7 Ways to be a Better Consultant ©

These are typical snapshot situations with which the inventions service provider is solicited. If you guide these people, it means that you are a consultant. Perhaps a ‘reluctant’, unpaid consultant; but a consultant, nonetheless. By trade, you may be a prototyper, an engineer, a patent attorney, a manufacturer, or like me, an inventions marketer and licensing agent. But you are a consultant as well.

Now that you are a consultant, in addition to whatever regular services you provide, you’ll need to set up standards by which you are willing to consult. I offer you some possible considerations. Create conditions that suit your particular needs. Inventors take note; the more fully you prepare for the consultation, the more benefit available to you from the consultant.

GOAL

To create the greatest amount of value to the inventor, in the most concise period of time.

EVALUATION & CRITERIA

Pre-qualify your prospective consultees. Establish what the person expects to get out of the consultation. Determine whether the individual is logical and has realistic expectations. Is he/she serious about moving forward through all the steps to bring the invention to fruition? Sign a Non-Disclosure agreement so that you can preview the invention to determine if you are interested in consulting on it; and, moreover, that you can deliver value to the inventor by doing so.

MATERIALS

What materials must the inventor make available in order for you to service him/her? Determine if it is a CAD drawing, working prototype, list of features and benefits, patent search results, patent pending or issued, demographic info., market research, costs of molds and production; or whatever it is that you need from the inventor, in order for you to provide the best advice.

CONSULTING BY FACE OR PHONE, FAX & FEDEX

Determine the best method of communication for both of you. It may be a combination of all of these methods.

LENGTH & FREQUENCY OF CONSULTATIONS

Determine the length of time of your initial consultations, (mine are one hour,) and whether you are willing to provide limited or ongoing follow-up sessions; specifying how many, and length of each. Keep in mind how much of your time this takes away from your ‘core’ business service.

FEES

Evaluate the least amount you can afford to charge, based on time spent away from your core business. (When I figure this fee, I throw in a generosity or ‘X’ factor.) Consulting is an opportunity for you to give back to the community. Considering the mistreatment that many inventors suffer from ‘Scam’ companies that take tens of thousands of dollars from them, by making promises on which they do not deliver; you want to provide them with more value than they are paying for.

DISCLAIMERS

Acknowledge that you are not always right and that the advice you provide is based purely on your personal experience and opinion, and not on hard and fast rules.

AUTHENTICITY

Be real for your client. No consultant is an island. If there is an area where your client would be better served by other experts more experienced in that niche, freely refer the inventor to experts whom you respect. Everyone will benefit.

I became a consultant with no intention of becoming one. However, what I was doing by freely sharing my knowledge and experience with inventors, was consulting. You are a consultant when you realize that this activity is taking X % of your time from your core business, and you declare that you are one.

Now that you are a consultant, delete ‘Reluctant’, and enjoy what consulting provides to both the inventor, who gains instant access to your years of experience, and to yourself, for the gift of contributing to people.

Joan Lefkowitz, an original marketer of TopsyTail ™, is president of ACCESSORY BRAINSTORMS, NYC, a licensing agency, sales representative and consultancy for Fashion/Beauty Accessory and Lifestyle Inventions. Accessory Brainstorms is always looking for inventions in these categories, and offers one-on-one consulting. ACCESSORIES Magazine awarded Joan for “Most Inventive Products” and cited her as one of the 100 most important accessories industry “Movers and Shakers”. Contact at www.accessorybrainstorms.com.