In my defense, immediately following the Memorial Day holiday I made the decision to focus on developing a new business strategy for my fledgling consultancy throughout the month of June and it's certainly required the committment.
I'm not fully prepared to write a manifesto on the process (yet, though I'd like to at some point), but I could sure use a few minutes to eject some mental debris (read: bitch, moan, gripe about) regarding my primary challenges strategizing an independent KM consultancy
- Determining service offerings: One of the driving factors in my decision to launch a consultancy was the growing realization that a lot of smaller and mid-sized organizations have a KM need that isn't being met by larger consulting firms, particulary in the areas of KM Auditing and strategic planning, but even with that limited focus it’s amazing to me what the scope of work encompasses around these services. I'm finding that it's super critical to outline in detail exactly what you will (and can) do and what you won’t (and can’t) do. Not only will this help you manage the demands on your time (remember that you’re not just doing the work, you’re building a consultancy – managing your time is trés critical), it also helps you to identify potential opportunities (and markets) within the scope of your services. Furthermore, when you're having a conversation with clients and prospects about your services, I think it makes you sound polished - like you’ve got your shit together, instead of bumbling through the discussion with comments like, “hmm, I think I can do that, let me look into it and I’ll get back to you”. Or worse, agreeing to do a job without fully understanding the committment and constraints. After all, the ability to properly gauge your pricing methodology and ensure that your contracts/SOWs are very specific is key to ensuring that you aren’t giving away your time and killing yourself with work you’re not getting paid for and.
- Establishing a pricing methodology: Speaking about pricing, lol. I remember back in the day when I was an assistant in E&Y’s HR Consulting Practice. Strange as it may seem, I used to love working with the various studies and reports; I just loved having ready access to data. How I wish there were similar reports on KM compensation or pricing on KM services. I’ve had some assistance from generic Google hits on pricing consulting services that provided insight to setting baseline hourly consulting fees (i.e., think beyond converting annual compensation to an hourly rate plus bennies, also consider overhead expenses and generating revenue in order to grow your business; understand what the market will bear, but also consider value pricing your services; yadda yadda yadda) and I've had a little (mostly unenlightening, though greatly appreciated) dialogue over at LinkedIn.
It truly is an alchemical process.
Once I've had some real-time feedback from actual clients and prospects and made the necessary adjustments, I will definitely post some helpful guidelines specific to KM on this subject.
- Marketing KM services: If I didn't already know this (as a one-time Marketing major and earnest believer in the power Branding), then I sure as hell would now - you really have to know who you are, what service you can/will offer (as well as it's valu), and who your (potential) market before you should even put out a shingle. And you really should be thinking five steps ahead (of your clients, prospects, and competitors). Setting up a website, rifling through your contacts, and even pounding the pavement just won’t cut it. This is a niche field and you have to sell yourself not only as an expert, but as a real-life practitioner, someone who’s been in the trenches – Academically smart, practically brilliant.
As much as I love to inform the field, I’m knee deep in setting up my own practice so I’m not hardly about to lay my marketing strategy out for public consumption, but I will say that you have to 1) brand yourself as well as you’d brand your KM strategies and 2) craft your marketing messages wisely.