A Tool, Not A Crutch

How do you look at your consulting business?

One book that's on my to-read list is "The Narrow Road", by Felix Dennis.

Dennis made his fortune in the publishing industry and was known in the UK for speaking his mind freely - he openly talked about the highs and lows of his relationship with money, including both drug addiction and his philanthropic initiatives. Here's a quote from it I received from a friend:

"You’re an entrepreneur. Your companies are not your “babies,” they are tools for acquiring wealth."

This idea can be incredibly difficult for consultants to internalize, especially solo advisors or partners from smaller boutique firms.

We personally lead the consulting practice, sell expertise that has been cultivated over time, and put an unreasonable amount of time and energy into running the firm. I wrote about inseparability a couple of weeks ago: Your offerings and how you deliver them are one of the same, at least on your client's minds.

So your consulting business, instead of a tool, becomes an extension of your identity. But that is neither healthy nor sustainable.

When the business is doing well, you feel confident and great about yourself. When the business is going through a rough phase, you start doubting your abilities and get pulled towards a negative mindset spiral. If that happens, your consulting practice has merged with your identity.

The most successful and inspiring partners I know view their consulting business as what it really is: a collection of systems. When a problem or challenge pops up, they ask themselves "What is wrong with the system?" instead of "What is wrong with me?"

As Sam Carpenter said,

"I recognize that problems are gifts that inspire me to action. A problem prompts the act of creating or improving a system or procedure. When one occurs, I think, “Thank you for this wake-up call,” and take system-improvement action to prevent the setback from happening again."

If you're constantly seeing business problems as a personal failure, take some time to recalibrate. Your business is nothing more than a tool that creates, delivers, and captures value.

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