Let me tell you a quick story that will illustrate the difference …
Martin was 10 months into his consulting business and still found himself staring at his email inbox hoping for good news.
It was a Thursday afternoon. Ping! A new email jumped to the top of Martin’s inbox.
Martin was hoping it was Delta FX, a new prospective client he sent a proposal to. But it was his sister “Please bring a fruit plate for dessert, see you Sunday!”
Martin had checked his email at least 15 times that day, and the day before, and the day before, hoping that Delta FX would sign off and cut him a check that would cover his “nut” for the month.
But it had been over a week…radio silence.
And Martin was starting to squirm. Delta FX was really the only deal in his pipeline that he thought had a good chance of closing. The others were long shots at best.
Martin started to mutter “What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? I told them all about my expertise. They know I used to work at one of the major national manufacturers. Ted Smith even introduced me to them and told them I was the guy to help them!”
But when Martin sent the proposal (that he’d slaved over for DAYS) to Jerry, all he got was “Thanks, we’ll let you know.”
And when the waiting got to much to bear, Martin cracked and fired off a email…
“Jerry, I’m just checking in to see if you had any questions about the proposal?”
Nada. The silence was deafening. And the things is…Martin had heard that silence before. In fact, this was par for the course.
Here’s how it always went down…
Somebody he used to work with would refer him. Martin would send the prospect an email. And another. And another. And another. Maybe they’d eventually write back and say, “Sure, send us a proposal.” Then Martin would send one.
Then...the waiting. And waiting and waiting. Martin could feel himself getting older as he waited every time!
Oh sure, he’d landed a couple of clients. But landing one was almost as bad as NOT landing one!
The workload was almost always WAY more than he anticipated. He never seemed to be on the same page with the client. Never truly saw eye to eye. Scope creep, misunderstandings, duplication of work, disagreements about objectives.
Weren’t there any EASY clients out there? Why did they all have to be such a pain?
Martin was starting to wonder if he should just tuck his tail between his legs and go beg for his old corporate job... “I’m sure Bill Johnson would just LOVE that.” Bill was Martin’s old cubicle mate who had chuckled at Martin when he told him he was starting his own practice.
“Why on earth would you give up a secure job with benefits to go on your own? You’ll crack under the pressure, man. I give it 3 months...tops!”
It would be humiliating to admit Bill was right. But what was he going to do??
If Delta FX didn’t close, he’d have to go back (if they would even take him back!). Or his wife Tiffany would have to take that admin JOB to make ends meet until he could land another client.
And he had no idea how or when that would happen.
That’s Martin’s story.
And I’ve heard variations on that story about 387 times in my career. It’s the story that many consultants end up living. And eventually they quit … or come to accept it as “just the way it is.”
“This is just the life of a consultant, I guess. You work 70 hours a week for ungrateful clients just to pay the bills. And every few months you have to scramble to find more clients.”
Feast or famine. Rollercoaster consulting. Up and down. No consistency. No stability. No security. No joy. No fun.
But there is another story.
Martin’s story does not have to be yours.
Your consulting story can be very different.