From consultant to guru

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The consulting and professional services model has a major flaw: As a consultant, you have no choice but to trade your time for dollars. Therefore, you limit the income you can earn. Even if you know how to “value price” (pricing based on the value of the assignment to the client instead of on an hourly rate for you), you still limit yourself.

I’m getting away from the consulting model as fast as I can (and really have been moving away from it over the past 2 years), especially as I approach my 40th birthday (gasp!) next week. Otherwise:

– I won’t have a firm with equity value that I can sell to others.

– I will always be limited in what I can earn.

– My retirement will be less happy than it otherwise could be.

The alternative? Create a firm that is not dependent on you. Then you create true enterprise value, and get to make money while you spend your time away from clients.

There are many ways to do this, but they all involve leverage:

– Leverage your time by developing repeatable processes, so that others can earn money for you.

– Leverage your time by selling products, so that you make it once and sell it over and over again.

– Leverage your income by selling subscription-based programs that generate an ongoing stream of income for you.

– Leverage informational products (e.g. books, reports, speeches, interactive software) that easily translate from one medium to another, and so can be re-used.

– Leverage other people by becoming an “expert on experts.”

– Leverage your reputation, because as you get visible with more and more products and repeatable processes, more and more people see you as the go-to professional in your field.

– Leverage your expertise by creating and profiting from websites, ala Chris Beasley’s much-welcome blog and advice.

The above approaches are all part of a “guru” strategy, and is what well-known gurus do. They don’t trade their time for dollars, but do exploit enormous leverage.

I hope you are working to become a guru. The worst case? You have a bunch of great, informative products and processes that establish your credibility and make you visible in your market. In other words, if you must stick to the consulting model, the “guru” approach only builds your credibility and value in the eyes of others.

I had lunch with a fascinating guy today. He has made a business of setting “gurus” up in seminars, with websites, and with marketing plans. He also trains them to speak publicly, so that they get rave reviews from their audiences. In other words, guru-support is becoming an industry in its own right (similarly, my latest book is about this subject).

In today’s world, only a few people earn the big bucks, and make it to the top of the pyramid. These are the gurus. You can become one with the right strategies, or you can struggle at the base of the pyramid.

Web designers and developers everywhere have the opportunity to become a guru, instead of continuing to rely on hourly rates and serving clients directly. It takes a definite shift in mindset, and there are some hurdles every would be guru has to face. But when you get beyond these obstacles, life becomes instantly more rewarding.

I hope you are considering ways to become a guru, instead of a traditional consultant.

Andrew NeitlichAndrew Neitlich
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