As a Getting Started Coach at Keap for two years, I saw it all when it comes to small business. I worked with hundreds of small business owners of all industries and types—from motivational speakers to online veterinarians to professional potty trainers.
Some of my favorite types of customers to work with during this time were consultants or coaches because, as a coach myself, I found we had much in common. While working with them, I found that many coaches and consultants, including myself, had similar tendencies and mindsets that were potentially holding us back. If you are a coach or consultant (I’ll assume we all are, even if not for our profession), I am sure you can relate.
Here are four quick ways to become a more confident consultant today:
Ignore Imposter Syndrome
In speaking with hundreds of customers as a coach, I found a common theme among small business owners—many suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome? Impostor syndrome (also known as Impostor Phenomenon or Fraud Syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
In other words, many of the small business owner consultants that I worked with were not confident in their amazing abilities. They were scared of being “found out” for what they “truly were”...a fake. And on top of that, they thought they were the only ones who had their given set of issues and that literally every other small business coach had it together.
Obviously, this isn’t true.
My recommendation is to ignore the Imposter Syndrome, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
NEWSFLASH: you have major guts for starting your own small business, and you have inherent strengths because of that.
THIS JUST IN: you aren’t an imposter; you’re the real deal.
Network for help
If you do have room for improvement in your business, first of all, you’re not alone. Many are experiencing the exact same things you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Networking is a great way to do this.
This can be overwhelming, but start somewhere. A great way to get involved and meet other small business owners is at our annual user conference, ICON. It is life-changing, and completely worth the investment.
Lead with your strengths
Gary Vaynerchuk speaks a lot about focusing on what you’re good at and outsourcing the rest. While we can’t outsource everything, I think there is a lot of truth to what he says. Many consultants would be wise to do this when working with their customers. Afterall, if you are a naturally gifted quarterback, why should you focus your efforts on developing as a better kicker?
So what if you don’t know your strengths? The first step is to learn them! There are several activities/programs you can participate to learn what you’re really great at. To name just a few:
From there, if there are ways to leverage these strengths, do it. If you can outsource or delegate other tasks, do it. Your talent is better served elsewhere, and you will get quicker results by focusing on what you’re good at first.
Don’t be afraid to just start
This one is true for your consulting business as well as your customers’ businesses.
For your business:
Version 1 is better than version none
Just do something! Then you have something to iterate on. How can you expect to get different results when you continue to do the same behaviors? Chalmers Brothers says, “If you always do what you’ve always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” This couldn’t be truer in consulting. You have everything to gain from just starting something. Even if it “fails” you will learn something, which propels you forward.
For your customers: All of this is true for your customers as well. Many will be scared to take the leap to commit. A majority of the time they will be scared to fail or make a mistake. If you make a safe space for them to try things out and potentially make mistakes, they will be more likely to leap.
Leverage constructive tension
As a consultant, you get paid to have conversations for a living. An important part of having effective conversations is leveraging constructive tension.
Constructive tension is the space between current reality and a vision of the future. It’s that slightly uncomfortable or awkward moment before something amazing happens for your customer. Oftentimes it is found when having difficult conversations where some gentle pressure is applied by you to help your client create results. If we’re doing things right, there should always be constructive tension because we should be constantly working toward a new future.
A metaphor that might help with this concept is guitar strings.
My brother is an awesome guitarist, and every once in awhile he has to restring his guitar strings. If he doesn’t pull them tight enough, will he be able to play them? No. What if he pulls them too tight? They’ll snap right? And again, he can’t play them.
The same thing holds true with our customers. We need to find the appropriate amount of tension while we challenge our customers to be better. If we have too little, our customers will never escape their default future. If we have too much, they may get defensive, burned out, and stressed because what we are asking may not be presently possible
Although it is right to lead with our strengths, if leveraging constructive tension isn’t one of your current talents, I would recommend putting some emphasis on improving yourself in this area. It will assist you and your customers in being more successful. Here are some of the benefits:
- It creates authentic communication
- Concerns are voiced and are emotions released
- New mindset = growth.
As I applied these four lessons, I saw a dramatic increase in the effectiveness of my coaching. Not only did I become a better consultant, but my customers became exponentially more successful. Give them a try! You’ll see the same.
Dani Janzen manages a Customer Success team at Infusionsoft. Her passion lies in leadership, multiplying people, and problem-solving. When she isn’t helping small businesses succeed, Dani enjoys long distance running, playing the drums, and traveling the world with her husband.