Warning! Is Subcontracting Sabotaging Your Impact & Earning Potential?

1 - start right mindset mastery Feb 03, 2020

One of the biggest mistakes that purpose-driven consultants and coaches make is pursuing a subcontracting business model.

What is a Subcontracting Business Model?

Subcontracting is what you do instead of doing the hard work to confront your fears about marketing and settling for a business that is based on:

  • Finding other more successful consultants or coaches and asking them to consider you for their overflow work
  • Looking for companies that have lists of coaches they interview when a need arises
  • Scanning for companies who have published RFP's (Requests for Proposals) and trying to win business that way
  • Joining professional networking organizations in the hopes of finding partners who will bring you into contracts that they have landed

Related: Consultants and Coaches vs. Subcontractors

Who This Model Works For

If you have no interest in being an executive advisor, speaking truth to power or becoming a thought leader or perceived expert in your industry - this model can work. It is perfectly suited to people who like the experience of being an employee without all the benefits and career paths. It is fine if you don't mind giving someone else access to your network in exchange for commissions they can land work with your leads. It is workable if you're okay with going from small paying assignment to small paying assignment or getting caught up in a labor intensive project that keeps you as busy as you were when you were full-time employee.

Why This Model Doesn't Work for Difference Makers

But if you have left corporate and want to start your own consulting or coaching business because you believe that this is the best way to take control over your career, time and earning power and to make a difference with the people you are put on this earth to help - this model is the worst way to go.

It will keep you in the endless chase for work and it won't position you as an equal and peer to your clients, especially senior leaders. You'll wind up doing tasks for other consultants and coaches that are beneath them or what they don't want to do. You'll be trading time for money, something you might have done in years especially if you became a bonus-eligible salaried leader. You'll cap your earning potential as you have an income generation model that forces you to either work a lot of hours or arbitrarily raise your fees if you want to earn more. 

Getting Out of the Subcontracting Business Model

So here's a better way - deal with your imposter syndrome fears that are underneath your mental blocks about marketing and money. What is ironic about imposter syndrome fears is that people who struggle with them are typically the ones who actually are the real deal and have the experience and track record to back up the promises that they want to make. But because marketing is a new skill they make a blanket statement about everything they know vs. just taking the time to learn what it takes to build a powerful and compelling value proposition and brand and manifest it on a credible website that converts. 

Related: How to Overcome Your Imposter Syndrome Fears

And in many cases, the people who don't struggle with imposter syndrome actually should. They are the consultants and coaches who are in it for the money and are dazzled by the million dollar paycheck potential. They market themselves well, land work that they have no expertise to deliver on and create a bad reputation for the rest of us.

So, try this idea on for size: Pursue sober judgement about your gifts, calling and purpose. Thinking too much of yourself isn't a recipe for success but thinking too little of yourself isn't either. Playing small only does one thing - it keeps the people who need your help from finding you and leveraging your expertise to the fullest extent.

If you had the cure for cancer, wouldn't you want to let everyone know about it? Would you go find other doctors that you can come under in hopes that your cancer cure will be discovered and used to save patients? Would you shy away from publishing your findings in journals or going on news shows to let people know about your discovery?

Your ability to help others shift their perception on their challenges, create alignment between competing divisions, find courage and clarity to make tough decisions and accelerate the achievement of their goals isn't any less game-changing. You wouldn't have the gifts and passion that you do if there weren't people on the other end who desperately need them. 

You are not serving the world playing small, starting with your own world. One of the most agonizing experiences talented and seasoned professionals can experience is being up an night wondering how they will pay their bills or where the next lead is going to come from and if they found a lead, would that person even want what they have to offer. It's paralyzing but these fears are overcome-able. 

You do not have to settle for a business that is less than your potential. Take on your fears, turn them into allies and do what is necessary to set your business up for long-term, stable and scalable success. Your future clients need you to go first and show them what it looks like to be empowered to create substantial life and career transformation. 

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