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Being an Online Consultant: What Every Beginner Needs to Know

Being an Online Consultant: What Every Beginner Needs to Know

When you move into the working world, life throws many paths at you―some very unprecedented paths which make you doubt yourself. You walk through the doors of rejection with pride and determination while there are moments you’re withering from the inside. But, there are also the significant moments where you find your inspiration to start a career from a different angle.

Recently, the market is booming with online consultancies to help make the world a flatter and reachable platform. It’s negating the concept of distance and making it possible for the world to be run with just a click of a button from any corners of the world.

However, when starting out, we all need that holy book of guidance ‒ not only it boosts our confidence, but also it gives us a great start. What do you need? To answer that question, we have put together a few tips on what you need to have a great start in being an online consultant.

1. Make Sure That You’re Not Charging Too Little

When starting a business, you often times assume that the less you charge, the more you attract. You assume that people are fearful of high prices and you wouldn’t attract more clients if you’re charging a high price. It could be guilt; it could be inexperience or it just could be the fact that you don’t know what to charge.

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Charge more than you think. ― always remember this as your quote. In an online consultancy business always remember to not sell yourself short. Your clients will want their return on investment in everything they invest in – they’re not only investing their money, but they’re also investing their time so take that into consideration. If you can prove ROI, then you’ve got the permission to charge a steady percentage of your client’s profit.

Remember, there’s no potion that will hand you the key to set your price point. You will have to determine it yourself and consider all your pro’s and con’s. A perfect example is, when you’re looking for a pair of shoes, you would find Charles & Keith much more valuable compared to the same pair you’d find in a flea market or a random super-mart. Even if it’s the same pair, you would find the over-priced pair much more exquisite than the cheaper one.

Never sell yourself short.

2. Always Know Your Tools

Starting up in a new field can be taxing, you would need to comprehend everything you’ve practiced in your life in an online world; converting your client base from an offline to an online path, understanding your finances, and finding the perfect platform to communicate with your clients. Skype maybe be the known reliable tool, but does it fit your purpose? How will you manage to track down your finances and how will you ensure that you aren’t wasting your time with clients who won’t bother paying?

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Always research the market and seek the best tools you would like to use for your business. For example, MINT in itself is a perfect tool to keep track of your finances, tally your taxes, and make sure your payments are done in time. This will ease the burden of your strenuous day and leave the bookkeeping to be done by your app.

The internet is a place filled with wonders, you can find freelancers, free sites to build your website, and various communication platforms that would guarantee your client satisfaction and build your business that eventually will sustain itself without any major marketing plans.

3. Always Remember: You’re Not Your Own Boss

The sentence which is constantly uttered when anyone embarks in the world of online consulting is “I finally get to be my own boss”. This myth has created a lot of disappointment and has made many entrepreneurs who started out in this business to quit before they’ve even embarked on this journey.

So, the most important concept to understand is that YOU’RE NOT YOUR OWN BOSS.

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In the world of business, you’re never your own boss, as your clients are paying for your services and your clients are ensuring the lifeline of your business. It means that they are your bosses; they determine your billable hours and look for the necessary results before endorsing any form of payments. Therefore you have to constantly ensure to please not just one boss, but multiple bosses. This attitude will keep you humble and allow your venture to progress at a steady pace.

But what are you entitled to?

You have your own identity, you are responsible for deciding upon your schedule and what you offer. Despite them paying for your services, you have the privileges to say “NO”. This gives you the freedom to choose and the discipline you need to work hard and maximize your potential.

Isn’t it the best of both worlds?

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4. Know The One Reason Why You’re Hired

You are hired for one reason and one reason only; “knowledge”.

As a consultant, your niche is knowledge, your clients hire you to help them with something they don’t know. They hire your services pertaining the fact that you know more than they do, so you got to hold your end of the bargain. You have to always make sure that honesty is your key principle.

When they say “Honesty is the Best Policy “, they don’t mean it lightly.

You have to be able to call things as you see them and offer advice from a professional standpoint, which can either be derived from your own personal interest or from your education background. Either way, the knowledge you pass on should be on a professional basis and at the end of the day, if they disagree or don’t enjoy your opinion, it isn’t your problem ‒ it’s just their opinion.

Your deliverable knowledge is your business model, hence, make sure it isn’t a half-baked mumbo jumbo. If you lose the reliability of your information, you lose your business.

Now you have the major keys to launch a successful online consulting business. All you need now is to roll up your sleeves and be willing to get down and dirty in this industry. Work hard and be the best consultant you can be; your business will take on a life on its own.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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