What to Do When the Coronavirus Impacts Your Consulting Business
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, I’ve been talking to a lot of other consultants about what they are doing and how they are handling it from a personal and business perspective. They are worried about their health, their families, their communities, and their clients. Fortunately, all the consultants I know are taking the right precautions, including practicing social distancing. But a lot of consultants are also worried about their livelihoods. Most have already lost business or had business they counted on for revenue delayed. I sure have! Some folks have gone from a full schedule of business to nothing or next to nothing. They know that doing their part to keep everyone around them healthy and safe is paramount, but loss of that much revenue without knowing when or if it will come back is frightening.
What can you do? Here are a few ideas that you can consider during these turbulent times.
Reach out to your current and past clients and offer to assist them as they are in the midst of this crisis. Identify specific ways you can support your clients within your area of expertise that would be valuable to them. You don’t need to suddenly become a coronavirus expert. Clients may just need an extra hand or additional expertise that you have, especially if their leaders and staff are likely now overwhelmed and stressed out. If nothing else, let them know that you care about them and are ready to help if they need it.
Get creative about how you can deliver your services. Consider if there are ways you can deliver some of your services or provide new services remotely. Don’t assume it is not possible! There are a lot of technologies now available that make it easier. Switching up how you deliver services or adding services can keep revenue flowing in and show your clients that you are flexible and focused on value for them no matter what.
Reschedule work that gets delayed now. Try to reschedule delayed work now. Given what's happening with the virus, it’s best to book it for several months from now. Depending on how the crisis unfolds, you may have to reschedule it again, but at least get it on the books. It will increase the probability that you can still count on that revenue. Plus you will show your client that you are realistic about and responsive to what’s happening now and want to make sure they ultimately get what they need.
Reach out to other consultants to let them know you are available. Not every consultant got hit as hard. A lot of consultants already do most of their work remotely or where able to switch up more easily because of the nature of their work. Give them 3-5 concrete things you could do to help on projects. And if another consultant reaches out to you, do what you can to help them. Let’s support each other the best we can!
Use your downtime for business development. If you do have more downtime that you expected, use that time to do business development activities. There are many things you can do, such as:
Create some tools or products that are not dependent on being in person. Consider developing online assessments, trainings, e-books, and courses. Investing in developing diversified, passive revenue streams now will help you generate more revenue later when you are working on making up for lost revenue and give you new ways of generating revenue into the future. You’ll also need to develop a plan for marketing and selling them, which is also a great use of downtime.
Create some free tools that will entice prospective clients to work with you. These can be used for adding value now, especially if they are relevant to what clients are currently facing, or used for business development later. Consider things like checklists, brief assessment tools, and guidebooks.
Create compelling case studies of work you have done with clients. The case studies should demonstrate your value, especially the results you have helped your clients achieve. You can use the case studies for future business development by posting them on social media, putting them on your website, and sharing them with prospective clients.
Create articles and videos and post them on social media. The goal is to keep your name visible in your market and keep the value that you provide out in the world. I would focus primarily on LinkedIn but repurpose the content for other channels. For example, create a video with your phone and post it on your social media. Talk about topics that are valuable to your clients, especially as they navigate these difficult times. (EXTRA TIPS: Videos should be less than 2 ½ minutes and include captions. If you don’t have editing software, use an app that does captions for you and lets you easily post to social media.)
Be a guest on podcasts. If there are podcasts in your industry or niche, reach out and ask them if they want to interview you for their show. The benefit is that you and your expertise gets exposure in a wider audience. Podcasts also can be done remotely, and the hosts will promote you with their networks!
Lastly...Always Error to the Side of Safety
As a public health person (which I actually am), I urge you to error to the side of safety. Always! Listen to experts. Take social distancing seriously. Even if you're feeling fine or you're not at high risk, you don't want to infect your clients or get infected by them or others. If you take wise, proactive actions for the sake of your clients, yourself, and those around you, you’ll be part of the solution that beats this pandemic and helps get everything back on track.