I feel your turmoil.
Spending several hours on a Sunday snuggling the baby. Luxuriating in the simplicity and perfection of this tiny human. Immersed in the petal-soft skin and new baby smell. Only to be flattened by a ton of bricks as the sun starts to set. Work, babies, bosses, careers, diapers, daycare, laundry, dinner, date night, the enormity of it all erases the bliss as you blink back tears. That constant pit in your stomach as you try to figure out how to juggle it all. Overwhelmed by the thought of making it through another week of work. Fighting to get everyone and everything out the door in the morning. Silent tears on the drive to work. Not even daring to think about the future of your hard-won career.
My heart aches for you.
I feel your joy. Sitting down to work on Sunday night after the baby goes to sleep. Sitting down to work on Monday morning during the baby’s nap. Stealing 20 minutes for email while the baby plays with a toy on the floor next to your desk. Dreams of field trips, first steps, cupcakes, and school plays are coming true. You do conference calls from Costco with the baby on your hip. You run for the minivan and close all the doors when the dog starts barking during an important client call. Speaking of clients, now that they are paying hefty consulting rates, they follow your recommendations. Can you imagine that? Sure, there are plenty of late nights and lots of juggling, but you really do have it all.
You CAN have it all.
You don’t need to start a business; you just need to land one project to be on your way.
It’s all about baby steps and bite-sized pieces. I have been a successful consultant for 15 years, but my first goal was simply to be with my baby for her first year. I was not planning a 15-year business; I just needed a few projects to replace my salary for the first year. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I should have deducted childcare costs from my salary for a more realistic goal, but my point is to take things step-by-step.
Did you know that billing 30 hours a week is considered fully utilized in the consulting world? Did you know that if you work every night from 8 p.m. to Midnight, it adds up to 28 hours? Subtract one for date night, add in some nap time, and you’re good to go. Add more nap time and learn how to work while the baby is awake, and you can go to bed earlier. Sound good? Down the road, there will be many things required to build a long-term business. For now, we’re going to focus 100% on getting a check into your bank account.
You will be surprised how easy it is to get started. Believe it or not, you already have all the tools. People will hire you because they know your work and they know you are brilliant at what you do best. The work will be the same as the work you’ve been doing throughout your career, but it will feel different. You will have complete control over the where, when, and how you work.
Three Clear Steps To Starting a Consultant Business
1. Craft Your Pitch
Your pitch is what you are selling. And what you are selling is YOU, so make it fabulous! My friend Mark James always says, “What is your best and highest use?” I can hear his voice right now. It is an excellent question to ask yourself when you are crafting your pitch.
Make sure you are selling something the customer wants to buy. This is important. Your pitch may require some positioning to make it customer-facing. Draft your pitch and then take a step back. Make sure you are positioning services that are appropriate for a consultant. Send it to some business friends for feedback and iterate a couple of times.
This is the hardest of the three steps. You know how hard it is to document all your work experience in a one-page resume. Now I am asking you to condense it into a paragraph or some bullet points. It is not easy. I have been working on my value proposition for 15 years, and I still don’t love it. But it’s good enough, and it serves me well. Shoot for 80%. If you shoot for perfection, you’ll never get to step No. 2.
I have a few versions of my consulting pitch; here is one of them:
“I specialize in program and project management for medical devices and Internet software companies. My focus is implementation and execution, better known as “getting things done.” I have extensive industry experience and a hands-on, results-oriented approach. My technical background is software engineering, and I spent a number of years in marketing, so I am a good utility player. I also have a lot of experience in running product development teams. You can learn more and see project examples at www.rasdal.com.”
2. Round-Up Your People
Start thinking about all the people you want to tell about your new consulting offering. Don’t be shy about including as many people as you can think. Your list should include all of your business colleagues past and present. LinkedIn is a great way to track down people you worked with years ago. You can search by company, and you’ll unearth people you haven’t thought about in years. You should also include personal friends, family friends, neighbors, and various service providers. If you don’t round up at least 100 people, I will send you back to keep digging. Even my most introverted engineers can come up with 100. If you have 300, that’s even better and increases your odds of landing a project or a few.
3. Get the Word Out to All of Them and More
Now you are ready to spread the word. You have your pitch and your people, so you are ready to go.
The next task is to send an email out to each person in your roundup. Now I am not talking about one email with 100 addresses in the BCC line. This is one email to one person, so you will be sending at least 100 of them and maybe more. I use one of the email marketing service providers to automate this, but you can sit down and send out 10-20 a day by hand. Sit out by the pool or in front of a football game on TV to take the edge off a tedious task. After all, in the dark ages, they had to use typewriters for this kind of stuff. Once you get a few projects under your belt, you can take the time to set yourself up with an automation service.
This is an exercise in lead generation, and it is very effective. The goal is to uncover a handful of people who not only recognize your immense talent but also have a project appropriate for your skills and the budget to pay you. There will be people who are thrilled to learn that you are now available in the consulting market. The more people on your list, the more hot leads you will generate. The odds are very good that you will turn these hot leads into one or two good projects. And soon you will be putting those checks in the bank.
You CAN have the freedom and flexibility to raise your children the way you wish and stop dreading Monday mornings.
Amy Rasdal is the Founder at Billable with Baby®. She is a working Mom of two, ages 13 and 3. She has 15 years of consulting experience, and now she wants to help you do the same. Take control of your career and have the flexibility to raise your children on your terms. Work when you want, where you want and how you want. Stay home with your baby AND earn executive-level pay doing the same type of work you’ve always done. For a deeper drill, join her Free Course – 3 Action Steps to Generate Revenue NOW.