Once you go independent and experience some level of predictable lead flow in your consulting business, the next most common challenge you will face is scale.
Mastering scale in your consultancy is the key to leverage, lifestyle, impact and going beyond seven-figures.
But accelerating towards scale, without having the right systems in place to handle the new volume, is surefire way to compromise results, miss deadlines and worst of all: reach personal burnout that may cost you more than time or money.
Which is why, in this article, I’ll share some of what we’ve learned helping consultants know when to hire and when to automate — to create a consultancy that doesn’t require them to sacrifice their health or lifestyle for results.
Here’s our 4 lessons on how to know when to hire and when to automate:
Lesson #1: Knowing when it’s time to make a change
Let me know if this sounds familiar…
You spend your time getting referrals, taking sales calls, going to meetings, making presentations and following-up to close new clients.
As the person with the expertise, it makes sense for you to do these things, because you can explain the process and results best to potential new clients.
But, while you’re managing new client acquisition, you also need to do the work to get results for the clients you already have.
So, you focus on fulfillment and sales decline. Then, you focus on sales, but start missing deadlines. You begin to sleep less, feel less present with those around you — and if you are lucky you will realize before it’s too late that you’re burning the candle on both ends.
You realize you can’t afford to be out of commission, because if you stop, the whole business stops.
So, you have to make a decision, but no matter where you focus either sales or results suffer.
This is the moment.
When you compromise on client results no matter what choice you make, it is time to make a change.
The first change you may make is to introduce new talent to your business, but this comes with its own set of challenges.
Lesson #2: When hiring is premature
If you hire out what can (and should be) be automated, you run the risk elevating your overhead beyond what is sustainable and allowing for too much human error, too early into your business.
On average, nearly half of your new employees will end up not being a good fit for your organization or not produce results. And between the time spent on-boarding, and off-boarding them, you will lose a lot of focus that should be spent on getting your clients results.
Which is why the reality is: more businesses fail from over-hiring than over-automating.
In talking to hundreds of consultants about their businesses, the most common complaint we hear is that, “It is hard to find good people.” And it’s true, good people probably already have jobs at organizations that spend a lot to retain them.
But assuming you do manage to find good talent, you will need to interview them. Which takes time away from selling and fulfilling. Then, assuming they are a good fit you need to hire and onboard them.
This becomes weeks of training, checking their work, and inevitably trusting they can represent you and your business as well as you can to new and existing clients. And now, you have company culture, incentive structures, and motivation to worry about.
Needless to say, this introduces a whole new level of human error and complexity to the business, which you simply aren’t ready for yet.
And the fundamental truth remains that as the expert of the business there are some things that you cannot hire out.
If you do, you risk subpar results for your clients, especially if you haven’t automated everything you can yet.
When you automate what can be automated, you take all the space out of the equation and free up the focus for your high-performers to do what they do best: get results.
This is doubly true, when you take into account Parkinson’s Law, which states that“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
So, while hiring good people in your business could be crucial later on, you’ll need the time and focus to pull it off right and give yourself and the people in your business the time they need to thrive.
For now, your time is limited and you need to invest it where it will have the most immediate and long-term impact to take some of the load off yourself, which is why…
Lesson #3: Your time is best spent making systems
There are two pillars that essentially form the foundation of your consulting business: your ability to acquire clients and your ability to get clients results.
And you may not realize it, but many of the tasks that drive these results can be fully-automated (or at least exponentially leverage your own time).
Here’s a short list of things that you can learn to automate:
- Leveraged media buying and digital advertising
- Email capture, tagging and segmentation
- Content delivery
- Lead qualifying and prospecting
- Sales call scheduling
- Sales cycles management
- Payment processing
- Tracking, conversion attribution and reporting
When each of these elements is properly automated, using systems created with the right guidance, they result in predictability.
Predictably acquiring new clients.
Predictably providing new clients results.
As the person with the expertise, you know best what will drive the result for your clients and provide them the best experience. Therefore, you need to be the person to build the systems.
You may think it’s better to outsource this to an agency, but the truth is when these systems are set up right once, they will work forever.
And thanks to the evolution of technology, the learning curve is far more kind than it used to be.
So, time taken to automate one process now, reduces the time it will take to fulfill your next client and shortens both your sales and fulfillment cycles.
Until eventually, the whole process from start to completion is fully-automated (or close enough to not matter).
Which will allow you and your high-performing team, if you want one, to thrive.
When all the repetitive tasks in your business are automated, and even drive a better experience for your clients when immediately fulfilled, you will see clearly that there are certain tasks that benefit from more human touch.
Your business will grow, in proportion to the amount of presence and focus you and your employees are able to give.
Lesson #4: Automation makes your business fundamentally, more human.
Automation often gets a bad reputation because many consultants assume that adding too much automation will remove the intimacy from your business. They think that technology removes the human element from the equation.
That by expediting the repetitive tasks it will feel less personal, less human.
But the reality is: automating necessary tasks will dramatically decrease the wasted time in your business and stress on you.
It will help you create the ultimate first-impression with new clients and the best client experience for your existing ones.
And in the end, free you and your team from menial tasks.
So, that when you are with your clients, you are able to be more present with them. More able to hear their concerns, empathize with their situation, and create a solution with them.
Resulting in a fundamentally more human, business.
By empowering people to better serve people, which is what this has always been about.
Colton is the founder of Apex Consultant, where he teaches consultants how to harness predictable client acquisition, scale and authority to hit the Apex in their niche and create consulting businesses they enjoy.
To learn more, watch our presentation at: http://apexconsultantmethod.com/truth-about-consulting
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