Consulting as a Startup Strategy

startup process
With all the uncertainty consider consulting as a way to close the knowledge gap to your startup idea.

You may have a great idea and want to act on it by putting forth lots of energy, money and risk to make your product successful. However, we live in a saturated world with too much rather than not enough. Your product is going to have to break through the noise of the masses. And that is no easy feat.

Furthermore, there is a lot of uncertainty with thousands of decisions along the way to launch your startup and make money. After all, that is the goal of a business – to make money from bringing value to others.

Instead of diving off the deep end, how about learning to swim efficiently first? Take small risks and learn from your prospective market on their dime rather than on yours.

If you choose to fully develop an idea and present it to the world, you may hit a home run, but this is a dream world. The reality is that you will likely miss and it will be costly.

If you are able to safely test an idea, get feedback and continue to refine your product, then you can increase your probability of acceptance. After all, there are no products. There are only markets.

So, here is how I have helped entrepreneurs and businesses move to success with their ideas and make them happen in reality.

Get a Customer

The hardest thing to do is to win a customer. All the other functions of your business are easy.

Get a customer that will pay you money. Don’t work for free.

In fact, sell your service. If you have a software product you want to launch, consider it a tool of your consulting service.

If you have books or information products, use these as tools of your customer experience.

Whatever the product is, make it part of your service.

Your customers will pay you handsome fees for customized professional help on their specific problem. Packaging your product within the context of professional services is much more palatable than trying to sell to the masses.

You are using your product within the context of delivering a result.

Test Your Product

After you have won a consulting customer, use your product as a tool within your service process. This will allow you to test its limits and use it in a way that brings value.

You may have to tweak things along the way, but this is a great opportunity to see how your product performs in a real-life situation.

You don’t need to highlight your tools. You just have to use them to deliver value.

All the while, you are able to focus on what matters and cut out the fat. You can see what needs fixing and what is working. This is because you are using reality as your backdrop rather than supposing what will work with only your imagination. You are out of the lab and into the world.

Productize Your Offering

As you continue to work on consulting projects and learn what will make your product great, you are also learning what attracts someone to the value of your product. Thus, you can start promoting it and branding it.

Give your product a name and promote it online. See if you can invite a few close friends to buy it or try it out. They can give you feedback and it should be refined with real-life usage in your consulting projects. Here’s a resource to think through productizing your service.

Find Channels of Distribution

Once your friends love it and give you feedback on what connects with them, look for ways to distribute your product. Is it an online strategy? Should you approach retailers? How about close-knit social groups?

This is a strategy of leverage. You should have a mature product and understand how people respond to it and value it. Finding distribution means looking for natural channels that are already self-organized to promote your product through. It is relationship building with the right people connected to your natural customer base.

Reducing Uncertainty

If you avoid the often failed route of launching without testing, then you will reduce the risk that comes from uncertainty. That is because you are able to test and iterate with real-life feedback.

This is happening all the while you are making money. When there is a natural inflection point, you may opt to sell your product over selling consulting services.

Or you may discover a hybrid strategy that involves more services along with a product sale. This is insight you will gain from interacting with customers intimately by starting with consulting.

Consulting will drive your cash flow initially and you can command thousands of dollars while starting out instead of hoping for a buyer at a time on much lower cost product pricing.

Have you had a product idea you wanted to launch? What do you think of using this strategy to reduce your risk?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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