Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

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Topic: Set Your Fishing Line

Your Fishing Line is a short statement that describes who you serve (CEOs, business founders, accountants) and the types of industries, as well as the problems they’re trying to solve. The term “Fishing Line” was created by David A. Fields.

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As you identify the clients that you want to serve and the type of problems that you want to work on, you want to begin shaping a Fishing Line. And this is a concept that I learned from David A. Fields. You can learn more about this concept in episode one of my podcasts, Unleashed. A link for that is in the show notes.

A Fishing Line is 15 words or less that captures who you serve and what kind of problems you work on. It doesn’t need to get into what you do to solve it, or the impact that you have. It’s just enough to capture someone’s attention, and have them say either, “That’s not interesting to me,” or, “I’d love to hear more.” So, it’s not a full elevator pitch.

Couple examples of a Fishing Line:

“I work with the chief marketing officer at software as a service (SaaS) companies who are struggling to reduce their customer acquisition cost.” 

“I work with the chief operating officer at mid-size retail companies who are struggling to optimize their distribution network.” 

Here’s another one. “I work with the founders of rapidly scaling startups who are struggling to build out their top team.”

You’ll notice that each of these Fishing Lines does not say what you do. It does not say how you do it. It does not say what theory you use, or what kind of impact. It just captures who you work with — in a somewhat crisp way, and what you … and what types … what things they’re struggling with.

You can also phrase it as, what they’re aspiring to do. You’ll also notice that they don’t have a lot of and’s in them. Every time you put an and in, it divides the effectiveness by a factor of two. So, if you say, “I work with companies in media, and pharma, and telecom, and high-tech,” then it becomes so broad that it becomes completely unmemorable.

So, develop a Fishing Line. And this is something that is tough to do and may take a couple of years of refining. Test it out. It’s great to get feedback from your friends. It’s even better to get feedback from potential clients. So, test out your Fishing Line. And there’s a template to get you started in the show notes.