blog section of our website 440industries.com, where we also provide a wide range of free articles on business in the creative industries to help creative professionals source high-quality information.
We decided to create this guide to assist fellow consultants in understanding what this profession entails and to share those values and attitudes that are dear to us.
We hope you will enjoy the journey, and remember that our help is only an email away.
In this post we are going to discuss:
Our journey begins within ourselves. The first thing a consultant must do is acquiring the right mindset for this job.
Before focusing on what a consultant is, we’d like to clarify what a consultant is not.
Let’s look at the different professional dimensions that a consultant brings to the table to explain the value of a consultant.
A consultant, however, should avoid being omniscient or too generalist. As you start your profession, picking only a few areas of specialization is the best approach to recruit your first clients. In the end, just like with SEO (search engine optimization) we want to be the first-to-mind result when a potential client needs help to solve a problem, and this is much more likely to happen when we pick a niche as opposed to a whole industry.
We use the “pyramid” model, as it reminds us of the iceberg metaphor. Much of what we do is actually beneath the sea level, whereas our personalities is what most people see day to day.
A consultant is many things, according to the niche you pick and the field you work in, your job can almost be unique. As you embark on this career you’ll find for yourself the wonderful diversity that this line of work provides. In our experience, we’ve seen that even if clients may vary greatly, you can create a consulting format which is likely to fit with most of the project you may be following.
Let’s see in the bullet points below what simple steps you can foresee in a consulting relationship, so that you can create a structured approach to your profession.
Now that hopefully, we’ve clarified what is the mindset of a consultant and what you can do to help your clients, we can move on to discuss how to manage your most valuable resource: your time. Consulting is often charged by the hour, and this by itself shows how economically valuable your time is. In the next section of this book, we’ll address this topic and give you a few ideas on how to set a productive and profitable schedule.
Where do you find your first client? Well, there are many ways to find clients for your work depending on the type of service you want to provide. In the following list, we’ll break down some of the most effective strategies we’ve adopted to recruit new consulting clients. In this section, we touch upon 4 different approaches to finding and retaining consulting clients.
In business, we say that a client interacts with a brand at least 7 times before making a purchase. In this case, by attending the right environment, your brand will be interacting often with potential clients and as a result, it will be more likely to get hired. In this sense, it’s also worth noting, that creating a service package for your consulting services is a way to better explain to your prospects what the process of hiring you will entail. Consulting is often seen as simple business advice, and at times it may be hard to understand why a client should pay to have a “conversation”. In this sense, designing consulting packages is an effective way to break down the services associated with your business, and make the client more aware of what you are offering.
How does this play out? Well, if a company is dealing with times of crisis, a consultant wishing to go the extra mile is going to only charge for the expenses met in order to assist the client, postponing payment only when the day is saved and the situation presents a brighter outlook. This is a risky strategy, but we always advise betting some of our time on these projects, not only because they help us reach out to fellow businessmen but also because they represent a high-reward scenario when they do come to fruition. These clients, as we’ll see in the next section fall within the 3rd quadrant of our money\time management graph.
As you are likely to find yourself with many opportunities to assist and guide companies through times of hardship, where will you find the time to keep up with such important tasks? In the next section, we’ll discuss time management skills to help you make the best of your time.
When we hold our classes with new freelancers and consultants we often see people on the brink of exhaustion. We all know that starting your own business or let alone managing your profession independently is a challenge, but in many cases, this can impact our health with no real benefit on any other level.
We suggest approaching time strategically, by protecting the times of the day which bring us the most value. Below we list a few ideas on how this can be done.
As you start managing your clients effectively, you will need to grow your consulting firm. To do so you need talent. In business, we’re all trying to attract talent, some employers are better than others at doing it. Here are our pointers to develop an employer branding strategy that will make it easier to find people willing to invest their time in your company.
In this post, we set ourselves the objective to illustrate and clarify some of the best advice we give our students and fellow consultants during our courses and training at 440 Industries. In a time where entrepreneurship is glorified, we wanted to show that each of us can find in consulting a productive and exciting way to start a meaningful career and gain exposure to a wide variety of individuals, businesses, and organizations.
Consulting is a profession of trust and is very relationship-based. As a result, the first years of your activity might be especially hard, as developing your network takes a very long time. It’s very much like growing your vegetable garden: it requires you to do a lot of work before you can eventually reap the benefits of your efforts. However, don’t be mistaken, this is also an advantage on your behalf. The relationships that you will have forged, will stand the test of time, and will also be a threshold to entry for any new competitor. This is why consulting is such a rewarding profession, it allows you to develop a profound connection to your clients and to your company, developing long term assets which are entirely your own. In this perspective then, there is no time to waste, as opportunities to start your own consulting firm are available to you every day.
We hope you enjoyed the experience of reading this book, and we look forward to providing more content to assist you to pursuing the career you desire.
Remember that in business, those who succeed are not the lucky, nor the most talented. Those who ultimately succeed are those who are persistent and patient in the pursuit of their ambition.
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