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The consulting world is fast-paced and crowded. New trends and opportunities are emerging every year, and more and more aspiring consultants are trying to grow their consulting business.
While change is inevitable and often good, many people also get intimidated by the speed and challenges of the industry. Lots of consultants believe they’re in constant competition with everyone else. Thus, they always try to reinvent the wheel, change their strategy, and keep all options open instead of being trustworthy in a particular expertise domain.
As a result, they work too many hours, try to please everyone, and end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. They’re so afraid of losing potential clients that they try to say yes to every opportunity.
The problem is that trying to put your eggs in everybody’s basket is ineffective and tiring.
And if you’re in a constant chasing mode, always trying to find the next opportunity or client, you’ll inevitably attract more of that stressful routine into your life and business.
But here’s the unpopular truth: being a successful consultant doesn’t need to be hard. You don’t need to work 10+ hours per day, seven days per week. And most importantly, you need to understand that your work as a consultant is not your life.
There’s so much more to a good life than professional success. However, you can also have both: You can enjoy quality time with your loved ones, make time for your favorite activities, and still run a healthy and profitable consulting business.
All of this is possible if you know exactly what you want and are crystal clear about the value you bring to the table.
A laser-sharp positioning will help you stand out from the masses, charge higher prices, and create a balanced life while doing what you love.
It takes two things to build that kind of authority and stand out from the masses: You need to be visible, and you have to gain trust.
But as always, the biggest challenge is not strategic - it’s in our minds.
Working on yourself is the most underrated way to grow your consulting business. Most people just don’t understand that their professional results and income can’t outgrow their personalities.
An investment in yourself always pays the highest dividends, and working on yourself will lead to a ripple effect of positive changes in your life - not only in your work as a consultant but way beyond that. But most importantly, it’ll help you be aware of your priorities and use your time and energy accordingly.
Most consultants, no matter how experienced they are, live and work in a constant doom loop.
They’re always busy chasing their own tail to find new clients and projects. Once they win the next client or project, they start worrying about finding the next one.
This constant path of chasing leads to a few different problems:
If you want clarity, you need to take time to get clear about what you want. This might sound obvious, but for most people, it’s not.
Most consultants attract confusion, long workdays, and tiring clients because that’s how they feel. They expect their job to be difficult, so that’s what they end up receiving.
They want to have an easier life, but they don’t even believe that it’s possible. Instead, they think that being successful in business needs to be difficult. They believe feeling exhausted and stressed is normal.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It doesn’t matter what you think you want and it doesn’t matter what you do because you only create in life what you are - Jim Fortin
The overall consulting market is still growing, but that market - more than ever before - is also crowded, noisy, and challenging. Most consultants seem to forget that you need to stand out from the crowd to be successful.
The majority is easily replaceable because they don’t have an expert positioning. They might get hired because of their pricing, not because they’re the best in their field.
If you want to create a different reality in your life and career, you have to be crystal clear about what you want.
Even though it might first sound like a waste of time, thinking about the bigger picture and working on your positioning are the two most rewarding and effective tasks you can complete.
Once you have clarity and purpose, you’ll attract more of that. You’ll pull clients who want to work with you because they believe you’re a fit for their values. Additionally, they’ll also appreciate your expertise.
On top of that, you’ll be able to complete projects that are profitable and rewarding without working yourself to death.
Learning to say no isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Most of the time, saying no to the wrong opportunities and people makes it easier to say yes to the right ones.
Your goal as a consultant should be to work fewer hours and have lots of time to spend on other priorities in your life - no matter if that’s your family, a good cause, sports, or other hobbies.
By saying yes to clients who don’t match your skills, expertise, and expectations, you’re just making it harder to make time for the projects and activities you might genuinely enjoy.
With each wrong yes, you’ll attract more wrong opportunities
The two main reasons why saying no is often difficult are our ego and fear of losing income. Most consultants believe that saying no could lead to a drop in their income, which is often hard to digest.
They don’t understand that having more time would help them attract clients who’ll happily pay higher fees, so they end up being stuck with lots of projects that don’t fit their expertise and expectations. Apart from that, their ego stands in their way because they view saying no as a sign of weakness. The truth, however, is that it’s a precious strength.
If you can’t say no to the wrong things, you’ll likely attract more of them and end up in a downward spiral of undercharging for your services and feeling overwhelmed by too much work without having stability.
Saying no to a client or opportunity doesn’t mean that you’re weak. It means that you know exactly what you want and that you’re not willing to work on projects that don’t fit your expectations.
At this point, you might ask yourself: “Well, okay, but how exactly do I become the type of person to attract the kind of outcomes I desire?!”
Here’s the answer: You try to show up as the person living that reality every day.
You start by adjusting your way of thinking and acting, so you slowly become that person who has all the things you want, e.g., authority in the market, high-paying clients, a clear value proposition, and a schedule that allows you to spend lots of time doing the things that light up your heart.
Ask yourself what exactly you want and why you might not have it yet.
For example, if you want to work with clients who truly value your work and pay premium prices, ask yourself why you haven’t been able to attract them so far.
Maybe it’s because you’ve been too busy serving other, underpaying clients?
Maybe it’s because they never felt attracted to you. After all, they don’t really understand what you’re doing and why they should trust you?
Maybe it’s because your prices are so low that they believe there must be something off with the value you deliver?
If you want to create different results, you need to believe that you deserve them and show up as the person who’s ready to welcome these outcomes.
As Jim Rohn once famously said: “Success is something you attract by the person you become.”
Stop chasing clients and projects. Instead, become the kind of consultant who’s confident in his abilities and skills and who attracts well-paying clients that truly value your work.
Your time is too precious to be wasted on serving underpaying customers and chasing projects that don’t fit your skills.
Once people understand your expertise and know why they should trust you, they’ll be drawn to you - just like a magnet.
Doing business and making money don’t need to be exhausting. They can result from being highly focused and saying no to all the things that don’t serve your goals.
More is often less, and avoiding time-wasters is the best strategy to have more time for truly important things in life.
Be patient in the process. You don’t always need to be ten steps ahead of anyone else. Take time to pause and breathe. Sometimes, short breaks can lead to the biggest breakthroughs anyway.
You attract what you are, not what you want.
Hello, I’m Luk Smeyers and I’m guiding consultants through the journey of growing their business by helping them transform into visible authorities. I have been in consulting businesses for almost 20 years, in very different roles: as European CHRO in a global consultancy, as a startup founder in an analytics consultancy, and as a leader in a 'Big 4' consultancy, post-acquisition of the startup. I had the privilege of achieving global visibility as a consultant and I never had to sell, persuade, or negotiate as a result. I have now bundled all those experiences, expertise, know-how, research, reading, successes, struggles, and failures from managing and growing that visibility in the past years.
The Visible Authority is a brand of:
Luk Smeyers BVBA
Offices in Leuven (BE) and Munich (DE)