The route from your consulting firm’s current state to your desired future is absolutely crystal clear and straightforward. You could call it Easy Street.
Well, except for the obstacles in the way. Those could slow you down. You know…the little speed bumps, the other consulting firms that swerve in your way, the police barricade.
But should the impediments you can point to actually hinder your consulting firm’s success?
Some of the challenges that hold your consulting firm back are legitimate hazards that you need to navigate carefully. Careening carelessly into a dumpster could swiftly arrest your consulting firm’s forward motion and create long-term damage to your relationships and your prospects.
Other obstacles, however, are illusory. Many of the shadows cast across Easy Street are fears and doubts that unnecessarily constrain your consulting firm’s initiatives, actions and results.
Therefore, the question that will determine your consulting firm’s path going forward is:
Which of the obstacles to my consulting firm’s progress are valid dangers, and which are irrational fears?
If you can discern the difference, then your consulting firm can plan appropriately and you can summon your courage to act resolutely in the face of ghosts and demons.
For those of you working through the 8-Week Consulting Firm Planning Process, you can ask and answer this question during each of the first four weeks. (Everyone else can ask/answer the question any time 😊)
Since phantom perils can appear every bit as real as genuine sink holes for your consulting firm, how do you differentiate between them?
Tips for Distinguishing True vs. False Dangers to Your Consulting Firm
Locate the Voice
Determine whether your brain or your viscera is chattering about the risk. Your gut feelings are important guides; however, they’re particularly unreliable when you think you’ve glimpsed a monster.
Is the voice presenting your potential woe alarmed, emotional, exaggerated, and imprecise? Or is it calm, reasonable, and specific about the possible consequences for your consulting firm?
For instance, if the thought of launching a visibility-building campaign or hiring an (additional) administrative resource for your consulting firm gives you heart palpitations, you’ll benefit from taking some deep breaths and soliciting outside perspective.
Assess the Source
Look at who’s presenting the evidence. Are you being alerted to potential doom by a frequent provocateur who touts hearsay evidence, or by an experienced advisor with detached interest, hard data, and a track record of clear, calm thinking?
If your hysterical neighbor who runs a barber shop is telling you that hyper-inflation is going to destroy all small businesses in the next 12 months, you might want to nod politely then go back to washing your car. Or spray her with the hose.
Ask advisors, colleagues and even your clients for additional perspective.
For instance, if a wide range of people agree that relying so much on your current clients could send your consulting firm over a cliff, that doesn’t guarantee you’re approaching a chasm; however, it justifies some careful planning and parachute preparation.
Test Your Way
In many cases you can poke at the shadows to find out whether they’re substantive or ephemeral. For instance, if you think raising your consulting firm’s fees will cost you clients, test out higher fees on a couple of proposals and see what happens.
Sometimes it’s tough to distinguish between unfounded fears and justifiable concerns. How have you coped with this conundrum?
Text and images are © 2022 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.