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The One, Simple “Must Do” to Double (or Triple) Your Consulting Business (It’s Not What You Think)

I was talking about you yesterday evening. During a delightful (if salty) Greek dinner with another successful consultant, we were talking about your consulting business and what’s holding you back.

During the fish course, I said: You know what the number one challenge is that prevents independent consultants from achieving more success? It’s…

…the inability to let go. Yep. The one, simple, “must do” to double or triple your business isn’t doing anything new. It’s not doing what you’re doing already.

Let go.

Let me give a handful of examples to get you started, then please add on.

Low Paying Clients

As long as you hold on to your low-paying clients, you won’t have room (or enough motivation) to land high-paying clients. Let go of your legacy clients and make space for bigger fish.
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Past Projects

As long as you cling tightly to what you’ve done in the past, you have no chance to develop offerings that the market is clamoring to buy now and in the future. Let go of what you think you did five, 10 and 15 years ago. File those ideas in the mementos folder with the cute card your child made for you in third grade. Listen to the market now.

Pride

While you assiduously protect your pride, you’ll avoid the risk of penning articles perceived as pedantic or espousing opinions people could laugh at or proposing solutions that could get summarily rejected. Of course, protecting your pride also crushes your brilliant articles, inspiring speeches and breakthrough solutions.
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Let go of your ego, and by giving yourself space to fail spectacularly, give yourself room to excel.

Tasks

The tasks you take on every day (or week) are a tourniquet on your scalability. Let go of 90% of those tasks and give them to other people to do. Let go of your view of how those tasks “should” be done and focus on a few, core tasks that actually build your business.

Resources

The resources (especially money) you guard jealously will work on your behalf if you free them from your iron grip. Let go of some cash. Spend on marketing, on a mentor, on an assistant, on a bookkeeper, on learning how to be a better consultant, on ethnic dinners with smart colleagues.

Yes, I know you’re already dishing out a few bucks. Spend more. If you don’t invest in yourself and your business, you certainly won’t see any return!
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There is SO much more you can let go of to grow your business. Next week I’m going to give you a technique that will make letting go much easier. But for now, I want to read some more examples from you.

What else do you think consultants can let go of to grow their business?


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13 Comments
  1. Liz W.
    April 13, 2016 at 6:53 am Reply

    Great post. Letting go is so hard to do. I would add let go of your fears. If something you try doesn’t work, look at it as a data point to learn from

    • David A. Fields
      April 13, 2016 at 7:04 am Reply

      Amen to that, Liz! Our fetters are comprised mainly of fear, in one way or another. And fear is a remarkably resilient substance, resisting our efforts to break free. Likewise, letting go is very difficult. (That’s why I’m going to post an interesting technique next week.)

  2. Scott McClymonds
    April 13, 2016 at 7:24 am Reply

    It sounds good, but I have made much more progress with my consulting practice when I focused it on the business intelligence skills I developer throughout my career. Prior to that I had tried to be more general, and had a hard time developing a clear value proposition people would buy. You’re the experienced one David, not me, but I know what it’s taken just to get rolling a little. Maybe after acquiring a little more momentum I can “let go”.

    • David A. Fields
      April 13, 2016 at 8:35 am Reply

      Scott, your path from struggling generalist to thriving specialist is the process of letting go. In fact, it’s an outstanding example. Only when consultants are willing to let go of many services they could provide and start focusing do they start consistently winning more projects. Thank you for raising this important topic.

  3. Susan Moore
    April 13, 2016 at 8:33 am Reply

    David, you’re always so on point, and I do love your stick figures and humor. Consulting would be too much of a drudge if you don’t have humor. After 25 years of consulting, I’m learning to let go as the business has boomed and I’ve had to retain subcontractors to help with the work. This is a great reminder to keep letting it go (and no breaking out in singing the song from Frozen!).I appreciate your posts and you may be hearing from me for mentoring. Thanks for your posts!

    • David A. Fields
      April 13, 2016 at 8:53 am Reply

      Congratulations on all the success, Susan. That’s fabulous! If you’re up for it, your next challenge is to transfer even more of the work to subcontractors (i.e., before you’re forced to) and, by doing so, induce the next round of growth. I look forward to your participation in the mentor program.

      p.s.: Oh man, Susan, if only I were clever enough to have thought of the Frozen! reference before!

  4. Bryce Avery
    April 13, 2016 at 11:28 am Reply

    I have people order $1,000 worth of stuff by phone with no questions asked. I also have people who want a 20-minute conversation and every possible assurance they will be happy before they spend $20. Letting go of that second group, s much as you can, is important.

    • David A. Fields
      April 13, 2016 at 11:36 am Reply

      Outstanding example, Bryce. Prospects and clients are not all created equal–at least from a lifetime revenue standpoint. Learning to let go of low-profit/high-effort clients is a huge win for any consultant. I’m glad you injected that thinking into the conversation.

  5. Judith
    April 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm Reply

    Fantastic post! I treasured friend and colleague sent to me just I was deciding to come from under the bed after a major mishap with a client. Could not have been timlier.

    • David A. Fields
      April 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm Reply

      Welcome back into the sunshine, Judith! I, for one, am glad you emerged from under the bed and are again bestowing your gifts on the world around you. Coincidentally, earlier today I was talking to someone who lost a $500k “sure thing” project, and that loss sent him to bed for brief hideout too. Nothing wrong with a short mope. Client mishaps come along for all of us and it’s only human to reel a bit when you’ve been knocked on your heels. The excellent behavior you’re modeling is letting go of those mistakes and soldiering forward. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the community.

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