4 Tips for Consultants Who Don’t Want to Get Bogged Down by Admin Work was originally published on Ivy Exec.
As a consultant, you have two most crucial resources at your disposal: your niche expertise and your time.
You’re continually honing the former with each passing day, helping your clients achieve their personal or business goals more and more efficiently. But what about the latter? Your time will always be a limited, non-renewable resource.
You can work at your best only for a finite number of hours a day. And if you charge by the hour — as do 21% of consultants — then your time is, indeed, money. If you’re squandering it on doing administrative (albeit important) work — such as creating invoices, scheduling meetings, or writing promotional emails — then you aren’t making the most of your time.
In this article, let’s look at how you can avoid getting bogged down by admin work and shift your focus to doing more meaningful work you enjoy.
Automate your invoicing process
Tracking your billable hours and creating invoices that detail services rendered is essential to running a successful consulting business. You might already be tracking your billable hours using time-tracking software, such as Clockify.
But instead of wasting time manually turning those hours into invoices each month, you can automate the entire billing process to get paid faster.
Using the payment tools offered by vcita, a business management platform that’s designed specifically for consultants, coaches, and other service-focused small businesses, you can have your payment requests and invoices sent automatically at the end of every billing period, or according to whatever timing makes the most sense for the specifics of your consulting gigs.
It lets you create recurring invoices with automatic reminders and links that make it easy for clients to remit overdue payments using their credit cards. Logging in to the built-in client portal, they can review and download transaction histories. You can also turn invoices into receipts with a single click and send them to clients via email or SMS. Plus, you get an insightful dashboard that breaks down all your invoices by payment methods (credit card, PayPal, Venmo, cash, etc.) and revenue performance over time.
By automating your invoicing process, you spend less time chasing payments and more time helping your clients.
Set up automated drip campaigns to frequently check in with clients
For small businesses, especially service-based ones, regularly touching base with clients is pivotal to keep them from churning altogether. That is, you may have a base of past clients who you’re not currently consulting but who may need your services again in the future.
When the time comes, staying top of mind with your clients is what gets you repeat business from them. Picking up the phone for an occasional check-in call and establishing a strong social media presence helps, but email marketing is one of the best ways to stay top of mind.
Specifically, setting up automated email drip nurture flows can work wonders to have clients coming back. These are essentially a set of pre-crafted, personalized, promotional emails that are automatically sent to your client list on a conditional basis (such as on birthdays, work anniversaries, after a series of consultations, crossing a time threshold of inactivity).
This helps minimize the manual effort of emailing clients frequently to engage with them and know if they need your help. With a user-friendly email drip nurturing tool like ConvertKit that’s designed for consultants and creators, you can easily set up drip campaigns and email sequences that are released on a schedule. It lets you customize your automation triggers with delays based on the date (so emails are never sent on the weekends) or deliver different emails based on the client’s location.
By sending personalized content with relevant offers (such as a free consultation, an exclusive eBook, DIY templates, or expert advice) directly into their inbox, you can build stronger client relations. In turn, they’ll continue to put their trust in you to help them reach their goals.
Use a scheduling tool to automate meeting confirmations and reminders.
Running successful business meetings and client calls is your bread and butter, not scheduling them. If you’re spending a good chunk of your working hours replying to emails, confirming bookings, and sending updates and follow-ups, then you’re far from achieving peak productivity.
Plus, the usual workflow wherein clients land on your website or Facebook page, fill out a form (or shoot an email) and see a message like “We’ll get back to you shortly” is just adding unnecessary time to the entire process of them getting the help they need and you getting a booking on your calendar.
Instead, giving prospective clients the ability to see and book available appointment slots directly from your website, Facebook page, or Google listing saves time for both sides of the trade. And again, the scheduling tools from vcita help you do just that.
Here, clients can schedule Zoom sessions, phone calls, and in-person meetings on a self-service basis and get automated confirmations for each appointment. You can send automated messages to remind clients about upcoming bookings and follow-up emails after every session. You can also automatically adjust your availability to your client’s time zone and set cancellation/rescheduling policies.
Ultimately, using an online scheduler helps you gain back the time lost in scheduling appointments and sending reminders, and waking up to a full day of fruitful client meetings.
Hire an administrative assistant
As an independent consultant, you are running a business all by yourself, wearing too many hats at once.
During your initial months, you can likely manage everything — from meetings to marketing — on your own. But as your client base grows, hiring some help can be the difference between sustainable business growth and professional burnout.
Delegating administrative duties to a qualified assistant can take a lot off your plate, allowing you to focus on activities you love — ones that actually help your brand grow. For example, if you’re a financial consultant for enterprise clients, then your time is best spent conducting analysis and sharing action plans with C-level executives to enable better financial decision-making and long-term planning.
But even with the right automation tools, there’s a lot of grunt work that demands human effort — creating presentations, compiling analytical data, writing reports, preparing social media and email marketing content, coordinating meetings, billing, making travel arrangements, etc.
So, consider looking into platforms like Zirtual to hire a full-time, flexible second pair of hands to support your end-to-end consulting business ops. It’s a virtual assistant marketplace where you can find carefully-vetted professionals for all your administrative needs. For a monthly fee, Zirtual pairs you with the perfect assistant based on the skills required, time zone, business type, and personality — so you can go back to focusing on your core expertise and priorities.
Timely admin work is an unloved yet vital part of any business. It does not directly contribute to your consulting career progress, but your business can’t survive without it.
And so it makes sense to automate as much of it as you can. The solutions discussed above — automating your invoicing, using an online scheduler, setting up automated marketing emails, and hiring a virtual assistant — are some of the most impactful ways to do that.
Implement the tips above to carve out more productive time and do more value-add work for your clients that helps them and you grow.