How Do I Keep My Consulting Business in Perspective?

November 21, 2016

How Do I Keep My Consulting Business in Perspective?

All of us get things out of proportion and lose perspective. At the end of the day, your business is not more important than your significant other, your children, or your health. But how about the actual business itself? Losing perspective on certain parts of the business can have an effect outside your work. Here are some techniques that have helped me over the years:

  • You really don’t like working with this client. They’re difficult, demanding, and unpleasant. In an effort to keep them happy (probably unsuccessful), you’re devoting a disproportionate amount of time to them.

Well, stop! Analyze what this relationship is worth to you. Can you survive without it? How important is it relative to clients you like working with? In every situation where I’ve done this analysis, I’ve reached the conclusion that I can manage without more work from the client. Once you’ve decided that, it’s like a weight off your mind. All you need to do is put up with them until the project is over. Then you can choose never to interact with them again. It’s a great feeling.

  • You’ve bitten off more than you can chew. The project is going horribly wrong; you don’t know if you’ll be able to complete it; you find yourself stressing badly and as a result falling even further behind.

Take a deep breath, and step back for a moment. Consider what would happen if you goofed up completely and the client either fired you or would never work with you again. Is that the end of your life? No. Is it the end of your business? No. Will it be uncomfortable, embarrassing, damaging to your reputation? Yes, probably, but all these are temporary things. It’s certainly not the end of the world. The sun will rise tomorrow.

I’ve found that thinking along these lines helps me gain perspective, calm down, and get in a better position to rectify problems. And please go and talk to your client about the issues. People are generally more sympathetic and understanding than we think they will be.

  • Your tenth proposal in a row has failed to sell. Now work is running out or has already run out. Whatever you do, you can’t seem to turn things around. You’re depressed and getting desperate.

Okay, let’s get this in perspective. First, just about every consultant has been in this position at some time or another, so you aren’t alone. Second, there’s little logic to sales success. It’s like betting on black at roulette because the last ten spins all ended up red. There’s no more reason that the next one should be black than the ten previous ones. Correspondingly, there’s no reason your eleventh proposal shouldn’t sell just because the others didn’t.

Remember, you got work in the door previously, and you will again. So my advice is to try not to let a run of bad luck affect you too much. (Easy to say, I know). Stuff happens; it’s not a fundamental shift. Work will come in again, and for some perverse reason, it’s more likely to come the more relaxed you are about it.

My father had a saying that never failed to irritate my mother. Actually he had a few, but this one is relevant here. He would generally use it when she was stressing over something that he considered to be of minor importance. With a slight shrug of his shoulders and a faint smile, he’d say, “It will all be the same in a thousand years, Margaret.” Take from that what you will. I’ve often tried to think of it when I’m getting wound up. By the way, my parents were married for more than forty years, so I guess he didn’t irritate her too much.


As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses.  Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at to learn more.

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