Bootstrapping a Knowledge Consulting Practice

Community, Leadership, Mission-Driven Work

Thinking about doing some consulting? Looking for ways to expand your consultancy? Here’s 13 strategies and tips for turbocharging your practice.

Know Thy Customer

  • Who is your customer and what are they buying?
  • How will the buying decision be made?
  • How important and essential is your solution?
  • Can they pay (or will you need to help them find a way to pay)?

Advance Thy Brand

  • Position yourself as an impact-focused expert.
  • Run a thought leadership blog.
  • Pitch yourself as a conference speaker.


  • Define lines of business, brand typical deliverables (training, research, planning).
  • Look for repeatable revenue streams to reduce your cost of sales.

Outbound Marketing

  • Send a regular email blast; build a community around your value-add.
  • Run short thought leadership campaigns (blogs, reports, webinars, podcasts) on emerging topics.

Always Be Selling

  • Everyone selling everywhere all the time.
  • Hone your pitch.
  • Tell customer stories (or better yet, let customers tell your story).

Invest In Tools

  • Invest time in building a great contact database.
  • Build and manage a sales funnel.

Web Presence

  • An attractive functional website is a must
  • Pick a couple social media channels—you don’t need to be everywhere but you need to do what you do well (see Getting Smart on Social Media)

Leverage Part-time Consultants

  • When bootstrapping you always have too much work or too much capacity
  • A group of part-time consultants gives you some extensible capacity

Reuse Everything

  • Content: blogs become papers and presentations
  • Proposals and reports: build and save templates that you can reuse

Graphic Standards

  • Pick a simple logo and color scheme; use it everywhere (web, proposals, collateral) consistently

Nice But Cheap

  • Attractive and unusual cards are worth it
  • Brochures are usually a waste

Ask For More

  • Share a big vision for impact
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more

Nonprofit Partner

  • If not a nonprofit or if you haven’t received IRA c3 designation, it can be helpful to have a nonprofit partner. While many foundations use contracts to advance their charitable agenda, it can be useful to have a partner that can solicit and participate in grant -funded activities.

What would you add to this list? Comment below and tweet me, @tvanderark.

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