Turning Your Expertise Into Income with Michael Zipursky of Consulting Success | #034
Dive deep into turning your expertise into income with Michael Zipursky, CEO of Consulting Success. He takes us into how he has built and sold multiple businesses and imparts the lessons he learned from all those experiences, giving very sound advices that you can implement into your business as you start to seek out new opportunities and grow most especially in the consulting world. He walks us through with his company’s processes that set them apart from other marketing firm houses—client clarity, magnetic messaging, marketing engine, and strategic offers and POI positioning. Showing us the value of realizing potential, he believes that opportunities are everywhere and we are capable of seizing them.
Turning Your Expertise Into Income with Michael Zipursky of Consulting Success
I just hopped off the horn with the amazing, the super intelligent and the super insightful, Michael Zipursky from ConsultingSuccess.com. In this episode, we dove deep into how he’s built multiple businesses and sold multiple businesses. We took a little bit of a different turn at the end. He walks through exactly what his business does and how he works with consultants. When you speak with intelligent people, you know right away. I promise you by the time you get to the end, you will feel smarter because it was a very enlightening interview. If you’re trying to grow, if you’re trying to find opportunities to grow your business, we talked all about that. Pay attention to what Michael says. He’s an extremely intelligent and successful business owner. He gives some very sound advice that you can implement into your business as you start to seek out new opportunities and grow your business, especially if you are in the consulting world.
I’m super pumped for my interview. My guest is Michael Zipursky from ConsultingSuccess.com. Michael, welcome to the show.
Joel, thanks. I’m really honored and glad to be with you here.
I was on your podcast. I’ve just been looking forward to having you on our show because you’ve got a lot of knowledge that you’re going to be sharing with our audience. Why don’t we start by just having you introduce yourself? What does your company do? What is your superpower?
At Consulting Success, we work with consultants to help them grow their business. My background is in consulting. I’ve been building successful consulting businesses for over eighteen years. The consultants that we work with are located all around the world in all different industries. They all have an expertise so they’re all experts in their area, whether it’s manufacturing, design, pharma or certain areas of leadership. It could be anything. They have expertise, but what they’re looking for help with is getting better at their marketing, having a system that can create more predictable lead flow for them as well as being able to package their expertise and their services in a way that allows them to sell more efficiently, but also at higher price points and greater value. Then have a real structure for greater growth so that they know how to leverage and scale their business to get to that next level.
You work with consultants in all different markets. The consulting industry is very fascinating to me because it is the pinnacle of selling your expertise. That’s the whole purpose of this podcast, turning your expertise into income. What is the most obscure niche that you’ve seen a consultant work in?
Point of distinction, these days a lot of people mix coaching and consulting. There are a lot of different variations. My background and the clients and consultants we work with all are serving organizations. It might be nonprofit, in some cases government, but they’re typically established businesses organizations. I don’t have experience and we don’t work with massage therapists or spiritual healers or others that are serving the B2C market. When you say obscure, we work with clients who are genome specialists. They’re experts in genes or they’re experts in creating vaccine solutions that will be deployed into parts of Africa. We have others who are experts in building food and beverage brands or those that help perfume companies get greater distribution.
[bctt tweet=”Being able to craft a message can only happen when you know who your ideal client is. ” username=””]
It’s all over the place. Some people say, “How do you help if you don’t know about perfume?” I definitely don’t. We’re not helping our clients get better at their craft or at their expertise. They already have that and they have typically been doing it for many years. Many have come in the corporate world where they’ve been executives. What we’re helping them to do is on the marketing side, on the sales side, on the fees, the proposals, and structures specifically for growing a consulting business.
I’m sure you probably have a system for how you walk your clients through it. Do you want to walk me through that or give a top-level overview of what makes you different than any other typical marketing firm house?
The process that I’ll share with you here, there are four parts to it and we’ve used this to help over 300 consultants add six and seven figures to their annual revenue. It’s been tested all around the world and in many different industries. The first part is what we call ideal client clarity. Frankly, it has been in marketing for quite some time. A lot of this will sound fundamental and foundational and it is. It’s not meant to be magic tricks, but it is about getting the principles of marketing and business into a consulting business or into an expert’s business. Ideal client clarity is all about getting very clear around who your ideal client is. For a lot of experts, for a lot of consultants, this can be very challenging, especially if you’re coming out of the corporate world because you have a lot of experience.
There are a lot of different services that you could offer. There are a lot of different areas that you’ve worked in. It’s narrowing down and deciding who is going to be your ideal clients specifically, and how can you add the greatest value. That requires you to eliminate and to say no to a lot of opportunities. That can be quite a challenge for some people. We have a process we take consultants through to help them get crystal clear on that. That’s critical because once you have clarity on your ideal client, you can then move to the second part, which is what we call magnetic messaging, also known as a value proposition or unique selling proposition. This is a statement, a message that you can put in front of the marketplace in front of your ideal clients. It will get their attention and their interest. It will have them raising their hand. It will have them wanting to speak with you. When you do this properly you go from crickets in your marketing to all of a sudden people say, “That’s interesting, Joel. Tell me more about that. How do you guys do that?” Being able to craft that message can only happen, and only happens well when you know who your ideal client is because if you don’t, the message ends up being just far too general. You’re speaking to too many different people and then the message doesn’t resonate. These two go hand in hand.
Once you have your message in place, the next piece is your marketing, we call this the marketing engine. This is all about how to put a system in place that is repeatable and allows consultants to build a pipeline of leads and opportunities. There are many different ways to approach this. For some it’s speaking, for others it might be writing. Referrals are always great, but what we help a lot of clients with is to leverage LinkedIn or other platforms that they’re already using and build some automation to that, getting very clear on identifying their ideal clients with some very specific criteria, then putting messaging and a sequence of messages in place so they have every week people who are wanting to speak with them or come into their pipeline that they can then nurture and establish their relationship.
A big difference with B2B, as opposed to B2C, is it typically takes a lot longer to generate a sale because you’re working with a corporate buyer or an established organization. It’s key that you’re focused on the relationship. It’s not just about, “Go here and buy,” because you’re not selling a $200 product. You’re selling a $20,000 service or a $200,000 or a $2 million service. There’s more complexity to that and that’s why the focus on approaching it with a clear intention to build that relationship is very important. That’s what we help people to do.
The fourth part of the process is what we call strategic offers and ROI positioning. This is all about how do you take your knowledge, your experience and your expertise and package it, position it, place value on it, price it and present it in a way that the market gets. That helps because when you do this properly, you can shorten your sales cycle significantly. When we talk about ROI positioning, you go from what a lot of people start out with, which is hourly pricing to a place where you can hone in on the value in the ROI that you are providing for that buyer. They earn significantly more often by working a lot less.
You start by figuring out ideal client clarity. It sounds basic and you think that people have it and they’re dialed in. In your opinion, what percentage of clients that sign up with you are able to tell it to you right away?
We did a study on this. We asked 33,000 consultants in our community about this. About 70% said that they’re not clear on who their ideal client is. The 30% said that they were clear or are clear. When we asked further questions about this, they responded back that even though they thought they knew who their ideal client was, they didn’t really. It clearly wasn’t working because they weren’t getting the leads in their business or seeing the response that they want. I think this is a very big area and I would say the vast majority of consultants will reach out to us, this is one part and it’s the starting point. It is an area where people typically struggle with even if they’ve been consulting for five or ten years and seeing some good success.
Oftentimes to get to that next level, it requires even greater focus and doing an analysis of where your business has been coming from? In most cases, you can find that within your client list. There’s going to be a percentage of people who are investing with you more often or at higher levels. Those are your hyper-responsive best clients. You can find those people and you can then start to focus more on others just like them and create these ideal client criteria so that it’s very easy for you to target those people.
[bctt tweet=”To get to the next level requires even greater focus.” username=””]
It’s one of those non-sexy things that nobody wants to do it but if you want to start to codify your marketing system, then you have to know exactly who you’re reaching. I’m fascinated that you actually know the stats on that, which is amazing. I never would have been able to pull that out. I would have been like, “50%” but you actually know.
We run studies annually at Consulting Success. We run a study on pricing for consultants. We run another study on marketing for consultants. We just put out our 2018 consulting fees study. We have our marketing one that will come out. It’s very interesting to see what the responses are and then we’re actually able to go back over the years and look, “How have things changed? How has marketing changed? How has the approach to fees been changing?”
It’s a big area. I would just offer one example for everyone. It might be helpful. When people are looking at their LinkedIn title or they’re just thinking about their messaging, an easy way to spot an area for improvement is if you’re saying your messaging something like, “I help organizations to so and so.” What kind of organizations? Even being as clear as, “I help nonprofit organizations. I help pharmaceutical executives. I help advertising agency owners.” That one shift, which a lot of people might feel like, “Of course,” but then are you embedding that into your marketing, into your communications, into your website, and into your LinkedIn profile? If you’re not, that’s a big opportunity to resonate more with the actual type of client you want to attract.
We’re super big on getting crystal clear with your messaging. You nailed it right on the head because if you’re broad, nobody’s going to raise their hand. That’s the first step, which is ideal client clarity. Then it’s magnetic messaging, attracting people to who you are, then it’s your marketing engine. Let me dive into your marketing engine. The three examples that you gave are speaking, writing and LinkedIn.
There are many different examples. Here’s how we look at this. Our focus is not to say, “Speaking is the best model for consultants so you need to speak.” We’re not selling one model. What we look at is across all models, what is working best in the market in general for consultants? At the same time, everyone’s different. For someone, speaking might just scare them like crazy and they’re never going to do it but they love writing. That might be a better path for them. Typically those paths, whether it’s speaking, writing or referrals, these are great ways to build up leads for your business.
In the case of speaking or writing, they’re very good for establishing your authority and expertise and thought leadership. The challenge with speaking and writing is that they take time to typically generate leads. A lot of people have this idea like, “I’m going to start writing and blogging.” It can take you months or in some cases even years to see the benefit of that. Speaking works great if you have speaking opportunities lined up but if you don’t, you have to find the venues. You have to reach out, you have to go through the process. You have to wait for the actual conference. It takes time.
What we often encourage our clients and consultants to do is to get those what we call longer-term marketing engines running for them. Depending on what stage of maturity they’re at in their business, the percentage of time they should spend on those will shift. If they’re at an early stage, you don’t want to spend too much time in the long-term aspects because it takes time for you to work. What benefits in the short-term is a more direct outreach approach. LinkedIn as an example or if you’ve been building a list, you want to identify those ideal clients. You want to reach out to them and you want to start to develop a relationship with them. You can actually have phone calls with people and talk to an ideal client in a matter of days in some cases. You don’t need to wait so many weeks or months to have leads come in.
[bctt tweet=”If you are too broad, nobody’s going to raise their hand.” username=””]
It makes total sentence, the short-term and the long-term play. You’ve got to get the quick wins for your clients too, but it must be realistic with them. There are many different marketing avenues out there. The fourth pillar is strategic offers and ROI positioning. What do you mean by strategic offers? Are you saying clients come to you and they don’t have their offer dialed in yet?
It depends. We have some consultants to reach out to us who are very new. In their case, they don’t have any clarity around what their offers are or how to package them. We have others who they’ve been generating some nice revenue, maybe they’re at $500,000 or $1 million but they want to get to that next level. In that case, we look at what are they doing, what are they offering and how can we optimize their service offerings. Some people they’re still using daily rates and they’re building out and generating $3,000, $4,000 a year. In order for them to get to $1 million a year, they can’t reach that with the same pricing model and the same service offerings.
It’s looking at their current situation, what their financial goals are and what their lifestyle goals are. That’s an important one. Another point from our recent study on our marketing side, one of the questions we asked was, “Why did you become a consultant?” The number one reason was because they want to realize their potential. The number two reason was because they want to be their own boss. The last reason, lowest on the totem pole was income potential.
I am very focused on wealth creation. When I was younger, when I started my career, I certainly was much more focused on money as a way to measure and I had this idea of what it would create. As business has been more successful and I’ve just achieved more and just the stage that I’m at, it’s more about legacy. That being the case, I believe it’s important that people get clear on what their model is, not only for their business and their monetary side but also their lifestyle side because why are you earning that money? What do you want to do with it? Most people just want that for freedom.
Those two are important because there are many different approaches and models that you can use to grow a consulting business or a services-based business. Depending on what model you choose, that will also then impact and connect to what offers you’re going to make, how you’re going to price them, and how you’re going to deliver on them. All of these things go together. That’s what I’m referring to when I say strategic offers, it’s getting very strategic around your service offerings and making sure that everything connects to support your goals both on the financial side but also the lifestyle side.
The top of their priority, their number one reason why they became a consultant was to realize their full potential. Elaborate on what that truly means. It’s almost like people realize they’ve got a skill set that is much more valuable than being employed by somebody who’s going to pay them $40,000 a year, $80,000 a year, a set salary, whatever that salary is. Do you think that’s what the deep meaning is of realizing their full potential? Meaning they can impact more than just one employer. They can impact millions or they can impact hundreds of thousands.
Take your situation, as an example. Remember when we were speaking, you told me your story of working in the corporate world as an employee and realizing like, “I’m actually pretty good at this whole presentation thing. Maybe I can help others just beyond this one company with it.” I think what a lot of people find themselves in is recognizing that they have this skill set that and they’ve invested a lot of time and energy and resources to get good at what they do. Most of the time they’re way down. They don’t have the freedom and flexibility to put their skills to work in the way that they want or they try and do something and then for some reason someone above them says like, “We can’t do that. It’s against company policy. We can do that but it’s going to take twelve months for us to get through the red tape.” There are just so many hurdles that people, executives or those in the corporate world have to get through. I think that’s one of the big reasons why and it connects to the response of realizing their potential. They know they have more in them. When we think about what makes people happy, it’s not just the money side, it’s that feeling of progress and a great way of showing that you’re making progress is by again, feeling like you’re realizing more of your potential. I think those two go hand in hand.
[bctt tweet=”The top priority and number one reason why people want to be a consultant was to realize their full potential.” username=””]
That’s some super deep and super valuable insights. Not many people are serving their audience. You clearly have your stuff together. Your company clearly has their stuff together and it’s a breath of fresh air to speak to somebody that knows that. I’m not saying it to degrade anyone, but to have intelligent conversations with people who know their business, who knows the market, it’s a breath of fresh air.
I want to rewind it. I learned all about your process, how you help clients. I want to talk about you. Experts Unleashed is all about how you have created and spotted and seized opportunities to get to where you are. You are in legacy building mode. You’re very successful. Take me back to how you got to this situation. Let’s just start with the start of your professional career. Did you already know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur or you want to run your own business? Give us some backstory.
Just to clarify, I wouldn’t say that I’m in legacy building mode, just that I’m more conscious of legacy since my daughter was born, just spending more time. I want to be present as a father. That thing has just been a shift. I think that’s probably what a lot of people go through. Back to your question, how I got started. My cousin and business partner, Sam, we run Consulting Success together. We’ve built and sold multiple businesses together over the years. The first business was when I came out of high school and just going into first year of university. That was a web development and design firm. I’m not a coder, I’m not a designer. Sam, that was his area. Mine was just always been in business, communicating with clients, taking care of proposals, the marketing.
We just launched that. I don’t know where that came from. We’re having a drink one night or a conversation, a coffee but we decide to put that out there. We’ve got some clients that was a great experience. Then we decided that we saw an opportunity in the market to start working with more international organizations. We both had a lot of interest in global markets, different countries, cultures and languages. That always fascinated us. In my case, I grew up for many years in another country before coming to Canada. Although I was born in Toronto, I lived in Israel for four and a half years. I moved back to Canada. I didn’t speak English. I didn’t have any friends. I had some family here. Sam was the only person that I had, male friend that I could relate to. We bonded very quickly. That experience of living in a different culture and country had a profound impact on me. Sam was also in that same situation when he was young.
For us, we recognized there’s opportunity in global markets. We started another company at that time called Kankei Culture. Kankei in Japanese means relationship. That was a branding and marketing consultancy. I actually ended up going over to Japan and open up our branch office over there. I had the opportunity to work with some well-known organizations like Panasonic, Dow Jones Japan, Financial Times Japan, Omron and Sumitomo and a whole bunch of other billion-dollar organizations, helping them to market and communicate their services and products to English-speaking markets.
The first one was the web design agency, then the second one was branding and marketing consultancy. Those are two relatively different niches. Where did the idea come from with branding and marketing?
[bctt tweet=”If you’re not getting real value, then unsubscribe.” username=””]
It followed both of our paths and interest. Sam, his background, his degree is in design. He went to a university where he studied design. The branding side was very connected to him. I’ve always been interested in marketing. From the time I was in high school going into college, I started reading a lot of marketing books like Jay Abraham and a lot of direct response stuff. I just got very into that market. What we saw was an opportunity to bring branding but also with a touch of direct response, honing in on the market and just that whole understanding. That was a shift that we made. The web design development business was just a bunch of young guys doing what we could do. We’re just hustling and having fun with it and experimenting. It wasn’t very strategic.
When we launched Kankei Culture that was a real business with serious clients. I was still in my early twenties at that time. That was a whole other experienced being in my early twenties working and consulting for billion-dollar organizations and having most of my clients who were in their 50s and 60s at that time. That’s how we got there. Then we just followed where the opportunities took us and applied our ongoing learning to improve our business results for our clients.
You worked with billion-dollar companies at Kankei Culture. It was a big shift between a web design agency and then going to land billion-dollar companies. What was that experience like? You were in your early twenties, your clients were in their mid to late 50s and 60s. What was the first client that you landed and how did you land it? This is fascinating to me because selling to big corporations is a much different experience than selling to small businesses. Tell me how this company developed.
This whole experience was both exhilarating and terrifying at moments. If people want to go deeper into this, you can go to ConsultingSuccess.com and opt into our general opt-in. We have a 52-page Consulting Blueprint. What I give people as part of that, you’ll get a series of emails where I share this exact story, the blood, sweat and tears. The real detail behind specific situations and challenges that I had growing that business over there. The first I would say major large-scale client was Panasonic. The way that happened was before going to Japan, I sent out an email. I found a whole bunch of different advertising agencies and design firms in Osaka, which is the second largest city in Japan. This is where I was based. I just sent them an email saying, “I’m coming to Japan. I’m coming to Osaka, I would like to meet with you.” There was a bit more information in that email. Essentially that’s what it was.
There’s this foreign guy emailing a bunch of Japanese people in English. Maybe I’m mixing a little bit of Japanese that I found on Google because I didn’t speak that much Japanese at that point. A little bit, but not very much. I had two or three people that responded back and said, “Sure. We’ll be happy to meet with you.” One of those became just an incredibly special relationship. We hit it off right away. We’re still good friends to this day. They then introduced me to the managing partner and director of a large Japanese advertising agency. We built a relationship. In Japan, this is often what you call nomunication. Nomu is the verb to drink and cation is communication. It’s drinking to communicate. If you’ve ever seen Bill Murray’s Lost in Translation, if anyone’s seen that, you have this image of Japan where you’re sitting on the 50th floor of this tower overlooking the city at nighttime drinking whiskey with lights twinkling in the background. That’s exactly what my lifestyle was like at that time meeting these people.
For me, it was eye-opening and also just exciting because here I was this young guy surrounded by people who were two and three times my age. They are opening up and showing me a world that I had never seen before. It was relationships. It was a focusing on how can I add value and not pushing for a sale and just cultivating those. That then led to an opportunity introduction to Panasonic, which led to a project, which led to more work. Then with both of these guys, one’s name is Mori, the other one is Shinoske. We did a lot of business with them with a lot of other well-known companies and clients. It all started with that. You could say it started from an email sent to people in Japan.
I had an inkling that you didn’t land Panasonic because you’re like, “I want to land Panasonic as a client,” especially a company that big. As a branding and marketing consultancy agency, I wanted to get to the story of the series of events that led to that. For you, it’s very unique. You put yourself out there and you asked to meet with companies. You built relationships and that led to an introduction, that led to an instruction, and that led to the rabbit hole.
In my observation, that’s how most things tend to work. My first year of college university, I wanted to go overseas. I wanted to go to Japan for the summer, but I didn’t have much money. I needed to work. I remember I opened up the yellow pages. I opened it up and I literally just started going page by page, calling different companies, “Do you have any work for me? Do you have any work?” Then finally a grass company that laid down sod, these big heavy bales of grass said, “Yes.” It was called English Lawns. I went and sweat it out and got dirty and laid a grass down. Then I worked in a warehouse. I worked a lot of different jobs. I had a goal. I had an outcome that I want to achieve and I just figured out step by step how to get there. That’s how we’ve done a lot of things even in our current business to get to where we are. Here’s what we want to get to. How are we going to get there? We have some ideas, but we don’t have the total solution and we just start working towards it and then we adjust along the way.
[bctt tweet=”It’s very easy to get distracted with all the different opportunities.” username=””]
Opportunity is everywhere. A lot of times we get in our own way of just not even asking for the sale, but just being open and transparent. I get people who are just getting started out. They don’t have their first client yet and they’re drowning in, “I need to invest in Facebook ads. I need to revamp my LinkedIn profile. I need to do this, I need to do that.” Stop and realize that people will hire you if you just ask. Not even asking to say, “How can I help? Here’s what I’ve got. Would you like me to rewrite your website for you?” Do something that provides them value and asks them for an opportunity and just put it out there to the world. That’s why I love focusing on opportunity shifts. How do people create opportunities because opportunities are literally everywhere?
I’ll add another piece of observation, which I think often these days, people spend too much time on technology or in the tools. If you look at it, the most direct path is just to have a conversation with people. That’s where business happens. In most cases, it doesn’t happen through technology, although these days it can depending on what you’re selling. I’m talking about consulting or high-level coaching offers, you’re going to have a conversation. The most direct path to do that is just to identify who that person is and go and have the conversation. You don’t have to have everything else perfectly in place. You can adjust it along the way. That’s what I would be encouraging people to do is to find the most direct path to having a conversation.
More times than not, if you’re just starting, you probably don’t know what that direct path is. You need to just outreach and just say, “What can I do to help?” You land your first big client with Panasonic. When did you pivot away from that company? What was happening when you pivoted to the next opportunity?
It was a lot of fun and just an amazing experience to work with those organizations. One thing that frustrated me a lot at that time was that a lot of decisions that were being made by companies was subjective. Branding can be very subjective. I remember being at a meeting with a board of directors. The president of a billion-dollar organization was there and we were talking about a revamp of their logo and tagline. I remember the president just looking at it and he looks around the table at all of the other counterparts and senior, directors and so forth. They’re all talking about, “I like this shape. I like this color.” I just said to him, “Just go with this one. I think this gives the best international image for your company, you should go with this one.” He’s like, “I’ll go with that one.”
That specific memory sticks with me and it made me think that too often in that industry, people decide based on just what they think, even though it may not be the best thing for their company. What I mean by that is I want to move away from a subjective decision to one where we could actually look at data and results and say, “This is actually working better. Let’s go in that direction.” Even though we might not think that that is the best direction, we don’t like the look of that as much but it’s getting a better result, at the end of the day, that’s what most people want is a better result. It’s more value. I decided to open up another consulting business. Where we focused on lead generation for professional services firms. I worked with a lot of law firms, accounting firms, investment firms, and other consulting companies to help them to generate more leads through their marketing. This is where I started to apply a lot of my study of direct response.
You mentioned the subjective versus objective and what’s the data telling you? Is this when you started learning about direct response?
What was happening is I was learning about this before. I was studying it and I was trying to apply it as much as I could for our clients and into our own business. I was also recognizing that it was coming up against the walls because a lot of organizations when we’re speaking to them, that wasn’t the way that they approach things. They’re making a decision by committee. When you get a lot of people giving a lot of different opinions, often those opinions aren’t expert opinions. You end up with a suboptimal result. That was the impetus. That was what pushed me to say, “I want to help people. I want to focus on results. I want to find the truth, and not just have a decision by committee around something as subjective as a color palette, the shape of a logo or the brochure.” Those things are all valuable, don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking away from people that work in those areas because all of that is important stuff.
I decided to get into lead generation for professional services firms and that’s where I spent the next several years. Right around the time, several years into this business, that’s where Consulting Success started to be born. What I was seeing at that time was I was learning a lot. I was making a lot of mistakes. I was also having a lot of successes as a consultant. I wanted to share those stories from the trenches with others. I started to blog and write articles about growing a consulting business. That just took off. There was no monetization plan, there is no business behind it. It was a blog. We didn’t even do advertising at all at the beginning because we thought that would be a bad user experience.
This was around the time where Sam was working a separate job at that time. I was running this consulting business separately. We both decided that we wanted to create a business that would allow us to work from anywhere. We both love to travel. My wife is from Japan. Family’s very important to me. I had this dream at that time that I wanted to be able to go and live in Japan for several months a year so she could spend time with her parents and family and so forth, which we’ve been able to do consistently. At that time it was just a dream, it was an idea.
As we started seeing more interest, demand and engagement in the community with Consulting Success and that whole blog and articles, we started to see that maybe there’s an opportunity here to build a business around this. We launched a course on how to become successful consultants, which still sells to this day although it’s gone through different iterations. Then later on, we launched a coaching program where we work with consultants directly to help them to grow their businesses. That’s how we got formed. We put something out there, we saw what was happening and we decided to adjust and improve and optimize and build along the way.
[bctt tweet=”Staying focused will give you the best results.” username=””]
Just so I’m clear in the timeline, was this during your lead generation and consulting business?
It’s funny when you’re confused there for a second, I laugh because my family for many years had no idea what I did. My uncle Ken, he still jokes to this day. He’s like, “Are you just writing another book?” He had no clue what was going on. He’s like, “How many books do you sell this month?” I was like, “I’m not in the book business.” We’ve had multiple companies over the years. There was one time, Sam and I were running Consulting Success at the beginning, and we had a jewelry business online, which we ended up selling. We realized we didn’t know very much about jewelry and we weren’t passionate about it, but we experienced that.
Then we had a job board business that was quite profitable but we ended up just selling it. We have three different businesses all at one time and it was very hard to explain to family. They say, “Michael, what do you do?” I was like, “I have an online business.” Then people start joking and saying things like, “Are you in some shady online business? What’s going on?” It was nice to get clarity on that. Back to your question or to your point, yes, Consulting Success launched as I was running that lead generation consulting business.
I think anyone who has been in the entrepreneurial space for any length of time, especially in the online space, has run into that issue with their family. Especially when you’re just getting started, “What do you do?” I had to distill what I do that I’m in digital marketing, then they stop asking questions. I was like, “I help people do webinars.” “What’s a webinar?” “Forget it. I’m in digital marketing.” From the web design agency then taking your international organizations, you went through quite a few different businesses to get to where you are. How long have you been running Consulting Success? How long has that been up and running?
Is this long-term plan or do you have any different shiny objects in the future?
This is what I see doing for a very long time. I enjoy working with our clients. I think when I was younger my mom was always saying she thought I should be a professor. At that time I always said, “No, I’m not interested. I want to make money, mom. I don’t want to be a professor.” As the years have gone on, I recognized what she was onto there because what gives me the greatest satisfaction and joy is actually helping others. Helping our clients, helping them to get results is motivating and it drives everything that I do. We’ve set the business up to where it works well. I was able to travel with my family for five months of the year around the world and lots of different places and the business is still running and growing. We’ve got a good thing going.
We’re always looking at other opportunities, but I think one big thing that I’ve drilled home that’s been important for us and our growth is staying focused because you’re right, it’s very easy to get distracted with all different opportunities. I’m sure that we’ve missed many great opportunities, but at the same time, we’ve probably capitalized on our plan. When we set a vision and a goal and a plan for the year, we’re open to adjusting when it makes sense to, but we will not shift completely. An example of that, we’ve had many people have reached out over the years saying, “Do you want to partner with us on this thing? We have this product and we want you to promote it for us.” In most cases, we say no, not because we don’t think we can make more money by doing that, but it’s because either it just doesn’t resonate with our market or we think it will just take our focus away from what we’re working on. I don’t know if that’s the best approach, but it has worked exceptionally well for us. I think it has helped us stay a lot more grounded and clearer because we’re not having to manage so many different things at one time.
There’s no one right way. At least from everything that I’ve experienced in my short time on this green Earth, there’s no one specific way to go do it. Staying focused absolutely is going to give you the best results.
On that topic, that’s an important one for people. Too often, they will be confronted with the latest guru who will say, “This is the one way.” They’ll read about in an article about some great success that somebody had with Instagram marketing or you whatever the technology or tool it is. They’ll go and they’ll try that for a little bit and then all of a sudden something else will come around the corner and it’s like, “This is working. We’ve been able to see our conversion rates from 20% to 50% with this new bot application.” All this stuff can be good but then people jump to that, but they’ve never even finished implementing what they started with this other thing. It’s important in my experience to get clear on what is that you want and then find a path that will get you there and then work it. Don’t get distracted by all the new shiny objects that are coming your way. Consider them and if they have a real application then apply them, but don’t just halfheartedly apply them, because you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time, money and resources. Commit to it.
[bctt tweet=”It’s important to get clear on what it is that you want and then find a path that will get you there and work it.” username=””]
I can say that with full confidence that every coach and mentor that we’ve worked with over the years to help our businesses grow, we’ve seen a positive ROI. Sure, it’s by choosing the right coaches and mentors, but it’s also because we’ve committed 100% to make sure that we get the most out of that experience. The responsibility when you work with a coach or mentor or someone is not on the other person, it’s on you. It’s your responsibility to make that a success. For us, that mindset has helped us ensure that we see consistent growth because we’re not just taking in and accumulating information, we’re applying the right information. We’re also trying to stay away from a lot of information if we don’t feel that it’s going to benefit us because it just ends up being a distraction.
That is probably the most important advice I’ve heard in a very long time. Stay away from information, because information is what influences. It’s good and bad when you take it. That’s why I stay away from the news because it’s mostly negative and it influences the way that you view your environment, your perception and your reality.
Take it a step further. Even the newsletters that people send out. Most people have a time, maybe you still have a time where you get a lot of emails into your inbox from different providers or different people. I would encourage everyone to do an audit of that. If you’re not getting real value, if it’s not helping you to move your business forward, unsubscribe. If you’re on our list and you’re not feeling it’s valuable for you, please unsubscribe because your time is too valuable. You should only be taking into your inbox and surrounding yourself with people and with information that is applicable to you.
Your mother recommended that you be a professor. I bring this up because my wife and I went out to dinner in Niagara Falls, Canada. We were having this conversation. I have had many people tell me, “Joel, I think you should be a professor.” I think there’s a direct correlation with experts and consultants and thought leaders and their desire to help people because that’s what you said you wanted to do. If you want to help people and you want to be broke, go be a professor. If you want to impact the world and realize your full potential, which is ultimately what your list told you they wanted as a consultant, then you should monetize your expertise in another way. It’s fascinating because I’ve had people telling me that I should be a professor. I’m like, “Absolutely not. I have no intention to go work for higher education.” Not that I have anything against it.
I think it also comes down to where you’re at in your life stage and what gives you happiness and a feeling of accomplishment. As an example, if you think about working with university students, you could teach them stuff but if they’re not able to apply it right away, that might not give you a sense of accomplishment. Whereas if you’re working with people and other entrepreneurs or consultants or coaches or whatever it is and they can apply the next day or the same day that you just showed them, that can be a lot more rewarding. For some people, I know many consultants who also are professors and they speak and they consult and they’re very successful at it. For them, that’s a rewarding mix. You’re right, definitely. The point on how all successful consultants feel a sense of accomplishment and reward from helping others, that’s why we do what we do. If we didn’t enjoy helping others or just in it for the money, it’s probably not going to end up being very successful or long-term.
[bctt tweet=”Stay away from information because information is what influences.” username=””]
This has been an excellent, fascinating, deep dive and intellectual interview and a chat. I appreciate you just taking time out of your day to speak with my audience. You have a very successful and thriving business. I love the journey that we went through when we did the rewind. You started multiple businesses and sold multiple businesses and reflecting on all of it, you’ve been able to share the true priorities. Value of your time. Value the information that you let into your world because it impacts you and influences you both positively and negatively and ultimately, you stay focused. It’s led you to be able to travel for five months out of the year and grow your business. Where can people connect with you? Let’s drop some links. Let’s send them over to you.
The best place to go is ConsultingSuccess.com. You can find a whole bunch of resources there on growing your consulting business both free and paid resources. You’re also welcome to check out my recent book, the bestseller, The Elite Consulting Mind available on Amazon, in Kindle and paperback. The upcoming book, Consulting Success is the title. That’s all about how to start, run and grow a successful consulting business.
For everyone, go check out Michael’s work over at ConsultingSuccess.com. Let him know that you’ve heard his interview on Experts Unleashed and follow his brilliant. Hopefully, you’ve been able to see that on this podcast through this interview. Michael, thanks as always and for the rest of my audience, I’ll see you in the next episode. Take care.