The Business of Being in Business: A Worksheet

Contributor: Frank Abdale

Many of us go into consulting because we have a strong expertise in some area and are attracted by the independence, flexibility, potential revenue and opportunity to work with an interesting array of clients. Others of us may go into consulting because a full-time job is not immediately available.

Either way, not everyone goes into consulting prepared to be a business owner and take on all the responsibilities required for establishing a successful and sustainable practice.

As sole proprietors or a small shop, we consultants have to write proposals and contracts; develop marketing and sales strategies; handle bookkeeping, billing and general admin tasks; and, ideally, establish a community of practice – none of which involve billable hours!

One of the most essential things we need to do is write an annual (or multi-year) business plan. Through this process we invoke the power of intention by articulating clear, aspirational goals and envisioning a bright and successful future.

Writing a business plan does not have to be a terribly onerous task. Just answer the questions below with as much thoughtfulness and clarity as you can muster.

1. Why are you in business – freedom, flexibility, money, other?

2. How can your business make a difference in the world?

3. What do you do and for whom?

4. What values / core beliefs drive you and your business?

5. What is your unique value proposition? (see last month’s newsletter)

6. Who is your ideal client?

7. How and how often can you reach that ideal client?

8. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner?

9. What opportunities and trends in the external environment impact your business?

10. What’s your marketing strategy?

11. What are your revenue and expense projections?
2018 Revenue:
2018 Expenses:

12. What are your goals for your business and how will you measure your progress?

And remember, a business plan is a blueprint, but it’s not carved in granite. Let yourself relax, have fun – and vision away!


Frank Abdale

Frank Abdale

Frank Abdale is a successful strategist with twenty years of experience as an executive and consultant with nonprofit organizations and philanthropic institutions. The former Executive Director of Association of Nutrition Services Agencies (2002-2008), some recent consulting clients include Art Students League of New York, Funders Concerned About AIDS, Johnson & Johnson, MAC AIDS Fund, NYC Department of Health, Support Center/Partnership in Philanthropy, Partnership for a Healthier New York City, Prudential Foundation, Take Care New York and The United Way New York City. Frank helped design and facilitate the ANS Consultants Institute. He offers several workshops on advocacy, collaboration, fundraising and building a nonprofit. His publications include Practical Abundance: A Comprehensive Guide to Fundraising and Development for Nonprofits. Frank is Vice-President of the Board of Directors of Long Island Crisis Center. You can learn more about Frank’s consulting practice at and

Posted in: Tools for Consultants

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