Consulting Is My Sixth Revenue Stream

January 30th, 2009
Every Friday I’m sharing each of the ten revenue streams that I finally put down on paper.  I’m big on diversifying personal income, whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee.  I hope that sharing thoughts on my revenue streams will inspire or encourage.  Below this post you’ll see links to the previous posts, or you can click on the Multiple Streams of Income category on the left.

Once I became an expert I realized people would pay me to talk to them.  I had become a “consultant.”

Remember from the third and fifth revenue streams I wrote that my publisher told me I wouldn’t make any money from book sales, but I would make money from speaking (which I didn’t want to do) and consulting (which I didn’t have time to do).

The first time someone wanted to pay me to consult I was on cloud nine.  Compared to what an employer pays you per hour, consultants make a TON of money.

But I was worried about two things:

  1. If I were to charge that much money, I would want need to make sure I had something of value to offer. I did not want to be the stereotypical consultant who came in, made crazy/lame recommendations, and walked away with a check.  I wanted to ensure that my services were perceived to be worth more than what the customer paid.  That meant I had to think about what the “services” where, and be able to justify the offering.
  2. Again, the time factor. When JibberJobber started seeing more success, I didn’t have as much time as I did when I first started in business.

The money make it worth it, especially for the short amount of time I had to put in (and the fact that each engagement was a one-shot deal, without a long-term commitment).

So, let me go back to the first sentence of this blog post: “Once I became an expert…”

So many of the people I meet have expertise in something. Here are some examples of EXPERTS I’ve come across – I use them as examples because they are just like you – professionals who have developed expertise in something, but aren’t necessarily consultants.

  • Jason King, in Seattle, is THE EXPERT on how to get the most value out of travel incentive programs.  I spent a few hours in a rental car with him talking about business and I was absolutely amazed at his depth of knowledge on how to travel in a way that you get free trips out of it.  I’m not talking about the normal frequent flyer stuff, I’m talking about stuff that would make you dizzy just thinking about what you are missing when you don’t take advantage of all of the goodies offered.
  • Nancy Babyak, also in Seattle, is THE EXPERT is project management, product management and business processes on a large scale.  I had dinner with Nancy and her husband, after knowing her on some email lists for a while, and have continued to be amazed at her expertise in this area.  I don’t know anyone who has deeper experience in BPO, PMO, etc.
  • Kakie Fitzimmons, in the Twin Cities area, is a marketing and communications manager who is THE EXPERT in developing a line of kids books.  If you want to write a kids book (or a series), you need to buy some of her time and she’ll tell you how to do it!  You can read about her business here (she doesn’t say she’s a consultant on this page, but my point is, as THE EXPERT she could develop a consulting stream of income to all of those authors of kid books).
  • Fred Behle, in Salt Lake City, is THE EXPERT in facility management.  This is the industry I came out of three years ago, and I have a deep appreciation for facility management professionals who keep large buildings running.  From the stuff we see (paint, parking lots) to the stuff we feel (temperature) to the stuff we don’t think about (electrical, plumbing, etc.), Fred’s expertise would allow him to help companies who need to move understand their facility needs and possible challenges, and how to prepare for the change.
  • Martha Sue Yeary, in San Diego, is THE EXPERT in golf.  She is a member of the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association (LPGA) and has created an awesome business teaching people to golf.  She is passionate about helping those with disabilities, including stroke victims and people who have significant injuries (think war injuries) get back into a game they used to love.  Martha is a true entrepreneur, and has had to figure out her own business, and I know that any business that approaches her to help them figure out how to use “golf” as a tool to empower or motivate their people, or create teamwork, or achieve many of their management objectives, they will get amazing ideas (and amazing results).

What is expertise?  Is it self-proclaimed?  Again, I contend that just about everyone reading my blog is an expert in something… it might be construction or handyman work (which I have to pay for, since I’m not blessed with any handyman skills), computer skills, presentation skills, cross-knitting skilz… the list can go on and on.

YOU ARE AN EXPERT IN SOMETHING.

You’ve developed that expertise probably on the job, or because it’s a hobby you are passionate about.

And it’s likely that there’s one person or company in this world who will pay for your expertise… even if they just pay you for an hour of your time to do a brain dump with them.  Remember, if you can find one hour per month, and charge $83/hour, you will have made an additional $1,000 in a year.  To make $10k, just consult ten hours a month.

Back to what I’m doing.  Because I’ve been recognized as an expert on LinkedIn, and I have done a lot of consulting with individuals and companies on how to use LinkedIn, I’ve decided to make it one of my revenue streams.  Here’s how it works (I welcome suggestions):

  • I have an offering (product(s) and/or service(s)): I help people figure out their LinkedIn strategy, and help them know what they can do act on that strategy.
  • I have a way of letting people know about it: Through my blogs, speaking, newsletter, Twitter, etc. I let people know my services are available.
  • I have set a price: I currently charge $250/hour, and will do 1/2 hour sessions.  You have to have a price so that when someone asks you are ready to tell them, AND you don’t want to underprice yourself where it makes you look like you are a hack (of course, this means you can’t be a hack!).
  • I have a way to deliver my offering: I use webinars to deliver my services.  It costs me about $100 a month to have the webinar software (I know there are free options, but they haven’t worked universally for me, and I need universal).  If you decide to consult you have to know how you are going to deliver on your sale.

These are the 4 P’s of marketing: Product, Pricing, Placement and Promotion.  If you can define the four points above, for yourself, you might just have enough of a “business plan” (I use that term lightly) for your consulting business!

If you could define your expertise, and envision your offering, perhaps you could create a consulting revenue stream… right? This might be part of your strategy to pay the bills during this job search!

Here is a breakdown of the revenue streams I’ve shared so far:

  • Revenue Stream 1: (not announced yet)
  • Revenue Stream 2: JibberJobber Partnership Program
  • Revenue Stream 3: Books I write
  • Revenue Stream 4: (not announced yet)
  • Revenue Stream 5: Professional Speaking
  • Revenue Stream 6: Consulting
  • Revenue Stream 7: (not announced yet)
  • Revenue Stream 8: (not announced yet)
  • Revenue Stream 9: (not announced yet)
  • Revenue Stream 10: (not announced yet)
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10 Responses to “Consulting Is My Sixth Revenue Stream”

  1. Pete Abilla says:

    I’ve been consulting on-the-side for a while now, while I keep a day job. The consulting I do is within Operations, Supply Chain, Fulfillment and Distribution, & Lean Thinking and Six Sigma. It’s a great revenue stream and the personal satisfaction from helping others be successful makes it worth it.

  2. Jason Alba says:

    Pete – awesome. Perfect example, and it’s cool you mentioned the “personal satisfaction.”

    Imagine if you lost your job, how this might fit into your survival strategy.

  3. Lauren says:

    I love this post! Highly motivating. I, too, am an expert in something, but I’m still working on how to “take it on the road.” I also have to figure out how to market it–as you said, the four Ps. Perhaps I will add “consulting” to my revenue streams very soon. :)

  4. Nancy B says:

    Thank you for the kind words… makes me look again at the unfinished chapter list from my “One Thing” homework :-)

  5. Jason says:

    Jason,

    As well as a consultant, another area of consideration may be that of a teacher, trainer or tutor.

    Personally, this is something which I may well give serious consideration once I return from to my home country of Australia later this year, after the expiration of a period of teaching English in South Korea.

    Prior to going to Korea, I served several years as an accountant, during which time I achieved CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) status in Australia. Whilst I don’t really see my future as being in the accounting profession when I return, I am thinking that one possibility may be to leverage my accounting background and perhaps earn a part time income conducting classes teaching small business owners one or more of the popular small business accounting software packages.

    Of course, I would need to obtain appropriate licenses from the software vendors concerned in order to become a certified trainer, and I would need to update myself with respect to new features on the latest versions of the programs concerned, but it’s certainly one way in which I could potentially leverage my professional background at least on a part-time basis.

    With respect to your suggestion about starting a consulting business, do you think it is possible that a part time teaching and consulting business could work well together, with teaching services covering more general issues and the consulting aspect being tailor made to the requirements of specific clients?

  6. Andrew says:

    Sorry,

    I apologize, Jason.

    My user name on the last entry was supposed to be Andrew, not Jason. I was confusing my own name with yours!

    Sincere apologies.

  7. jim says:

    Good column.

    I’ve been doing what you just described for the past 5 years. The minimum I’ve made annually is triple what I was making in my ‘real job.’

    I have a couple of suggestions that will sound contradictory. The first is to create scarcity. Maxwell Maltz of PsychoCybernetics talked about his early days as a plastic surgeon. When people would call for an appointment, he would page through his empty appointment calendar and offer them the ’2 possible hours he had available, 3 weeks from now.’ Don’t allow youself to appear to be too available, it lessens the perceived value of your time.

    Here’s the contradiction. Quite often, the lifespan of it mattering that you’re an expert at something can be quite short. Get what you can while your expertise matters. Something could supplant Linkedin, or your strategies could become more commonly known. Unless you’re doing something else that pays more than $250/hr cram in all you can while you’re hot.

    Final thought: offer an ‘Implementation’ service level as well as a one-time strategic session. The Implementation level would include a number of followup sessions spaced over time to monitor the followthrough and results of the strategy sessions. Kind of like Weight watchers. Knowing they’re going to need to show progress at the next meeting they are more likely to followthrough.

    You book automatic revenue without spending additional acquisition resources and you’re much more likely to get referrals because your clients are more likely to get results.

    Good Luck,

    Jim

  8. Sonia Thomas says:

    Jason- Thanks very much because like you I am an expert in a few things and they are are very rewarding in different ways:

    Feng Shui (business-homes) $75, $100/hour
    Spanish Classes: $25-50/hour
    Latin Marketing: 30 minutes free. I am expert helping Hispanics getting their business going in American and helping Americans tapping into the Hispanics market. But i m not an expert charging. I have failed and people have took advantage, gave away all the secrets and they never call me again
    Translations: 0.20 per word
    My Spanish Book
    I also have the women retreat (womeninnature.com) and the networking going (spanishwaves.com) and I sill have some free time, I am looking for more work. Nunca me satisfago!

  9. Mark Cummuta says:

    Jason, Great series so far! I especially liked how you create value by first understanding that you DO create value! This step is not about thinking of yourself in an egotistical way, but rather, to understand first what value you bring to the table. That differentiation isn’t an easy one for many people.

    Mark Cummuta
    President
    Triumph CIO Group

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