You are adding value to the marketplace, but can you describe it?
Whether you want to start your own career consulting business or not, I recommend you think like an entrepreneur. I know a number of you have thought about moving out of higher education, or government, or K-12 education, or where ever you currently work and would like to work for yourself. But even if you don’t plan to go into consulting, there is value in viewing yourself in this light.
Here are some things to consider.
What is your value?
When I was a college career counselor and before that as a school counselor, I often forgot that there was value being exchanged in my sessions with students. Someone was paying me, but not that student directly. Yet clearly there was value there.
Working part-time at Bates College and Colby College, I would meet with a student to help them move forward in their career and then I would meet with one of my private clients the same day and charge them $150 / hour for the same services. Think like an entrepreneur and be proud of the value you bring to your work.
TIP: Determine your value now and remind yourself daily what it is as you do your work. I meet with a group of private practitioners monthly via zoom and one of our discussions revolves around setting pricing. Not only is it important to set your own value and to see yourself as valuable, but it is important as a profession that we charge what we are worth.
How do you market your services?
As an entrepreneur, I have to do so much marketing. Way more than I ever thought was necessary. A couple people told me at least 50% of my time should be “marketing and networking”. One person told me 80%! It actually made me feel better because when I started full time with Peak-Careers in February 2012, I was beating myself up psychologically because most of my time was spent doing things that were NOT direct services. Most of my week was spent networking, writing, being on social media, and creating content. None of which made me any money that day.
Many of you who work for a company or educational institution do not have to market your services, but I encourage you to think like an entrepreneur.
TIP: Describe your ideal client.
- What do they do?
- What do they look like?
- Where do they hang out? Online and in their life.
- What are their needs? Their ‘pain points’?
After you do that, create questions that describe their needs. What would they type into Google if they were looking for the answers?
Make sure you have a presence where they hang out and make sure you are meeting their needs, not someone else’s.
Social Media…embrace it… or find someone who can help you embrace it.
Where are your students/clients hanging out? Do you really know the answer to that? I’ve been surprised at the rise of Instagram lately and the power of pictures and short statements. So I have started ‘hanging out’ there.
Where ever your clients/students are, be there in some form. You need to have a regular presence so that when your ideal student/client is ‘ready to buy’ they think of you. Yes, it does take time, but I clump my time in short bursts daily and use the HootSuite dashboard to help schedule some posts.
TIP: Make a plan for your online presence. Determine how much and often you want to be on different platforms and then find a way to make that happen with quality content. (Read my article in National Career Development Association’s Career Convergence for more on this.)
P.S. don’t forget about their physical presence either. I love the colleges that now post flyers in the bathrooms around campus 🙂
Ask for help
If you want to think like an entrepreneur, then you need to know when to ask for help. There is so much to learn about having your own business and there are so many ways to do the work you do (where ever that is). No two places are exactly the same but it is important to know that you do not know everything.
TIP: Find mentors in your life and work. Reach out to them and ask for advice. (Read this blog “Who Do You Learn From?”
Think like an entrepreneur and see what results you get in your work.
If you would like to start your own business, you might also check out this article I wrote for the National Career Development Association (NCDA) Career Convergence called Ten Tips for Starting Your Own Private Practice.
You may also want to check out this 5-week, online, discussion-based seminar that Mark Danaher and I offer. Building Your Coaching Business.
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a weekly email for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
He is the author of A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Your Clients Create Their Next Move and The Adventure of Finding Me in New Zealand. He is also the recipient of the 2020 Kenneth C. Hoyt Award from the National Career Development Association and the Mid-Atlantic Career Counseling Association’s Professional Contribution’s Award in 2020.
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