Only £1,039 in the bank!
That’s it. After running my consulting business for 2 years, all I had left in the bank was just over a grand.
How had it come to this? And more importantly, what happens when you run out of money?
I had no savings to fall back on.
No rich parents to turn to.
No big overdraft or remaining credit card balance available.
What I did have was a mortgage, a wife, two kids, and two cars. All of which required me to provide money!
What I didn’t have was a consistent flow of leads.
No pipeline of opportunities.
No next project.
Roll back 10 years, and truth be told, I fell into consulting
I thought the job I’d been offered was a Technical Architect. Turned out that I was a Consultant.
For a while, I thought, ‘What, people actually pay for this?’. We’ve all heard that a consultant, “Steals your watch to tell you the time”.
But pretty soon I came to love consulting.
It’s incredibly empowering applying your consulting expertise and setting strategic direction in major global firms.
Soon I dreamt of running my own consulting firm
And so, I did. Full of gusto, I determined I’d build a £10m annual revenue consulting firm within 5 years.
And things started well. I had initial sales of £100k across 3 clients within 3 months.
This included a world leading law firm, a global investment bank, and a sizable trading firm.
I proved you don’t need to be big, or have a long trading history, to be credible.
But how little I really knew about the business of running a consulting business.
I knew about sales pipelines, and how to sell. What I didn’t know was how essential marketing was, and how I needed a marketing funnel in order to fill my sales pipeline.
And I simply didn’t appreciate how much time and effort needs to be dedicated to marketing.
After 2 years, I was staring failure and bankruptcy in the face!
It’s an all too common scenario:
- Consultant goes out on his own
- Sells to their existing network and past clients.
- Things go great, but they’re so focused on delivery that they don’t focus enough on marketing and sales.
- At the end of the second year they’re either back in employment, or firmly on the revenue roller coaster – one minute they’re up, the next they’re down
Like a lamb to the slaughter, that’s exactly what I did.
But I survived…
I landed a number of opportunities in quick succession. But it wasn’t luck. I’d been working hard on these opportunities for some time.
Through content marketing, I made a sale to a prestigious UK institution.
I made a sale with a new client through face-to-face networking.
I received a referral for a substantial project.
And I landed repeat business with existing clients.
I’d survived. And I continued to survive. But I wasn’t thriving. I was still stuck in the hustle, knowing that I could, at any time, be right back staring bankruptcy in the face.
What I wanted was a steady stream of clients without having to burn myself out to achieve it! I wanted more high-paying clients so that I could work less hours, not more.
So I hired a Business Coach…
…and he sucked!
It was suggested to me that I get a business coach.
And I did. For a few months, things went well. But after a short while, times got tough again.
My generalist business coach suggested I get cold calling as he was certain that was the quickest way to find work.
And that’s what I did.
And I hated it.
And I failed.
Undeterred, I thought surely the best cold callers do it for a living!
So I outsourced it.
And it failed again.
Only this time it cost me over £4,000 to fail.
I learnt the hard way that cold calling was a bad strategy to adopt.
Without hesitation, I sacked my business coach.
However, I still believed in the value of a business coach, and I set about finding a replacement.
I found a coach who specialised in consulting businesses. Result! Or so I thought.
Long story short, thousands of pounds later I was back at square one. This new business coach also ended up telling me to cold call!
Nooooo!! Could I really be back here again?!
So, for the second time, I sacked my business coach.
I determined lack of knowledge was my problem.
3 years in and I was doing ok, with revenues steadily climbing. I employed more subcontractors, and eventually my first permanent staff member.
But I knew there was more I needed to know about marketing. Never afraid to invest in myself or my business, I set about investing in training – heavily.
I bought courses in:
- Relationship building with influencers
- Facebook marketing
- LinkedIn marketing
- High-end products
- On-line course creation
- Email marketing
- Sales pages
- Public speaking
- And more
I’d become a serial course buyer.
I was searching for that nugget of wisdom that would propel my business forward. But in truth, I’d joined the 90% of people who buy online courses and never complete them. I was drowning in information, overwhelmed, and suffering from a lack of real-world action.
I developed a love/hate relationship with my business
Four years in, and 2 years from near disaster, I was still no further ahead.
I loved running a business and living life on my own terms. In fact, I’d now done it for so long that I was no longer employable anyway.
But at the same time, running a business can be all-consuming. 7-day working weeks are the norm.
There are always issues to deal with. Marketing, sales, project delivery, or simply managing the business.
I was struggling to apply what I was learning to my consulting business. That’s when I realised just how different consulting businesses are.
A lot of the advice provided by generic business coaches and online marketing courses just doesn’t work in a consulting business.
A consulting business is different because:
- It is rarely product based
- Value-ladders, where a low-cost entry-level product leads to up-sell opportunities, is seldom possible or even appropriate in a B2B consultancy. In my consulting business, I’ve never made a sale of <5k
- Project revenues typically exceed recurring revenues
- Passive revenue is elusive
- The owner(s) don’t typically build to sell. They build to deliver and grow something that they love doing and want to remain a part of
- Scaling is difficult as the work can be difficult to delegate, and clients often buy ‘you’
- Your skillset might be relevant to a wide audience, making it difficult to define a niche or sufficiently targeted market
What I needed was a system.
A way to process and structure all of the information that I’d consumed, and to tailor it to the nuances of a consulting business.
A model upon which to identify prospect needs, design services, market and sell them, and deliver the resultant projects, whilst successfully managing and growing the business.
With nothing being available, I had to develop my own system.
The Consulting Compass
The Consulting Compass is the system I developed. It focuses on the 4 core pillars to a sustainable, scalable, and ultimately saleable, high-ticket B2B consulting business.
That’s when things started to change.
Up until this point, I’d essentially been selling ‘me’.
I’d been tackling far too diverse a range of problems.
Without a niche, I had no voice.
Without a voice, I couldn’t attract an audience.
Without an audience, I couldn’t market beyond referrals.
So I got very specific.
Targeting one niche.
And becoming the authority in it.
For the first time, I had clarity in my business.
The Consulting Compass enabled me to:
- Sell consulting services based on recurring revenue in addition to project revenue
- Deliver the same service time and time again, enabling me to iterate and improve
- Define a delivery process that enabled me to employ junior staff, rather than high-cost experienced contractors
- Build a scalable consulting business, with inherent value that could enable a future sale
And now my mission is…
…to help you build the consulting business of your dreams.
After struggling for so long, I realized that my passion had changed. Whilst I continue to grow my consulting business, thankfully it runs itself for the most part.
My passion is consulting businesses. And teaching others how to implement the Consulting Compass system.
How to build your sustainable, scalable, and ultimately saleable consulting business.
Helping you get off the revenue roller coaster.
To build your consulting business and bring in the revenue you need to build the lifestyle you want.
I’m not talking about the mythical internet marketing life of having multiple Ferrari’s and living in a mansion.
I’m talking a real-world life, where you get paid a good return for doing quality work that you enjoy, and are respected for.
A life and business in which you can choose the clients you work with.
Where you don’t feel overworked and underpaid.
Where you can sleep easy at night knowing there’s a consistent flow of leads, a pipeline of qualified opportunities, and a minimum of 6 months cash reserves in the bank.
If you’d like to learn how you can apply the Consulting Compass™ in your business, take a look at our coaching programmes.