2020 Study: Why Smart People Start a Consulting Business (And What Holds Them Back)

So, you want to start a consulting business? Or interested in taking your consulting business the next level?

Most high-achieving professionals at some point in their career dream of ditching the pressure of the 70-hour workweeks and start a consulting business. But there are many factors that hold them back.

This year, we created a survey that we administered to both new and seasoned consultants to learn more about what drives smart people to start their own consulting businesses and what stands in the way of their success. And we're super-excited to share the findings below. 

Read on if you'd like some instant validation that consulting is right for you, insight into the predictable challenges that most consultants face and strategies for overcoming hidden barriers to success.

Why Smart People Start Consulting Businesses

Starting a consulting businesses is a massive career transition. There are five reasons that drive accomplished professionals to a make a move of this...

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How to Consistently Get Consulting Clients...Even if You're Brand New and Just Starting Out

One of the biggest questions that keeps both new and seasoned consultants up at night is, "How do I get consulting clients?" The question that I wished that asked instead is "How do I predictably get consulting clients so I never had to ask this question EVER again?"

Forget one-off marketing tactics that give you hit or miss results. Instead building a marketing system that puts your client attraction on autopilot.

The System that Helps you Get Consulting Clients with Predictably and Ease

If you want a steady stream of right-fit consulting clients who are excited to work with you and are more than willing to pay you what you're worth, you can't rely fully on those tactics that require you to go out and FIND clients. 

You also can't rely on finding referrals who will introduce you to that perfect client who will magically want to hire you as an advisor and pay you a good sum of money for that advice. 

Instead you need a system that ATTRACTS high-paying executive...

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4 Reasons Why Smart Consultants Hate Marketing

One thing that both new and seasoned consultants hate is marketing.

It's the fog of all that marketing entails and the fear that they are going to become some slick used car salesman is what keeps smart people stuck in soul-sucking corporate jobs.

And it's the exhaustion of the constant effort of trying to find the next lead that causes really talented consultants to give up on their dreams of running their own businesses and return to those soul-sucking corporate jobs.

Here's the deal -  you cannot have a successful business (consulting or otherwise), without effective marketing.

Without making others aware of who you are and what you have to offer, you have no choice but to either become the "world's best-kept secret" or become a sub-contractor, extra pair-of-hands who is paid by the hour.

Before I share with you what you need to embrace marketing, I want to first validate why marketing is really hard for consultants. 

FOUR REASONS WHY SMART CONSULTANTS HATE...

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What is a Brand and Why Do You Need One?

You can look at building a consulting and coaching practice in one of two ways. You can think of yourself as a freelancer who simply is always on the lookout for the next job. Or you can think of yourself as a brand that attracts right fit clients for years to come. If you want a practice that consistently generates exceptional results then you, like all great companies, need to invest in building a strong brand.

What is a Brand?

Many people think a brand is nothing more than a logo. Or a trademark. Or that pithy tagline. The reality is that branding is all of those things and so much more. A brand in general is the promise you make to your future clients that you consistently deliver on. Your brand promise contains both the tangible and intangible value you create as well as the emotional connection they will experience when working with you.

Why Consultants and Coaches Need a Brand

There are five reasons why it is worth investing your time, money and vulnerability into brand...

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20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Own Business

As a business mentor, I obviously get asked all the time, "How do you start your own business?"

But the question I WISH I was asked all the time is, "How do you start the RIGHT business?"

Now that's a question! Sure, you need to know the smart and strategic steps to transition from corporate leadership to business ownership. But why settle for just a successful business when you can have a business that also delivers significance, purpose and meaning to your own life and the world?

Related: The Five Steps to a Business Launch

It takes literally the same amount of money, time and effort to build an off-purpose business as an on-purpose one. So, don't limit what is possible for you.

Use my questions to help you start the RIGHT business, for the RIGHT reasons...in the RIGHT way.

The Smart Startup Questions

Below are 20 smart questions that you should ask yourself to ensure that you have a business that you and your future clients will love.

  1. Why do you want your own business? What...
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Warning! Is Subcontracting Sabotaging Your Impact & Earning Potential?

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....

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Beyond Referrals: How to Build a Predictable Client Pipeline

When you first start your consulting and coaching business, you are likely to get a lot of referrals to potential clients. But referrals will only take you so far, especially if you want to scale up your business. Therefore, you need to create marketing routines that consistently generate leads and future clients into your pipeline.

Marketing has one job – to get qualified leads to know who you are and be interested in having a conversation with you. But when it comes to marketing as a consultant, you need to add one other thing: You need to establish your credibility. You are not selling widgets for low prices. You are selling your know-how in exchange for significant fees.

Therefore, create your overall marketing strategy that sets the context for you to be able to make a powerful promise and then deliver on that promise. Select tactics that give you the opportunity to make create a relationship to the right people that you can most help.

  1. Identify Your Ideal...
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The Hidden Costs of Under-Investing in your Business Development

As a mentor who helps people turn their life work into their own businesses, I meet a lot of highly trained and experienced professionals with both vision...and fear.

Their vision is that they want to take control over their career and use their time and talents towards building their own bottom line instead of someone else's. Because they have already achieved success - they are looking now for significance.

And they have fear. Of course they do. It's a big deal to leave the comforts of a steady paycheck for the unknown world of business ownership.

The challenge with fear is that is not that it's there. Its presence is actually a good thing. It's a sign that of growth and opportunity. It's fear unacknowledged or ineffectively addressed that messes with success.

Because fear in those situations gets passive aggressive and puts on disguises that seriously mess with success. Fear can look like integrity with claims that "I don't want to come across like a slick, used car...

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7 Questions to Validate that Consulting/Coaching Business Ownership is Right for You

Want rock-solid confidence that starting or growing your own consulting or coaching business is right for you? Use these questions to help you get it.

1. What is telling you that you want to grow your own consulting or coaching business?

Which of the following reflects your answer:

  • I have always wanted to run by own business
  • I'm burnt out
  • I got laid off
  • I just want more - more freedom, more control, more meaning

What your answers indicate:

The desire to grow your own business doesn’t happen overnight. It’s probably been going on for a while. A key indicator that you’re supposed to grow your own business is simply that you want to. You think that the idea sounds exciting and if you had it all your way – if fears about money and having what it takes were off the table – this is what you’d love to do.

2. What emotions do you experience when you think about growing your own business?

Which of the following reflects your answer:

  • Excitement, Calm,...
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5 Smart Strategies to De-Stress & Accelerate Any Career or Business Transition

"If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world
but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all."
Anna Quindlen

Have you fallen out of love with your career (or has it fallen out of love with you?) There is nothing scarier for a high-achiever than to hit the top of their profession and wonder what it's all for. 

If you're at this type of critical career crossroads - your thoughts might be overwhelmed with questions about, "What's next?" and "What's my purpose?"

You know you're ready for more - just not more of the same. You want to take charge of your career and time but how? Start your own business? Get another job?

In this blog post I take you through the 5 smart strategies that will help you figure out what's next and how to make it real.

Step 1: Make a Bugs List

Your career challenges aren't what they seem. On the surface they seem to be about the nutty way your company redefined your job (or took it away.) Or how the relentless...

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