How to Start Your Consulting Career in a Small Town

Starting in a Small Town

When I decided to move from the city to a small sized regional town (35,000) of which I knew less than five people I had to have a plan to develop my consultancy in the small town.

This advice comes from a business consultant that has experienced the highs and lows of small town consultancies.

First, building trust

Small towns have a very efficient word-of-mouth network that is working overtime focused on all the latest gossip. Being a consultant your clients need to know they can trust you and worry that their information will become part of that gossip network.

Your professional brand needs to build trust and rapport to back up your actions. If you do or say anything about your clients, your consultancy will slowly fade away.

Second, keep your word

I was so used to service contracts and several formal presentations to clients while working in the city that it took a little time to get used to clients in small towns doing business by taking your word and giving theirs.

It doesn’t matter about contracts in small towns, if you break your word, your reputation will be over town within the week, and clients will lose your trust.

Make sure that if you promise to do something, do it. Never give your word if you cannot keep it. Understand that your clients may be put off by the formal contracts used by ‘city’ managers and build your business systems to operate within this less formal structure.

Third, get to know people as people

Rural towns shut down over the weekend as most people are busy going to local sports matches, hobbies or fishing for example. Become part of the community by engaging in similar social activities in an honest way. In other words, go because you enjoy it, not for cheap advertising.

Surprisingly your clients will want to see your social side as well as your professional side. Remember, you are not just doing consultancy work and then leaving them for the next contract. You will be expected to keep in touch as you bump into old clients while shopping or going to the doctors.

Fourth, change is slow

Even though you possess the latest industry knowledge and solutions be prepared that the town clients could be twenty years out of date. Not because of any deficiencies in the clients, but simply they don’t feel the need to change something they have been doing for decades just because larger towns may have.

Small Town overview

Most importantly you will need to retrain your body language to adjust to the town behaviours or you will be seen as intimidating and high pressure. Spend time watching how people in small towns meet and interact before you go in with your business card, power suit and wide smile.

Information supplied by Paul Baker

Over twenty years of business development & change management strategies successfully used in National organisations across Australia. The focus is on continuous improvement of business systems to stimulate growth through our principles of Initiate, Inspire, Innovate.

Customer-centric focus using our extensive experience in consumer behaviour and business process operations to find ways to help business owners manage their organisations.