Why Self-Employed Consultants Fail… And What You Can Do To Avoid It Happening To You

by , under Marketing

One of our very best and most respected TopLine consultants, Jody Gouge, sent me an email with a very interesting article that appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, written by Karen E. Klein  titled, “Why Self-Employeed Consultants Fail.” It contained ideas by top corporate consultant, Alan Weiss, one of the most articulate and respected consultants in the business.

Alan makes several good points, among which is to take the time to find out what the client wants, then match your offer to suit their needs… and don’t charge by the hour, but by the value you can create for them. I couldn’t agree with Alan more on these points. Far too many consultants try to sell what they know and offer to their clients, rather than take the time to determine exactly what will produce the greatest results for them.

A smart consultant will determine what they can do to add the greatest amount of profits to the bottom line of their client’s business, in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of effort, the lowest amount of capital expenditure, and the least amount of risk. In other words, how can you put money in their pocket the fastest, easiest, cheapest, and risk-free way possible?

If you take forever to generate enough income to cover your retainer, you’re costing your client money… and you’re not making anything for yourself. You’ve got to find a way to generate fast cash. Doing that will reinforce their decision that hiring you was a good one. And it will make it easier for you to pay your bills.

And the “getting paid by the hour” thing? Forget that. There are only so many hours in a day, and you can only charge so much… so your income is limited. And when you start billing a company more for your time than the CEO makes, eyes start to roll and they begin watching everything you do. But when you get paid for the value you create… the money you can save them, or the additional revenue and profits you generate for them… your asking price becomes a moot point.

Alan discusses several additional points such as, getting your clients to come to you rather than you chasing them, only working with people who can write you a check, not working with very small businesses or difficult people, the importance of a good self-esteem, positioning yourself as the go-to expert for their particular problems, and a number of other things.

In the video on this page, I discuss some of the points Alan made in his article in detail, and tell how we address them with our TopLine consultants. Alan’s article is good, overall. There are a few things I don’t fully agree with, but he does make some good points, and it is worth your time to read it. Then take a few minutes and watch the video on this page for more indepth information.

As always, I’m very interested in your comments and feedback, and stand ready to help move you closer to the accomplishment of your goals. Please let me know how I can help you!

Martin Howey, CEO
TopLine Business Solutions

10 Comments for this entry

  • Martin – how are you? You are looking very well, it’s good to see.

    Thank you for your supreme dedication to helping others. You are wonderful and rare.

    • toplineb says:

      Thank you, Debra. I appreciate your comments. They meal a LOT to me. Please let me know how I can help you!


    • toplineb says:

      Thank you Debra-Sue. I’m trying my best, and looks like I’m winning. My health continues to improve thanks to wonderful people like you who keep me in their thoughts and prayers!

  • Wow – this was great, Howey. This is the first thing I have seen from your business. LOVED it… very compelling. signing up for your list now… 😉 I liked the 10%, 10%, 10% idea…. I have been focused with online marketing strategies, but I always like to have more tools in my tool belt.

    • toplineb says:

      Well, Emily… I’m glad to be able to give you a few ideas that may be able to help you. Having more tools in your tool belt can be a good thing… it can also be a bad thing. Sometimes we get caught up with “stuff”… the “Shiny New Object Syndrome”… whatever the latest, greatest thing that’s being promoted, and we end up with so many things to choose from, that we never get around to implementing some of the basic things that have been proven to work over time.

      Marketing and business development really comes down to a few basic things. Learn and master those things, and choose your clients carefully, and your work suddenly becomes easier, more fun, less time consuming, and infinitely more profitable. You’re on the right track. I’m glad I was able to give you an handful of ideas that can help you.

      As always, I’m here to help our clients and others become more successful. Life is way to short to have to “work for wages”, get paid by the hour, or work with people who are not fun (and profitable) to work with. My friend, Joe Polish, says to never work with a person that you don’t want to grow old with. Good advice.

      So… thanks again for your very kind words. I very much appreciate them!


    • toplineb says:

      Hi Emily… Thank you very much. I hope that some of the emails you’ll be getting will resonate with you and that you’ll get some value from what we send. Online marketing can be very good if you know what you’re doing. But you have to stay on top of it because things change so rapidly. I admire you for what you’re doing.

      I visited your website… VERY well done. And the services you provide are top notch. I want to learn more about you and how you work. There may be some synergy here that our consultants and their clients may benefit from.

      Oh, and the “Phi Beta Kappa”… we won’t hold that against you. Someone has to get that… might as well be you! (Of course, I’m kidding. That’s very admirable. Congratulations!)

  • Chris Hanlon says:

    I love the point you make about Consultants considering their clients as peers rather than feeling subordinate to them. It is one of the things that I think may have held me back from taking action in offering any consulting services.

    Speed of return for the client is also very powerful, obvious when you think of it, but not sure that I really gave it that much thought before.

    All-in-all a great video. Thanks!

    • toplineb says:

      Hey, Chris… so good to hear from you. And thanks for the nice comments.

      Much of your success as a consultant is getting the right mindset… that your clients work for you, not the other way around. Master that and your confidence goes through the roof. You have to set the stage right up front with your clients. It’s the opening meeting… the first contact with them that sets the stage for all interactions that follow.

      Go in timid, and they won’t trust or respect you, no matter what your brilliant marketing campaign says about you, and getting the job may never happen. Go in with confidence… “I’d love to get this client, but it has to be done on my terms. Oh, I might negotiate a little to make them feel that they got the best end ot the deal, but I know my worth and the value I can provide them, and if they’re not willing to work with me on my terms, that’s okay. There’s only one of me, but there are hundreds of other businesses that need and can benefit from what I do. And if I don’t land this deal? Nothing changes. I didn’t have them before now, and if I don’t get them, I’ll still eat the same for dinner tonight.”

      Do that and your life will be MUCH easier.


  • Bob Dyer says:

    Great discussion Mr. Howey,

    This was very timely- I am reading your book ” How to start, run and profit…. and 2 of Dr. Weiss’s books, ” getting started in consulting” and “million dollar consulting”.

    I am opening a “business solutions consul;tancy” in October and have been getting your infograms and previewed your website. I am currently reviewing programs also to get the most bang for my buck.

    I have an MBA and a DBA and am looking into being certified as a CPCM (cost effective but not sure of the value).Additionally, I owned my own xray imaging repair co. for 18 years in CA before relocating to Houston. Anyway, as I study your programs it seems you have differing and levels and perhaps prices. Is there a website that I can take a look at the prices and levels. Thank you for your time .

    Warmest regards,
    Robert M. Dyer Jr., MBA/DBA

    • toplineb says:

      Hi Bob… Thanks for the response. I very much appreciate it.

      Your education is very admirable, and it sounds like you have some very good business experience. Our main website is http://www.TopLineBusinessSolutions.com. It pretty well lays out our program, but if you have additional questions or would like to discuss things further, give me a call or drop me an email… I’ll be glad to spend whatever time you need to make sure all your questions are answered.

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