How to Become a Digital Accessibility Consultant: Charge a Premium without Working for a Firm
In this article we interview our client, Dr. Keith Newton. His company is Mantiaba Interactive and he helps other companies meet the legal requirements under ADA and digital accessibility.
As a consultant in a larger firm, Dr. Keith noticed the difference between what his firm billed the client versus what he received as compensation. The gap shocked him.
He knew he could charge more, but how? He needed to learn how to organize and position himself to secure larger (and more profitable) projects.
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In the program, Dr. Keith learned what was hidden in the compensation gap. Large consulting companies build specific systems to facilitate the procurement and delivery of premium projects. If Dr. Keith wanted to upgrade his pricing, he would need to upgrade his systems also.
"Systems" can be a business buzzword, but Dr. Keith learned to give it specific definition for this business. He reflected more specifically on the goals of his business - and which systems were priority for him.
Dr Keith is an Expert, Not an Office Manager
Dr. Keith’s biggest takeaway from his experience in the program: while he provides a valuable service, he does not want to run a firm on his own. Attracting his preferred clientele requires a balance of client service and daily operations he finds overwhelming.
Instead, Dr. Keith started (and continues) to looking for partnerships in his area. He spoke with a number of organizations that have the day-to-day business side under control, but need an expert with Dr. Keith’s knowledge to provide the service to their clients. These companies need someone with credibility and Dr. Keith can fill that role.
This discovery came as something of a surprise to Dr. Keith. The program show him a level of detail on the "business-side" he hadn't seen before. It brought him new clarity, but also showed him important elements his current efforts were missing. However, with this new perspective he was able to make better decisions about how to grow his business.
Value-Based Pricing Is His New Standard
Business infrastructure is invisible to most people. The most obvious and desirable role is to be the visible expert, the "obvious start of the show" who can do it all. But usually the star of the show has a massive support system, and without it, cannot be the star. Dr. Keith sees this more clearly now and chose to own the “starring” role and delegate the "infrastructure" role.
Because of this choice, Dr. Keith continues to leverage strategic partnerships. He knows of several organizations that are working to enter his space and establish credibility. He also works with mid-sized and larger companies who need someone to lead their accessibility practice and software integration. Since he has been through the program, he feels prepared to have the right kinds of conversations with these prospective clients and partners.
This allows him to focus more specifically on the scope, time, and price of the premium work being delivered. He can use his best energy to understand client expectations and ensure they are met. Furthermore, he has shifted the focus away from a traditional hourly fee and presents his solutions under a value-based pricing model. These are new tools for Dr. Keith as he continues to establish himself as the expert in the eyes of his client.
For Dr. Keith, the difference is “night and day.” His new freedom to charge what his services are worth is based on value to the client. The old way of haggling over hourly pricing always felt like a company was dictating his worth based on how much they were willing to spend. Not only can Dr. Keith effectively navigate these conversations now, but he can more effectively search for the correct people with whom to have those conversations.
Group Calls Allow for Practice: Walking The Walk
When asked his favorite aspect of the program, Keith says he most enjoyed the group calls. He knew the calls would be structured, organized and focused. Additionally, he was pleased to see the calls were congruent with the with the solution-oriented approach the program teaches
Each of those group calls consisted of multiple “problem calls” in which “the most important thing” was identified and resolved. Within these conversations, Dr. Keith could see these lessons from the modules brought to life, in a live format, with other experts.
The coach “walked the walk,” doing the same things in the coaching calls that participants were encouraged to learn in the program and execute with their own prospects
Give Yourself the Best Opportunity to Serve at the Highest Level
Dr. Keith tells those who are considering entering the program to check out the free videos available; these are a good way to gain a level of understanding what you’ll be getting into. But the decision to proceed past that is a personal and professional one. You must think, “Hey, I’m going to do it now.” Because there are some things you cannot see until you decide to build it.
There is some frustration and friction at first, in learning a new way to do something, but Dr. Keith encourages participants to work through it. “The program has a real problem-solving structure in place, that can take somebody from ‘where they are’ in their business, into the business they ‘want to have’. The program puts you in the best position to serve your clients at the highest level.”
What is Your Time Worth?
The program offered Dr. Keith a "mirror", revealing to him what is worth his time...and what isn't. As a result, he has unsubscribed from multiple email newsletters and social media notifications.
(This “purge” is common amongst clients of the program, once they learn how to differentiate between profitable and non-profitable activity, and it can spread from business to the other portions of your life as well.)
Dr. Keith has also reviewed his previously written client-facing documents in order to deliver ideas more effectively. Specifically, he is focused on short form content (500 words or less) that does not require his clients to be “experts” in order to read and understand. He has learned that showing clients a huge document that requires heavy reading (which they won’t do) will likely just lose them. A bite-sized element, easily digestible, makes them want to know more.
There Is No “Magic” - But There are "Wins"
There’s no “magic” to the program. There will be some early wins serving as evidence you are on the right track, but there is some work that must happen over time.
Before he came to the program, Dr. Keith struggled with the inability to earn the appropriate premium from his specific expertise. He has learned to see his business from a much different perspective with specific insight on where/how “premium” is earned.
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