How my consulting business has changed in the last 3 years

How my consulting business has changed in the last 3 years [PMP #156]

This month marks 3 years since I left my full-time job to work exclusively on my own business. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by and how much has changed in the last few years.

I feel so privileged to be able to do what I do and I want to start by thanking you, dear reader (or listener), for allowing me to do what I do.

My goal has always been to run my own “lifestyle business” that gives me the freedom to work on my terms. And I love sharing what I’ve learned so that I can help others to do the same.

This is why I created my How to become a “virtual consultant” program a few years ago. It’s the one place that summarises everything I’ve learned about consulting and exactly how I operate so you can copy my process. Last month, I released an update to the program with some new lessons outlining the things I’m doing differently.

Today, I’d like to summarise some of the things I’ve changed to improve my efficiency and the value I deliver to clients.

Don't want to read this post, listen to the podcast instead:

1 – YouTube has become the #1 way I get new clients (and generate a side income)

After I quit my job, I started publishing free videos on YouTube. At the time, my goal was for these videos to help me get more leads. And I can say with confidence that this has worked extremely well and YouTube has become the #1 source of new consulting clients for me.

Besides getting new leads, YouTube has also helped me to generate a nice “side income” from YouTube ads and affiliate marketing. This is a great way to subsidise my expenses like paying for Google search Ads. It also means I can justify spending more time making videos that anyone can enjoy for free.

2 – I’ve hired a virtual assistant

A few months ago I wrote about The Minor Team. My small team of contractors who help me in my business. I now have two VA’s: Kylie, who confirms my introductory calls. And Angeline, who helps me with publishing content and other admin tasks in the business.

After getting frustrated with “no shows” (people who book an introductory call but don’t show up) and also hearing from customers who experienced the same issue, I hired Kylie to confirm bookings 24 hours before the clients call. This really helps to reduce no shows and improve efficiency all around.

Hiring Angeline has been one of the best things I’ve done this year. I was very hesitant about using a VA as I always used to think it’s better if I just do the work myself. I was so wrong and I’m now really enjoying having Angeline help me across the business. She did a lot of the work creating a membership area for the HTBAVC program.

3 – I charge for “Priority” access and “no shows”

As demand to talk to me has increased, the lead time to talk to me has been around 2 weeks. While this is a great problem to have, I wanted to allow really motivated and serious clients to reach me faster without having to wait.

I set up a new “Priority” call in Calendly that allows you to pay $50 to skip the queue get on my calendar for an introductory call within a few days. I get about one of these per week and it’s a nice way of allowing people to gain access to me if the timing is an issue.

I also charge a $50 rebooking fee if someone misses their introductory call with me. I do this to help reduce no shows so that people respect my time (it mentions the rebooking fee in my cancellation policy). While this might mean I have to miss out if someone doesn’t want to rebook, that’s fine with me as it filters out people who are probably going to be difficult to work with.

4 – I present my proposals on a second call

When I started consulting, I’d have an introductory call, write a proposal and simply email it to the client. If you’ve ever done any freelancing or consulting, you’ve probably experienced this situation where you send a proposal and then start to wonder if the recipient has seen it and whether you should follow up or not.

Earlier this year, I started presenting my proposals on a second call so that I could get some instant feedback and answer any questions that the potential client has. This has helped me to close more sales and address any concerns before starting a project which helps things to move along a lot smoother.

5 – I stopped hourly consulting in place of my “productised” options.

Charging by the hour is the default model used by beginner freelancers, coaches and consultants. When I was getting started, I used a combination of hourly billing and project fees based on the type of project.

The issue with hourly billing is that the better you are at your craft, the quicker you can deliver results and the less you’ll earn. Hourly billing isn’t great for the client either because sometimes you don’t know how long a project will take so it’s hard to give the client an estimated number of hours. I’d much rather give them peace of mind by starting a project with a fixed price.

Earlier this year, I stopped hourly billing in place of “productised services”. This is like a mini-project with set deliverables. For example, now a client can book one of my Asana workshop and training packages directly from my website.

7 – I track time spent consulting in Asana

I’ve always been a big fan of time tracking. I use a combination of Timing (affiliate link) and manual time-blocking to track where my times goes.

When I first got started, I was pretty loose and didn’t track the time I was spending on client projects.

Now, when I work with a client, I track the time I spend on that client and record my hours in a custom field in Asana. In my experience, the more aware I am of where my time goes, the more effective I am and the better I can prioritise different clients and projects.

8 – I’m pickier with the clients I choose to work with

When getting started, it’s tempting to say “yes” to everyone who wants to work with you. I can definitely relate to this because you're #1 goal is generating sufficient income to pay your bills and support yourself (and your family).

One of the reasons most people choose to work for themselves is to have more freedom and less stress in their lives. Working with a tricky client or on the wrong project goes against this philosophy.

As I’ve gained more experience working on different projects with different people, I’ve learned how to identify the projects that I will enjoy that are a good fit for my expertise.

Now I’m a lot more comfortable about turning down a project if I don't think it’s going to be the right fit or if the client gives me a bad vibe.

Aside from the above, I’ve also learned a lot from the fantastic people in my Slack group. This year the community has really come alive and I get a lot of job out of connecting with the members.

If you have any questions about consulting, please leave me a comment below. And thanks again for reading this post and allowing me to do what I do.