Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

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Topic: Identify the Problem

Once you have identified your target clients, ask yourself, “What problems will my clients be happy to pay me to solve?” Identify problems that are pervasive, urgent, expensive if not solved, and a match for your skills. Be alert for problems that clients have in the past paid a third party to solve. This episode […]

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So once you’ve identified your core network, once you’ve identified decision-makers who already know you and are like you, and trust you, you want to work on identifying what are the problems that those potential clients are trying to solve. There are a few ways of going about this.

You can go to an industry conference and identify or look at what are the breakout sessions that are most heavily attended?  You can look at trade journals and see what kind of problems are being talked about the best approach is to talk to actual potential clients and just ask them what are the problems that you have engaged some external party to help you solve over the past year? That’s going to be your best indication.

As you’re identifying these problems, you want to classify them along three dimensions and I learned this framework from David A. Fields. 

Number one is how pervasive is this problem? How many clients in the universe have this particular problem?

Number two is how urgent is this problem? Does it have to get solved this month or this quarter? Or is it something the client wants to get done someday . . . when they have time?

And number three is how expensive is this problem if not solved?

The fourth dimension is do you have the skills to actually solve these problems? If you don’t have the skills and it’s a great problem, you can think about investing to gain those skills. So how pervasive is the problem? How urgent is the problem? How expensive is the problem? Do you have the skills to solve the problem?  We have a template in the show notes for this episode to get you started on this exercise of identifying the problems that you want to work on.