The 1 question you need to answer when you start consulting

Start consulting: your consulting skills are more important than the tools

There’s a question you need to answer when you start consulting (or any business) that’s crucial to your success. Once you know the question, it’ll seem ridiculously obvious. But still, few ask it, and fewer still know how to answer it.

Before I show you what I mean, here’s an example of what you might be doing right now as you start consulting.

Keep in mind that starting a consulting business is, essentially, learning a new skill: the skill of building a successful business.

Imagine you’re learning to play guitar.

Like most newbies, you fixate on what guitar to buy, and probably start shopping around for a sweet Les Paul or Strat. Never mind that people who are expert players, though they might use nice gear, don’t make that their main focus.

Case in point: 8-time Grammy winner Jack White from the White Stripes routinely uses old, rickety guitars, or even no guitar at all.

Another example: Have you ever seen Willie Nelson’s guitar?

Seriously. Take a look at that thing (the guitar, not Willie).

Another example: If you’re a beginning tennis player, you could buy a $1,000 racquet, but Roger Federer could still kick your ass with my daughter’s $2 badminton racquet.

Here’s how this relates to starting a consulting business:

Two people start consulting: Which one is you?

Imagine 2 people, Josh and Allison, who both want to start consulting. They each make a list of tasks they’re going to work on to get their consulting business off the ground.

Josh lists things like:

  • choose a business name
  • file the paperwork for his LLC or s-corp
  • get a logo designed
  • design and print business cards
  • write and design a brochure listing his services

Allison lists things like:

  • identify a specific market niche
  • research and identify 30 prospects in her niche
  • reach out to 10 of those prospects

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Hold on–why is Allison contacting prospects?! She hasn’t even set up her business!”

So what?

Ask yourself:

  • How will a logo/brochure/business cards/business entity help you?
  • Who do you think is going to start getting paid faster?

The crucial question when you start consulting

You may have already figured out the crucial question, but here it is:

What’s the fastest path to the cash?

Not to be crass, but asking this question is crucial to your business.

No, life is not all about money.

But this question brings clarity to:

  • where to focus,
  • what you need to do, and
  • what your very next task should be.

Create clarity, not complexity or distraction

It’s really easy to get bogged down in minutiae, especially when you’re starting something unfamiliar.

When we start a new skill or challenge, there are dozens of aspects we could be paying attention to, most of which are inconsequential to success. Experts are so much more effective because they relentlessly focus on the things that matter.

Are you going to fixate on your guitar, tennis racquet, logo, or brochure?

It’s not about the tools

It’s about developing your skill and technique on the things that move you DIRECTLY toward your goal.

The wrong things (which tools to use, creating a logo, or the moon’s alignment to Jupiter) get you off track from the shortest path.

And worse, you delude yourself into thinking you’re making progress.

“What’s the fastest path to the cash?” focuses your attention on the core actions that lead directly to your goal.

You already know the 1 crucial question, but…

Even if that 1 crucial question for your consulting business seems obvious, there are 2 catches:

  1. How do you answer that question?
  2. Why aren’t you doing the things you should?

I’ll answer that 1 crucial question for you: Essentially, the fastest path is going to involve identifying, contacting, and converting prospects. 

Those are all huge topics, and I cover them in far more detail in other posts and in my premium course, Client Pipeline Mastery. For now, I won’t go into more detail on those topics.

But now that you know, at even a very high level, what the fastest path to cash is, we’ll need to answer the second question.

In my next post, I’ll go into detail on why you probably aren’t doing the things on the fastest path to cash, even if you know what you SHOULD be doing.

Right now

What’s your VERY NEXT task is on your fastest path to cash?

Tell me in the comments or email me directly.

Be specific.

I read every comment and email.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Roger - July 15, 2014 Reply

Be an Allison, not a Josh. Next step is identify niche. But how deep should the niche go? Is targeting local service businesses in their marketing & sales efforts specific enough? Or should it drill down to a specific industry within it (i.e. home improvement)? I’ve found that many service professionals have companies where they are the main person fulfilling the primary function (CPA’s, medical professionals, home improvement contractors) and they are EXCELLENT at it. But they often fall short in the marketing or personnel management department, which is what I thrive in.
Thanks, as always, for great content Greg! Time to stop wasting time on business cards, contemplating business entity, etc. and time to get to work.

    Greg Miliates - July 15, 2014 Reply

    Hey, Roger, thanks–glad you found it useful!

    As for getting specific on a niche, you’ll generally want to target a specific type of business in a specific industry, often looking for a specific size of prospect, either in terms of # of employees or revenue; whether or not you choose to go local, regional, or national is more a matter of how specific you’ve defined your niche and how many prospects are in that niche.

    The following are examples of what I mean by targeted, specific niches:
    –locally-owned pest control companies with 10-50 employees
    –freight hauling companies with at least 10 trucks or contract owner-operators
    –plumbing suppliers doing $10-$20 million in gross revenue
    –physical therapy practices employing at least 15 physical therapists

      Roger - July 17, 2014 Reply

      Awesome! Thanks so much for the tips and examples.

      Anthony Kenyagoh - November 27, 2015 Reply

      That article was very helpful. Thank you. I would like to add as a consultant, one of the value that we bring to our clients is the experience and expertise absorbed from other industries that would be a solution to a problem they are facing

Tim Stafford - July 16, 2014 Reply

My biggest issue is how to leverage what I know so that I can determine what niche market it will help. I don’t know how to do that and so I am struggling to get the clients Imwant doing the work that I want. I tend to find myself doing work that is fringe and I can’t find the sweet spot. I am busy making to little and the clients are more demanding than the fees can really pay for.

I hope that makes sense

    Greg Miliates - July 18, 2014 Reply

    Hey, Tim, thanks for your question! If I understand correctly, it sounds like you have marketable skills, but are struggling to figure out a niche. Something you might try is to look at industries where you’ve already applied those skills, or where those skills are already in demand. Make a list of potential niche markets, and then research the niches to determine how much revenue they’re generating, how profitable they are, whether they already hire consultants for other services, etc. You can then use that data to inform your decision about which niches are potentially profitable. However, you’ll still need to contact the market/niche to see if they have valuable problems you can solve.

Dany najem - March 7, 2016 Reply

Hi ,

Dany najem - March 7, 2016 Reply

Hi dear , after all what I read from you I am going to focus witch business consultant I need , to have a more skills and challenge example as a beauty consultant to reach my goal .

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