I was talking to a consultant friend the other day who felt like she was failing, because she was changing her business model to provide a different kind of service than she originally intended. She seemed disappointed in herself that she couldn’t make the first thing work.
I tried to reassure her that her experience was perfectly natural, and actually very savvy, because it meant she was being more responsive to what her customers really wanted. She was simply pivoting to something more meaningful and relevant to her customers, even if it was their idea and not hers!
It made me think about all the different kinds of consulting I have done over the past 17 or so years that I have been fully self-employed.
I started out doing the tactical work for clients. I was a copywriter and editor, and then I added on some simple graphic design too, eventually adding simple website development as well. I was learning and adding communications skills as the clients asked for them (this was when many things like email marketing and websites and blogs were new-fangled).
Strategy and Tactics
Soon clients realized they couldn’t answer the questions I was asking them as I tried to do the tactical work (like who is the communications piece for exactly?) Next thing I knew, I was developing those strategies and then implementing them. I became de facto staff for a few clients.
Eventually, I got really tired of the tactical work and stopped doing it. I only developed strategies for awhile.
Strategy with a Side of Tactical Training
But the clients didn’t know how to implement the strategies, so I added some staff training on to my packages, so they would know what to do.
Strategy with a Side of Tactical Training and Coaching
The reality is that communications skills are developed over time, so with many clients, I now help develop the strategy, give them a little training, and then spend a fair amount of time coaching staff through implementation so they can really learn as they go. They come to me to help work through the inevitable strategy course corrections over time and to double check that the tactical work is up to par.
How has your consulting work changed over time? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!
P.S. Just one week left to get the early bird rate for the next session of the Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program!