Why Repetition Will Grow Your Consulting Business
Consistency might make you feel like a loser.
Contrary to public opinion, deliberate practice and not talent is the key to becoming extraordinary. (Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool in their book 'Peak')
There are so many consultants in the world that are so much more talented than you. They’re sexier. Smarter. Richer. More creative. More likable, more charming, and better-connected. But there is one, singular thing you can do better than them:
You can outperform them through repetition.
This sheer commitment to keep-going-no-matter-what beats your stronger opponent, every time. Prolific actor Will Smith was once asked how he got to be so successful in his career:
The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things. But if we get on the treadmill together, there are two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. (Will Smith)
Anybody can cultivate this discipline. Any consultant. It’s the single most effective strategy to outperform the toughest competitors you’ll ever face in your consulting business. You just need to be consistent and start loving the illusive boredom of repeatability in your consulting work.
Consultants are telling me they love the variety in their work. My answer: in the long run, variety will start frustrating you and burning you out. Variety comes at the expense of expertise. Expertise comes through repetition and pattern detection. I stayed in my lane for almost a decade and I never got bored. Never.
The Big Riches Are in the Niches
Most consultants operate from a fear-based mindset, taking almost any work that pays and “keeping their options open” so they don’t miss the potential income.
Unfortunately, this is the exact position that keeps them locked into their income bracket and expertise. There is no chance for a consultant to become a recognized visible authority in their field if they focus on multiple domains out of fear of missing out. Keeping the options open is extremely toxic.
This reactive thinking, responding to whatever the world, prospects, or clients throw at you, severely limits consultants. It strengthens the risk to remain in mediocrity. If you don’t take charge of your business, someone else will. As the great executive coach Marshall Goldsmith once wrote:
If you don’t create and control your environment, your environment will create and control you. (Marshall Goldsmith)
Becoming a master of a niche might seem boring. It might be scary saying no to ill-suited consulting opportunities and money. What if your project pipeline gets dry? What if you’re not good enough?
But when you choose to specialize, you place yourself in control of your consulting business. It forces an important ultimatum on yourself — get better, or go broke.
And that changes everything. It game-changed my life. It can change your life. It can change your family’s life.
Start loving 'the boredom' of consistency and repeatability. It’s the backbone of your authority — and your consulting business. The repeatability of your work will transform you into an unquestionable expert and visible authority. Through repetition, you will learn the deeper patterns, challenges, risks, and solutions that 99% of your competition will never know because they weren’t willing to put in the work.
The so-called boredom of repeatability, what consultants keep telling me, is an illusion.
You cannot be successful if you keep focusing on multiple domains as a consultant, keeping the options open. There’s too much saturation, too many competitors doing the same thing. It’s a losing battle in both visibility (search engines/online traffic) and trust-building with prospects. Consulting is based on trust, and you must make potential clients fully trust you’re the #1 person for the job.
There are big riches in the niches.
Anything Worth Learning Is Going to Suck
Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. (Mark Manson)
The road to successful consulting isn’t always fun. You don’t run and skip and play on that road — you trudge it, one step at a time.
As a teenager, I grew up with the successes of cyclist champion Eddy Merckx. In interviews, it always annoyed him to be called ‘an exceptional talent’ because it took away from the thousands of hours of training. He kept repeating: “Cyclists live with pain. If you can’t handle it, you will win nothing”.
As my favorite best-selling author James Altucher once put it:
Anything worth learning, you’re going to suck. You’re going to suck badly. (James Altucher)
Whatever skill you want to master comes at a price
It takes time, perhaps thousands of hours. It takes full concentration. It might mean waking up early and studying late when you could have watched a movie on Netflix. The reason most consultants never pass the “apprentice” phrase isn’t that they’re unable. More often, it’s because they’re not willing to put in the repetition and having the patience to build authority.
They’re not willing to specialize in a field and put in the hours and hours it takes to become a true authority in their craft, well-known in their market or industry. Authorities are not made by doing many things decently, but by consistently doing one thing expertly. This is where true consulting revenue really starts to flow.
In fact, most consultants don’t even believe they could become a master of anything, so they stay in the “security” of consulting as a jack-of-all-trades, keeping their options open while forfeiting the enormous potential income in a specialty.
I am a big fan of uber-successful author-entrepreneur Tim Ferriss. He once wrote:
It’s lonely at the top, 99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive. (Tim Ferriss)
Most consultants will not press through the difficult initial phases of mastery. Mastery has a price, and most consultants aren’t willing to pay it. But for those who do? Anything is possible. If you want to stop fighting for scraps with the other 99%, it’s time to train yourself to enter in the top 1% — which actually has less competition!
I never had to explain, persuade, sell or negotiate in my consulting career. I got invited. If you can get through the illusive boredom of consistency and repeatability, you can achieve truly enormous goals.
Repetition can be boring or tedious, which is why so few people ever master anything. (Hal Elrod)
Ordinary Consultants Focus on the Outcome. Extraordinary Consultants Focus On Process Repitition
What would it do for you if you could walk into any business room to pitch your expertise and feel relaxed and free? How does it feel to be considered as an expert instead of a vendor like all the others? How would it feel to get invited to conference keynotes around the world (pre-Corona, of course)? How would it feel to have power in any consulting situation you walked into? How does it feel to be able to answer all the questions and objections without having to think?
What would happen if you could be a high-level consultant with no pressure, free to achieve any goal you wanted? That’s how I felt all those years.
Ordinary consultants focus on the outcome. They focus on getting top contracts and being famous. But extraordinary consultants focus on process repetition — becoming world-class at their craft, becoming authorities in their expertise domain. This is how they achieve such enormous goals, while 99% of their competition stays average.
Ordinary consultants protect their income. Authorities protect their time.
Any consultant who relies solely on luck, talent, or prestige doesn’t understand this lesson and will suffer for it. It may help them in the beginning, but the best and highest-earning consultants have learned to design a lifestyle based on their visible authority, not good fortune or luck.
The best consultants were, at one point, pretty bad. Everything is difficult before it becomes easy.
The best consultants, however, don’t rely on luck. They don’t wait for inspiration to train or do the work. They just do it. By focusing on the process repetition — doing the work, day in and day out, repeating 100x, and understanding all the patterns that clients are willing to pay a premium rate for — they become stronger, faster, more focused, more skilled, and more visible in their market.
Putting in years of effort gave me the privilege of becoming a visible authority globally. It didn’t happen overnight though. It took a lot of hard work, a structured and process-driven approach, and a laser-sharp focus. I never left my lane. (Luk Smeyers)
Ordinary consultants protect their income. Authorities protect their time.
Consistency and repetition might seem boring at first sight. Repeating everything you do 100x. Sometimes it will make you feel like a loser. You might feel like you’re narrowing your focus too much, missing out on potential clients. The work isn’t always sexy, and you won’t see results for a while.
This is where I see most consultants quit and believe they play it safe by sticking to the same old generalist consulting approach. They believe they will be successful by covering multiple domains and by keeping all options open.
Unfortunately, it’s a losing battle. There’s too much saturation, too many competitors doing the same thing. But if you can push through the dip — if you can keep putting in the work in your business even when it feels like you’re going nowhere, you can achieve extraordinary results. Repetition and focus are consulting gold.
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Hello, I’m Luk Smeyers, and I’m guiding consulting firms through the journey of growing their business by helping them transform into go-to experts in their market. 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.