PMean: Possible webinars on consulting

I’ve gotten an inquiry about teaching a couple of webinars. Nothing’s official yet, but let me outline theĀ  these webinars here on my blog. If the offer becomes official, I will update on this blog post or on a new post.

The title of the first webinar would be “Basic Business Skills to Help You Start Your Own Consulting Business.”

Abstract: If you want to set up your own consulting business, you need to learn a few basic business skills. You need to set up an independent financial system for income and expenses. You need to decide between a sole proprietorship, a limited liability corporation, or an S/C Corporation. You need a system for invoicing. You need to examine insurance options. This webinar will explain why each of these is important. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, an accountant, or an insurance agent. Furthermore, there are no “one size fits all” solutions. This webinar will help you know what your options are, but you should discuss your particular situation with a qualified lawyer and accountant to chose what is best for you.

Outline

1. Why would anyone want to run their own consulting business?

2. Disclaimers

3. Visit your banker. Set up a checking account and keep a high wall between your business expenses and your personal expenses.

4. Visit your lawyer. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of sole propietorship, LLC, and S/C corporation. Why you should avoid a partnership. Talk about contracts.

5. Visit your accountant. Set up an invoicing system. Track your income and expenses for tax purposes.

6. Visit your insurance representative. Do you need liability insurance? Do you need errors and omissions insurance?

7. Advice for the part-time consultant. The advantages of dipping your toe in the water first. Things you can dispense with as a part-time consultant.

The title of the second webinar would be “How to Find Customers for Your Consulting Business.”

Abstract: If you want to set up your own consulting business, you need to get the word out to potential customers. There are traditional ways to do this, but there are also new ways of improving your visibility using social media. This webinar will compare and contrast the traditional approaches (such as giving talks and volunteering) to “old school” Internet (such as websites and email newsletters) to social media (such as Facebook and Twitter). The key to all three approaches is that you give away small samples of what you know for free to establish your credibility and build up a network of contacts.

1. Word of mouth. Word of mouth is the only reliable way of finding customers. You need a network of contacts who know you, like you, and trust you enough to recommend you to others. You should expend all of your efforts at cultivating existing relationships that you already have and at developing new relationships.

2. Professional contacts. You could think of other statisticians as your competition for new clients, but in reality they are often the best source for new clients. They know people that they either can’t or won’t take on themselves and you want to position yourself as the first person they think of.

3. Your existing customer base. If you have a customer base, keep in touch with them even after your work is done. They may need repeat business, but they may also know other customers who need similar help.

4. Developing new contacts. You can give away what you know for free, and the people who benefit from your generosity may end up paying you later for more of what you are giving away for free right now.

5. Traditional methods. Find some high visibility options for volunteering, such as a leadership role in your local chapter of the American Statistical Association. Give talks about stuff you know well to groups that have members who might want to hire you. Stay away from volunteer efforts that are low visibility.

6. Old school web. A simple website is easy to set up. It can be a static site, but a dynamic site where you add a bit of new content on a regular schedule is much better. Email newsletters are also easy to set up. Make serious content the focus of either.

7. Social media. There are too many social media options, so you need to focus on a niche. Choose something you are comfortable with and that you will devote attention to on a regular basis. If you use two or more social media sites, make one your primary focus and use the others to drive attention to your primary site.

8. Examples of high visibility efforts. Raynauld Levesque’s SPSS Tools website, Michael Chernick’s Amazon book reviews. My own efforts at pmean.com.

9. What to put on social media. It has to be fresh, focused, and fun. Some cautions about overly aggressive efforts at self-promotion.