When we’re planning the launch of a new consultant (next one coming in a few weeks!) we obviously have a tried-and-tested way of doing this, a timetable of things which need to be done and by when in order to make sure we make the most of that initial launch period. But while preparing for our next one I started reflecting on why it matters, and what key things make the difference.
You only really get one chance to launch your business and when you’re starting a new venture on a self-employed basis you’re taking a financial risk, have possibly given up a job to do it and may have invested money as well. It’s therefore so important to do everything you can to make your venture successful as soon as you can, which means making sure you get off to a flying start.
With that in mind, here are my 7 top tips for a successful launch:
1. Don’t forget you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression
Once you’re launched and ‘out there’, you will be making an impression of some kind on people. People you meet networking, come across on social media, potential clients, potential useful business contacts. Some of these you might come across frequently, or build long-standing relationships with, some you may never come across again, but even if you see them frequently afterwards, you will only have one chance to make a first impression. Building on a good first impression is much easier than having to ‘get over’ any less-than-ideal impression you might make.
We’ve had at least one consultant get a client the very first day she launched, and while that is unusual, it shows that being 100% ready can make a big difference if you meet someone valuable to your business at your first networking event.
2. Get a professional-looking web presence ready
This expands the first impression point above. When potential clients or business contacts meet you for the first time, or contacts you already have see on social media that you’ve launched a new venture, they are likely to want to check it out and will look for your website to find out more about what you do.
If you launch your business without having a website ready, you are missing a chance to give a solid impression of a professional, credible business, and to give those people who might be interested in what you’re doing key information about what services you offer, what experience you have and what your business is all about. People are less likely to feel confident to refer you to someone they know needing HR services if they haven’t been able to see that key information and can’t ‘point’ the potential client to a credible online presence.
We’ve seen several independent consultants ‘announce’ a new venture on social media but without a website to link to. Much better to get that sorted and then announce than the other way around!
3. Decide on what products/services you are going to offer
Do plenty of research first. Will you offer packaged services at fixed fees, consultancy at an hourly or daily rate, or retained services? You could offer project management, on-site troubleshooting or even holiday cover for absent hr staff. Will you offer training, and if so, in-house or public, in-person or online? Research your target market and see if you can work out how they are most likely to ‘buy’ services you want to offer, and at what price point you will offer them.
4. Decide who your target market is and make sure that is reflected throughout any online presence
A big mistake many people make is trying to appeal to everyone under the sun. But if you try to appeal to everyone you risk not appealing to anyone, as people struggle to work out whether your service is ‘for’ them or aimed at someone else.
If you want to work with small businesses, reflect that in your marketing. If you want to work with a particular sector, reflect that. If you want to do consultancy in a particular specialised area of HR for big corporates, reflect that. All these potential clients are more likely to feel comfortable instructing someone who clearly specialises in and understands their specific needs and requirements.
5. As well as a name, also have a brand
Having a brand doesn’t mean spending lots of money on designers and brand specialists. It means spending some time working out what your business is about. What’s your ethos? What’s your approach to HR, to the services you want to offer? What priorities do you have?
Identifying how your business will do things will help you when you are selling your services as you will come across as more credible and authentic, and it will also help those potential clients who have the same priorities and ethos ‘find’ you as being the best match for them.
6. Understand how you differ from the competition
There are lots of HR consultants and providers out there, some huge, some very small. That’s ok, there’s enough work for everyone, but it’s vital to understand how you are different from others around you.
When we launch a new consultant, one of the exercises we do is looking at the local competition, familiarising our new consultant with who’s out there, and identifying how our consultant and how face2faceHR generally is different from the other options available to potential clients in that area. Understanding how you are different will improve your confidence and will help clarify your marketing and target it more effectively towards the ‘right’ clients for you.
7. Be realistic about income
Whilst it’s perfectly possible to be financially successful, it’s important to be realistic that this won’t happen immediately, and the first year will be the toughest. Do some realistic planning of outgoings, and make sure you have financial means to support yourself and fund your new venture without relying on your new business for regular income for at least a few months, to give you the time to build things up without a whiff of desperation creeping into your activities!
If you’d like to find out more about launching your own business as an HR consultant with face2faceHR do get in touch.