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Established in Your Field but

New to Self-employment:

How Articulate Consultants can help you to build your own business

 

Constant economic change challenges people who prefer stable conditions. While efforts to maintain stability interact with forces causing change, people and organizations must adapt. This is how people who have held maybe-someday hopes of self-employment find themselves contemplating it sooner and more pragmatically than expected. This is also how people with entrepreneurial instincts find themselves in the right place at the right time to fulfil entrepreneurial ambitions.

However, self-employment and entrepreneurism are not the same. Indeed, many newly self-employed find themselves learning the hard way that they are actually not entrepreneurs. Likewise, many entrepreneurs find themselves struggling to resist plain self-employment.

Articulate Consultants brings to bear years of experience in working with people in these situations. Those who qualify for Articulate consulting stand to reduce risk and increase their probability of success, typically sooner and more surely than if they stuck with a strictly do-it-yourself approach.

 

people like these qualify

Norma is a certified management consultant with strength in accounting. She became a junior partner with an established accounting firm after working there for a few years. She then became a full partner in a small, local management consulting firm. After a few more years at that, she decided that her reputation as an individual professional was strong enough, that her expertise was valuable enough, and that her ideas of starting and running her own firm were compelling enough. She went to Articulate Consultants for guidance and support to create a new firm based on her strengths “but distinct from me, as a company with its own brand.”

 

David is a residential interior painter. He worked as a one-man company for nine years, occasionally employing an assistant to help with work not requiring his own expertise. Eventually, his good reputation became well-enough known that he often had to decline new opportunities. Also, he was usually too busy at work sites to administer his business properly without sacrificing family time. Despite using an answering service and a bookkeeper, he found himself stretched to perform well and unable to fulfil his growing business potential. Preserving family time also became more difficult. David decided to create a company that would capitalize on his expertise and reputation while operating as a distinct entity. He went to Articulate Consultants, as he says, “for a complete business plan I could implement over time.”

 

Trudie is a best-selling author. Her books and articles are widely read, she speaks several times a year at conferences, and she continues to do media interviews. Despite these accomplishments, she did not consider herself successful. Her income did not adequately reflect the value of her expertise, knowledge, and perspective. Plus, she found that too much of her success would depend on her own action. She was not certain what direction to take for the future. Trudie brought these problems to Articulate Consultants seeking clarity of direction as well as guidance on how to make a company out of her work, as she says “so that it wouldn’t always have to be me or somebody who needs my explicit instructions and supervision” to fulfil her business potential.

 

what they get: process with results

  1. Mutual qualification: Prospective clients inevitably seek answers to their questions. Articulate Consultants must also ask questions of its prospective clients. Up-front discussion of priorities is necessary to begin a business relationship of mutual trust. By mutual choice, this step ends with a prospective client becoming an Articulate client or going elsewhere.

  2. Agreement on shared process: Despite the self-motivation and leadership traits typical of entrepreneurs, at this stage, the pursuit of business success includes following the consultant's advice. It is important that the client be willing to collaborate with an expert, participate in an ongoing business-development process, and follow through as necessary – even on tasks that might feel uncomfortable – to achieve their objectives. He or she must also permit and enable the consultant to study their market, their industry, and their intended business practices. Cooperation is key.

  3. Exploring and discovering: Consulting naturally involves seeking answers to questions before they arise. Both parties must engage in a proactive process of exploring, discovering, and strategizing about various business challenges likely to occur. For example, the new entrepreneur often must review their accomplishments and recent communications while reconnecting with people who can validate important business information such as their perceptions of value and expertise. The consultant also has research to conduct and ideas to test to advance the process toward a good strategic plan.

  4. Strategizing: This involves using information shrewdly to decide and to plan what what must be done, how, when, by whom, and at what cost. Multiple consulting sessions are typically necessary to satisfactorily share needed information and gain needed insight so that good decisions may follow from progressively more pointed strategic questions. These decisions often range from specific matters on which the prospectively self-employed must commit to specific tasks that must be accomplished; for example, to document intended business practices. These are agreed upon in discussion and clearly documented as appropriate.

  5. Implementation: With enough good market intelligence and sufficient strategic clarity, action may follow with clear purpose and direction. For example, a company name may be registered and put into use, a business model may be adopted and followed, specific operational procedures may be documented and put into practice, and a marketing plan written and implemented. Other elements of success could include a sales and estimating process, a dress code, and guidelines for the proper use of the new company's visual identity. These ought to be harmonized with the developing culture and personnel of the new company. An operating business is itself a composite of ongoing processes aligned by a mission, values, and vision. These also ought to be committed to in writing at an early stage.

 

what they get: results with process

Anybody might ask, “Are all of these points applicable to companies that start out, for example, like David the one-man painting operation?” The answer is twofold.

On one hand, yes; more applicable than one might think. Indeed, David’s company is doing well partly because of the hiring practices, dress code, and code of conduct that Articulate Consultants recommended. Plus, he has more time for his family and his doctor is less concerned about career stress affecting his health – especially after he started following the new sales and estimating process written into his business plan.

On the other hand, not really. In addition to herself, Trudie only needed a virtual assistant and a protégé researcher as personnel. With a focus on systems and processes, her business plan put her in control without the feeling that there would always be too much demand for her direct involvement. Her website has become a net revenue generator, and she has the comfort of knowing where she’s headed on her career path – not as an actual entrepreneur, but as a more self-responsible independent business person whose income is up. Trudie need not concern herself with a sales and estimating process, though she happily follows Articulate advice on how to answer the question, “What do you charge as a speaker?”

Accustomed to thinking in terms of business processes, Norma comfortably went through a proven process of discovering her brand with Articulate's principal consultant, Glenn R Harrington. Once already-established perceptions of her work, her strengths, and her value-add had become clear, she then participated in defining what her new firm's brand promise would be. With Articulate support, she chose a business name and motto, got coaching on a compelling elevator speech and how to use it effectively while networking, and put into succinct words the mission and vision of her new firm. Once her new business name was registered, the design of a visual identity followed. A new website, too. All are founded on authentic market intelligence, with Norma's involvement, and led to the fulfilment of her business start-up aspirations. Though she works hard and puts in long hours, she does so with a better sense of fulfilling her motivation. She feels "like the captain of my own ship, sailing my own course" - a course plotted with expert support from Articulate Consultants.

 

Note: The stories of Norma, David, and Trudie as told here are realistic composites of the stories of real individuals with names changed.

  

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