My answer to What are some tips for starting an IT consulting business?
Answer by Ken Larson:
Golden Rules for Consultants that I learned over a couple decades in your field:
1. Do not promise what you cannot deliver
2. Do not overextend your resources and get a reputation for poor performance.
3. Do not tell the customer what he or she wants to hear. Tell them what they need to know. They will respect you for it.
4. Network constantly on professional sites such as Linked In. Hit the "Answers" feature and accumulate an "Expert" rating from your peers in your field.
5. Blog like there is no tomorrow. A blog is quite different than a web site. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days.
6. Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will be in demand for follow up business.
7. Quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him (in content and resources).
8. Be dedicated to working yourself out of a job with a specific customer and having your client take over by training him. He will remember you and recommend you to 10 others.
9. Remember growth is a function of persistence and foresight. Know where your market is headed and get their first – then write and speak about your success indirectly by helping others. Demonstrate humility and a satisfaction in helping others succeed. They will find ways to give you credit. There are ways of tooting your horn without making peoples' lights go out.
10. Word of mouth advertising from pleased clients is a sure ticket to success.