In poker, there's an important concept called "table selection." The idea is simple: Your success is not just determined by your skills in the game, but also by the table you choose to play at.
You can't earn much if you sit at a table where people bet small. You'll be out very quickly if you sit at a table with players much better than you. To increase your expected financial win, you have to find a table where:
- The stakes are high enough to be worth playing; and
- You have a high chance of winning against the other players.
I absolutely love this idea since we're all choosing which table we play at every day of our lives. This can be applied not only to our consulting business but in almost everything we choose to do.
When you compare the size of your house to someone else's, you're sitting down at the "biggest house" table. When you decide to get active in social media and aim for more likes on your LinkedIn posts, you're sitting down at the "LinkedIn influencer" table. When you start a consulting practice, you're sitting down at whatever table is determined by the type of business you're trying to create.
The table you choose to sit in determines the scope and difficulty of your success.
You have hyper-competitive tables with low risk and low potential levels of success. An example could be competing with freelancers for $100 commoditized tasks (writing articles, doing generic research, providing administrative support). There's not a single consultant who would say this is a good table to sit in.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have tables with high potential levels of success, high risk, and almost no competition. Any hyper-specialized consulting firm would fit here - its narrow positioning allows the firm to dominate its space. But they also must balance the need to continually invest in new expertise and assets while proactively creating demand among their handful of potential clients.
For all of you building, managing, and growing consulting businesses, the table you choose to play at is among the most important decisions you can make.