One of the great things about having your own business is the ability to make choices. It’s your business, and no one is going to tell you that you can’t do that or that it doesn’t fit in with overall company strategy. The decision is yours, and that applies to any business, not just consulting.
However, a consulting business is a lot more flexible than, say, an ice cream manufacturer or a welding shop. So I believe it’s a mistake to put a box around your business and restrict yourself to being an IT consultant, for example. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But we all like to dream, and as a consultant, you probably have more opportunity than most to make it a reality.
So what do you want? Jane is a technical consultant supplying services to a range of international companies. She works hard, puts in a lot of hours, and travels the world. As a result, it’s been tough for her to switch off and take a break. When I asked her a few years ago if she was satisfied with her work-life balance, she nodded happily. “Adrian, I love being paid to go to interesting places and do what I do,” she said.
Five years later, it was a different story. The traveling and the technical consulting had become stale, and she was easing herself out of that work. Her plan was to develop skills as a mentor to younger staff in certain industry sectors, and she was well on her way to achieving that goal.
The point of Jane’s story is that we all change and need different things out of our work as well as the rest of our lives. Jane made a decision about what she wanted to do and then made the necessary changes to allow her to follow that path. She could have done what so many people do: stay with work that is no longer fulfilling. For consultants, change is part of the overall package, but I know a number of consultants who’ve become stuck in a rut of their own making.
We all know when we aren’t happy, and we all know when we’re bored or unfulfilled. I think the secret is to pre-empt these undesirable states of mind as much as you can by doing some self-analysis. Find a time when you’re not likely to be interrupted, when you’re feeling alert and there isn’t anything pressing on the horizon, like a proposal due out the door by lunchtime. Sit down and ask yourself what you really would like to do, what different directions you’d like to take your business in, what would make you happy. Maybe look through the list of projects you completed last year and identify what you found interesting and what was less so. Perhaps that will steer you toward where you’d like to focus.
When you decide on something that you want to change, do differently, or embark on, you need a plan. How are you going to do it? When are you going to do it? What do you need to change to enable you to do it? You got to have a plan. Good luck!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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