A key component to success in consulting is deeply embedded confidence — in your expertise, but even more so, in your belief in your personal value. You must be unshakable by the behavior of your prospects and clients, by rejection or the “non-answer” to a proposal, and to the “freefall” of never being sure from where or when your next revenue will arrive.
That’s a lot of confidence.
But this confidence must go further: it must extend to the development of your personal power, and the natural authority that shines through from that personal power.
Of course, you don’t have to have this all together in the beginning of your practice, or even after you are successful. Most people have “noise” in their heads (that says “Nobody will pay me that!” or “Can I really deliver what I promised?”), but that noise can be trained out of you, or at least quietened enough that you recognize it as a wee voice in the corner that doesn’t mean much anymore.
So you should have the core attributes, and let your experience in the world hone that core confidence into real power over the years.
There are several reasons this deep-seated confidence is necessary for successful consulting.
- Without it, the rise and fall of your revenue will make you so nervous you will make bad choices (e.g., take any gig, even one with no margin, to re-assure yourself of gross revenue, when you should be focusing on your profitability).
- Without it, you cannot be a “contender” in the competition for work. The more powerful competitors will take your prospective gigs from you.
- With this confidence, you will be able to “work a room” filled with strangers, sort quickly and identify your top prospective clients, and deliver your simple but compelling value proposition to them.
- With this confidence, your prospects will become clients because they want to be near you, want to share in the shine of your power and success, no matter what results you may also offer them. Prospects like winners, and you need to seem like a winner to win the work (even if you are broke). I call this the prospects “wanting to ride on your magic carpet” to their own success.
- With this confidence, you will be able to simply state your value-pricing (not your wages or your time & materials) and terms for upfront payment schedules, and not move from that serious price and terms. And you will win the price for your value, because you can assert it, and because it is the price of the magic carpet ride.
- And, when working, and the client pushes the project beyond your agreed scope of work (“scope creep” this is called), you can control your work and your deliverables without succumbing to the scope creep, and protect your profit margins. Of course you can do more work for the client, as long as there are additional fees to cover the new scope.
So, it is confidence, but it is so much more than confidence. It is the personal power that respects the value of your expertise to the client, and the value of your self.
This article is one of a series on the 12 characteristics that are required to succeed as an independent consultant, based on my work with experts optimizing their consultancies. Here is the link to the entire series.