Normally my posting are about how you can improve your business. Today is different. I am going to talk about how I improved mine.
I wish I could say that I discovered the latest widget that was going to change the world, but I didn’t. My discovery was simply a new business model.
Let’s start with a little history. My first consulting experience began when I was in college. I designed warehouses for Fortune 500 companies. It was enough to infect me with the consulting bug and I have never been the same since.
After graduation, I moved to NYC to work with, you guessed it, another consulting firm. Before starting Wilson & Ellis Consulting, I took a few years off from the consulting world to take a position as Chief Operating Officer for a home furnishings catalog.
During my tenure as an executive, I learned that you can accomplish more from within than without.
There are some basic rules in the consulting world. If you follow them, you may be successful. (There is never a guarantee.) In most cases, they are the same rules that work in all businesses.
- Market your business by building brand awareness with your prospects. This usually translates into speaking at conferences, writing articles, and networking.
- Build your client base with good companies. Establish and maintain solid relationships.
- Repeat as needed.
I followed the traditional rules and built a good business. Unfortunately, my success didn’t allow for some things vital to my personal life. Specifically, I wanted to spend more time with my family and less time traveling. Growing my company and having time at home was a major conflict.
It remained that way until I changed my business model. When I stopped looking at the rules and started looking at how I could help people grow their businesses without spending all my time on the road, I made a discovery. I could help more people in less time if I taught them how to do it themselves.
That view conflicts with most things I have learned and practiced as a consultant. But, it agrees with everything I know to be true. Such as:
- The best growth comes from within the organization. Nothing can compete with a corporate team working together for the good of all.
- Consultants are outsiders who have a different perspective. Sometimes they miss the big picture because the insiders fail to share all information.
- Companies that never look outside their walls for inspiration implode.
- It is good to shake things up, even when you are a conservative consultant.
- Sometimes, when the need is there, the best solution is traditional consulting.
The discovery changed how we do business with our clients. A few still follow the traditional consulting approach because it makes sense for their organization. Most are investing their resources in learning how to improve their business. It is cost effective for them and freeing for us. We get to spend more time doing and less time traveling.
Technological tools help with the process, but the key to the transition was to stop doing and start thinking. It is a work in progress that I hope is never complete. Who knows how much we can grow by teaching other companies how to grow their business?
Now think about your business. Who knows how much you can grow if you change how your business operates? Take some time over the next couple of weeks to review your business model. Does it still make sense? Are you utilizing all of the tools available to improve your service to your customers? Do your services and products match your customers’ needs and expectations?
The future is bright if you look out the right lens. Start your strategic planning now.