The Ultimate Blueprint to
Building Your Business

A big fat resource for marketing consultants and agencies to get results
Congratulations, you just landed a new client!
The worksheets, templates and resources in this toolkit are modeled after the most effective — and tested — strategies and marketing best practices to attract and keep clients.

This guide was created based on feedback and insight from our close-knit community of ONTRAPORT Certified Consultants as well as key industry experts.

Now we’re handing them over to you...
...to help you increase demand for your services and cultivate firm relationships with your clients.

 
Chapter One
Unique Positioning Statement
To generate a steady stream of clients, you’ll need to paint a compelling picture of how you want your target market to perceive your brand.
Chapter Five
Plan Your Deliverables Schedule
You’ve established what you’re delivering to your client. Now specify when you’ll deliver it.
Chapter Two
Guarantees
Now that you know how to market yourself, it’s time to instill buyer confidence in your service offerings with a guarantee.
Chapter Six
Billing Processes
Aside from any project stipulations, having a solid contract will make your life easier when it comes to invoicing.
Chapter Three
Establish Your Pricing Structure
You’ve settled on a guarantee. Now how much do you charge?
Chapter Seven
Working With Independent Contractors

Need outside help for your consulting project? Here’s how to go about it.
Chapter Four
Client Contracts
Now that you’ve established a tentative pricing structure, it’s time to draft up a contract on which to place it.
Chapter Eight
Business Building Online Tools Directory
With all the paperwork out of the way, you're ready for action. Take your pick of these online tools to make your venture into business consulting a pleasant one.
 
Chapter One
Unique Positioning Statement
To generate a steady stream of clients, you’ll need to paint a compelling picture of how you want your target market to perceive your brand.
Think of a positioning statement like a compass.
Once you’ve got it pointing you in the right direction, you can orient and align your business strategies in the same direction.

A strong positioning statement frames your business in a way that succinctly expresses its benefits to your target market while embodying your unique personality. The benefit: your business stands out from the rest. Furthermore, a good positioning statement will mirror the language of your outward-facing promotional materials making it the perfect reference tool for your team to use for all other messaging.
Focusing on how your agency/service is unique is a far stronger positioning move than being cheaper or just vaguely “better” than the competition — and when done right, a unique positioning statement can make all the difference.

For instance, in 1962, Avis debuted a new advertising campaign under the banner of “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder. Or else.” (These ads have since evolved into the “We Try Harder” tagline.)

For years Avis trailed behind the market leader Hertz, but the ads — which aligned with their company ideology of “leading the industry by defining service excellence and building unmatched customer loyalty” — were an instant hit and helped propel the company from losing $3.2 million a year to earning $1.2 million a year. The ads continued to run for the next 50 years! 

 
Strong Positioning Statement
To urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy consumers who worry about the environment that future generations will inherit, Zipcar is the car-sharing service that lets you save money and reduce your carbon footprint, making you feel you’ve made a smart, responsible choice that demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment.
 
 
The Key Ingredients to your Positioning Statement
Make your answers brief, for maximum impact. 

1) What is your main service?
Example: Sophisticated marketing plans

2) What is unique about your services? Why do your clients choose you? (If you don’t know — ask them!)
Example: Track record of results

3) What do your clients do? Focus on the value they provide, speak to them so they know you know them.
Example: Sharing their unique message with the world
4) What is your target market? Think industry, demographics, or a specific niche.
Example: Speakers & Authors

5) What’s the difference you make for your clients? Focus on their aspirations, pain points, or
what keeps them up at night.
Example: Growing their audiences


Now that you’ve answered these questions, plug your answers into this formula and you’ll have your unique positioning statement!
 
I (or your company name) provide(s) ____ #3____to____#1____, with ____#2____
so they can____ #4____ by focusing on____ #5____.
How To Use Your Unique Positioning Statement
Remember, the purpose of this statement is to help guide all your other business and marketing decisions.
Since you’ve already defined the demographic that your business is going to serve, you need to walk a day in their shoes.

What drives them? What do they want more than anything? Once you’ve honed in on their needs and pain points, figure out how your service is going to deliver that, and make those answers clear to your clients.
Chapter Two
Guarantees
Now that you know how to market yourself, it’s time to instill buyer confidence in business with a guarantee.
 
 
“A REAL guarantee in today’s day and age should be so strong it makes you feel like throwing up.”
— Glenn Livingston
 
A guarantee is a powerful tool you can use to reel in your ideal clients and stamp out any reluctance to purchase. What promise can you make to prospective clients that you’re absolutely certain you’ll deliver on? Because your work is high quality, and because you’re going after a very focused, target market, your guarantee leans more on the perceived ability to manage risk than anything else.

The harsh truth: If your guarantee isn’t totally differentiated or doesn’t make prospective clients feel like they’re assuming zero risk, the consulting industry isn’t for you.


A bold guarantee is an “if-then” statement that should make your prospective clients feel like they have nothing to lose. The “if” portion addresses your clients’ fears of being let down or unsatisfied. The “then” portion addresses your proposed restitution in the event that you fail to deliver.

Here are some examples:
If you go through my proven process and are not satisfied with your experience, then I will refund 100% of your consulting fee.
If I am not able to increase your lead flow by 50% after six weeks, you’ll receive three extra strategy calls with me for free.
If I am not able to reduce your ad costs by 30% within one month, then you’ll pay me nothing.
 
If your guarantee isn’t totally differentiated or doesn’t make prospective clients feel like they’re assuming zero risk, the consulting industry isn’t for you.
 
 
Your Recipe to Create the Perfect Guarantee:
1) What fears do your clients have that may prevent them from hiring you? List at least five.
__________________ __________________ __________________ __________________ __________________

2) For each of those fears, what can you do to provide a safety net for them?
Fear 1: __________________
What you can do:
Fear 2: __________________
What you can do:
Fear 3: __________________
What you can do:
Fear 4: __________________
What you can do:
Fear 5: __________________
What you can do:
3) Pick a safety net that will make the biggest impact in reducing your potential clients’ fears. Make sure that it is something you can deliver on. Write this down as an if-then statement according to the examples above. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This is your guarantee!
Chapter Three
Establish Your Pricing Structure
Your guarantee is in place, now how much do you charge?
Even experienced consultants have trouble setting fees that match the value they provide clients. You may feel pressured to keep your fees as low as possible to get enough business, but do you really want a low price to be the reason clients choose you? Delivering a remarkable experience and great results should be enough to keep your clients coming back.

There’s an easy step and a hard step in determining how much you should charge your clients. Let’s start with the easy part: billing for work done by your employees or independent contractors (if you have them).
Here’s the rule of thumb:Always charge your clients three times your hard costs for this work.
This amount isn’t just pulled out of thin air, it’s the rule of thirds. One third goes to the employee or contractor and covers their wages, benefits, taxes, etc. The next third covers your overhead as a business owner. Think of what you’re paying for the rent for your office space, the cost of computers and software, legal fees and the other costs of running an entire business. The last third is your profit margin.

 
As a business owner, part of you is on duty 24/7. You think about your clients’ projects while you’re eating dinner, over the weekends, and you even dream about them. You do what it takes to give your clients amazing service, even if that means occasionally cutting into your designated “off” time.
 
 
What is Your Time Worth?
1)  How many hours of free time do you have per week?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
2)  How much is that free time worth to you?
______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 
3)  What amount would you pay to get one more hour of free time?
______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 
 
Charging by the Hour
Even though this number quantifies the value of your time on an hourly basis, charging clients hourly rates for a project isn’t recommended, for a number of reasons:
Billing by the hour creates an incentive to drag out the project rather than complete it in the most efficient manner.
Flat fees give you a consistent billing and revenue schedule so you can adequately plan your future budgets.
Getting paid a flat rate regardless of time spent rewards you for your efficiency and reduces your costs over time.
You can provide more personalized services and go above and beyond without charging the client more, which leads to greater client retention.
You have a broader selection of financing options on flat fee contracts that you don’t get with hourly rates.
Clients feel nickel and dimed with hourly contracts.
So, how do you calculate the appropriate flat fee for your project?
 
Your answer to the last question is a great number to use as a jumping off point.
Your time is valuable; the worth you place on
it should determine what your clients pay you for it.
 
Since you’ve already established the hourly cost of both your time and your employees’ or independent contractors’ time, it’s a matter of figuring out how much time each member of your team will spend on the project.

Time-tracking worksheets or software come in very handy here. Your employees and you should log any and all time spent on a project so that you can continually improve your estimates of how long a given task will take to complete based on past performance.Figure out how many hours of work will be required of you, your employees and your independent contractors for each phase of the project, then multiply it by the hourly rate you established. (In the contract template coming up, you’ll see how to break out your client’s project into phases.)
 
How to Calculate a Flat Fee for a Project:
Assistant
Hourly Wage: $20 x 3

Hourly Billing Rate: $60
Hours Required to Complete
Phase 1 Deliverables: 20
20 x $60 = $1200


Independent Contract
Hourly Labor: $30 x 3
Hourly Billing Rate: $90
Hours Required to Complete Phase 1 Deliverables: 10
10 x $90 = $900
Consultant 
Hourly Time Cost: $200
Hours Required to Complete
Phase 1 Deliverables: 15
15 x $200 = $3,000

Phase 1 Assistant Cost: $1,200
Phase 1 Independent Contractor Cost: $900
Phase 1 Consultant Cost: + $3,000
Phase 1 Total Fee = $5,100
You don’t need to share these calculations with your client, although you may consider sharing the breakdown of hours and manpower for the project. The purpose of these numbers is to make it easy to determine your fees based on all of your costs. If your time estimates end up being inaccurate and go over time, you’ll eat the cost of extra time spent and NOT charge your client extra. Sure you’ll earn less on the project, but you’ll have the chance to assess and adjust your estimates for next time. Should you, however, complete a project in less time than expected, this pricing structure will reward you with extra time.
 
Fact: One added benefit of tracking time and sharing the estimated hours per project with your staff is that this gives them an expectation of how long they should spend on each project.
They will more than likely stick closely to your estimates, increasing your chances of having a profitable project. The resulting numbers from the above calculations are for you to place in your contract with your client, disclosing to them the amount due at each phase. In the next section, you’ll get more information on how to structure the phases of your project in the client contract.
 
Chapter Four
Client Contracts
Now that you’ve established a tentative pricing structure, it’s time to draft a contract.
The contract between you and your client is one of the most critical components of your entire business. In fact, it’s a good idea to organize your client's entire project around their contract with you. This ensures that you always deliver what was promised and that clients never feel cheated.

The contract is as much for you as it is for the client. If you deliver on your part of the contract, they will be compelled to deliver on theirs — ensuring that you are always paid for your hard work. It’s also easy to track change order requests or project add-ons when your contract gets everyone on the same page.

Use the example template below to structure your own contract. It breaks the project into phases with defined deliverables and costs. Based on the structure this contract gives your project, you can create a deliverables schedule to keep everything on track and keep your monthly billing process as easy as possible. 
The Perfect Contract Template:
Section 1: Project Overview
The project overview provides an at-a-glance summary of the project to which you can refer back when needed. For your sake and your clients’, it puts all the important details of the contract front and center.

Section 2: Project Scope
Break your project into phases with a list of deliverables for each phase, an expected duration of time to completion, and the payment amount due upon completion. Working out the scope of your project in advance sets your clients’ expectations for payment, turnaround time and deliverables. It’ll also make your project planning and billing much more straightforward.

Section 3: Terms and Conditions
This section includes a sample set of Terms and Conditions. Modify it based on the unique aspects of your business. Having your client sign your Terms and Conditions can protect you in case of scope change, late payments, additional project costs or other unforeseen issues that may arise during your project.
Chapter Five
Plan Your Deliverables Schedule
You’ve established what you’re delivering to your client. Now specify when you’ll deliver it.
The backbone of your contract is a schedule of the deliverables you are promising to your client. From the timeline set out in the contract, you’ll create a schedule — broken up by week and by month — that lays out everything you promised the client. Major phases of the project should conclude at the end of each month.

Having deliverable deadlines scheduled in advance will allow you to create internal due dates for each deliverable, giving you enough time to review and update each deliverable before it is provided to the client. It also provides you with a much needed buffer for any contingencies. This is especially important if an independent contractor or other employee is completing part of the project.
 
Chapter Six
Billing Processes
Aside from any project stipulations, having a solid contract will make your life easier when it comes to invoicing.
Having already broken out all the billing and deliverables phase by phase in the contract, your monthly invoice process will be a cinch. Just be sure to include your invoice when you send the deliverable issues for that period, as well as a summary of the contract billing for that period.

Follow this matrix of sample ways to use your contract for billing.
Chapter Seven
Working With Independent Contractors
Need outside help for your consulting project?
Here’s how to go about it.
Independent contractors work for themselves and, like you, they are running a business. You are their client, but you are also their boss; they answer to you for the quality of their work. When working with them, be as clear as you’d want your client to be when working with you:
Set clear scopes, deadlines and expectations.
Make sure you review their work (well in advance of your deadlines for your clients)
Send items back with explicit instructions for improvement if they’re not meeting your standards
It’s also important, from a legal perspective, that you’re able to distinctly differentiate an independent contractor from an employee. Failing to do so could land you in trouble with the IRS. As such, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the IRS' distinction if you’re not already familiar with it or if you need a refresher.

The contracts between you and your independent contractor will look a lot like your contract with your client. The same logic applies to setting the deliverables, schedule, and deadlines. Payment schedules should be based on your review of their work, with designated time for a certain number of revisions.
When managing the deadlines of independent contractors, keep in mind that they may have other simultaneous priorities and deadlines, and you might not always be able to rely on them to meet your own deadlines. This is why it’s important to plan in advance and have a clear schedule of when their deliverables are due included in their contract, as you would for your own clients. For added protection, have a backup plan in place for getting the work done in case they go missing in action.

Remember that your billing rates
for work performed by independent contractors are your hard costs multiplied by three. If your independent contractor is likely to incur expenses while performing his or her work, you should set limits and give yourself the opportunity to approve all expenses in advance and incorporate them into the phase-by-phase fees on the client contract.

Reasonable expenses for an independent contractor:

Materials
Online tools
Travel time
Travel costs
Overnights
Of course, this varies from project to project and from industry to industry, so you’ll have to hash out what’s reasonable according to you and your clients. 
 
Getting these independent contractor costs nailed down ahead of time will make it easier to plan your client contracts and ensure maximum profit on each project.
 
Chapter Eight
Business Building Online Tools Directory
With all the paperwork out of the way, you're ready for action. Take your pick of these online tools to make your venture into business building a pleasant one.
Around here, we’re all about putting technology to work in your business whenever possible, especially if doing so opens up time for you to tackle other business projects.

To create this directory, we polled our Certified Consultants to find out some of their favorite online tools. We included a little bit on how each will be useful in your business.

 
TimetrackingUse these tools to keep track of the amount of billable time spent on each project per client,
or to keep track of your time to assess the overall time investment for each client project.
Free
• Easy to learn
• Keep track of multiple projects and sub-projects
• Easily share reports & timesheets
• Integrates with other common tools including Google Apps
• Basecamp, and more than 70 other business apps
• Chrome browser plugin makes it easy to track time
• Extra features for invoicing and expense reports
• Free for a single user
• Detects tasks automatically
• Creates a graphical timesheet to visualize
where you spent time 
 
Proposals
Use these tools to create beautiful proposals and help your clients
understand all the details of the service you are providing.
 
• Drag and drop proposal builder
• Notifies you when a client views or accepts your proposal
• Reporting & analytics on your proposal effectiveness 
• Get proposals signed with electronic signatures
• Integrates with Harvest, Freshbooks, Basecamp and more
• Customized client Landing Pages & professional design templates 

 
Accounting & Billing
Use these tools to create professional invoices and bill your
clients in a timely and accurate manner.

• Manage and pay bills from vendors, schedule payments
• Custom invoices
• Integrates with ONTRAPORT 
• Easily make branded invoices
• Set a schedule for invoices to go out automatically
• Send late payment reminders automatically 
• Unlimited users on every plan
• Great pricing for small businesses
• Makes it easy to combine payroll and accounting
• Add-on marketplace for integrations with hundreds of other apps 
 
Payments
Use these tools to make it easy for clients to pay you.

• Accepts credit card payments
• Accept payments on a mobile device
• One click checkout Integrates with ONTRAPORT 

• Point of Sale and Mobile credit card readers let you take payment from customers anywhere
• Send Invoices right from the app
• Integrates with Xero and QuickbooksIntegrates with ONTRAPORT through Quickbooks 

 
Project Management
Use these tools to budget time spent on client projects, and set up online spaces for all every collaborator to share information.
• Manage projects and support requests
• Makes it easy to collaborate with clients
• Gantt charts to help visualize your progress 

• Easy to pick up right away
• Makes it simple to get the big picture
• Daily executive summary email 

• Easy to create tasks for a team member to do
• Lets you add files from Dropbox & Google Drive 

 
Scheduling
Use these tools to schedule calls and meetings with your team and clients.

• Makes it easy for prospects and clients to schedule a meeting or call with you online
• Integrates with multiple CRM and Marketing Automation systems 

• Lets clients pick the time from your schedule that they prefer to meet
• Automatically sends email and text reminders about meetings
• Integrates with Quickbooks to accept payments
• Used by ONTRAPORT
 
• Lets you find times when everyone is available to meet
• Can assign meetings based on who’s available from
your team
• Connects to Google and Outlook Calendars 

 
Collaboration
Use these tools to hold virtual meetings with
team members and clients.

• Share your screen and audio from your computer instantly
• Allows you to record meetings for future reference
• Gives meeting attendees a phone number to call as an alternative to using meeting audio with VoIP
• Integrates with ONTRAPORT 

• Lets people view your screen in their browser by clicking a link or entering a code
• The basic version (no audio sharing) is free
• Viewers don’t have to download anything or sign up for an account 
 
Outsourcing
Use these tools to find independent contractors and
freelancers to contribute to your projects.


• Post jobs for qualified freelancers and compare proposals
• Keeps your funds safe in an escrow account until the work is done to your satisfaction
• Lets you break up projects into milestones with smaller deliverables 

• Hire freelancers or virtual assistants to work on projects
• Great for finding help with data entry, translation and transcription 

 
Design
Use these resources to create visually appealing
resources for your clients.
• Design responsive emails in your browser and get an HTML file to use in any ESP
• Doesn’t require any coding experience
Free 

• Create diagrams, flowcharts, wireframes or process maps for your business or for your clients
• Integrates with Google Apps & Drive
• Import your own photos and other content 

• Build elegant, mobile-responsive web pages in a matter of minutes
• No web designer, web developer necessary, or coding experience necessary
• Free 

 
Go Forth and Consult
Business consultants are one of the most sought after in the consulting space.

Now that you’ve reached the end of the guide, you have more than enough resources to work through a project from start to finish with your first client, and do it well. You’ll also be able to build a strong foundation for your consulting business and attract more clients down the line.

As you gain traction, there are a number of things you’ll want to familiarize yourself with to keep everything in full swing:
Your clients' financial data
• Your clients' CEO and management team
• Your competition

A firm grasp on these will be the key to your success in a relationship between you and your future clients.
Remember, the relationships you build far outweigh anything else.

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