🎙️Show Notes for Episode 029 of the IC PodcastSep 30, 2021
Are you ready to finish the year strong in your consulting business?
In this episode, I share with you a tool that you can use to create consistent revenue in your consulting business. This tool can be used at any point in the year, but especially in Q4, so that you finish the year strong and build momentum as you move into next year.
More specifically, this simple tool will help you to consistently hit your business goals without sacrificing all of your time.
On this episode, I discuss:
[03:57] What is the simple tool
[12:21] Five steps to implement this simple tool into your business
[17:23] How to make this simple tool work for you
[21:11] A free PDF workbook to help you put this tool into action in your business. Click here to download it
[22:13] Summary of the key takeaways
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- To get on my calendar, please visit www.consultmelisa.com.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE —
- List of Income Producing Activities for the Independent Consultant - free PDF workbook
- Asana - https://app.asana.com/
- Full Focus Planner - https://fullfocusplanner.com/
- Strides - https://www.stridesapp.com/
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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. Welcome back to the podcast. So if you have been listening to this podcast in the real-time meeting, as it is released, it will be the very end of September of 2021. So we're moving into q4, and ultimately, almost into 2022. If you're not listening to this podcast in real-time, so maybe you're catching up on these episodes, after the fact, or even a few years after I've recorded them. No problem. Either case, I want to share with you a tool that you can use at any point in the year, but especially in q4. So that you've finished the year strong and set up for next year to be incredibly successful. So if it doesn't happen to be q4, keep listening, because this is a tool that you're going to want to put in place in your business, no matter what if it is q4, listen even more intently, because got to put this in place so that you can finish this year strong and be really in a momentum type of a situation as we move into the next year. Okay. And so specifically, we're talking about an incredibly simple tool that you can use to finish this quarter strong and set up next year for success. And the reason I wanted to talk about this today is that I was talking to an independent consultant the other day, and she started asking me about what would be effective income-producing activities for her business, like what would be a good formula or shortlist of income-producing activities that she could do in her business to fill her pipeline of potential clients and not get into that situation that's so common for many of us, which is the feast or famine. And her real goal is escaping that cycle of feeling desperate when the project was about to end, not really honestly wanting to continue to work for that client. So feeling kind of trapped if they end up wanting to extend her or give her you know, an A follow on the project. But then at the same time feeling like she'd already overused her network and didn't want to rely on recruiters anymore because she felt like that resulted in her being underpaid. And so it's just that feeling of desperation, as a project is coming to an end and feeling like you know, what am I going to do next. And so she came to me saying, you know, I really want more control in my consulting process and my consulting practice, but I'm just not sure how to get that. And so today, I want to share with you one of the tools that she and I worked on, we worked on a couple, but one of the most important is one that I want to share with you today. So you can put this in place in your business, I'll walk you through three main areas. The first is what is this simple tool. So I'll describe to you what it is in more detail. And then we'll talk about how to implement it in your business. So I'll give you the step by step on how to implement it in your business. And then I'll help you make it work for you. Specifically, there are some things that feel like blockers that make it hard to implement. And I want to go through those with you so that you can avoid falling into those traps, and really get to the place where this tool is working really powerfully in your business and for you. Alright, so with no further ado, I will tell you what the tool is. So the tool is what I call and I've learned from other coaches, my own coaches are called the minimum business baseline. So I learned this years ago from coaches that I had when I was early on in my business, and have implemented it in the multiple businesses that I've had. And it works incredibly well. And so that's why I want to share it with you because I know what's going to work for you and your business because I've used it myself personally. So again, it's called the minimum business baseline. And what that means is the bare minimum activities that you can do in your business to create the pipeline that you need to reach your business goals. So I'll repeat that. The bare minimum baseline is the skeleton level of activities that you need to do in your business that will ensure that you reach your business goals. And by business goals, I mean both money, the financial goals Is that you have, as well as the schedule goals that you have. Okay. So that's what the tool is. The components of the tool are number one, really understanding what your income-producing activities are just back to what that other consultant was asking me. What are those income-producing activities in my business, that create a pipeline that supports my revenue numbers? Do you know for you what those are? So let me give you a few examples. In case you're not sure what I'm talking about, at first, she wasn't sure what I was talking about. Or in case you know what I'm talking about, but you just aren't sure what they are for your business. So the types of income-producing activities could be I network once a week, like an online networking group. And I know that when I go to this networking group or that networking group, it generally creates one or two leads, if I do that, every week, I've got four or five leads a month. And that creates a pipeline, that ultimately helps me hit my revenue numbers. Another example would be, maybe I sign up or register for an industry-type event, once a month, and I meet potential clients there, or potential refers there or potential collaborators there. And I know that in doing that, then I create three or four leads for my business. And those translate into one or two of them translate into clients. And I hit my revenue numbers, or I know on a quarterly basis, my income-producing activity is to host a roundtable, an executive roundtable. And so I know that I need to do XY and Z up to that quarterly round table in order to get the people there, the prospective clients there, those are examples of income-producing activities, I'm going to put a link in the show notes to a list of other ideas for you income-producing activities. So that could help you kind of spur your creative juices. So if you want that, you can click the link in the show notes, and then we'll send you that PDF. So back to the minimum business baseline, you want to know what those income-producing activities are, that help you to create a pipeline that supports your revenue numbers. And then you just want to break it down to the most minute detail is my most simple step for you to do on a continuous basis to create that pipeline, that's your minimum business baseline, the very bare minimum. And let me explain it in another way. One way may be to think about it in the sense of what is my protocol? Or what is my minimum that I'm going to do no matter what, in my business, when things get super busy, when my client has a really big deliverable. When I am traveling, when I'm at a conference and kind of out of pocket all day long, what are the bare minimum things that I need to do in order to keep the fire stoked and not completely burnout in my business, you may have other weeks where you're able to ramp up those income-producing activities. So first, you need to know what they are, as I described a minute ago. And now we're talking about creating a minimum for you. So you know, no matter what, no matter what's thrown at me, no matter what schedule constraints I have, this is what my bare minimum is, and I know how much time it takes. So a good example might be my bare minimum on a weekly basis to talk to two new people that I hadn't ever met before. And that's going to take me 40 minutes, no matter what, no matter rain, sun or shine, that's going to happen. And that's your minimum business baseline. We're not talking about any nice to have or any periods where you're really highly concentrating on your pipeline development and your sales process. We're not talking about that. We're talking about your minimum business baseline that keeps that momentum going, where you're not starting and stopping constantly starting and stopping and starting and stopping with your business development, which is what ends up creating the feast or famine, three or six or nine months later. So those are the components of the minimum business baseline that you know what your income-producing activities are, that create the pipeline that supports your revenue numbers, you know what those things are? Or you have a good idea if you don't know exactly what they are, that's fine. You just need to figure out a starting point. And I'll tell you How to refine that here in a minute. So you know what your income-producing activities are or could be, that's the first component of the minimum business baseline. And then you pare it down to what is the bare minimum that I will commit to, and do no matter what, even if it's a slammed day, even if I'm at a conference, even if I'm in a really important today, client meeting, whatever it is, that becomes your minimum business baseline.
Okay. And so what this ends up happening, once you've created the minimum business baseline, and ultimately start executing it, it creates consistency in your business. No more, are you kind of avoiding working on your business because you're working in your business, and then all of a sudden days and weeks and months go by, and you realize you really haven't put any time into your business? And you know, what the ramification is of that, you're going to see the impacts, either immediately or several months down the line where you have no prospects in your queue. executing this minimum business baseline is what creates a steady flow of business for you a steady flow of clients and revenue and income, and gives you ultimately the freedom to pick and choose who you work with. And when you work. This minimum business baseline also will help you to overcome that common trap that we all fall into. I'll do it tomorrow, right? I'll do it tomorrow, I'm super busy today. And tomorrow becomes never or until I'm feeling forced to do it. executing this minimum business baseline ends up, then helps you avoid the feast or famine cycles, it helps you avoid being caught flat-footed when a project cancels out of nowhere. It helps you become prepared for surprises. And ultimately, helps you to keep your business top of mind and you're not constantly compromising on your own business in favor of a client, you can do both because you've got this tool, the minimum business baseline. Okay, so now let's talk about how to implement this in your business. Now you've got it defined, or you know what it is not yet defined. But you know what it is, you know what I'm talking about when I say minimum business baseline. So let's talk about the five steps that you can use to establish this in your business. So that ultimately you're recreating those results that you want, you're hitting your goals, your business goals, and you can keep increasing your business goals without sacrificing all of your time. So the first step of the five, so we'll go through the five steps is to document this minimum business baseline. So you start with understanding what your income-producing activities are. And again, if you don't know what they are, go get the download the link is in the show notes, the PDF that I'll share with you, and pick two or three that you think would be good income-producing activities for you, but got to start somewhere. If you already know what they are, that's great, if you've got some, and they're not working exactly the way that you want them to, then go down the PDF and choose some other ones, mix it up a little bit. But figure out what those income-producing activities are for your business. You don't need to pick 10 of them, just pick one or two. And then break that down and understand what is the minimum business baseline activities that I need to do that result in me filling my pipeline with qualified leads. So as an example, if you choose an income-producing activity, I want to go to a conference once a month. So we break that income-producing activity down into like, I need to find the events, I need to find 12 of them one for each month, I need to register for them, I might need to budget for them. I might need to write a proposal to speak at one of them, whatever those steps are, and then once you've attended the events, then you need to follow up with the people that you met. Maybe you do three of them a week. So it's really taking what is that category of income-producing activity for you. And then breaking it down into very, very tiny pieces that then you leverage to establish your minimum business baseline. And then from there, look at what you wrote down. And I can almost guarantee that it's more than a minimum because we're all overachievers here. So really look at it and be honest with yourself and ask yourself the question, Is this really something I'm going to do on a daily basis are we basis or monthly basis, when things are incredibly busy, like put yourself in the situation where you're at a conference. And you know, in meetings from seven to nine at night, between the conference and the networking and the dinners and all the things, like put yourself into that scenario and ask yourself, am I going to do this minimum business baseline that week? And if the answer's no, and be honest with yourself, don't tell yourself, oh, I should, I should be better, I should work harder, no, just be realistic and pare it down some more. And get yourself to the place where this is a no-brainer, minimum business baseline that you're going to do no matter what comes rain or shine. Unless you're on vacation, it's happening. And then once you've got that, the third step is to schedule time on your calendar to execute this minimum business baseline. So the first three steps were to document your minimum business baseline, by looking at your income-producing activities and breaking them down into a very granular set of steps, figure out what your minimum is, then evaluate and revise it, and trim it down. So it's truly a minimum, and then schedule the time on your calendar. So you have time set aside to execute them. And that time is protected, and you're not compromising it on it as the norm. It's the exception, like a very high bar to compromise on not doing this minimum business baseline, like you're in the hospital, kind of a bar. So it's on your calendar, and then you commit to doing it no matter what is step four. So you may need to set up some accountability around this. And then step five is to periodically I recommend once a month, evaluate and fine-tune what you've been doing. So you're executing this minimum business baseline, and you're getting results. Some of them are maybe fewer results than you expected. Maybe it's more results than you expected, whatever it is, or maybe as you're attracting the wrong kind of client, whatever it is just evaluate that and then figure out how to fine-tune it by going back through those five steps. Okay, so that's what the minimum business baseline is and how to implement it in your business. Now, let's touch on a couple of the main blockers that I hear so often. The first is people say to me, Well, that's a great idea, Melisa, I'm not even sure what my minimum baseline should be. What should it be, tell me, tell me what it should be? Look, you're a business owner, if this is your blocker, if this is what's coming to your mind, right now, as I'm describing this, here's what I'm gonna say to you. You are a business owner. Now, you are not an employee. That's good news, you chose to do this because you don't want other people telling you what to do. So you get to figure it out. The great news, I'll give you the list of choices are so many of them, you can go download it that I was describing earlier, figure out what you want to be doing and what you think is effective for your target market, those income-producing activities, and then break it into your minimum baseline. So you're making your best guess you implement that best guess. You test it out. You evaluate it, as I described, and then you tweak it until you get yourself to a formula. That's a no-brainer that you know for sure, if you do this formula, it's going to result in exactly the pipeline that you need to support your revenue goals. Okay, blocker number two, I hear so often, I don't even have time to do the bare minimum, Melisa, guess what, that excuse is never going to go away. You're always going to have time constraints. Now, some weeks may be busier than others. But at the end of the day, most of us who are both delivering works and running our own business hit this tension hit this wall right where we feel a conflict. And not enough time. This is an excuse because you've got to figure out how to get around it. It's not going to fix itself. The plan of attack here is to create a realistic minimum business baseline of 20 minutes a day, you can do that. Then you commit to it like I described you put it in your calendar, you don't just like put it on your task lists and hope it gets done. The other thing that's really important here is that you actually believe it's going to produce results. None of us do something whether we have time or not. If we don't believe it's actually going to work. A lot of times are thought I don't have time is like a red herring for the real thought underneath it which is I don't have time to do something because I don't think it's going to work. That's what you've got to address. So get yourself into the state of mind that this is going to work, I'm going to figure out if this works. And if it doesn't, I can tweak it. And if it does, then I'm on to the next step, get yourself into that kind of state of mind versus I'm going to do it, but it probably won't work, and then protect this, like, make it your true minimum business baseline. And it's only in extreme situations that you're compromising on it. Okay, so those are the two main blockers, there are probably really three there that I shared with you. Number one, you're confused, you're not sure what your minimum baseline should be. So got to start somewhere, put something into place and test it and refine from there. Number two is if you think you don't have time to even do the bare minimum, there has to be time for this. If you want to have a sustainable business, so figure that out. And then the third is actually believing that your income-producing activities will work. Or that you will figure out what you need to do to make it work, that you're not just spending time and it's a waste because you're never going to do it if you think it's a waste of time. Okay, so let me wrap up by sharing with you a couple of tools that I love using to make this repeatable minimum baseline, even that much easier kind of in your face every day. The first is I use a project management tool called Asana, and I just set up my minimum business baseline in Asana, we'll put the link to this in the show notes. Also, I just use it to set up a recurring task. And so it's constantly just showing up on my calendar every single day. And I'm doing it. I love apps and tools. So I use probably more than I absolutely need to but it works for me. I use a habit tracker in my paper planner, which is called the full focus planner. And then I also use an online habit tracker called strides. So those are some tools that you can use to like codify your minimum business baseline, and get it into a place where it's just like you eating lunch, it happens. Maybe not lunch, sometimes I think you're probably skipping lunch, whatever you do every single day that you don't compromise on. All right. So with that, I'm going to give you a couple of takeaways. Hopefully now through this episode, you'll see how setting a minimum business baseline will help you create that momentum in your business, and overcome the endless disruptions that pull you off course, from working on your business and ultimately create a feast or famine cycle. We don't want that to happen. So we've got to get this minimum business baseline in place for you so that you've got a continuous steady stream of clients, and even to the place where you're turning clients away. How amazing would that be? So to do this, you're going to ask yourself, what is your minimum business baseline? How are you going to know if it's working or not, as you're evaluating it, set it up for yourself in a tool that I shared, or one that works for you so that you hold yourself accountable and put this into action? So that's what I have to share with you today. Go download that list of income-producing activities for the independent consultants, the link is in the show notes. So you can have that to support putting this process in place for you in your business. If I was talking too fast, or you didn't catch all of this, you can also go look at the show notes and make sure that you've got all the steps. And it's all actionable for you to go put in place because I want to make sure as you're listening to these episodes, that you're doing the work and putting these practices in place in your business so that ultimately you're growing your business without having to work more. Alright, my friends. Great to talk with you 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 too. And finally, to 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.