The Difference Between A Professional And A Hack

If Turning Pro author Steven Pressfield were whispering in my ear giving advice on two recent projects, I’m pretty sure he’d have said: hire the pro—not the amateur—and never EVER the hack.

We got it half right.

Guy #1: The client needed to hire a “cheap” resource to shoot and edit a quick turn-around, 30-minute talking head interview video. None of my usual local resources was available or within his budget. So he went with an amateur recommended by a pal of his. We knew it could go bad—and he’d need to be closely managed—but the client wanted fast, local and cheap and pulled the trigger. Continue reading

Being The Right Amount Of Social

Getting social media right for your business is a bit like driving a stick shift—you have to find the right balance of clutch and gas or you’ll stall out.

That balance is different for every car—a Prius doesn’t handle like a Ferrari—and every business.

The key to being the right amount of social for you—not too much and not too little—is to be unfailingly strategic in your choices. Continue reading

Your Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be A Life Sentence

Your brand is the promise—implied and explicit—you make to your ideal clients and buyers.

It’s the essential truth of your firm, your services and products and, well, you.

It’s the emotional tug to your sweet-spot audience that creates evangelists to your big idea.

Marketing is digging for your clients and buyers and letting them know you exist. Continue reading

How To Delight Clients By Being Different

Unless you were the star athlete or prom queen, being “different” in high school was challenging at best.

Your peers liked conformity—you were expected to follow the unwritten rules of their time and place. So if you were the nerd, the intellect with their head always in a book, the artist with the flamboyant, homemade outfits—you were different.

The lucky ones found their high school tribe and learned how to recognize kindred spirits when they went out into the world. Continue reading

Why I Stopped Asking For Referrals. Should You?

When I first moved to Los Angeles, you could count all my local contacts on both hands and still have plenty of fingers left over.

So I joined a networking group chock-full of potential referral sources and made a conscious decision to devote a day a week to building alliances.

For the first time in my professional life, I started asking for referrals from non-clients. Continue reading

How To Grow Your Consulting Practice Consistently

Dealing with the crazy-urgent—client emergencies, project deadlines, a last-minute media request—is easy for most entrepreneurial consultants and advisors.

We’re hard-wired to deal with the immediate and often take great pride in our ability to manage amidst chaos.

But focusing on the daily spadework of building a vibrant practice and business? Not so much. Continue reading

Getting Your Brilliance Used

It’s one thing to feel brilliant. To master your craft and build seemingly endless wisdom to offer your ideal clients.

It’s another thing to actually get your brilliance used.

To have a steady stream of clients, readers, buyers (take your pick) who not only absorb your advice, but also weave it into their own work, creating new strengths and building their own successes. Continue reading

Have You Lost Your Way?

Losing your way when you’re running a business based on ideas—air, really—is easier than we’d like to think. It’s happened to clients, it’s happened to me and I’m willing to bet it’s happened to you.

You take on a client for all sorts of made-sense-at-the-time reasons, but your work together takes you down a slippery slope.

You tweak your sales and marketing messages over and over again, losing your voice and, well, you, in the process. Continue reading

Running Your Business vs The Other Way Around

Growing up as I did in a giant consulting firm, you learn one constant: the client work ALWAYS comes first. (And of course its corollary—billable time/selling billable time trumps anything else you might deliver.)

You could get out of any internal meeting, anytime, anywhere with a cheery wave and an “I’m off to see __________” (insert the name of your client-du-jour).

Ditto internal projects, no matter their ultimate importance to the firm. The partners who didn’t want to be bothered could use a steady stream of client excuses for their failure to deliver on their non-client promises. Continue reading

Picking The Right Business Model

One of the first questions I ask new clients is about their business model: how do you make money right now?

Answers run the gamut—services, products, books, speaking, retainers, project fees, hourly/daily rates, leveraged services by team members.

But it’s the rare consultant who is 100% happy with their business model as it stands today. Continue reading