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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Starting Your Consultancy: Does Your Business Model Match You?

Choosing a model that resonates with you ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 24/03/2021 @ 8:00AM

So you’ve decided to take the leap and leave employment to set up on your own. It may have been your own choice or maybe not. However, you have knowledge, skills and experience from your years of working and now you can take back the control over how you are going to offer this to help others ...

Have you chosen a business model that matches you?

Have you chosen a business model that matches you?

copyright: robert b dilts - dilts strategy group

There are lots to do before you're ready to offer this to potential customers. High on your list is making a decision about what business model you want to adopt. Your business model is the way you take your services to the market.

"Get this out onto paper and many of the details of how you will do this will start to become clearer!"

As a new business, you have the choice of how simple or complicated you want to make this and, more importantly, how it fits with you personally. So, I'll list the most common types of model and then give you a list of factors to consider in deciding which one suits you.

I'll start with those who set up on their own:

  • Solo consultant - You set up as a sole trader offering your expertise into your chosen market. You may already have a client for this ... your previous employer or a friend/ex-colleague who needs your services. Many consultants start this way and stay with it.

  • Freelancer - If you offer a particular skill, say, graphic design, then you promote yourself as this.

  • White label Associate - An alternative term for a freelancer who performs the skills for another company under their brand

  • Interim or Project Manager - This variation is usually for those who go into a company to undertake a role or introduce a new system over a fixed period of time. Usually at this stage the consultant becomes a limited company.

  • Virtual Director/Manager - Filling a knowledge or skills gap for a range of companies that don't need this as a full time capacity.

  • Non-Executive Director - Adding knowledge, skills and resources into a company at board level.

Next are those who involve others in their business, either at the ownership or employment level:

  • SME Business Owner - Usually a limited company employing or contracting with others to undertake operational roles either back office or delivering directly to clients.

  • Partnerships - Where two or more people set up to own and run a company together. They may or may not employ or contract with others too.

  • Franchisee - Run their own company under the umbrella of a larger company using their business model, intellectual copyright, standards and brand usually for a royalty fee.

  • Licencee - Similar to a franchise, but simply the right to use the others intellectual property within their own brand.

Then there are the entrepreneurs who desire to build a business that can be scaled up to operate without their direct involvement in the day to day operations:

  • Franchisors and licensors - The owners and controllers of businesses offering franchises and licences for others to use their business model, copyright and intellectual property.

  • Consultancy Agencies - Employing staff and associates to deliver most of the day-to-day back office and operational services to clients.

  • Online Services - The new kids on the block! Increasingly, business people are looking to the Internet for answers for themselves and their teams. The emergence of the Internet of Things, AI, virtual reality and virtual teams means this is fertile ground for true business disrupters and new models for consultancy and similar business support are emerging all the time.

Now, without giving a lot of detail this is still a long list, I'm sure there are hybrid and other models missing, but how do you decide what is right for you?

One way that we organise our thinking is related to our 'sense of self' in the world. Our brain organises this in a hierarchy from the deepest internal level to a more superficial external perspective.

Gregory Bateson, a well known early 20th Century cultural anthropologist, outlined that in the processes of learning, change, and communication there were natural hierarchies. Robert Dilts later developed this concept for coaching practice coining the phrase 'logical levels' later changed to 'Dilts Pyramid' and today it is widely used in the coaching of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

This hierarchy goes from the deepest levels of thinking to the more external superficial levels thus:

  • Vision - What are you trying to achieve, how it fits with your ambitions for your life

  • Identity - How you see yourself, your role, when making a decision or choosing an action

  • Values - The principles, ethics and morals you want to honour in how you do things

  • Beliefs - What you believe about the way the world works

  • Capabilities - Your knowledge and skills

  • Behaviour - What you actually do

  • Environment - Everything and everybody external to yourself

Using the Dilts Pyramid if you analyse your thinking at the top this is the deeper psychological level will influence your thinking right down to the externally driven thinking like behaviours or the environment. If you start lower down you only influence your thinking from that level downwards. If that sounds complicated maybe this example helps.

For instance ... a change in your vision of what we want from our life will always change how we view our own behaviours. "I want to play a bigger part in my children's life" (vision) will affect how you view your present working hours. But if you start lower down at behaviours (I want to reduce my working hours) it will not necessarily mean you play a larger part in your children's life as you may go out and play golf instead.

I'd like to suggest that you focus on seeking the business model that motivates you at the highest logical level possible and that will be the one where you have a positive emotional response. Usually, this is at the level of values and beyond. For example, You're more likely to choose a solo model if your identity is as the technical expert and the entrepreneur if you seek world domination in the market place (vision).

"Chances are that one or, maybe a couple, of these business models resonates with you!"

It feels right and you can see yourself operating in that space (identity). Even if you've chosen the most conservative model and have the most risk-averse and pragmatic personality it will give you the frisson that yes, you can do this ... and even more importantly, want to do it.

Now you're ready to do the detailed work to position your offering into that space.

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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