All Projects Are Not Created Equal

Time is a consultant's most valuable resource. Use it effectively by selecting the right projects to pursue; choosing wisely is essential to building a profitable consulting practice. The highly competitive consulting market is filled with firms that are willing to write proposals at the drop of a hat, which gives guerrillas a distinct competitive advantage.

Resist the temptation to outpace the competition by being the first one to write a proposal. Your speed and initiative might score early points with some clients, but you could just as easily misjudge a project and commit to a proposal that will cost you.

Instead of racing headlong into the sales process, systematically qualify each opportunity to make sure it meets two requirements: The client will truly benefit from your skills; and the project will help you build a profitable business. Don't pursue projects without those characteristics—you'll just be spinning your wheels.

The sales cycle for landing consulting projects can take weeks, or even months. During that period, clients routinely ask consultants to submit proposal materials, supply references, make presentations, and attend meetings. These efforts can be costly and time consuming, and they can interfere with your work on profitable engagements with other clients. So before you compete for business, objectively evaluate each opportunity.

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