Multiply and protect your income streams by expanding your skills, expertise, and presence in the consulting world.
Dorie Clark has transformed herself from a grad school reject to an expert in her field. She is a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. The New York Times described her as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” Dorie is the author of several popular business books — Entrepreneurial You, a guidebook about how you can make money doing what you love, Reinventing You, a book on professional reinvention, and Stand Out, how to become a recognized expert in your field. She is also a part-time professor at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Dorie is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and talented professionals get their true talents noticed, appreciated, and recognized, in today’s noisy marketplace. Dorie currently splits her time between teaching, consulting, and writing. On this episode of Consulting Success Podcast, you’ll learn how that diversification has both preserved and enhanced her career, and ways that you can use her examples to find success as you are growing your consulting business.
Diversify Your Career for Greater Success
11 years ago, Dorie Clark was focused on one job — helping companies with their marketing strategies and social media presence. Although that was a good job, over time she realized that by not being more diversified with her work, she was exposing herself to a lot of market risk. Situations may changes, budgets can be cut, and even if, as an entrepreneur, you are doing the same thing for all of your clients, it can become somewhat perilous. Dorie currently has seven different income streams — consulting, executive coaching, teaching, writing, professional speaking, online classes, and affiliate marketing. Having these multiple income streams can both leverage the work that you do, and also de-risk the work that you do.
From Theologian to Entrepreneur
Dorie has never worked in the corporate world, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her way around some of the country’s top businesses. As a philosophy major in college, she simply learned by doing. After earning a Master’s of Theology, and subsequently getting turned down by all of the doctoral programs she applied to, Dorie had no choice but to reinvented herself. That was when her first book, Reinventing Yourself, was born. Working as a political journalist led to working on political campaigns, which failed when her candidates lost their elections. From there, Dorie worked for a nonprofit in Boston for two years, where she learned how to run a business resourcefully. That opportunity gave her the training on the job that she needed to successfully go out and start her own business, where she is thriving today. As you listen to Dorie’s story, you’ll realize that even if the road to success has several detours along the way, it can still take you right to where you are supposed to be.
The Mindset that Overcomes Challenges
From getting rejected from graduate school to losing elections, Dorie has encountered plenty of detours on her road toward success. You’ll want to listen as she shares the mindset that helped her overcome these multiple setbacks — starting with her basic need to support herself. One of the critical steps that she took on this path was obtaining freelance journaling work. This work taught her how to quickly hone in on what services and skills create valuable for your customers. Dorie was able to apply this skill to her consulting work — she understands that entrepreneurs are always trying to get inside the head of their customers to figure out what it takes to get them to part with their money in a way that creates value for them. This pitstop on her road to success proved that the skills she was learning in the early years of her career would have a direct impact on her ability to win clients later on. Utilizing this mindset to turn your failures into learning opportunities can have the same impact on your career as it had on hers.
Develop Your Marketing Approach as Your Business Grows
As you are growing your business, the most important thing you have to focus on, is securing clients. At this time, your business may be over weighted with sales activity, but this effort is essential to later success. The early work that you put into sales will buy you more time later to focus on marketing. On the other hand, the time you spend on marketing may not buy you a dividend today, but the dividends will come in the next week, month or year. This is the position you want to put your business in. The more dividends you can obtain, the higher plateau your business can reach. Shifting your ratios toward marketing, and away from sales, will help you achieve a greater long-term benefit. You’ll want to be sure to hear how Dorie spends her time today. She is no longer required to chase after work, but has positioned herself toward marketing, which now brings clients knocking on her door.
High-Pressure Sales Never Pays Off
Every consultant and entrepreneur knows that focusing on sales can be somewhat — or very — uncomfortable. You have to get yourself in the right mindset to be successful at sales, but that does not mean defaulting to high-pressure sales tactics. Any business relationship that is founded on high-pressure sales is not going to last very long. Although your clients may submit to these tactics, they are going to resent them and eventually look for a way to escape their commitment to working with you. A greater way that you will find success in your sales approaches is to give your clients several options. When you are asking for business or for referrals, keep your approach low key and give your clients choices. Dorie shares some of the phrases and approaches that she uses to keep her sales tactics low key. Listen to find out how her clients respond, and you’ll be convinced that this approach will work for you too.
Launch Your Business with Cash in Hand
As someone who has successfully started her own business, Dorie recommends that you start with a minimum six month’s cash reserve. Although she was able to secure her first client after only two months, it can take time to get contracts signed and to get the work going strong. By having up to a year’s cash supply, you can buy yourself some time to get your first clients lined up, and over time you will be able to select the clients that you are willing to do business with.
Your Timeline to Success Starts with Your Network
Your network will always be one of your greatest keys to success, no matter what stage your business is in. People who know you are going to be the ones that are willing to do business with you. Even if they haven’t done a particular kind of work with you before, you will find that those that are willing to take a chance on you are the ones that have a prior connection to you. Your network will always be working for you, so it is essential that you continue to reach out to those in your network. That is always going to be a crucial element to your success.
Becoming a published author can contribute immensely to your credibility and success. Prior to writing books, Dorie’s speaking arrangements were not a viable source of income. By publishing books, she found greater credibility and proved herself as more of an expert in her field. Although having a reputable publisher did increase the legitimacy of her work, the bulk of the work required to market her books was her responsibility. Publishers will never create the success of a book for you. You have to be willing to get out there and market your book for yourself. To promote her book Reinventing You, in 2015, Dorie gave 160 podcast interviews and traveled around the country to deliver 74 speeches. That kind of dedication to marketing your book is going to guarantee an increase in its success.
Taking Care of Yourself while Taking Care of Business
Don’t compromise on the things that matter most — for Dorie that means never giving up sleep. seven or eight hours a night is essential to writing well, speaking well, and simply being in a good mood. However, there will be times when you have to double down and focus on your work. There will only be a limited amount of time when people want to hear about your newly released book, and you have to capitalize on that window of time. That may mean shifting your priorities temporarily, but when that time comes to a close, you will have to again reexamine your efforts and rededicate yourself to maintaining a healthy personal life. This kind of work-life balance has been a critical component to Dorie’s success, and you will find that implementing her advice in your life will add to your success, too.
Staying Focused and Productive
You may be feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of simply going out and getting new clients. When comparing yourself to the multi-faceted workload of someone like Dorie, who is teaching, writing, speaking, and more, you may be wondering if there might be more that you can be doing to gain success in your consulting business. Dorie shares several tips on how she stays focused, organized, and committed to her high levels of performance.
One of her secrets for success is Paul Graham’s essay entitled “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.” You’ll definitely want to read it, as it highlights the differences between a typical day of a manager and a maker. A manager’s main job is simply to check tasks off a to-do list in order to keep work moving forward. A maker, or creator of business, on the other hand is faced with the task of creating and accomplishing bigger, longer term projects. Makers need to utilize the time they spend as managers in order to get into the productive state. Maker tasks require more time and substance, and Dorie shares how dedicating certain days of her calendar to these “deeper dives” has increased her productivity and success. It may seem counterintuitive to take time away from the daily business of work, but you’ll be convinced to commit to these creative days once you hear how well it works for Dorie.
Resources from Dorie Clark
On dorieclark.com you can find a host of resources to help you with growing and developing your businesses. She has made available more than 400 free articles for entrepreneurs and professionals that are looking for ways to stand out and get noticed in this busy business world. There is also a free 42-page ‘Stand Out’ self assessment to help hone in on your breakthrough ideas, and to best spread that idea into a successful one. Be sure to take advantage of these resources on her website to help you find the greatest consulting success.
[:12] Introduction of Dorie and why she diversifies her work.
[3:02] Dorie’s path to entrepreneurship started with rejection.
[5:33] How to keep going when you want to give up.
[8:30] Why your marketing approach needs to change as your business develops.
[11:46] Low pressure sales won’t make you uncomfortable, but they will give you success.
[13:59] Dorie’s timeline to success was sped up by tapping into her network.
[15:45] The role that authoring books has had in Dorie’s success.
[19:10] Work life balance starts with a good night’s sleep.
[22:04] Tips for staying focused and productive.
[26:42] How you can connect with Dorie Clark.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, by Dorie Clark
Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, by Dorie Clark
Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive, by Dorie Clark
“Manager’s Schedule vs. Maker’s Schedule,” an essay by Paul Graham
Tweetables:“If you are not diversified, you have a lot of market risk.” — Dorie Clark
“Any business relationship that is founded on high-pressure sales tactics is not going to last very long.” — Dorie Clark
“The people that are willing to take a chance on you are those that have some prior connection.” — Dorie Clark