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The One Person Your Consulting Firm Needs to Serve (It’s not who you think)

Who is the one person your consulting firm needs to serve?

Long-time readers (and even short time readers) know that consulting Rule #1 is…

Consulting isn’t about YOU, it’s about THEM—your prospects and clients.

However, while your consulting firm needs to attract and create value for your clients, it doesn’t serve them. The person your consulting firm needs to serve is…

Your pastry chef. You!

Because, while the act of consulting—winning engagements, creating value—is about THEM, the business is meant to support you and your dreams.

Too many consulting firm leaders are servants of their firm rather than the other way around.

What was your reason for starting (or joining) your firm? You lead a consulting firm because…?

What is your Why?

(If your consulting firm is owned or led by multiple people, it’s essential to understand how your firm serves each of you, and to reconcile divergent purposes.)

Many consultants don’t have a strong Why. They fell into consulting backwards because they were out of a job or received an opportunity to moonlight. Their starting Why was to cover their living expenses.

Even consulting firm leaders who started their practice with a strong Why can lose sight of it amidst the pervasive pressure to grow for growth’s sake.

It can be difficult to hold onto your purpose in the face of “gurus” who speak disparagingly about lifestyle businesses.

To help remind you of your Why, my team and I assembled a couple of dozen ways that our clients’ firms serve them.

The kaleidoscope of aspirations across clients is truly remarkable and inspiring; however, we narrowed the list down to the 10 Whys shared below.

Your Why doesn’t have to match mine or any other reader’s. There’s no correct Why. There’s only the Why that serves you.

10 Ways Your Consulting Firm Can Serve You

Solve Interesting Problems

Change the World, Make an Impact

Gain Recognition and Renown

Create Generational Wealth

Meet Interesting People

Build a Legacy

Enjoy Time Off

Grow and Learn

Create Jobs

Fund the “Real” Dream (e.g., a Scalable, Software Company)

The ten Whys above are not mutually exclusive, of course. Your Why can be multi-dimensional.

Why do YOU lead your firm?

How do you want your consulting firm serve you?

  1. Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D.
    March 8, 2023 at 7:10 am Reply

    1. Weird childhood made me want to study psychology.
    2. Selling men’s clothes to pay for college was a hoot and got me interested in business.
    3. Making a positive difference in the lives of others rocks!
    4. Having control of my time is the greatest source of wealth. I can live by my own values and priorities versus someone elses; e.g., I have time to read David Fields’ cool columns and play in a Rolling Stones tribute band…

    • David A. Fields
      March 8, 2023 at 7:51 am Reply

      You live an amazing, inspiring life, Doc!

      Holy cow, you’ve combined “making a positive difference in the lives of others” and “Playing in a tribute band” with reading (and contributing) to these articles. That’s impressive!

      Thank you for kicking off the Whys today, Doc!

  2. Maher Elzein
    March 8, 2023 at 7:35 am Reply

    Great article!

    • David A. Fields
      March 8, 2023 at 8:18 am Reply

      You’re very kind, Maher, and I appreciate your feedback. When you get a chance, share your Why too–I’m sure it will inspire me and other readers.

  3. William J Ryan
    March 8, 2023 at 7:44 am Reply

    The first two noted above were key drivers for me but the underlying intent was to create a more balanced lifestyle for me and my family. The backstory was hours or work, a lot of time away from home, and a 90-minute commute each way had created a tense, not healthy, fragile dad, husband, and friend. With my twins about to turn 13, my wife suggested this path to explore and together we set an income goal combined with a time/life goal. My girls are now 21 and recall the times they got home and plopped down in my office when they got home to tell me of their day’s adventures and my bride and I celebrated 25 years together last summer. Life, and living it well, is a great “why” for me. I am reminded that you can make money but not time so invest and use it wisely.

    • David A. Fields
      March 8, 2023 at 7:54 am Reply

      Congratulations on 25 years of marriage and on raising two children well. If your consulting practice advanced those goals, then your practice has definitely served you.

      “You can make money, but not time to invest and use it wisely.” Well said, Bill!

  4. Brian Kelly
    March 8, 2023 at 8:05 am Reply


    • David A. Fields
      March 8, 2023 at 8:12 am Reply

      Thank you for your feedback, Brian! (If you get a moment, share your Why also–I’d love to learn from you.)

  5. Brian Kelly
    March 8, 2023 at 8:21 am Reply

    Great topic. I started consulting by accident, I was let go from a company when my division was closed and they asked me to stick around as a consultant. I learned to love the clear focus I had as a consultant, the freedom to spend most of my time working on interesting problems. So I took on some more clients and met incredibly interesting people. Wow! How had I missed them when I was an employee? Finally, like William above I really enjoyed being there for all the important family events and being able to drop everything when my kids came home from school – priceless.

    • David A. Fields
      March 8, 2023 at 8:49 am Reply

      Absolutely lovely, Brian. While your path into consulting isn’t unusual, your ability to extract the best attributes of the profession so that your practice serves you is an inspiration. Well done, and thank you for sharing your story!

      • Tomaž Vidonja
        March 10, 2023 at 11:56 am Reply

        Great question, David! Thank you for your kind reminder to think again about “why”. 😊

        Our business is all about meeting customers’ expectations first, and delivering the value, in many cases it’s “only” a piece of mind.

        Yet my “why” is to take care of my team, and help them feel special, as the best consultants in te world, and proud of what they are doing and achieving, each day.

        I strongly believe only in this way they can take care of our customers.

        I’ve learned that the way I treat my employees is the way they treat our customers.

        As Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

        • David A. Fields
          March 13, 2023 at 1:22 pm

          Tomaž, those are very good values to hold as an entrepreneur and will serve you well. That said, I can’t help but wonder whether you’ve truly identified your Why. Why did you start your firm? If you started without a team, then taking care of a team may not be why you started. What’s the deeper purpose for which you are running a consulting practice? Something to ponder!

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