5 utter fallacies of working as a consultant

Working as a consultant for businesses seems to be the easiest and fastest method that many digital and marketing professionals take. There’s an assumption that walking into a building and doing some training and problem-solving is a great addition to your business. Consulting is often used to bridge the gap between income and is usually cited as “easy money”.

Horseshit. Consulting isn’t sustainable and it isn’t good for your business. It’s a necessary evil that tricks you into thinking it’s worthwhile. You absolutely can do it well and there is a massive difference between good consultants and bad consultants. But don’t ever think that coaching and consulting work is going to raise your income and solve all your problems.

Here are the 5 most common lies told by consultants and believed by everyone else.

It’s good money

True, some consultations run at very high prices. Even a mid-range digital consultant charges over £1000 for the day.

“£1000 for the day?! That’s mental!” Yeah, it does sound like a lot. But the job of a consultant is to solve problems quickly.

However, there are 2 main choking points for income based on consulting, which make it a poor substitute for other business products and services.

  1. It’s inconsistent.
  2. It’s still time for money

First, coaching, consulting or whatever you call it, can be seasonal. Businesses have money one week and not the other. So it’s tough to predict where your income is going to come from.

Second, if you’re coaching, you’re coaching. The point is that it isn’t scalable. You couldn’t have 10 000 people ask for coaching tomorrow and be able to deliver it all.

Yes, the immediate money is nice and yes, my WordPress business does very well with consulting. But it isn’t where I want to be and it isn’t what I want to do forever. If I’m spending a day at another office, that’s an entire day where I’m not talking to as many people as possible. I’m still charging time for money.

If I want to generate more income, I have 2 choices. Either work more hours in the day (consult from 7 am- 7pm rather than 9am – 5pm) or charge more per hour. Consulting traps you in this cycle and doesn’t allow you a third option – produce a product or service that you can outsource and scale.

You’re your own boss

This is the most common illusion I see. “It must be nice to be your own boss.”

But you’re not. You’re essentially an employee who’s paid more. You have to confine your approach to company standards, they expect certain deliverables from you and you’re now accountable for the work done.

Of course you have to produce great work no matter what you do and of course, you’re accountable with other products and services. It’s just with consulting, your manager is 15 people. It’s whoever is paying you and that can get very stressful.

Your emails now fill with 10 requests per person. There are more people and teams to manage. Different locations, different styles and brands.

It’s a lot of headaches and because the buck now stops with you, you’re considered your own boss.

It’s easy work

A few weeks back I went to a property seminar talking about how to grow your passive income using property rental. The advice was sound and some of the numbers seemed reasonable enough. However, I found myself asking “if this method is so powerful, easy and profitable, why is this group of people running this consulting seminar?”

As I mentioned, coaching and consulting is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between other projects (maybe start thinking about other ways to scale your business if that’s the case?)

Consulting is typically a sign that other projects aren’t as profitable as you’d like. 1. I consult on a regular basis, so I’m not a millionaire yet 2. If I had enough income, I wouldn’t NEED to consult. I’d be doing something else.

If you’re a good consultant, that’s great. But it isn’t easy and it’s hard work. If you were generating income some other way, wouldn’t that be more appealing?

“Just fire 50%”

Bit 90’s this. But I still get people asking if this is the key to consulting. Back in the bad old days, consultants would come in, fire 50% of the workforce and call it a paradigm shift. Job done, let’s go to the pub.

There are still a lot of hangups from the older days of consulting that you’ll need to get past. Frankly, it isn’t that easy to consult. There’s a lot of workshops, one on one calls, seminars and brainstorming. Ugh.

Hey – again, I feel I’m ragging on consulting a lot. The truth is that I really do love some of my one on one clients. But the reason I love working with them ISN’T because they’re regular customers. It’s because they action the advice I give them. More on that below.

It’s good for business

Good for the consultant or good for the customer? I guess both. And in some respects, getting outside help is valuable. New blood and all that.

However, what I’ve found in the past is that internal staff and management often look to outside help as a magical source of information. I’ve often heard “the team will listen to an outside expert more than us or someone else internally”.

That to me says you’ve got a problem with morale and leadership. Sorry to burst your bubble, but if your team aren’t looking to management as a trusted source of authority, that’s your problem.

Finally, consulting only works if there is accountability and follow-up. Time after time I have super excited customers buzzing with adrenaline after a coaching session. When we talk about follow up and accountability (which they’ve already paid for and has a 30-day time limit), they hardly take me up on it.

I’ll press and send a few emails, chase them a little. But even booked in dates dont’ draw the attention of the attendees. Follow up and holding them accountable, asking if they’ve taken the actions they said they would, is where the real value of consulting comes in.

That’s why I love a few of my regular customers, because they action each week what I get them to do. It’s rewarding seeing them progress and change their business.

Like I said, I’m not totally against consulting. It’s a great way to learn and it’s super easy to scale if you’re willing to put in the time.

Summary

  • Don’t take consulting for granted. It’s hard work and is not easy money.
  • It isn’t scalable. You’re still exchanging time for money and you’re not growing your business.
  • It is possible to still consult at scale, which I’ll cover another time.

I love the idea of taking training and consulting and creating other content from it. A lot of consultants tell me “you don’t know what you’re talking about Mike, I make great money from consulting and it only takes me one day a week”. I totally get how you feel, I lot of consultants have said the same thing. But what I’ve found, is that I can still coach from anywhere and anytime.

I have to be IN an office for the majority of consulting. But with other coaching and consulting products, I could be surfing, networking  or working on my business. More on that next time.

What if I could get you more customers though? On automation? I’ll show you exactly how I do that with marketing funnels below. Download the $100K marketing funnel plan for free and see how I launched a product and grew an email list at the same time.

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Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.