As consultants, we tend to focus a lot of our efforts on revenue generation. Where is our pipeline of work? What work have we won? How billable are our staff? What are our year to date utilisation actuals against our targets? Which clients do we need to ring? These are all very legitimate questions for a consultant to ask and work through. We all need the revenue to pay bills given that we don’t live on love or fresh air.
This had been my focus working in various consulting organisations for over a decade. The realisation that I have had since starting my own consulting business is that this is a fools game. Long hours, lots of churn, plenty of being busy but no notion of truly being productive and building a sustainable consulting business, assets and working it around a lifestyle that you can enjoy.
The alternative that I have been focussed on in the last three years is building a consulting business. That was the subject of another blog I wrote which you can find here. However, what I did not mention was the importance of building assets as a consultant that don’t generate revenue or opportunities once but many times over. This not only allows you to generate passive income from assets, intellectual property or insights you may have but also allows you to do it on your own terms.
This is the direct opposite of revenue generation. Revenue generation is the traditional consulting model of selling time, seeking work that you then do again using a similar approach that you have undertaken previously. It is a model that means the more you work, the more you earn. Lots of energy, lots of time and very little flexibility in terms of when you don’t work, you don’t earn any income. Not sustainable in any shape or form and takes a very short term view.
Building assets is a different approach that yields enormous opportunities over the long term. It does require a little more work in the short term but i believe this investment of time is worth it. Some examples of consulting assets that will bring benefits, passive income and other opportunities include the following:
- Writing a blog or a book. As strange as this sounds, it lasts on the web, book stores or other mediums indefinitely. Not only does it drive traffic to your website and your business but allows you to engage with clients, build a tribe and also educate your clients;
- Documenting your systems and processes. Trained staff, less rework and less dependency on key staff;
- Speaking engagements. Not only can you reuse the content but it again is something you can use for other communication mediums. It also positions you as a trusted advisor to your industries and clients;
- Templating your work after each engagement. This moves you from selling time to selling value. You can then transition to lump sum with high margins and markups which gives you more time and increased profitability;
- Looking at investing in training and development that increases your value as a consultant. More skills leads to more work and more opportunities to help your clients;
- Consideration of putting program’s and services online. Not only can more people access your products and services, you are able to sell to many rather than one on one; and
- Focussed networking that drives strong relationships and future opportunities. This is an important part of building your brand, tribe and following.
I understand that every consultant feels that they have a special and unique offering that sometimes can not be documented or systemised. My argument to this is that it means your dependency on the next piece of work is high as opposed to creating passive income streams through the building of assets.
It also leads to freeing up your most valuable asset as a consultant which is time. Time leads to more opportunities to be creative and empty your cup to do your best work. Now that truly is an asset worth working towards!