In this episode we discuss how to start your own Excel consultancy. If you want to have your very own firm, what should be your first steps? And has the nature of problems clients need help with changed over the past decade?
Join our in-house experts Jordan Goldmeier, Oz du Soleil and Rick Grantham and our special guest Kevin Jones to discuss all of this and more. Kevin is an Excel book author and the co-founder of Data Automation Pros.
Let’s get started!
1 – What You Need to Know
Kevin has been working as an independent Excel consultant for over 20 years! And given his rich experience, he has some sound advice for you:
- You need to have a purpose, a drive.
- The best marketing is word of mouth.
- Have a good web presence, including optimal use of LinkedIn.
- Leverage the skills of people around you.
- Get you best practices together and head out for the challenge.
- Most importantly, manage expectations well.
2 – Starting Off
When Kevin went into freelancing, he worked as a consultant to the company he used to work for. Then he found a new client through a friend. Also, he found a company on a job listing which connected companies with independent consultants. Through this company, he really started to build his clientele and rest was history.
The important takeaway is that you need to get out there. Waiting for something to knock on your door will not work out. Also, as far as web presence is concerned, just remember that you do not need a fancy, carefully-engineered website. A simple webpage which puts your story out there works much better.
3 – Screening Jobs
Jordan asked Kevin to comment on how to select the first several jobs as a freelancer. Kevin mentioned that at the start, when you don’t have a good clientele, it is okay to take up whatever comes your way and charge them whatever you can. But you must make sure to do a good job and get a good reference. And eventually you will start having enough offers to increase your rate and be able to choose the people you would want to work with.
4 – Rate
Kevin emphasized on how your charge rate also reflects the quality of your output. Never undersell yourself; your rate should make you look good.
Oz followed it by saying how it takes a while to figure out where you will get your asking price and who you would enjoy working with. And you should always ask as many questions as you can to get a proper understanding of the job, the environment and the people.
5 – The Good and the Bad
Kevin explained that more often than not, you have to do the work the way client wants it. You can, of course, try to make them understand what the ideal way should be, and give them pros and cons of their choice(s). But at the end of the day, it’s up to them what they want.
Oz added to it by saying how sometimes clients don’t want to pay for putting in things like data validation. But following their wishes also means putting your product at risk. To this Kevin replied that he might just put in his own hours to perfect the project and to get a good reference.
While the dependence on clients’ wishes can be a bad thing, Rick put a positive spin on it. If you do not agree with what the client wants, you can simply choose to walk away.
7 – Evolution of Nature of Problems
It is legitimate to ponder over how the market has been affected with the introduction of big data and the likes. Jordan certainly feels that there is more focus on dashboards and interactive applications these days.
Oz said stressed on small data still being here. That’s all small to medium-sized enterprises care about. And that where bulk of the Excel consultancy work comes from. Kevin followed up by saying that president of Google for Work, Amit Singh, quoted that only 10% of a company’s employees are power users. The rest are mostly involved in light editing of the previously created documents.
As far as the BI space is concerned, Rick did acknowledge that there is always incremental knowledge to take advantage of. But, looking at the bigger picture, it is the same problems being solved just with new tools.
Share this video with aspiring freelancers and independent Excel consultants. And do not forget to write to us with your experiences and advice in the comments section below.