4 Ways To Be A Successful Nonprofit Consultant
Nonprofit consulting is a tough business. While there’s no statistics specifically on the business survival rates of nonprofit consultants, I know a lot of people who claim that they were “consulting between jobs.” The simple truth might be that they couldn’t find enough clients to pay their bills.
What can you do so you’re not looking wistfully back on your foray into consulting from a future corporate cubical?
- Preparation. Preparation is key. We’re talking about business preparation, and personal preparation. You need to be emotionally ready for your business as much as professionally organized to carry it out.
- Marketing. In my opinion, too many consultants simply do not market themselves either enough, in the right ways, or at all. People like to do “what they do,” their specialty. Attracting clients so they can carry out their specialty is inconvenient, scary, boring…
- “Grit.” A lot has been written about “grit” lately (see “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth). It’s a real thing. I can cite circumstances where someone has the business equivalent of a hangnail and gives up, and others who suffer indignities that would wear down the most stalwart, yet persevere.
- And more than a bit of luck. Luck is grossly underrated. It starts at birth and continues throughout life. In Texas right now, there’s a housing products company retired regional manager who is a descendant of the Washington family.
If he was lucky, Washington would have accepted the offer to be King of the United States, this man would have been his successor. King or corporate manager? A matter of luck. Can you “make your luck?” Maybe. You can certainly position yourself so that when luck occurs, you can take advantage of it. You can also decide that when luck runs against you, to not be defeated by it. Either way, many (most?) circumstances you cannot control. You can just try to be ready.
If anything above make you pause, good! Best to consider it now than after investing a lot of hard work, money and reputation into a challenge you didn’t welcome or wasn’t ready for. If it motivates you, all the better! Then maybe you’re ready for nonprofit consulting, and nonprofit consulting is ready for you!