Let’s say you’re an small business consultant specializing in one specific facet of online business. For instance, if you solely focus on AdWords, you may be missing out on more lucrative contracts due to your narrow focus. What if most of the potential clients you meet need a “full package” type service, including graphics, back-end programming, structure, training and sales copy? Unless you find potential clients only interested in your particular specialty, you could be in for a tough time. Learning all the other aspects well enough to be an expert, while laudable, takes time which could be better served marketing to businesses. So what’s the solution?
As discussed above you could try to be a “jack of all trades,” and provide multiple services. But you run the risk of doing everything mediocre as opposed to excellent. And it may take you too long to become an expert in even one of the various fields that comprises a full-services Internet consultancy. You could try to outsource some of the work inexpensively but again you deal with the possibility of missed deadlines, little to no communication and an angry client.
So, if you can’t or don’t want to do it all yourself, and the idea of outsourcing is too risky to you, what to do? Network! Go to local business meetings, get business cards of people in your field at your local business center. In short, look for people that are experts in what you are not. Once you have done this, consider forming a partnership with them.
Why you would want to do this should be obvious, but here are some benefits:
As a group you can take on much more varied, complex and higher paying contracts.
You can each work your specialty, keeping in mind the overall goal of a particular project. This will allow you to get the project done quickly, rather than taking time to research and learn about things that may not be your specialty.
You can take on more clients at a time as a group than individually.
You can offer more services collectively than as a one person shop.
You get individual projects from each other as well.
Of course there are things to watch out for as well. Firstly, make sure that you are in agreement as to how long the partnership lasts. Is it only for a job or two, or are you thinking of creating a totally new company around your solution?
Next, make sure that when you speak with a client, you are all “on the same page.” There is nothing worse that not showing a united front as this undermines your overall credibility. After all, would you hire a firm whose partners were disagreeing all the time?
Communicate. Project meetings need to be a regular occurrence so ensure that things are on track and on schedule. This way, you can also iron out any issues you may have with parts of the project before they become crises.
Finally, make sure that the profits are equally divided. The key to remember is that if you can find a way to work with other small business consultants together, you can reap the rewards of higher paying, high profile projects and the satisfaction of know you don’t have to do it all yourself.