Idea Businesses – Becoming a Consultant

Opinions wanted. Huge sums of money paid. Very little work required. If that was a job description, would you apply? Chances are, you answered yes.

Literally, your job is to discuss. You heard me right. Do you have an artistic talent? Become a media consultant. Besides your base contract, which is usually a heft amount, you’ll earn a rebate, usually 15% of their money that you spend on advertising. So if you get hired for a month’s project and charge $2000, and you end up spending $50,000 on television and radio advertisements, your rebate alone is $7500.

There are two keys to setting up a consulting business – credibility and knowledge. The credibility is more important of the two. If you have a friend with their own business, get them to hire you on for a modest amount, and use it as a learning opportunity – and a reference. This gives you a chance to “break in” to the field, and show a track record of performance worthy of being hired.

When I started consulting about 4 years ago, I cut my teeth in political consulting. I had volunteered on a few political campaigns (credibility), and had legitimately acquired the contact information for several vendors. With a stack of business cards and a little bit of know-how, I have literally been able to charge thousands of dollars to people for short term work – but valuable work nonetheless!

Once you’ve started, make sure everyone you know is aware of your services. People like to have “I know a guy” conversations. Make sure that you’re the guy whose name is going to be dropped, and watch the referrals roll in!

How Are You Filling Your Idea Pipeline?

I’ve just been reading a terrific new book called High-Profit Prospecting by my friend and colleague Mark Hunter. Mark is a consummate sales professional, and his book is about how to keep your sales pipeline full so that you never run out of valuable prospects.

I’m not a sales professional, but I am an idea professional. And, just like I think it’s vital for people in the sales business to keep their sales pipelines full, I think it’s equally vital for people in the idea business to keep their idea pipelines full.

By the way, as a leader, you are in the idea business.

In his book, Mark talks about the importance of not leaving prospecting to chance, not just waiting (and hoping) for prospects to fall into the pipeline. He says that a true sales professional should have weekly (preferably daily) dedicated prospecting time scheduled on the calendar. Because keeping the pipeline full is that important.

Likewise, leaders should schedule time weekly (preferably daily) to fill their idea pipeline. Because it’s that important.

So, how do you do this? Through four primary sources.

1. What you read.

There’s a reason why Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk read voraciously. They understand the value of keeping their mental pipeline full of new ideas.

“But I’m too busy to read, Bill.”

Really? Busier than Bill Gates? Because he’s pretty busy. And pretty rich. And he reads 50 books a year. I don’t think these are unrelated. So, I’m sorry-what’s your excuse again?

Schedule time to read. Every day, if possible. (And it is possible.) I’m not talking about Grisham and Patterson. They’re fine for the beach. Read about ideas. Read about things you don’t already know.

2. What you listen to.

To those of you who have horrendous commutes, congratulations! You’ve got a great opportunity to fill your idea pipeline! Instead of listening to the news (depressing), or the generic pop music station (mindless), why not try out one of the literally hundreds of great podcasts available? My guess is that there are at least a few podcasts out there for your particular field. Or, try one of my favorites, the TED Radio Hour podcast.

3. What you watch.

Although this probably won’t help you with your commute, there’s plenty to watch online-and some of it doesn’t involve kittens. For example, in addition to listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast, you can watch actual TED Talks Or, if you want something more in-depth and academic, Stanford University (among others) puts many of their courses online, absolutely free.

4. Who you meet.

I’ve saved the best for last. There are actual people out there, freely roaming the earth, who have knowledge, experiences, and ideas that you don’t have. They can be found in your town, in your workplace, sitting next to you on the plane or train. But here’s the caveat: if you only hang out with the same people you always hang out with, you’ll never meet these others. And that’s to your detriment, as a leader, and as a human being.

So fill your pipeline! Feed your brain continuously with new ideas. It’s the highest profit prospecting you can do.

Business Casual Outfits – 5 Business Casual Ideas That Work

Are finding business casual outfits causing you to tear your hair out in the morning? Do you stand in your closet, looking for business casual ideas?

Business casual is the merging of two types of attire – business dress and casual clothing. The challenge is that when people try to combine these styles, the clothing choices are almost limitless.

So how can you put together business casual outfits that make you look good? Here are 5 tips for success.

1. Don’t think that anything goes. The biggest mistake in creating a business casual wardrobe is to think that you can just throw on anything you like. That may work for a few days. But you’ll soon find that you are running out of things to wear.

2. Plan your wardrobe. You have to plan your business casual wardrobe in the same way you plan a business formal wardrobe. You have to think about your needs, your body shape and personality, and your work environment. Then you have to shop carefully to put together a wardrobe that won’t cause you grief every morning as you wonder what to wear.

3. Capsule Wardrobe: The best way to do this is to create a capsule wardrobe based on a neutral pallet of navy, grey or black. Put together a few basic such as a jacket and pants or skirt that fit you well. Now you are all set to add color and accessories to suit your work style. This way you always have something to wear, and you’ll know that all the parts of your outfits work well together.

4. Keep a separate wardrobe. Don’t mix your weekend wear with your business casual wear. You’ll end up wearing clothes that you wore to walk your dog or buy groceries on the weekend. Then if you don’t have time to clean and press them, you’ll look less than polished and professional at work.

5. Keep your outfits simple. Pair a crisp shirt or blouse, or a nice sweater, with pants or a skirt that fit you well, in a neutral color. Add some accessories, such as a good watch, classic necklace or earring for women, a good leather briefcase or handbag, and you’re set for the workplace.