Everywhere you look there are gurus, coaches, and course creators who claim they can help you become a successful consultant.
And that’s a great thing. The consulting market is growing.
The pie is getting bigger and bigger — and everyone can have a piece.
However, we’ve noticed some of these gurus are peddling myths.
As tempting as these myths might sound, they are dangerous and can lead you down a treacherous path.
In this article, I’ll debunk some of these consulting myths.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a greater understanding of the entrepreneurial consulting marketplace and be able to figure out who understands the business of consulting versus those who are looking to just make a profit.
NOTE: Make no mistake, there are more than 1 ways to consult. Ours isn’t the only way.
With over 20 years of experience in consulting and coaching consultants, we have our unique way of consulting and teaching others how to consult.
If you’d like to learn more about our story and values, check out our story video below.
Now, let’s bust these consulting myths.
Myth 1. “Anyone Can Become A Consultant”
Anyone can call themselves a consultant.
But not anyone can instantly become a successful consultant.
Because consulting is based on your ability to create results, solve problems, and add value for organizations.
If you can do that, then you can start a consulting business around that.
But you need a skill where you can confidently go out and create results for your clients.
If you lack that ability, people won’t begin hiring you just because you call yourself a consultant.
Before you become a consultant, make sure that you are working on your skills and expertise.
If you’re looking for more examples, check out our consulting case studies or our post on the 21 types of consulting.
The bottom line is this: learn to create results first and then become a consultant.
It’s much easier to run a successful consulting business when you have a skill that clients will pay you for. Even better if you’re an expert at that skill.
You’ll still have to learn marketing, sales, and a whole host of other activities.
But, you’ll have a solid foundation to build on.
Myth 2. “Consultants Are Not Business Owners”
Starting and running a consulting business is not like working for a big consulting firm.
At a big consulting firm, you are given projects to complete.
When you run a consulting firm, you aren’t given projects to complete.
You have to go out and WIN these projects.
And according to our 2021 How To Become A Consultant Study, these are among the biggest challenges that consultants face.
This is why it’s critical to adopt the mindset of a consulting business owner — or what we like to call it, the entrepreneurial consultant.
If you don’t want to go out and win projects, then you might be better off working as a consultant for a company or as a contractor. You won’t have to worry about marketing, sales, pricing, etc.
You can simply show up, do the work, and call it a day.
But if you want to build a 6 or 7-figure consulting practice, you can’t operate like your typical employed consultant. You’ll have more on your plate.
There will be much more work involved and you’ll have to wear many hats, but the rewards are far greater.
For example, Husain Shekhani wanted to make the leap to a full-time consultant. However, he lacked the confidence to step out on his own.
Without a clear marketing strategy, he knew that he’d fall flat on his face if he quit his job to start a consulting business.
He joined our Clarity Coaching program where we helped him grow from contractor to consulting business owner; he left his full-time job, became fully independent, and his former employer became one of his first clients.
Going from consultant to consulting business owner can be a big step. But with the right mindset, strategies, and tactics — and the willingness to take action — you can grow into an entrepreneurial consultant.
Myth 3. “You Can Be A Generalist Consultant”
As a consultant, you can’t do everything for everyone.
You must be specific about what you do, who you do it for, and why they should choose you.
(We call this Magnetic Messaging in our Clarity Coaching Program)
That said, there are some successful generalist consultants, but they are few and far between.
Most consultants need to specialize to stand out in the marketplace.
For example, let’s say you provide strategy consulting services.
On your website, you write “Strategy Consultant,” and you write that you help companies with strategic planning.
Claiming that you help “companies” is too vague. You haven’t come up with an ideal client profile.
You realize that most of your clients are pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. Those are your best clients.
So, you change your messaging to reflect that.
“Strategy consultant who helps US-based pharmaceutical companies with strategic planning.”
Notice how much more specific and clear that message is?
You can imagine that if a pharmaceutical executive read that message, they would be intrigued.
Later on, you can add new products, services, and even new industry verticals.
But in the early days, it pays to be a specialist.
Myth 4. “Never Show Your Personal Side”
Earlier in my career, when I was building up a consulting business in Japan, I was hyper-focused on looking professional.
I felt like I couldn’t show any weakness.
Sharing any of my challenges? Forget about it.
But over the course of starting and growing Consulting Success, I’ve learned about the power of vulnerability.
And over time, I’ve become more and more comfortable by being open and vulnerable in the business.
In the words of Perry Marshall:
“Tell your community what makes you tick. Tell them about your ups and downs. Tell them where you came from, where you’re at, and why you do what you do…”
It was challenging for Sam and I to drop the professional facade and truly be vulnerable.
But it’s been one of the best things we’ve done in our business.
And every consultant business owner I’ve spoken to who’s had the courage to be vulnerable and share their story says the same thing.
Share your stories, challenges, and issues.
Don’t think that just because you’re a consultant means you need to look and feel corporate 24/7.
Consulting is about people, and people are attracted to authenticity.
You might lose a few bad-fit clients as a result.
But you’ll gain far more when you put your true self out there.
Myth 5. “Consulting Businesses Are Easy”
Similar to myth # 1: anyone can become a consultant, but it takes a lot of work to become a successful, high 6 or 7-figure consultant.
You have to know the right things: the correct strategies, and the best tactics to support those strategies.
You also need the right mindset of being willing to take imperfect action and seeking out constant ways to grow and improve.
It can be fairly simple when you have the right principles and foundation. But putting all of that together is the hard part.
It’s much faster to traverse the beaten path rather than trying to figure it out yourself.
No business is easy.
But we like consulting businesses in particular because they are high margin, highly customizable, and you can make a great living with your knowledge and experience.
Myth 6. “You Need To Be On Social Media”
We’ve coached many consultants who aren’t on social media. They are very successful.
And some don’t even have a LinkedIn profile.
All they have is an email address and a phone.
The most important thing is that you’re able to get in touch with potential and current clients.
A consulting website makes for another powerful tool — but even that is not 100% required.
In terms of order of importance, here’s how I’d list them:
- LinkedIn Profile
- Consulting Website
- Other social platforms
Personally, I’m not much of a social media guy.
I’d much rather be spending time working on books, giving presentations, and speaking with clients directly.
That being said, certain social media sites can be useful to your consulting business.
If your potential clients are on them — and you’re willing to be active on them by sharing helpful content — then they can help you generate new business.
But posting on social media is only one of many marketing tactics.
You can also do…
Marketing is all about getting in front of your ideal clients.
If social media can help you do that, great. If not, use other avenues.
But you don’t *need* to be on social media if you don’t want to.
Myth 7. “If You Want To Get Paid More, Work More”
This might be true if you’re a consultant working at a big firm.
But if you run your own consulting business, you get to decide your fees and how you’ll charge for your offers.
That means you can charge higher rates.
You can even earn more while working less using different business models and pricing strategies.
Take the productized consulting model for example.
With the productized consulting model, you turn your custom offers into a process: a series of predefined steps with little or no customization. This allows you to deliver your services with far greater efficiency, and as a result, many consultants do well with the productized consulting model.
Another example is value-based pricing.
With value-based pricing, you charge based on the value you create instead of hours or deliverables.
If you can get your client a result quickly, you can get paid quickly — and get paid more if you’re creating favorable outcomes for their organization.
I once helped a Clarity Coaching client go from charging $60K to $250K for the same project by using value-based pricing.
I showed her to think about the ROI she would create for the client, which was far greater than what she initially thought.
Just this change in perspective — and the confidence to charge for it — helped her to increase her consulting fees by over 400%.
As a consultant business owner, there are countless ways to be creative with your pricing, your business model, and your offers.
And there are many ways to earn more without increasing how much time you spend working.
Myth 8. “More Leads = More Success”
More leads aren’t always the answer to your marketing problems.
It’s also about the quality of your leads.
And if you’re given a list of potential clients, can you actually convert them?
I’ve written about this before in this post: Don’t Focus on Leads For Your Consulting Business (Until You’ve Done This).
In short, there are 5 steps to do before you move on to lead generation:
- Identify your ideal client.
- Write your magnetic messaging.
- Create your strategic offer.
- Prepare for meaningful sales conversations.
- Map out your proposal process.
Once you’ve done these 5 (your foundations), then you’re ready for lead generation.
If you do these steps first, you’ll find much higher quality leads — and they’ll be easier to close.
More leads = more success — but only once you’ve dialed in your foundations first.
Otherwise, you’re pouring gasoline over an empty flame.
Myth 9. “If You Want To Succeed, You’ll Have To Sacrifice Time With Family & Friends”
I’ve spoken with many consultants who’ve reached a high level of success.
But they spend a lot of their time locked up in their office, working 60-80+ hour weeks.
They say they’re doing it for their kids and their family.
That they need more and more money.
Spending time away from your family to work is far from the only way to provide for them.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard on your business.
But the entire point of building your own consulting business is so that you can create the right balance.
Nobody looks back on their life and wishes they spent more time working.
They wish they spent more time with their family, friends, and loved ones.
Remember that whenever you hear a guru telling you that you have to hustle 24/7, never take vacations, or skip out on meeting with friends.
Building a successful business isn’t just about creating a “successful business.”
It’s about creating a lifestyle that gives you the freedom (and time) to do what you want (by yourself or with loved ones) while making a positive and valuable impact on your clients, customers, and community.
Myth 10. “You Can Do It All Alone”
Sure, you can do your project work all on your own.
But if you want to build a business where you can truly scale your revenue and make a bigger impact, you’ll need to build a team.
You can’t do everything by yourself.
And if you are, that means you’re likely working on lower-value tasks.
For example, you’re spending your time on administrative-level tasks when you could be working on bringing in more business.
If you want to work at a peak level of performance where you’re working within your “zone of genius,” you’ll need to learn to delegate.
At Consulting Success®, we call this strategic growth.
Through strategic growth, you can grow without overwhelm — which means you can grow without overextending yourself.
After coaching consultants for over decades, I’ve never met a single one who regretted building a team.
Even if it just meant hiring a personal assistant, all of them say the same thing:
“I wish I had done this sooner.”
If you’re feeling stuck, overworked, or overwhelmed in your consulting business, that might be a sign that you’re trying to do too much on your own.
That’s when it’s time to start building your team.
Get Our Help Building A Successful Consulting Business
The best — and worst — thing about consulting is the low barrier to entry.
Anyone can call themselves a consultant.
But it’s the consultants who can create true results for their clients — and learn business development (marketing, sales, pricing, etc) — who are the ones who reach success.
Now, ask yourself: what type of consultant do you want to be?
If you want help becoming a successful consultant, reach out to our team.
We’ve coached hundreds of other consultants to do the same.