Susan Schaefer: Twelve years ago, as a new consultant, I craved a first-person resource that would provide guidance and that acknowledged that there are many different paths to a successful business. At each next stage of my business’s life, that desire remained. Other consultants I knew felt the same way, so I turned to Linda, and together, we created that resource.
FS: How is the economy/atmosphere right now in terms of starting your own fundraising consulting business?
LL: I think we’re on an upward cusp and that this is a good time to start a business.
SS: So many organizations continue to outsource, so work is steady for those consultants who are good businesspeople and who know their content.
FS: What mistakes do consultants make when first going into business for themselves?
LL: Not realizing that they need to be marketing their businesses, not understanding how to price their services, being reluctant to talk to “the competition” about how they are really doing.
SS: Many people think that if you’re an expert, you will make a good consultant. But it’s an equal mix of content knowledge, business know-how and client relations.
FS: What are the main pieces of advice a consultant can glean from the book?
There is no one way that is right for everyone.
To endure in this field, you need to have a solid business plan, strong ethics and a sense of humor.
Mentors can be invaluable, even if you think they are your competition.
SS: Linda said it all, but I’d emphasize her first point: If there’s one thing I gleaned from our 25 contributors, it’s that there are many paths to a successful business. I’d also add that you can sustain a long career as a consultant and reinvent yourself — multiple times, if necessary — to keep things interesting. There are some inspiring examples in the book.