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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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The Ups And Downs Of Running Your Own Consultancy

It's like a rollercoaster ride ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 25/10/2023 @ 8:00AM

Running your own consultancy can be an emotional rollercoaster. I would guess that, almost without exception, any consultant reading this would nod in agreement and some would nod quite vigorously ...

Running your own consultancy can be an emotional rollercoaster!

Running your own consultancy can be an emotional rollercoaster!

copyright: supervennix / pixabay

That long-drawn-out chug to the top full of anticipation with your heart rate going up, riding the crest only to plunge down the other side. Then this continues in a series of shorter and shorter loops until you end up where you started with another chug-chug up to the top.

"Or chuck up as you scramble off the ride!"

Whilst this may be invigorating the first few times it happens if it continues, even those with the strongest stomach will get sick of it. Maybe it's time to change the metaphor to a switchback road up and down the hills, but always aiming for the summit with the spectacular view.

At the risk of pushing the metaphor too far, each of us has our own route to the summit. What I give here is just some tips on how to manage your emotional journey to stay on the road along the ups and downs to your own summit.

Prepare in advance

Know where you want to get to and plan the route to get there. This is where all that behind-the-scenes work needs to be done. What is your vision; the summit you want to get to? Map out the route, the ups and downs and likely obstacles and do your SWOT analysis.

What resources will you need to take with you to sustain your efforts and deal with the unexpected? Remember, you need to eat and maybe support the family whilst you're away or are they coming with you? The best way to do this is to write your business plan with financial projections. How about your skills? Where is your personal development plan? Can you keep yourself on the road and get yourself out of the ditch when the need arises?

Even so, most of the route will be out of sight and there will be enough surprises along the way to throw off the most intrepid traveller. How resourceful and flexible are you? Start your personal development plan with what skills, knowledge and inner resources you will need. Oh, and do make sure the brakes work!

Focus on the road not the scary scenery

As any sportsman will tell you, your brain is wired to follow your eye line. So, If you look over the edge down into the precipice, your brain thinks that's where you want to go and steers you over the edge. So, whilst being aware of what is going on around you is essential, keep your eyes focused on getting around the next hairpin bend. Concentrate on what do you need to do next?

Learn from your experiences

Whilst you can read up a lot and practice, nothing beats experience for learning. As you go along analyse what is working well so that you can do more of it. Then admit your mistakes with a "Phew, not doing that again" approach.

Manage your pace

The Internet abounds with advice and enticements on how to get rich quick. Often hidden in these messages is the premise of "If you don't achieve quickly you're a failure" or that you just didn't work hard enough,

Now, there are some people who have developed a product or method that earned them millions really quickly. In their honest moments, these people will admit that a big dollop of luck played its part. If you overstretch yourself or get dispirited because you're not a millionaire by the time you're into year two then you're straight back on the roller coaster. Work at the pace that is right for you, your stakeholders and the natural lag for the product and market you're trying to penetrate

Give yourself a break before you're exhausted

From the beginning, plan your stops and keep them spaced well within your energy levels. Practice the three 'Rs' of Review, Rethink and Recover. Stop and look back at how far you've come and then plan forward just far enough to reach the next staging post. And from day one book out your holidays in your diary and plan your activities and projections with that in mind.

Allow others to help you

And finally, working alone is a lonely place to be and quite quickly you will discover that you will need others to help you along the way. The public side of running a business is promoting yourself as the expert in your field. This often gets translated as admitting you need help means you don't know what you're doing and are therefore vulnerable.

It's true that sharing your weaknesses or lack of knowledge with your competitors is risky, so pick your advisors and consultants with care. Then make sure that your personal development and support network are at the heart of your plan from the start.

You're in this for the long term to get to the summit and these other people will, in different ways and times, sustain you. They will make sure you don't have to face a constant pit in your stomach when once again you've plummeted to the bottom of the rollercoaster and face the chug-chug haul back up that very long hill.

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 about running your own consultancy, 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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