Should you take more time off from your consulting firm? Let’s examine a case study.
Quite a few years ago, I decided to take a month off from my consulting practice—standard fare for Europeans but basically unheard of in the U.S.
Nine months later I took another full month off from the business. No client meetings, no emails, no calls, no checking in, no nothing.
Two full months off in the same year. As you would expect, the impact on my consulting firm’s revenue was noticeable.
It went up.
You, as a smart, consulting firm leader, could understandably assume that my experience was abnormal. Except…
The same thing has happened at many of our clients too. When they—the leaders of their respective consulting firms—have taken extended time away from their practice, their business grows.
Two theories on why this happens:
The ‘Good Energy’ Theory
Stripping off your work duds and donning your dancing togs (literally or metaphorically) feeds your heart. You immerse yourself in fun, self-care, growth and positivity.
Yes, I understand you truly enjoy your consulting work. Nevertheless, the positive emotions you experience when you’re away from the business are different.
Your internal fires burn brighter when you fuel your personal passions, whether those are fed by traveling, truffle hunting, building houses for the homeless, lepidoptery, or some other pursuit.
You also become a more interesting, energetic, admirable, inspiring person—the type of person whose consulting firm clients like to work with.
Don’t underestimate the magnetic draw of the well-rested, invigorated, jazzed up version of you.
The ‘Good Systems’ Theory
When I came back from vacation, my business was thriving.
My plants died, though. They were sad, wilted remnants of their former verdant selves.
Turns out I did a much better job of upgrading my business infrastructure than my horticultural support. (Also, the team at my firm ROCKS, whereas my plant whisperer wasn’t very reliable.)
When you plan for an extended vacation you tighten your processes, install missing supports and abandon the seat-of-the-pants, “figure it out on the fly” approach to running your consulting firm.
You may also re-envision your consulting firm’s revenue streams and delivery approaches.
For instance, a thought exercise about how I could take 3-4 months off each year while continuing to delight clients led to an improvement in our delivery model that has noticeably helped clients.
Finally, when you step aside, your staff can step up.
They will step up.
That’s great for them, for you, for your consulting firm and for your clients. (And if you have, literally, no staff, then you’re under-infrastructured. Even a solo consulting practice should be supported by an assistant.)
Walking away forces your consulting firm to be better, faster and stronger.*
What has your experience been in taking extended time off from your business? Is it something you’d like to try or, perhaps, something you’ve done already? Tell me more!
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.