Last Updated: Jan 5, 2017
Don’t limit your business’ offerings to only tasks that are within your comfort zone. If you stretch yourself a little, you might find you’ve opened up a whole new market and revenue stream.
I realize this one sounds a bit crazy, but keep reading. I’m not suggesting that anyone go out and create more weaknesses. No, that’s not a way that anyone is going to make a livable wage as a consultant. Nor are you going to win many clients by stating that’s what you are doing.
Here’s what I mean and how to do it.
There are things in this world we are afraid of. Or things in this world we are hesitant to do. There are things in this world we have never even considered doing…like eating uncooked carrots or carrot cake or wanting to have anything to do with carrots. But when you thoroughly look at the numbers on carrots…they are definitely good for you.
I had never considered doing videos. In fact, standing in front of a camera and trying to sound intelligent scared the heck out of me. And for money? No way. But a client asked me to do it, I somehow said “yes,” they paid me to do it, and now I routinely – weekly – do opinion and how-to articles both for my consulting practice and for my clients. I’m starting to get asked to do a lot of speaking engagements. Haven’t done those yet because they involve a lot of traveling which I’m trying to avoid because I have a bazillion kids…but I might do that soon, too.
So, how do we maximize our weaknesses?
Go outside your comfort zone and own it.
My entire consulting practice – at least this second version of it – was built off of one project management article I wrote that another organization stumbled on. They asked me to do more. And that turned into more, and new requests to do other things, and then requests to lead projects, and on and on. All because I went outside my comfort zone and wrote one single article. We have to continually do that in our consulting practices to grow as professionals, stay fresh, stay challenged, and continue to offer things to our potential client base. Always offering just the same things will put you out of business fast.
Consulting 101 Series:
Ask clients what their needs are.
Rather than just come at clients with the same old offerings, ask them what they want or need. It may be very similar to what you’re offering, but just different enough to give you a learning experience while you get paid for it. In the end you’ll have something new to offer the next client. This is how most of my consulting practice offerings have originated.
Embrace unknown technologies.
A client asked me to write a white paper on VDI – virtual desktop interface. I didn’t have any experience with VDI products or implementations, but when you’re offered a large price to do something like that, you fake it till you make it if you’re pretty certain you’re up to the task and can learn along the way. So I did it and it turned out great. Same for when I was leading a project for a client in an industry that my parent company had never touched before. We all learned along the way, but we did it. And now they can offer that project management and development option to others in that challenging industry. It definitely maximizes your weakness in the short term, but opens up new doors quickly and new revenue opportunities as well.
What’s your weakness? It’s the unknown. Embrace it. If the client asks for it, don’t say “no” – say “yes” or “maybe.” Of course, price that first client asking for ‘x’ accordingly, then become an expert at it and charge top dollar if you can. But look at all those strange requests as opportunities, not dead ends.
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Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author of A Real World Project Manager’s Guide to the Successful Project. He has over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at www.bradegeland.com.