This is the first in a series of posts on why solo consultants should consider a mentor.
The CEO of a 64,000-employee organization said that he has a personal cabinet around him. These are people he can consult with on a regular basis. Others call this their inner circle or advisory board. When it’s one person, not a group, providing the advice it’s known as a coach or mentor (and there is a difference). He also said that it’s important (for his cabinet) to know the business, to know what goes on day-to-day.
Growing a boutique, solo-consulting business is tough. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of things to do. The first wrong turn new consultants make is that they think they’re in the consulting business. Wrong! They’re in the marketing business. 100% of your time is spent on marketing until you have clients. Even after you have a full client roster 25-33% of your time should be spent marketing.
In the 1990’s I was helping my friend Ted Leverette sell license agreements to people who wanted to consult but didn’t have a niche or a marketing plan (predecessor company to “Partner” On-Call). I remember one prospect that told me that he needed to level out his work. He would get one project, work it hard for a few months and then be back at square one with no clients, no pipeline, no nothing.
This is so very important as you grow a consulting business. You need to get advice from someone who has “been there and done that.” I tell those I mentor I’m qualified to help them for three primary reasons.
- I’m an expert in small business and they (and me) have a small business.
- I’ve been there, done that. I’ve grown my business and helped about three dozen others start and grow their consulting business.
- I’m in the Alan Weiss Master Mentor program, which gives them access to a worldwide community of successful consultants.