Hello, I am Matt Feldmann, the principal researcher and owner of Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. and the out-going chair for the Independent Consulting TIG. My company focuses on educational evaluation and data support for clients in Southern Illinois.
I started my company in 2011 based on the unmet needs for educational evaluation in my local community. I was a data analyst for a local college and took on a “side-job” that turned into a couple of jobs…and finally ended up being too much for a moonlighting effort. Before I left the full-time dependable position, I wrote a business plan to convince myself (and my wife) that this was not a fool’s errand. The following are some ideas when writing a business plan for an independent evaluation practice.
Lessons Learned: The following are some concepts that will inform your internal business plan document.
Practice what you preach. Many of us help our clients with program development including the identification of objectives, logic models, and SMART goals. Your business needs many of the same things including a mission statement, vision, and organizational principles. These ground your organization and provide you with direction for what you are good at, who you are, and who you serve.
Identify your services and your target market. It is important to identify what you can do and who you can serve, and it is equally important to set limits on who you will serve. For example, I try to do most of my work in Southern Illinois (not in Missouri), even though I live about 20 miles from the Illinois-Missouri border. While my market is geographical, it could just as easily be based on your skills, or knowledge of a sector.
Know your competition and your sales strategy. It is likely that others have completed evaluations in your target market. Knowing these firms and individual consultants will inform how you will approach your potential clients and how to develop your sales strategy.
Rhonda Abrams, a small business columnist for USA Today, has provided me with a constant source of material for reflection and strategy for my small business. You should check out her book on successful business plans: Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.