It’s EASY to Be a Successful Independent Computer Consultant – Really!

It used to be very difficult being an Independent Computer Consultant. When you didn’t have enough clients, finding enough billable hours in a day could be a real challenge. And when you had “enough” clients, way too often you would be needed at two places at once. Either there’s too many emergencies going on, or you’re working on a decent project that could bring in a chunk of hours that prevents you from giving other clients the attention they demand. Make one client happy, another is getting angry at you.

But starting a computer consulting business today as an Independent Computer Consultant is one of the best career choices an IT Professional can make. All because you can now monitor and service your clients remotely. All the things that made running a consulting business difficult in the past (too many unexpected emergencies, can’t be in two places at once), are eliminated by using cheap or free utilities (I use GFI Max for server monitoring and inventory reporting and LogMeIn Free for remote desktop and server support).

Using these tools can help you to:

a) Catch problems early, minimize emergencies, downtime and unexpected problems.

b) Identify weak spots so that you can make recommendations for (profitable) improvement projects

c) Fix “little” problems (change passwords, find lost files, etc.) instantly, without having to go on-site.

d) Start addressing “MAJOR” problems instantly (address a complete email outage, start an AV scan on an infected machine) without making the client wait for you to arrive.

If you maintain your clients properly, they will have minimal problems and maximum productivity. This is EXACTLY what they want for you to provide as their consultant, and they’re happy to pay for it.

But if you’re billing by the hour, and they hardly need you on-site, how do you make an income?

You stop billing by the hour!

Charge your customers a flat rate for your monthly monitoring and remote support and you’ll know every month exactly how much you’ll be making even if you never have to leave the house. In the video link below, I give a clear breakdown of how a total of 4 small business clients can provide a steady income of about $66K, with you dedicating a total of about 10 hours of work per week. Once you obtain your initial client base, you’ll never again have to worry about another paycheck, lay-off or sending out a resume.

So the trick of course is to get those first few clients, and get them quickly. How? That’s a big topic (so big in fact that I have about 2 hours of video on my website dedicated to it).

In a nutshell, my top three methods for finding new clients are:

1. Getting Referrals

2. Business Networking

3. cold-calling (I prefer door-to-door with flyers).

You definitely don’t have to spend a lot on sales and marketing to do it effectively. All the methods I use are very inexpensive or free. The biggest challenge isn’t financial. It’s having the confidence and determination to go out and do it.

If you live near a metropolitan area, I can guarantee you that there are many small businesses out there right now who are open to finding a way to improve the reliability of their systems and/or lowering their current support costs. You, as an Independent Computer Consultant can provide this solution, and you can find these potential customers through networking, asking for referrals and knocking on doors (among several other ways).

Once you get in front of these potential customers, you need to show them that as a professional Independent Computer Consultant, you’re their best possible solution. You do this by delivering a good sales pitch and by presenting yourself as a professional (seen through marketing materials – your business cards, website, newsletter and flyers if you use them).

Developing an effective sales pitch will take time and practice. But if you’re not currently using a scripted sales pitch and you prefer to “wing it” when talking to a potential customer, you need to evaluate how successful you’ve been with that approach. All successful sales people use a carefully scripted and practiced sales pitch (practiced to the point where it’s delivered very naturally). If you’ve never done any sales, I recommend reading “The Sales Bible” by Jeffrey Gitomer. It’s a fast and easy read and it should get you motivated to learn more.

As for the marketing materials, they need to look professional, but don’t need to be expensive to create. I recommend VistaPrint for business cards. You can create a very professional website using WordPress (free) and Artisteer ($50). Flyers can be done in MS Word using inexpensive graphics. Same with your newsletter.

While creating these materials and sales scripts don’t have to be expensive, they can be very time consuming if you try to create them on your own. And unless you have a background in sales, marketing and design, you also have to be realistic about how effective you expect them to be the first time you use them.

Of course, if you have the capital to invest, you can outsource the creation of these materials. But depending on who you outsource to, you may need a lot of capital, and be prepared to deal with missed delivery dates and “not-quite-what-you-were-expecting” results.

Or you can check the link at the end of this article for info on how to get all of these materials ready to use, right now.

However you go about obtaining your sales and marketing materials, you’re going to need them if you’re an Independent Computer Consultant looking to land new clients.

Fortunately, when you start a computer consulting business on the correct model of flat-fee, managed support, you need very few small business clients to create a significant and reliable income.