Focus your efforts for fun and profit

As consultants, we’re largely in charge of our own destiny – which can be both a blessing and a curse. Most (all?) of us have things we enjoy that we aren’t good at, and things we’re good at that we don’t find enjoyable.

Where to focus Venn diagram

For example:
I love to sing — but no one ever accused me of being the next American Idol. I’m more of a sing-a-long at the pub after one too many-kind of singer. No use trying to pursue it any further than that – no one would pay me to sing, so I don’t focus my time on making that happen.

On the other hand, I’m pretty good at large-scale project management: corralling disperse people, companies and information to make a long-term program work or a big deliverable come together within deadlines. Over the years, a number of clients have paid me pretty well to do this activity, and I have the gray hairs to prove it. I’ve discovered that though this can be a lucrative business offering for me, I’d rather work with someone else to manage the truly enormous projects.

What does this mean for you?
These are just a couple of my own personal examples of knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. It’s often a challenge to stay centered and not get pulled away from our areas of focus, but recognizing what to relentlessly pursue – and perhaps even more importantly, when to pass – is critical to avoiding burnout and thriving as a successful, profitable consultant.

If you haven’t lately, be brutally honest with yourself and take some time to think through where you should be focusing. Share your experiences and decisions with us in the comments!

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  • Greg Hanks

    I love movies and entertainment and I am very good at organization and document control. I currently work with two director/producer teams based out of Los Angeles where I work on PR and publicity but I also use my organization skills quite a bit to maintain their work and all of its associated data.

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

     Hi Greg- *love* this answer. One of the great things about PR is we can work in the industry we find most exciting – and yours sounds more exciting than most!

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

    Wanted to comment the second I saw the Venn in my email, finally making it here. A friend shared this image w/ me, but with an all important third circle: what people will PAY you to do.

    When the PAY circle hits the other two (what we like, what we’re good at) it 1) creates an even smaller circle but 2) THAT is where we need to focus our efforts. I am really good at what I do; I’m really bad at convincing others to pay me what I’m (and the work) is worth. I really like designing and writing; I’m not so wild about taking orders, doing less-than-stellar projects for clients that I don’t think will give them the results they want. 

    I need to focus on ME: actively pursuing a ‘higher’ level of client, promoting myself not just as an execution operator, but targeted strategists and consultant as well. And did I mention marketing myself better? ;-) FWIW.

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

     Excellent addition, Davina! You’re right – that would make the diagram match the text of the post in a very important way.

    One thing interesting you’ve got me thinking about is that whether someone will pay for a given activity (and how much) is quite variable. It largely depends on the person offering the service, and what they’re willing to accept. A super random example pops to mind: Some people juggle in the park for free looking for tips, while other jugglers appear on the Tonight Show (and everywhere in between).

    You’re correct that those who get paid for what they know (strategists) typically get paid more than those who get paid for what they do (tactical execution). You certainly have the chops for the former, so go get ‘em! :-)

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ davinabrewer

    My problem is the VALUE I offer: Doing Both. But clients only want to pay for execution (sometimes even pick and choose like a menu?!) but then discount the work and top level strategy that goes into it. I wear many hats, do so much myself that it saves time and money already, so I don’t want to discount myself anymore. And yet, it’s almost like I’m pricing myself out of the market? Or clearly attracting the wrong leads. Sigh… ;-)

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

    I vote for the latter (wrong leads). :-) I know several experienced pros who increased their rates dramatically and got *more* work as a result.

    Perceived value is a weird thing — kind of like Groucho not wanting to be a member of any club that would have him, people don’t want something that’s too affordable. I’m reading a book called “Predictably Irrational,” and it’s full of examples of how crazy we all are. J

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