The path to becoming a consultant

business consulting

Recently I have been building a brand new idea. It’s all around the idea of How to Become a Consultant. It all started with me doing some keyword research and finding that the term “how to become a consultant” was one that was not very competitive and fairly open for the taking. Here’s what I have done around the question of how to become a consultant:

  • Bought www.BecomeaConsultantToday.com
  • Began the How to Become a Consultant newsletter, join here if you have not
  • Written around 100 pages of the book
  • Scheduled interviews for a daily podcast with Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Shawn Stevenson, and Andy Crestodina
  • Exploring the idea of a “Consultant Box” with awesome items that will help consultants start right away

But even more than creating products, I’ve been trying to connect with people. I’ve really invited email subscribers into this process. I ask questions, send them chapters, and forms I am working on.

Why Ashley stood out as a consultant

Ashley N. Bearden, M.A., LMHC, CAP emailed me on July 22, 2014. Here are some things that she said:

“I’ve recently started listening to your podcast (POP) and poking around on the site. I currently have a limited private practice in addition to working as a contract therapist as my main gig. To be honest, I’m really not happy. I LOVE helping people. However, I’ve spent the past 5 1/2 years working with some really difficult populations in some not so ideal work environments. I’m burnt out but still need to make a living.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can stay in the counseling field and utilize my degree as well as my license that I’ve worked so hard to obtain. Consulting, presentations, seminars, and teaching all sound great to me…I don’t know what kind of consulting I’d like to do. I don’t even know what kind of consulting I could do!

I have the same issue with narrow down my focus population in my private practice. I don’t want to say no to anyone (unless they are outside of my scope of experience) because they’re a potential client and a step closer to getting out of contract work. But even then, I don’t know where I should focus or how to focus.

Tools in the forms of checklists help me best. I love marking through things and checklists help me make sure I’m not forgetting anything. Also, standard forms and what not.

How do you make these forms look professional?

How can I sell myself and services to others?

What questions should I be asking to determine if I’m the best fit for the person on the other end of the line? And how can I form this as a business in which I can hire others?

How and what systems should I be creating?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write you and voice my needs and wants. So far, I’m enjoying the podcasts and the few posts I’ve read on POP. I look forward to listening and reading about your new project!”

What could I say? I picked up the phone and called Ashley. I invited her to be my guinea pig. To test out what I was trying. Sometimes when you are to something, you miss the basics. For example, I made a checklist that i sent to her. To me it made sense, to her it did not.

As she and I work together, I hope to share more of her story. For now, let’s let her take it away. -Joe

The Struggles of Becoming a Consultant

By Ashley N. Bearden, M.A., LMHC, CAP

When I received the opportunity to work with Joe, I was excited to say the least. It was the boost I needed at the time. This was going to open up new connections, new possibilities, and opportunities I couldn’t even imagine. All I knew was that I had the First Week Checklist in my hand and I was ready to get started.

Monday morning came around and I was ready to dedicate some time to this checklist. I looked over it and then something happened. My mind started filling with all the things that were going to hold me back. Skills? I don’t know what my skills are. How could I even begin to list them if I’m not sure what skills I have?

Skip.

LinkedIn?

Do I even have a profile?

Let’s look…. Oh my goodness, how do you even use this site?

Skip.

Emailing people!

Yes, I can do that!

Start Somewhere

I did what I was comfortable with doing. I let some close friends and family members know about my new adventure with Joe. I googled for some websites on consulting and building a practice. I emailed those that I liked. I even started making a list of things I needed to start working on- logo, defining my audience, and at least getting some sort of profile on LinkedIn. Honestly, I knew it wasn’t enough.

In order to grow, you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone.

Stopping somewhere

Then days just seemed to pass by. I went on vacation. I let other things take priorities. I was afraid to start something new. What if I failed? I barely have my own practice up and going. Won’t people think I’m a fake? All the while, this checklist has been weighing in the back of my mind.

Joe recently came out with a 10x10x10 Challenge. It’s time to stop letting fear hold me back. I know I’m good at what I do and I have the potential to help people whether it be in private practice or with consulting. It’s time to stop making excuses. I need to take responsibility and prioritize.

So, I sent off an email today. It was a big step for me, despite being easy. My website will finally have some content! Which means I’m going to have some sort of web presence, which means this is real!

All it takes is a first step.

Here’s some suggestions that might help you get started

  • Start with something you’re comfortable with- emailing, researching, etc
  • Make a list of actionable items that you can do now.
  • Schedule those items on your calendar with reminders. This will help you by already having time set aside to do them as well as helpful reminders to keep pushing towards your new goal.
  • Do one thing that is outside your comfort zone. Once you take this step, others will be easier.
  • Share what new steps you’re accomplishing with your support network. This will help build your confidence as well as help you get used to talking about this new adventure.

Ashley N. Bearden, M.A., LMHC, CAP

Ashley N. Bearden, M.A., LMHC, CAP is a licensed mental health counselor in Lakeland, Florida who is working to grow her practice and begin helping other counselors succeed. She has gained her experience working with adults within an inpatient and outpatient setting, court-ordered programs such as diversion and drug court, as well as teenagers and young adults within in-home and private practice settings.

Photo by Angelo Desantis

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