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Projecting A Professional Image In Your Consulting Start Up

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Yes, here it is... another article about the recession. It seems we can't get away from people telling us that we are in difficult financial times. It is very apparent to every one that earns their living from selling, buying, trading, making, and serving the things that people need and want. I believe that would be just about everyone in the US. So while you don't need to hear from me that we are in a tough economy, I can tell you some things that will help you though them.

The biggest side effect of the recession is the number of layoffs we are seeing across the US. According to The Bureau of Labor, 43% of the layoffs last year were due to a loss in business demand. Simple economics says a reduction in demand means a reduction in profits which in turn results in a reduction of employees. So the unemployment rate rising up to 6% is no surprise. Because so many have lost their jobs, over 200,000 in the third quarter, there are a lot of people trying to reinvent themselves as consultants in the fields that they were previously employed in.

Most of those people were probably not laid off because they didn't know enough about their jobs. They still have all the same knowledge they had when they were employed, just no where to put it to good use. That is why becoming a consultant is attractive to many that have been laid off. If you are thinking about becoming a consultant there are a few things that you need to ask yourself:
  • Do you have something to offer?
  • Are you a self starter?
  • Are you comfortable marketing yourself?
  • Are you able to go from your regular 9-5 hours to something more flexible - including nights and weekends?
Once you have decided if you have what it takes to become a consultant, you will need to consider what you will need besides your knowledge and ambition. In many cases, a consulting business can be started with a business card with your name and number on it. However in order to present yourself as a serious professional, a little more will be required. Here are some inexpensive things you can do to project a professional image:
  • Quality business card. While you can find business card offers for 1000 for $2, consider dolling out a few more bucks for a nice professional card.
  • Appropriate clothing. This will be determined by the field you are consulting for. Some may require a nice suit while slacks and a button down may be appropriate for others.
  • A professional phone system. Consider a virtual PBX with an auto attendant that will greet your callers professionally. Even though you can forward those calls to your home or cell phone, your callers will feel like they are dealing with a professional with an established business.
  • Office meeting space. If you need space where you can meet with clients besides your home office, consider renting a conference room on an as needed basis instead of leasing an office.
  • A website. It is so important to be able to be found on the Internet. Most times the first thing people do is search the Internet for someone they are thinking about doing business with. You don't have to spend a ton of money having a site made but something nice and professional looking is required. There are a lot of inexpensive, or sometimes even free, templates that you can use. A good place to start is
  • Have testimonials. If you left on good terms with your old employer, get them to write a testimonial on your skills and knowledge. If there are people from your previous job that you worked with on a consistent basis, ask them to say something about your character.
When you first meet someone they cannot see all the knowledge you have in your head that can help them. So make sure you get a chance to show them by presenting the professional image of someone they would like to work with.
Author Tim Paulino
Also known as the "virtual phone guy", Tim is a well-respected marketing and communications expert with over 14 years experience, helping thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners. His writing and research focuses primarily on cloud-based virtual phone services that utilize toll free numbers with the latest voice and fax technology.
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