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Unlocking Success: The Psychology of Growing Your Consulting Firm

Consulting is a simple business, yet building a consulting practice can prove challenging. A particular mindset will help you plow through difficult days on your way to an extraordinary, thriving consulting firm.

Want to bump along a slow road to growth in your consulting practice? No problem. Without too much effort you can traverse the business hills and valleys, and experience very modest growth or idle at a comfortable plateau.

And, if you happen to stumble into a frothy market, you’ll experience a period of growth.

But really pushing your consulting practice to the next level is often difficult. It demands you consume all manner of burnt cookies, such as:

  • Re-learning basic skills you thought you’d mastered (e,g., listening, communicating).
  • Engaging in uncomfortable activities virtually every day that stretch you (e.g., outreach).
  • Investing time, money and energy into marketing.
  • Investing time, money and energy into infrastructure.
  • Letting go of more and more and more (e.g., old clients, pride, control, beliefs, fears, historical approaches)
  • Taking direction so that your investments of time, effort and resource are effective rather than wasted.

Gosh, that seems like hard work. So, why bother?

Of course, you don’t have to bother. You don’t have to grow your consulting firm.

Consulting leaders who choose to chow down on that unappealing fare every day have adopted a certain realization:

When you grow your consulting firm you increase your income, reduce your stress and de-risk your practice by investing in a business that also allows you to help more people, enjoy tremendous pride of accomplishment, and enhance the quality of many lives (including your own.)

Of course, a more lucrative consulting firm also supports tastier leisure pursuits in the short term and can position you to enjoy an extraordinary lifestyle whenever you decide to dial back your consulting activities.

Don’t push yourself toward building your consulting firm.

Instead, envision what a larger, better-constructed consulting practice truly represents, and that vision will pull you toward it.

You’ll want to invest in growth.

You’ll want to tackle the hard work every day.

Agree? Disagree?

  1. Michael
    June 19, 2024 at 7:48 am Reply

    Growing your firm exponentially allows you to (and requires you to) surround yourself with really talented people so more and more you delegate stuff to them which allows you to more and more do only what you love to do and are great at doing. The team around you is also doing what they are great at and love doing. That is a fun game to play that also allows you to eat lots of chocolate! However it is scary making the investment it takes to get there.

    • David A. Fields
      June 19, 2024 at 8:28 am Reply

      Outstanding point, Michael. You’re right on all counts (of course). We don’t build our firms alone, we build them with a team that is also growing–in capabilities faster than numbers. You’re spot on in saying that it’s sometimes scary!

      I very much appreciate your feedback here on the article and also in our direct conversations, Michael.

  2. Christian Milaster
    June 19, 2024 at 10:33 am Reply

    Everything we’ve learned to apply to our current clients and not-yet clients we can also apply to ourselves.
    > “What’s in it for me” is a key driving force for all of us, so, we have to be clear what growing the firm means to us.
    > We ourselves have to be clear about the desired outcomes and the value that achieving the outcomes will create for us. Long stretches of high energy investment are only sustainable if there is a higher goal.
    > Fundamentally, how do we right-side-up treat ourselves? What is this really about? E.g., for me (and my team knows this) it’s about legacy and creating something that is self-sustaining without my constant involvement; a flywheel I helped to gain momentum that can continue for a long time on its course.

    P.S.: The term ‘splaining sent me on a quick detour in scouring the internet: before AI totally takes over providing the answers to questions like “what is the meaning of…””, let’s celebrate the pages put together by good writers providing valuable context and history:

    • David A. Fields
      June 19, 2024 at 2:10 pm Reply

      Very well said, Christian. All that probing for desire and value that we undertake with our clients also applies to us as leaders of firms.

      You’re also a great model of explicitly communicating your drivers to your team, which enables excellent staff selection and retention.

      Thank you for the comment, the case study and also the language diversion, Christian.

  3. Dave Mangot
    June 19, 2024 at 2:00 pm Reply

    “a more lucrative consulting firm also supports tastier leisure pursuits”

    I don’t really get the implied correlation between money and quality in vacation time. Some of my favorite leisure activities involve strapping on a backpack and heading out into the wilderness for a few days. Don’t need much of a lucrative consulting firm to be able to do that.

    • David A. Fields
      June 19, 2024 at 2:18 pm Reply

      Fair enough, Dave. Two thoughts to ponder: 1) For many people, there is a fairly direct connection between money and quality of leisure activities. For instance, I enjoyed hiking in a remote area of Argentina recently, with luxurious dining and lodging when the day’s hiking finished. It was a spectacular experience that elevated my enjoyment above the local hikes, local hotel and/or local eateries. 2) A lucrative consulting practice funds additional staff which, even if you don’t take a lot of money out of the business, can open up time for more hikes in the wilderness.

      I appreciate your contributing your pushback and point of view, Dave!

  4. Dave Coffaro
    June 19, 2024 at 2:32 pm Reply

    You nailed it David. It starts with the growth mindset!

    • David A. Fields
      June 19, 2024 at 5:45 pm Reply

      We’re in a cerebral business; producing ideas, concepts, recommendations, conclusions. It’s all in our heads. So, as you highlight, mindset is everything!

      I’m glad you joined the conversation, Dave!

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