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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Starting Your Consultancy: A Very Common Mistake

Are you spreading your net too wide?


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 02/08/2023 @ 8:00AM

Brand new consultants are often told not to define a target market. Just get out there and sell! Cast your net wide and your target market will emerge ...

Always go to where you know your favourite fish can be found!

Always go to where you know your favourite fish can be found!

photo by ankur khanna on unsplash

They tell me this is the advice given to them by their coach or business advisor. My advice? Find yourself a new advisor. Yet, it is a seductive statement, isn't it? It lets you off the hook nicely!

You don't have to do that piece of thinking at a time when there are so many other things to think about. It's also less scary, after all, you might miss a golden opportunity, and my goodness, you need those first clients wherever they come from!

You're fired up with enthusiasm and are an evangelist for whatever it is you're offering. You know you can make a difference to so many people. Everybody needs what you're offering if only they could see it!

"I see it all the time, and in my ignorance, I did it
myself when starting out!"

Stop and do a reality check, right now. There is only one of you, and you probably have to do your own marketing, as well as everything else your business is demanding of you. Whilst everybody might well benefit from what you're offering, not everyone will buy it from you. They will buy from someone who can demonstrate their credibility, those already established in business ... your competitors.

As a new consultant, your first clients are likely to come from people you know. A referral. The people you know are likely to have known you in your previous business. So, the people they are likely to refer you to are from that type of business. You have credibility in that area even if your business offers something different. That makes it easier for people who want to help you to actually be able to help you.

Then there's that even bigger group who although they may well benefit from what you offer and just don't want to buy it. As a consultant, you're likely to be talking to other business owners who will have their own priorities ... and right now you're not one of them.

As a startup, do you really have time to educate people and change their minds? Maybe that's down the road a while. You will get enough rejection even with a target market, so don't compound it by chasing work you will not win.

The most common phrase I hear in networking circles is, "do you know anyone who needs a ... ?" That leaves your fellow networkers in a fog. If you're not willing to do the thinking and research into who will buy from you, so why should others do it for you?

Now, hidden in those statements are the building blocks of who your embryo target market will be. What type of need does your consultancy meet? What is the pain, concern, issues or aspiration that you have the solution? Who has that pain, issue or aspiration that you can solve?

As a new consultant, what evidence can you supply that demonstrate you know what you're talking about? If it's a new service, at the very least you need to be able to demonstrate the type of business where you have a track record, understand the culture and issues. Talk the same language, because from a referral point of view, this is where you already have reach.

"Who do you already know who could introduce you? What type of contacts do they have?"

Lastly, who is unlikely to buy from you? Who has other priorities right now? Who just don't think your type of service is worth their investment? Who are the sort of people you wouldn't want to work with? So, turn your thinking on its head. How many opportunities were lost while you were chasing work you either didn't want or couldn't win?

My tip for you this week is to spend some time defining your target market as precisely as possible. Do this with someone who will challenge you to keep it tight.

And finally, going back to our fishing analogy ... you can either throw your net into the ocean and hope you catch some fish or you can go to where you know your favourite fish can be found and use a rod instead. Once you've got enough fish to feed your family, you can widen your aspiration and go hunting for that elusive Marlin off the coast of Hawaii!

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 start your consultancy without making common mistakes, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat and see how I can help.

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