The Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond [NOOK Book]


The Business of Consulting, Second Edition

When it was first published in 1998, The Business of Consulting became an instant classic among established and aspiring consultants alike. Like the first, this thoroughly revised and updated edition illuminates the day-to-day life of a consultant and shows how to make consulting a successful, fulfilling, and profitable career.

Designed as the go-to reference for managing a consulting business, The ...

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The Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond

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The Business of Consulting, Second Edition

When it was first published in 1998, The Business of Consulting became an instant classic among established and aspiring consultants alike. Like the first, this thoroughly revised and updated edition illuminates the day-to-day life of a consultant and shows how to make consulting a successful, fulfilling, and profitable career.

Designed as the go-to reference for managing a consulting business, The Business of Consulting is candid, practical, and eminently useful. Fine-tuned to address the changes in today's business environment, this vital resource outlines the basics for managing a consulting practice and shows how to

  • Develop a business plan
  • Market your business

  • Charge for your services

  • Build a client relationship

  • Grow your business

  • Ensure your continued professional growth

  • Make money in the profession

No matter if you are a consultant with years of experience under your belt or you are just starting out in your career, The Business of Consulting is the reference you'll turn to again and again. The second edition offers new features, contains the most current information on the topic, and

  • Addresses dynamic growth areas and trends, such as coaching and new pricing models
  • Explains how to protect your business with trademarks, contracts, business licenses, and other legal concerns

  • Offers a wealth of new samples, including contracts, marketing plan templates, sample proposals, and more

  • Shows how to generate multiple income streams and passive income

  • Includes advice on balancing a professional consulting life with a personal life

  • Explores the challenges of conducting international business

The companion CD-ROM contains the worksheets and forms presented in The Business of Consulting. Personalize these tools as needed and print them out in order to project cash flow, track your time, tabulate your expenses, hire a subcontractor, plan your marketing campaigns, and much more!

The Business of Consulting has all the information you need to run your consulting business with confidence.

"Have I got a book for you! Take a look at The Business of Consulting by Elaine Biech. The title notwithstanding, this is really a guide for anyone trying to start a one-person business on a limited budget."
—Anne Fisher, Fortune Magazine

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Here are the nuts and bolts for a successful career in consulting. A few hours with Elaine's book will save you years of trial and error." --Jerry C. Noack, , vice president/group publisher, TRAINING Magazine

"If I were just starting into the consulting field today, this is the one book I would choose to advise me, caution me, support me in my business, and 'professionalize' me!" --Marjorie Blanchard, , chief financial officer, Blanchard International

"Every consultant should apply her principled practices to guarantee satisfied customers." --John E. Gherty, , president and chief executive officer, Land O'Lakes

"This book is filled with real-world, practical and proven tactics that can be used to grow and build a successful consulting practice. It is a must-have resource for people who are thinking of becoming a consultant . . . and for those who already are one!" --Dana Gaines Robinson, , author; president, Partners in Change

"The Business of Consulting will serve as my consulting practice workbook. The comprehensive coverage of the subject--along with the practical tips--make it the best tool I have." --Pam Schmidt, , vice president, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)

"Read her book. She shares all her secrets!" --Gail Hammack, , regional vice president, McDonald's

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118047491
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/13/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 340
  • Sales rank: 971,795
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Elaine Biech is president and managing principal of ebb associates, inc., a strategic implementation, leadership development, and experiential learning consulting firm. She has consulted to a diverse range of industries including health care institutions, insurance, banking, ship building, manufacturing, government, and nonprofit organizations. Biech is the author and editor of dozens of articles and books including Marketing Your Consulting Services, Training for Dummies, and 90 World-Class Trainers.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: What Are You Getting Yourself Into?

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

Albert Einstein

Have you ever admired consultants who zip into a company, capture everyone's attention, accomplish in days what you've been struggling with for months, and waltz out with a big check?

Ever thought you might like to be a part of that glamorous profession? This book will help you determine whether you have what it takes to be a consultant, as well as whether the consulting profession offers what you desire as an individual.

What is Consulting

Consulting is one of the fastest growing businesses of the decade. In The Global Management Consulting Marketplace: Key Data Forecasts and Trends (1997), Kennedy Information, the leading source on management consulting, predicts that management consulting will grow an average of 16.1 percent globally per year through the year 2000. Whether companies need help downsizing, installing a new computer system, building an executive team, or breaking into the Chinese market, they can call a consultant to assist with the effort. The organization re-questing the assistance is usually called the "client.') The term can refer to the en-tire organization or to the person who actually made the call.

Consulting is the process by which an individual or a firm assists a client to achieve a stated outcome. The assistance can come in the form of information, recommendations, or actual hands-on work. A consultant is a specialist within a professional area who completes the work necessary to achieve the client's desired outcome.

Consulting is not a descriptor that identifies a profession in itself Unlike doctors or accountants, highly skilled consultants come from very different backgrounds. A qualifying adjective is required to identify the form of service or the area of expertise, for example, management consultant, engineering consultant, or performance consultant. Although consulting is not a "profession" by definition, it is often referred to as "the consulting profession." For the sake of convention, I will refer to the "profession" in this book.

The actual work of a consultant can vary quite a bit, depending on the area of expertise offered. Every consultant must be a subject-matter expert in some area-management development, organization development, training, or any profession, such as computers, security, writing, marketing, or a thousand others.

Even after you determine an area of expertise, you will want to select the actual work method. For example, if you decide to focus on the training field, you could develop and deliver your own material or subcontract material development to another person while you deliver it. You could develop material for others or you could deliver others' materials. You could even be certified to deliver others' courses, especially for the large training supplier firms.

Finally, if you are a generalist, such as a management consultant, you will need to determine whether you will focus on a specific industry.

Four Ways To Get Started

Taking risks. Embracing ambiguity. Practicing flexibility. Balancing both process and people issues. Managing multiple responsibilities. Tolerating extensive travel. Communicating effectively. Learning continually. Proving your worth again and again. Does this describe you? If you responded with a resounding "Yes!," consulting may be an ideal career move for you.

If you decide consulting is right for you, what opportunities exist? Think about your ultimate goal. Do you want to be a partner in one of the "Big Six"? Will you eventually own your own firm? Do you think you will always want to consult as an individual? Do you want to teach part-time at a small university and consult on the side? There are at least four ways you could enter the field:

1. As an employee. Numerous employment opportunities exist for you. You could join a large national consulting firm. The demand for consultants has led to a fierce competition for talent. According to Kennedy Information (1997), M.B.A.s from top schools can expect to be offered a base salary over $90,000 as new consultants with such a firm. Joining a large firm will give you instant name recognition. You could also join a small firm. Although your salary would be only half what it could be with one of the Big Six, you would have less pressure, more opportunity for a variety of projects, and more involvement in the entire consulting process.
2. As a subcontractor. Rather than becoming an employee, you could subcontract with a firm. Many businesses and consulting firms are looking for subcontractors who will fill in the gaps left as a result of downsizing or launching new initiatives. As a subcontractor you may have a less secure position, but you will have flexibility while gaining rich experience and developing a sense of the market.
3. Part-time. If you're not ready to take the plunge, you could consult part-time while keeping your present job. Some people use their vacation time and weekends to conduct small projects-with their employers' approval, of course. Consulting is natural part-time work for college and university professors.
4. Self-employed. You could also start your own consulting practice. This book addresses this last opportunity.

Why Consulting Now?

Consulting is one of the fastest growing professional areas in the economy. Why? Why now?

Turbulent times have increased the number of times that consultants are used to help organizations make their way through the processes of implementing technology, going global, improving processes, and negotiating mergers. The consulting projects have increased in dollar amount and duration. It is not uncommon for large-scale projects to cost more than $50 million over a five-year period. As Charles Stein (1994) of the Boston Globe states, "Once upon a time, consultants were like dinner guests: They came for a brief visit, gave advice and went home. Now they are like guests who come for dinner, move into the spare bedroom, and stay for a year or two.'


Two trends in the business world have brought tremendous implications for consulting. First is the trend toward outsourcing more and more services. Corporations will continue to hire more temporary professionals to assist when needed, as opposed to adding highly paid, permanent staff. Consultants temporarily provide the "people power" to complete the work at the time it needs to be completed.

The second trend is that rapid changes occurring in the world make it almost impossible for the executive team to remain knowledgeable about their industry, remain focused on their customers, stay ahead of their competition, and know instantly what to do when these factors collide in a negative way. Consultants offer the knowledge, information, data, and systems to solve the puzzle. They fill in the blanks. When the task is complete, they are on their way.

That's the demand side. What about the supply side? The same organizations that are cutting permanent staff to keep payroll down are providing a steady sup-ply of people who need jobs and find that they can do consulting. In fact, many people cut from their jobs today may be placed in the same company as temporary employees.

Why this shuffling of the same bodies? Consultants are often more cost-effective for the organization, which can hire the skill it needs on an as-needed basis rather than train and educate staff for skills that may not be used again. Consultants can usually complete projects faster as....

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Table of Contents

List of Exhibits on the CD-ROM xv

Foreword, by Jim Kouzes xix

Preface xxiii

ONE So You Want to Be a Consultant 1
What Is Consulting? 1
Four Ways to Get Started 2
Why Consulting Now? 7
Myths About Consulting 13
Rewards and Realities of Consulting 18
Just What Are You Getting Yourself Into? 20

TWO Talents and Tolerance 25
Skills for Success 26
Personal Characteristics of Successful Consultants 29
Roles You May Play 30
Signs of a Mediocre Consultant 32
Your Personal Situation 33
Caution: Business Owner Ahead 35
Entrepreneurial Characteristics 35

THREE Dollars and Sense 41
How Much Money Do You Require? 41
How Much Should You Charge? 44
Selecting a Pricing Structure 51
Other Pricing Decisions 54
Other Charges 55
Fee Increases 57
Ethics of Pricing 58
Money Discussions 60
Value of a Guarantee 61

FOUR Starting . . . 63
What's in a Name? 64
Choosing an Accountant 66
Business Structure 67
Business Plans 69
Start-Up Costs 86
Your Niche 87
Your Image 88
Experience 93

FIVE . . . And Staying in Business 99
A Marketing Plan 100
Do I Need a Website? 107
Surprising but Practical Thoughts on Marketing 108
113 Tactics for Low-Budget Marketing 114
Contacts with Potential Clients 122
Proposals and Contracts 132
How to Refuse an Assignment 140
Ways to Stay in Business 146

SIX The Cost of Doing Business 147
Plan for the Worst 148
Watch Your Cash Flow 149
Track Expenses 156
Set Aside Petty Cash 163
Charge Your Client 166
Project Revenues 170
Deal with Bad Debts 172
Keep an Eye on Your Numbers 172
Protect Your Capital Investments 176

SEVEN Building a Client Relationship 179
The First Meeting 181
Four Phases of Building a Client-Consultant Partnership 182
How to Improve the Relationship Continuously 194
It's the People 197
How to Maintain the Relationship After the Project Is Finished 197
More Value for the Client 198
How Many Clients Do I Need? 200
Ensure Success 200

EIGHT Growing Pains 203
Adding People 204
Growing Without Adding People 218
Expand Your Geographical Market 227
Do Everything You Can to Grow Your Current Business 229
Final Thoughts 230
NINE The Ethics of the Business 231
Consultant to Client 232
Consultant to Consultant 238
Client to Consultant 242
Code of Ethics 243

TEN Exude Professionalism 245
Measuring Up 246
Continuing to Learn 252
Balancing Your Life and Your Business 255
Managing Your Time 258
Giving Back 265
A Personal Checkup 265

ELEVEN Do You Still Want to Be a Consultant? 267
A Week in a Consultant's Life 268
Visualizing Success 278
Taking Action 282
Getting Ready 282

Reading List 287

Index 289

About the Author 299
How to Use the CD-ROM 301

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