What are the major difficulties when working as a consultant in your industry?

What are the major difficulties when working as a consultant in your industry ?

  • Planning management

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Marketing/Promotion of the activity

    Votes: 6 85.7%
  • Stay up to date with regulations/standards

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Isolation: lack of exchange with others

    Votes: 2 28.6%
  • Access to standards

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Projects follow-up (administrative)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Access to training

    Votes: 1 14.3%
  • Logistic (organization of travels...)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Invoicing, collect payment

    Votes: 2 28.6%
  • Others

    Votes: 1 14.3%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


Hi Cove !
What are the major difficulties when working as a consultant in your industry ?
Elsmar Forum Sponsor

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Survey for consultants

I'm not sure how you compiled your list, but I, for one, never considered any of these items as "difficulties."

By the time a practitioner is experienced enough to hang out his "shingle" as a consultant (see my definition of "consultant" in Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?), anything on that list would be a minor detail.

During a recession like this long one we've been in since 2008, most may have to adapt marketing strategies and expenditures to fit the economic climate, but that's just a normal activity of both multi-employee consulting firms AND sole practitioners, not a "difficulty."

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Survey for consultants

I see by the poll results that marketing seems to be leading as a "difficulty."
Another excerpt from the "Consulting" thread listed above (note the sentence in bold red):
I suggest folks who either already call themselves consultants or who think they want to become consultants give themselves a basic reality check by looking at the Small Business Administration (Small Business Administration) suggestions for planning and operating a small business and performing a gap analysis between their own ideas and those offered by the combined experience of thousands of small businesses.​
Here’s just a brief item I see omitted by many would-be “independent consultants:”​
I think the questions are very fair and realistic. However, I’m willing to bet many folks holding themselves out as “consultants,” but complaining they can’t get bookings, have never taken even the small step of working through this assessment to see if they have some of the stuff it takes to be on one’s own SUCCESSFULLY.​
This one question alone would be a knockout for many:​
Do you know how to prepare a marketing strategy for your business?​
I ask this question of many folks considering becoming a consultant and of EVERY guy currently calling himself a consultant who comes to me for advice in kick starting his moribund consulting business. On the rare occasion the guy answers “yes,” I’m almost always met with a blank stare when I then say, “Let me see it!”​
Let’s summarize​
  1. A consultant gets paid for giving someone advice or showing him how to do something
  2. A contractor gets paid for doing something or performing tasks which in some organizations are done by full-time employees
  3. Just calling oneself a consultant does not make one a consultant – it requires running a BUSINESS of consulting.
  4. Technical skill in a subject is not sufficient to be a successful consultant – one has to be able to transfer knowledge and skill or convince others to perform tasks based on that technical skill.
  5. There are resources available to determine via “gap analysis” whether one has the “right stuff” to be an independent consultant.
One final note:​
Like many professions, consultants get judged and paid by RESULTS. Without successful results, folks lose confidence and won’t hire unsuccessful consultants. This means consultants have to be like good poker players and know “When to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em”, leaving FUBAR [google the term if you don’t know it] organizations in their rear view mirror, rather than become associated with a failure. Almost ANY organization can be salvaged, but not by every consultant – it often takes a very special talent to deal with some situations which are FUBAR to the average consultant.​
Added in edit: the SBA has removed the assessment tool from its website
Last edited by a moderator:

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Marketing Plan

For some unfathomable reason, SBA has hidden these tips behind a firewall which requires a semi-complicated sign-in. The links in the document are also behind the firewall - if a reader is interested in pursuing the matter further, he/she should go through the registration process. (note, no government document may be copyrighted, so there is no copyright infringement issue)
Have you ever written a marketing plan for your business? Do you keep putting off the task?​
Whether you are launching a new product or promoting your latest offer, a marketing plan is worth taking the time to complete. Why?​
As a small business owner, it?s likely that you not only own the task of coming up with a strategic plan, but also the act of executing it (writing email copy, hosting events, etc.). If this is you, then a plan can help you direct your day-to-day activities, guide your approach, and ensure you are making the most of the available resources.​
The good news is that a marketing plan needn?t be encyclopedic or overly time consuming to prepare. In fact, in my experience, the simpler the plan, the more effective it can be (bog yourself down in too many details and you?ll quickly lose focus). A simple plan also gives you the flexibility to quickly adjust your tactics if you need to.​
Here are five tips for developing a basic marketing plan that can be applied to discrete activities such as a product launch or promotional campaigns.​
1. Build a Precise Picture of Your Ideal Customer​
Identifying your target market is the first step of any marketing plan and it?s essential that you are as precise as possible. If not, you run the risk of a scatter-gun approach that will dilute your message and drain your budget. Instead, think about your target market in terms of specifics ? who in your current customer base is the right fit for your product or service? What have they purchased from you before? Do their purchasing patterns suggest they might be a good target? Are they the kind of customer you even enjoy doing business with? What about reaching new customers outside your customer base?​
The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to craft the right message and tactics for reaching that audience. Read 5 Ways to Find the RIght Niche and Target Market for your Small Business for more tips.​
2. What do you Want to Accomplish?​
Again, be specific. Stating that you want to increase brand awareness about your business/product isn?t really specific enough. Think about what actions you want them to take after they are made aware of your campaign or promotional activity. Do you want them to register for an event, take advantage of a special offer, upgrade an existing product, invest in training, or request a quote? There may be multiple actions that you want them to take. For example, a webinar could be positioned as a free training opportunity and your initial action goal would be to get your target market to register for the event. However, once the event is over, you may then want to circle back with attendees and see if they are interested in receiving more information (such as a one-on-one product demo or quote for a product or service).​
These actions will drive your messaging and delivery methods.​
3. How Can You Reach your Targets?​
Now that you know who you want to reach and what actions you want them to take, you?ll need to identify the best ways to reach them and with what message. To do this, consider the following about your customers and prospects:​
  • What associations do they belong to?
  • Are they active on social media?
  • Do they subscribe to your email marketing?
  • What print or online media do they read?
  • What are their pain points (how can you help address these)?
  • What types of messages or call to actions have they responded to in the past?
  • Why should they care about what you have to offer (what?s in it for them / in what ways will they benefit)?
4. Work Out Your Budget​
When it comes to planning your budget, either start with a figure that you can afford, or determine your tactics, price them out (my preferred method) and prioritize where necessary. You can always adjust your budget as you go, so be flexible. For tips on calculating your marketing budget read: How to Set a Marketing Budget that Fits your Business Goals and Provides a High Return on Investment.​
5. Plan Your Tactics​
Your tactics are the actions you need to take to help you reach your target market and accomplish your goals. These include specifics such as direct mail, email marketing, print/radio/online advertising, blogs, social media, case studies, webinars, events, sponsorships and so on.​
Never rely on one tactic alone. An integrated approach that delivers a consistent message across multiple, targeted platforms is the best way to ensure you reach your target market and get the most out of your budget. Refer back to who it is you are trying to reach, where they are, and what you want them to do.​
Above all, be flexible. Track results and adjust your tactics and messaging as you go. I?ve seen many campaigns start out with one message and close out with a completely different one. Try out new email subject lines, test social media messages, and keep a close eye on what works and what doesn?t.​
Don?t forget a call to action ? whether it?s taking advantage of a coupon, downloading a white paper, or attending an event. Use a unique code for each medium so that you can track where your leads are coming from. This blog offers some tips: 8 Ways to Strengthen Your Email Marketing Offers and Calls to Action.​
Lastly, don?t forget to include internal elements to our plan such as sales trainings or briefings about your campaign or new product offering.​
Good luck! For more help, contact your local Small Business Development Center. They offer training, counseling and support for business owners in all areas of business planning and operation.​
Last edited by a moderator:

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Absolutely true. All the more reason to create a marketing plan which is simple and operates without constant human input. Door-to-door sales may be effective, but is VERY time consuming. Same for cold calling by phone.


Super Moderator
That is so true, most of my contracts came from referrals and very little from paid advertising and cold calling.:agree1:
I have a simple website. I don't spend time on marketing at all, never did.
Prospective consulting/training clients want referrals. 90% of my business is from word-of-mouth.

Statistical Steven

Super Moderator
I found that when I first started to be a consultant, I did not have the infrastructure to run a business. I was the consultant, sales/marketing and finance person. Collecting from clients can be difficult and cash flow is an issue sometimes. But here are my top 5 "challenges" to consulting

1. Accounting. Needed to get Quickbooks and learn how to pay estimated taxes.
2. Significant increase in healthcare costs. Unless you have a significant other that covers you, it is very difficult to get health insurance.
3. Learning to say NO and not giving away work for free. Specifically when a client calls with what is a quick question, you need to make sure you are compensated for your time.
4. Marketing. As Wes mentioned a marketing/business plan is essential, but even with a plan, executing to plan is critical.
5. Interaction. If you work from home office, make sure you get invloved in group activities that allow you to share and not get bored.
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