Today we are going to talk about how to run a consulting business. One of the most important things you can do is to defend your Big Picture. You are probably thinking that your consulting expertise is the most important element of your business. You trust in the fact that you know a lot about your specific topic, have a deep understanding of it and can use your knowledge to connect with the client. I am not saying that those things are not important, what I am saying is that as you run your consulting business there are some other things that become even more important. Let me explain those things.
You must have a Big Picture. You need to have an assessment of where you are, a statement of where you need to be, as well as major milestones along the path. Whether you realize it or not, your business is on a path… somewhere and you have to be clear on what that direction is. Identify where you are now, where you want to be, and what the major milestones are in-between. Give your business direction so that every day your company exists, it gets better and better at its core activity.
You must nurture this Big Picture. There are a variety of ways you can nurture the Big Picture. You can hire quality employees, work with quality partners, and secure great clients. Hiring well and working with great vendors keeps your Big Picture fulfilled. Having healthy internal systems keeps your daily effort consistent so that you can deliver at a high level over and over. Having great mentors, both formal and informal, helps nurture the Big Picture. The key word here is “nurture”. You want your Big Picture to grow and expand. You want it to be as strong as it can. This kind of strength doesn’t happen on accident, it happens on purpose. These are some of the things you need to be doing in order for your Big Picture to be easily understand and positioned for growth.
You must protect the Big Picture. You have to understand that your Big Picture is under attack. If it’s not growing, it’s dying. Therefore, you have to commit to protect your Big Picture each day. For example, developing your employees is very important. You have to give your employees more opportunity to learn, grow, develop and give even greater value to your business and to your Big Picture. Next, check your company’s “buzz”. You have to know what other people are saying about your business. Where do you fall in your niche? Have you gotten to top-tier status or are you still on your way to top-tier status? No matter where you stand you have to know what people are saying about your business and how it’s being perceived. Also, you can’t be afraid to take vacations. It is possible to stare at your business for too long and lose perspective and insight. Sometimes you have to leave, step away, go on vacation, recharge and come back to your Big Picture. If not, you can simply tear away at your Big Picture as you keep moving things around in your consulting business without the right kind of perspective.
Have the courage to make adjustments. Just because you wrote the plan down on paper, the world is not going to react the way that you think it should. You need the courage to change things along the way.
Most change too early. Most of my clients change their plan too early. Changing too quickly may result in the pursuit of a different Big Picture. Stay the course, understand where you are really trying to go with your business, and have the courage to stand when you should.
Remember just because a person (or the marketplace) gives you a singular opinion, doesn’t mean you have to change your entire business. Keep the clarity and the fortitude to stand when it’s time to stand.
Push past first rejections. People are going to tell you “no”. People are going to hear what you have to say and be unexcited. Again, you have to believe in your picture and move beyond that rejection. In fact, you should expect rejection to come a second, third, and fourth time. It’s the nature of growing a business.
Having a clear Big Picture is a great step in the right direction of growing your business. However, you must also have the fortitude and clarity to stay your course in the face of adversity. You should be prepared to make adjustments, but be careful of emotional responses to short-term situations. Your best work is done when you make decisions in perfect alignment with your Big Picture.