🎙️Show Notes for Episode 021 - The Must-Have Business Plan For Your Independent Consulting SuccessAug 04, 2021
Are you at the mercy of your business, feeling forced to choose between taking time off and leaving billable money on the table? Do you feel like you should maximize the billing that you've got on a project because you never know what next year is going to bring? Does it feel impossible to get out in front of your business and that you’re stuck in a reactionary cycle?
I want to help you get out in front of your business so that you're not at the mercy of it anymore.
Listen in as I share the first pillar of my Double Method for Independent Consultants, a strategy you can use to get out in front of your business so that you're not at the mercy of it anymore and double your revenue without working more. This needs to be the guiding force for what you're doing as a business owner.
It will give you that clear path for your business. So you know exactly what it is that you're headed toward versus just taking what you can get. It'll give you that control back in your business versus feeling you're at the mercy of the clients who come to you. And it's going to give you enough lead time to land your ideal clients and projects. Developing your consulting-specific business plan should be a guiding force for you as a business owner.
If you want help figuring out the plan to double your business without working more, then apply for a revenue optimization session with me. We'll dive into your business and we'll get clear on your goals, your challenges and figure out an action plan for you to create the business impact, the income, and the flexibility that you want in your independent consulting business.
Press play to learn more.
In this episode,
[04:20] What is an Independent Consultant Business Plan
[10:39] Why you need a business plan
[15:29] The common traps to avoid
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES —
- Click here to download the 27 WAYS TO LAND YOUR NEXT CONSULTING CLIENT
- Click here to download my CHECKLIST FOR BUILDING YOUR CONSULTING PIPELINE IN 26 MINUTES A DAY
- Click here for more details on the Double Method Coaching for Independent Consultants
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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*
Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I'm Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too. Listen on to find out how. Hey, fellow independent consultant. Welcome back to the podcast if you've been listening, and if this is your first episode, welcome. Today we're going to be talking about the must-have business plan for your independent consulting success. It's a little bit of a mouthful, but this is going to be a really good actionable episode. So stick with me here, I'm going to walk you through why you need independent consultants specific business plan and what that means. And then how to avoid falling into some common traps that are going to hold you back from being successful in your business and making as much money in impact as you want to be making. But first, I want to say thank you, I've got some new reviews on the podcast. And I wanted to give a shout out. And thank you to Phoenix, Joe Lee, who said I love learning from other people's experiences. And Melisa is so great about sharing Foley, this is the place for an Icee who doesn't want to waste time and wants to build their consultancy the so that it perfectly serves their life as well as their niche. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. And if you are listening to this and getting a lot of value, leave me a comment or a review so other people can find it more easily. That's what happens when you leave a review. So it helps other people. Thank you so much. All right, well, let's dive into today's topic, the must-have business plan for your independent consulting success. And the reason I wanted to talk about this is because I know so many of you are at the mercy of your business, the summer slipping by, and you're trying to decide between taking time off and leaving billable money on the table. And then the holidays are around the corner. And you're wondering if you should even take time off this year. Or if you you know, if you're on a project, maybe you feel like you should maximize the billing that you've got on that project because we never know what 2022 is going to bring. You're just like in this place of wondering how to get out in front of your business. And so that's why I want to focus today on helping you get out in front of your business so that you're not at the mercy of it anymore, you've got a really solid business plan that allows you to take time off to make the money and the impact that you know you're capable of making, and ultimately to have a really successful solid business. And so today, we're focused on that business plan. And it's the first part of what I have now started calling my double method for independent consultants. I pulled together the methodology that I've used for myself to double my revenue year over year, as well as the methodology that I've been teaching my clients. So it's a method, that double method for independent consultants to double your revenue without working more. And so today, we're covering the D and the double method, which is design your business plan, know where you're headed, so that you can actually get there versus seeing where your business takes you. It's such a different mindset to be in control of your business versus at the mercy of your business. So with that today's three main topics are number one, what's an independent consultant business plan? What does it look like for you to have a business plan compared to just a general business plan, and it might not be what you're imagining, we'll dive into those details. And then I'll talk with you about why you need a business plan and what you're going to miss if you neglect this part of your business. And then finally, we'll touch on the common traps to avoid. Alright, so let's start off with what's an independent consulting specific business plan. And I'll just ask you what comes to mind when I say a business plan. For some people. It's like an MBA project or assignment you wrote for the sake of a grade but I've never used one in real life. For other people. It's a tool used to attract investors or financing like a very specific reason to have a business plan, but not something that you would have as part of your, you know, day to day business operations. Today, what
I want to focus on for you as an IC, what I'm talking about when I say business plan is a very specific roadmap or blueprint for your business, a very detailed tool without any fluff, right? We don't need to go out, just filling out kind of out sections of a business plan to fill them out, like, What are the demographics, right? We're not, we're not trying to just do work for the sake of work. We're here to help you create a tool for your business that will allow you to hit your tangible and intangible goals. So what are the components? When I talk about an independent consulting specific business plan? The four main components and there's a lot more underneath this, but the four main kind of categories are number one, what is your vision? Why are you an independent consultant in the first place? What does success look like? And what do you want to create in your business in the next,
you know, 18 months to three years? What kind of revenue Do you want to create? What kind of income do you want to create? What kind of value do you want to create? What kind of clients you don't want to work with? What's your exit strategy? If that's kind of in the short term?
What is it even if it's in the long term? What does that look like? The next component of an independent consulting specific business plan, and this might surprise you is what is your schedule? So many of us are again, at the mercy of the clients we land, they dictate our schedule, we allow them to dictate our schedule. No, this is part of your business plan. You're an independent consultant so that you have flexibility. So starting with what is my schedule? When am I going to take time off? Proactively not just like, When can I slip it in? I made that big mistake when I first started not not even when I first started, kind of in the middle of my business. year for your five, like, well, I'll take vacation, you know, when things feel more stable, more grounded, they never feel more stable, more grounded, and I doubled my revenue every year. There's never that, like, I'll feel more confident taking time off, you have to plan that in advance. So ask yourself, What does my annual schedule look like? Find those times that you're going to take off in advance. And just because it's, you know, if you're listening to this live, it's July, just doesn't mean you need to wait until January to figure this out. You can do it now. What does that schedule look like? Both by way of when you're taking time off for vacation, but then also like on a weekly basis? When are you going to work on your business? Is it Friday afternoons or Monday mornings? What does that look like? When is your client delivery time you own your schedule and not allowing the client to dictate it? Otherwise, you're just basically an hourly paid employee, my friend. That's not why you did this. That's why you have a business. Okay, that one got me going. So we've got our vision, we've got our schedule, we've got our financial model is next that third bucket? What are your financial goals? Again, so many of us see this backwards, we think, Well, if I land a client, and I make this much money, then at the end of the year, it'll be interesting to see how much I make. No, that's not how you run a business. You figure out how much you want to make. And then back your business model into it. What does that mean about the type of clients you work with the type of work you do, how many concurrent projects you have, how long the projects are, what type of work you're doing, and what your pricing models are, figure out that financial model, don't just throw up your hands, like so many independent consultants do and say, Well, I don't have control over this, you do. And so putting this plan in place is the first step of taking that control. And then the last component of an independent consulting specific business plan is to have your business development model that maps to the financial model. Once you know what your financial goals are, then you can figure out how much business development work you need to be doing. And when, like, for example, what is the average length of your sales cycle? You're going to be operating very differently in your business if your average length of a sales cycle is 12 months, compared to one month, right? And you've got to think about it from a nuanced perspective as well. What is your average sales cycle look like when it's a warm lead like someone in your immediate network, it's probably two weeks compared to a cold lead, someone you've never met before, where you have to create that relationship and the trust and build out that value ahead of time to closely work with them. So really think about how does your business model, map back to your financial model, you might need to be working right now, to have a really solid pipeline for next year, you might have a lot of projects that you're working on right now, or you might be fully subscribed, and not even realizing that you actually need to be working ahead into next year. And if you don't take a step back and look at this, you're going to be caught flat-footed. And that's what creates such a feast and famine cycle for independence. Okay, let's keep going. So now you know what the components of an independent consultant specific business plan are. You might be asking, and I touched on this a minute ago, what's the right time to create this business plan? Now, the answer is now the others now, don't justify some arbitrary reasoning about why now isn't a good time, like a diet like, Oh, I'll start on Monday, or I'll start on January 1, no. Or another one I hear so often is like, I'll start when my current project is closer to an end, I'm like really knee-deep in delivery.
I'll figure this out, you know, when my project is coming closer to an end, know my friend, start. Now, like I said, you may need to be building all of these fundamental building blocks, to have a really successful year next year. The way you've been operating kind of project to project, if you're doing that, like most independents are, is what has created your current results, which for most independence is feast or famine, being underpaid, taking work that is less than they're capable of. And as a result, under-earning, you're here on this podcast, because you want more. And so I want to encourage you to put this into action. So you can be at the top 1% of all the independents out there. And it doesn't take a lot to get there. It takes these fundamentals that I'm sharing with you. That's it. So let's just recap. You know why you need a business plan, you can avoid the feast or famine cycle, if you've got one, create a business plan. So you're not winging it, you're a business owner, you need a plan, and stand out from those other consultants who are reactionary, the ones who are taking projects that come to them that they really don't want to work on. But it's kind of like, well, I better take the burden the hand or whatever, whatever that saying is right. Don't be like most other consultants who are reactionary, you who don't know their metrics, they don't know what their average sales cycle is, for cold versus warm. They don't know what their percent close rate is. They don't know what their business goals are, they haven't set a proactive schedule. They don't give themselves enough time for lead generation and selling. So they get stuck in a bind. I don't want this for you. You don't want this for you, right. This is why you need a business plan. So that you can take projects you're excited to take, so that you can earn what the value is that you're delivering and not under earn. So you don't have to go in through this feast or famine cycle. And you know, what happens if you allow that to occur in your business. It's like a compound effect. When you don't make as much money as you're capable of making this year, it compounds next year, and the year after that. And pretty soon, you've lost so much value in the five or 10 years in your business. It makes you feel desperate, and question if this is for you. And again, we don't want that for you. So that's why I'm so adamant about you having a business plan, it's what has allowed me to double my revenue year over year clients to double their revenue year over year. And it will give you that clear path for your business. So you know exactly what it is that you're headed toward versus just taking what you can get. It'll give you that control back in your business versus feeling you're at the mercy of the clients who come to you. And it's going to give you enough lead time to land your ideal clients and projects. Imagine being able to pick and choose who you're working with. So let's go put this in place for you. Okay, you might be saying great, Melisa, but I don't have time for this. I don't have control. At the end of the day.
I don't you know, I could put a business plan in place, but I don't have control over who hires me and who doesn't. And I'm going to challenge you on that to say that's the truth. You're never going to have control if you don't put this type of tool in place. Putting this business plan in place is What does give you the control because you get out in front of your business versus being at the mercy of or reactionary to your business. So this is what gives you the control. Now does it mean client a exactly is going to be your client? No this His plan doesn't have to mean that. But it definitely means you know exactly what your financial goals are and how you're going to get there. And then it's just a matter of executing against your process. Okay, so hopefully now you understand what the independent consulting specific business plan involves and why it's so important to your business. And why it's really needs to be the guiding force, the roadmap, the blueprint for what you're doing as a business owner. And I'll just end by pointing out a few traps that you want to avoid. I touched on this briefly a second ago, but the common traps that I see, are you shutting down as, as a person as a business owner with the thoughts of like, I don't know, I don't have control. So why bother? I don't have time for this. These are traps. These are your brain, creating what feels like really valid reasons why you shouldn't do this, when in fact, it's really its ulterior motive, your braids, ulterior motive is trying to keep you in the place that you're at right now. And if you're here listening to this podcast, you don't want to be at the place that you're at right now. You want to continue growing as a business owner, as a professional as a consultant, as a human, right. So those things that your brain is going to offer to you about why a business plan is a waste of time, because you don't know what to put on it, you don't know who's going to be the client, or how to structure all of this is just a trap for your brain trying to keep you playing small. And we don't want that to happen. So when you hear yourself saying to yourself, I don't know, or I'll do this tomorrow, or I don't have control over who's going to be my client, or how to close clients or how many, I'm just gonna take what comes to me, put your foot down with yourself? No, you're a business owner. And you've got to figure these things out. Alright, so there you have it. You see now why you need a business plan, and why it's so important to use as a guide and a roadmap to your business. And I'll leave you with these two questions as your homework, your takeaways for today's episode. When will you put this in place? Jot it down, put it down in your planner, when will you have your business plan in place? And how are you going to avoid those mindset traps I just shared with you that are trying to trick you into not following through. Just assume that's going to happen happens of almost everyone's resistance to putting this kind of plan in place. So go put it in place, does it mean that it's going to unfold exactly how you mapped it out? Probably not. It never has for me. When I put a plan in place, kind of the stepping stones to get there. It never goes in a straight line. But I always get to the end result because I know where I'm going. And it might zigzag a little. But I know for sure because I've been in years where I didn't have a plan. This business plan is the map for you to get to those end results, and not just take what you can get. So that's why I'm so adamant that you do this. Alright, so when will you put this in place? And how are you going to avoid those mindset traps? And what I will leave you with is if you want help figuring out the plan to double your business without working more than apply for a strategy call with me a revenue optimization session where we'll dive into your business, we'll get clear on your goals. We'll get clear on your challenges and figure out an action plan for you to create the business impact the income and the flexibility that you want in your independent consulting business. So thanks for tuning in today and I will see you again next week.
Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you like today's episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don't miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it beneficial, and finally put the ideas from today's episode into action. Head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.