By Elaine Biech and Halelly Azulay, Creators of Building Your Successful Consulting Business
Carol Dweck has given credence to the concept of mindset. Her research provides proof that what we think becomes reality—especially about our talents and abilities. How does this affect a professional consultant? Dweck’s research wasn’t prominent when we started consulting. However, we are both positive thinkers and practiced it religiously.
Halelly remembers experiencing some self-doubt at first when considering her dream of going solo. “What if I won’t make it? What if I can’t compete with my competent counterparts in the marketplace?” But when she considered how much she enjoys the thrill of building something from scratch, creating a business from nothing seemed like a wonderful challenge worth pursuing. She worked consciously to shift her mindset to the more positive and active “why NOT me?” and it carried her through.
So, what does that have to do with your mindset? Your mindset and attitude are elusive. They cannot be measured nor clearly defined, but we all know they are there. A professional maintains a positive attitude under all circumstances, asking, “What’s good about it?” when something goes wrong. As a consultant, you’ll need to be self-confident, cope with rejection, be open-minded and flexible, and believe in people. Professionals take responsibility for their actions and are accountable to their clients.
Your mindset about consulting will permeate everything you do. If you love the work, enjoy helping your clients, get a high from the challenge of difficult projects, and find consulting to be a rewarding outlet for you as a person, you have probably found your purpose in life. In The Consultant’s Calling, Geoffrey M. Bellman suggests that you, “Pursue this work as a personal calling, bringing who you are to what you do.” Appreciate the value and benefits you bring to your clients and you will experience an increase in your confidence to win new client work.
Love what you do. Both of us are delighted that we chose the consulting field. We love the work and it shows. Don’t get up and go to work every morning; get up and go to play. We are fortunate because we are free to play every day—and in the process make a good living. Consulting offers a good income, but if you are only in it for the money, you may not succeed.
If you are starting a consulting practice, try these suggestions:
- Check your mindset. What kind of self-talk are you practicing? A proper mindset allows you to address unplanned setbacks as learning opportunities. You need to believe in yourself and in your business, and that you will be successful. Certainly, working hard on building your business is important too. There’s a quote by Samuel Goldwyn, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” The combination of a positive mindset and doing what you need to do will lead to success.
- Find your positive corps. No, that’s not a typo for core. We do mean corps—the group of people you will hang around that will help you maintain a positive mindset. Meet with them when you are unsure. Celebrate with them when you are successful. And in-between, enjoy their positive, uplifting presence.
Shift your view about marketing and selling. What’s the secret to a successful consultant mindset? We think that the most important part is to view marketing as “helping a potential client.” Consultants can model this mindset by helping prospective clients during the sales call. Think “helping,” not “selling.” Then, be yourself! Your personality, not your expertise, will land most contracts. That may disappoint you, but it is the truth. Sure, you must have the basic skills in place, but that’s a given. Your wit, charm, sincerity, professionalism, and interpersonal skills will be the deciding factor at this stage.
Play Chess with Your Future. Use your mindset to plan for your future success. You can predict your future by using the same technique excellent chess players use, planning three steps ahead. Start with small things such as thinking through step-by-step the drive from your office to a new location. Practice planning each step that will occur before you meet with a client. Visualize it. Plan your future out a couple of years. What three steps will you need to take to get there?
Join our upcoming HRDQ webinar titled “Going Solo? Realities and Rewards of Consulting” on May 27, 2020 at 2pm ET/11am PT.
About the Authors
Elaine Biech and Halelly Azulay are successful consultants with a combined 50 years of experience. Both are leaders in the talent development field and mentor, coach, and teach new consultants. They are the creators of the online course: Building Your Successful Consulting Business. Elaine has published 85 books and Halelly produces and hosts The TalentGrow Show podcast where she interviews legends such as Daniel Pink, Beverly Kaye, Dorie Clark, and others.