What Game Are You Playing?

Clarifying what success means for your consulting practice and career.

Last week I published a series of posts on the differences between freelance consulting, micro consultancies, and lifestyle boutique consultancies. The first objective was to show readers alternative paths to building a profitable consulting business. The final goal, however, was to provoke you to reflect on what kind of game you want to play.

Based on the replies of a couple of partners, I failed to do so - one reader, for example, argued that building a scalable boutique firm was the best choice since it opened the possibility of selling it down the road. That was not my point, so I'll try again from a different angle.

We consultants are used to giving out objective advice to clients and prospects. But most of us don't do a great job doing the same for our own business. What is the number one thing you need to know before any client engagement?

The definition of success.

What would success look like on this? Why am I doing this? How will I know if I'm winning?

And that's why it's useful to understand the pros and cons of different consulting business models and growth phases. Every career and work path is, by itself, a game. Acknowledging the possibility of looking at success from other perspectives makes it easier for you to sit at the right table.

One that the stakes are high enough to be worth playing. One that gives you a high chance to win. And one that, ideally, you enjoy to the point of making it an infinite game: one that you will play for the sole purpose of continuing to play.

It is up to you - and only you - to pick that game. Ignoring this doesn't mean you're above other consultants. It simply means you will end up playing the game that's presented to you.

Tomorrow I'll share some personal thoughts about breaking free from societal standards of success.

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