What you need to know before you launch a consulting business
Thinking about becoming a community consultant? Here are a few tips from one of the Community Consultants Collective members.
Jenny Weigle works with enterprise brands to build thriving online customer communities. For over ten years, she’s worked with more than 100 brands on various aspects of their community strategy and supported implementations, including launch, migration, programming, and planning.
We asked Jenny to share with the Community Consultants Collective a few tips for new consultants just getting started working with organizations. She provided us with her most frequently asked consulting questions.
When she's not geeking out on community strategy, Jenny spends time in Los Angeles with her partner, John, and stepdaughter. In her personal life, she is a proud member of several communities: Southern California Gator Club, Spiritual Sisters of Los Angeles (which she founded), Oak Park LA (CrossFit), Sofar Sounds, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, and others.
What made you want to get into consulting? (Before launching a consulting business)
“My first consulting job was helping a friend who started her own inbound marketing business. My primary reason for taking a side job at the time was to gain exposure to inbound marketing practices. Fast forward many years, and I was able to refine and improve on those skills when I accepted a corporate consulting job with Salesforce in 2013. I guess I never sought consulting specifically; more so, it found me. Once it did, I realized I’d fallen into an exhilarating career path, and I’ve never looked back.”
How did you get started with your own practice?
“Back in 2015, I decided to try going out alone. I quit my job at Salesforce and gave myself a 3-month sabbatical. Then, I dove into contract work without seriously considering a business plan or long-term goals. It’s not surprising that I failed in that endeavor. In Spring 2021, I took the time to create a thoroughly detailed business plan. I was ready to launch in June, and my business was starting from scratch.”
What do you like best about working for yourself?
“I LOVE creative freedom! If I have an idea I want to implement or something I want to try with clients, it’s entirely on me to make time and execute that. I try to channel many of my ideas into my Substack posts so that others can benefit from them. Also, I live for those aha moments with my clients and get to see them celebrate their successes!
What do you like least about working for yourself?
“It’s a challenge to turn my brain off. Even though I’m good with my email boundaries and not checking it all the time, I’m still constantly thinking about my business. I think about it after I’ve shut down for the day, at dinners with friends, on the weekends, when I’m about to go to sleep, and when I first wake up. I worry that I’ll never have the time to create everything I want for my clients and my practice.”
How do you find clients?
“Fortunately, I have clients that want to keep working together, and I appreciate that repeat business, plus the referrals they send to me. I also get inquiries through my website. The majority of new clients come via LinkedIn.”
What have you learned since starting Jenny.Community?
I’ve learned how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. There are constantly new situations I’ve never been in before, and I have to learn as I go. I’ve also known that pivoting and trying new things is OK. That’s part of the fun of being an entrepreneur!
What advice do you have for people interested in going out independently?
“Running your own business will have more mental and emotional effects than you realize. Plan and research as much as you can, but still be ready to tackle things you had no idea you had to plan."
Tips for new consultants launching a consulting business
Listen to stories from other consultants on how they run their businesses.
Find a support network to be a sounding board for your good and bad days.
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself; research it by reading reviews and testimonials.
Be sure that any program or course you sign up for caters to business consulting.
Do your due diligence to determine what’s right for you.
Community Consultants Collective is a monthly meetup and Slack Community for connecting community pros and new consultants.
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