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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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Consultancy Skills: Are You A Victim Of Your Own Success?

Are you stuck in a vicious circle?


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 14/04/2021 @ 8:00AM

"I’ve got a great new contract so I’m going to be off the scene for at least 6 months, maybe longer." I often hear this. It’s a time for congratulations and a warning. The big contract will come to an end and suddenly the diary is empty ...

The term 'feast or famine' could easily be used if you don't hone your consultancy skills!

The term 'feast or famine' could easily be used if you don't hone your consultancy skills!

photo by 'rawpixel' on unsplash

You’ve become a victim of feast and famine. Many consultants I meet consider this just the name of the game and not within their control. The sensible ones have put aside money for just such an eventuality, but it’s amazing how quickly the bank balance approaches zero ...

"Sound familiar?"

How about I ask you some questions to look at the problem through another lens? The lens that says you're not the victim, you're the cause. Then you can do something about it.

Whilst you were quiet did you invest in your network? Spend this downtime to deepen and broaden your business relationships in two ways.

  • Firstly, deepen your relationship with other people you know who can introduce you to business opportunities. The best way to do this is to do something that helps them. Then add to their knowledge of how they can help you as well. Asking for help within a relationship is a giving activity (it's flattering) as long as it's not too one-sided.

  • Secondly, broaden your network. You have time at the moment so get out there in person and online meeting new people. People who can help you or help the other people you know. Getting known as a giver and the go-to person will result in new opportunities for you.

While you were 'off the scene' and busy with that lovely new contract, how many opportunities for you has your network overlooked? Worse still, passed it on to someone else because you were too busy. You'll probably never know, as referring is a habit and it requires feeding to keep it going. The longer you're out of sight the more you're out of mind too.

So, although you're super busy right now, build in time to continue networking. Social media is great for this, but don't forget the phone and best of all meeting up socially. Maybe for a drink on Friday evening or go to the Rugby at the weekend.

  • When you pitched for this work did you intend for it to be full-time including evenings and weekends?

  • In other words, did you have no time for your other business relationships at all?

  • Did the customer actually insist on you being there full-time and available 24/7?

  • Did you assume it or engineer it to make yourself indispensable?

  • If you charge for the hour or the day, are you stretching the time to get the bucks in?

  • After all, you need to put some away for your next famine, don't you?

  • Is this a vicious circle?

It may be time for you to revisit your business model and how you operate with your clients, including how you set out and agree to your contract. Whilst a certain amount of going the extra mile is good practice, beware of scope creep. Make sure to set things up to have time for your business as well as your clients.

Did being fully occupied with this client actually come as a big relief? After all, it feels like a proper job doesn't it? You know, like when you worked for XXX PLC. The money will fall into your bank account regularly and you can put off all that horrid networking and touting yourself around looking for someone who'll buy from you.

Are you secretly hoping they are going to offer you a permanent position as a result? Have they hinted at it? I wish I had a pound for every time I've heard that one dashed to disappointment at the end of the project.

Or they keep you on contract to manage the project and then suddenly one day terminate it with very little notice. Ask yourself what stops them from putting you on the payroll right now and what's going to change in 6 months time?

There's a simple tip here:
Be clear about what you are really looking for. If you're secretly looking for a job then build in time to look for one. Then, at some time in the future, if your existing client offers you a job, you can still take it, but you're building up your options.

If it's proving really difficult to find a permanent position then get some help from a career coach. After all, if you're good enough to win a consultancy project you're good enough to be employed too!

In summary, to get away from the feast and famine syndrome and build a sustainable consultancy, build in time every week to work on your business network. The people you know and trust and who you can help as well as rely on for help are the lifeblood of your business. Look after them and they will look after you.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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