No matter what you read, who you listen to, what actions you take, or how skilled you are, the chances are you or your company will fall off a cliff. Of course it shouldn’t happen—we all know that. It’s like saying you shouldn’t get into debt or you shouldn’t have had that seventh jager bomb. Stuff happens for whatever reason, and before you know it, you’ve committed the ultimate consulting sin of falling off a cliff.
Falling off a cliff doesn’t have an official definition, I don’t think. It means finishing all the paid work you had and then having nothing. It’s an easier trap to fall into if your consulting company is small —and particularly if small means just you.
So a typical scenario looks like this: You’re really busy with that big project you sold—you know, the ones with the tight deadlines. Suddenly you find it takes up all your time, and you’re not devoting any effort to getting more work in the door. So surprise, surprise, the big project finishes, and you have no more work and no prospects. Or perhaps you did have something lined up, but that client has delayed the start for three months—or canceled it.
You were on the green grass up top, and now you’re on the beach, looking up, and the tide is coming in. Well, join the club. Most of us have been there.
The first thing to do is not panic or beat yourself up mentally. Take solace in the fact that most of us have been there. It’s not the end of the world; it’s just that temporarily you don’t have any work. If you have just come off a very busy period of work, presumably the fees from that will keep the tide back for a while. So this may be a blessing in disguise. For once you have time to think about your business, plan, strategy—that sort of stuff.
The second thing to do is try to get some more work in the door. Note the emphasis on the word temporarily in the paragraph above. Just because you have a blip in your workload doesn’t mean that’s how things will remain. You got projects before; you’ll get them again. And with the extra time you now have, you can go about that in a structured, logical way, which will increase your likelihood of success.
Finally, don’t throw away your principles or values. Don’t accept a contract with a lower value than you would normally, simply because you have no work at this point. In my experience, that will only hurt you in the long-run by diminishing your value. You know what you’re worth, and this cliff in front of you doesn’t change that.
Okay, I’ll stop preaching.
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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