Start a freelancing business

Bringing Back The “Be Your Own Consultant Challenge”

By Brennan Dunn

Have you ever hated yourself for never having any time to work on your business?

I have.

More often than not, I get to the end of the work week and think, “Wow. I got nothing done this week.”

(Which is always a lie. I get plenty done. I work with clients. Support customers. Manage the team. Busy work.)

But I don’t always have much to look back on.

In a way, I envy construction workers. When they’re done with something, they’re able to step back and look at what they created. And it’s there long after they’ve left the construction site.

I often feel like I don’t get as much done for my business as I should.

constantly feel behind, even though I get a lot of comments from people who say that they don’t know how I’m able to do so much.

But it seems like, even though I’m busy, I don’t have much to show.

I fixed this once for a previous business of mine.

And I’m going to fix it again.

And you’re invited to follow along—especially if you plan on doing the same for your business.

How I became my own consultant

You’ve probably heard the saying “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

In our world, that means that creatives like us rarely do the things we do for our clients for our own businesses. (I’m guilty of this. With my consulting business, I was selling automation consulting to my clients before even setting up my own automation!)

Have you ever thought, “I’m going to build a product and sell it online”? If you have thought that, there’s a good chance you haven’t yet.

It’s probably because you reasoned: “I’ll build it when I have time.”

(Which is a similar excuse to “I’ll lose weight and exercise when I have time.”)

The best consultants-turned-product creators I know treat product creation like a client project. They carve out the time, realize they’re going to lose opportunity (money) in the short-term, schedule it, and do it.

Back when I was running Planscope, the software company I started in 2011 and sold in early 2016, I was struggling to do a lot of the marketing work that I knew would grow the business.

There were so many things I knew I could be doing, but busy-ness always seemed to get in the way.

I kept thinking “I’ll do this REALLY, REALLY important stuff… later. When I have time. When I’m not busy.”

And then it would never happen.

So I started thinking that if I wanted to get this stuff done, I really had to make it a priority.

I had to really think about why I wanted to do all this.

  • How would doing it benefit me?
  • Was it worth the time I’d invest?
  • What actually should I be worried about doing, and in what order?

You know, the sort of questions I ask all the time when working with clients!

There are a lot of high-level things I want to do with my current business. Here are just a few:

  • There are still holes with the personalization code I have running on
  • I need to update the courseware that powers my products, especially for mobile devices.
  • I still need to get my promo loop up (= well-mannered automation. Think: instead of getting product announcements for stuff you don’t care about, observing what kind of content of mine you interact with and only ever promoting products that overlap with something you’re interested in.)

The above list only covers the hit-list for Double Your Freelancing. There are other projects I need to put into place for my consulting business and another project I’m working on.

What’s great about the above is that they all strengthen my business in some way.

They’re assets that each make my company more valuable.

But, taken as a list, it’s a mountain of work. Waking up each day, sitting down in front of a computer, and seeing OMG-all-the-things-I-need-to-do. Talk about intimidating!

Instead of letting myself become overwhelmed, I’m going to start doing what I do with my clients for each core project that I want to get done:

  1. Capture the business / demographic / financial info related to the project at hand. (Read how)
  2. Conduct a personal Roadmapping session where I figure out the priorities, risks, and value of the project. (Read why)
  3. Put together a Roadmapping report & proposal that defines the problem, solution, scope, and timeline.
  4. Hold myself accountable to you and myself. I can’t really fire myself, but if I’m treating myself like a consultant and slip up I’m going to feel a lot worse than had I spent the week staying busy without anything “built” to show for it.

This requires me to really think through the problem I’m looking to solve, determine its value, and then create the requirements and timeline that go along with it. I can then dedicate the time I need (again, just like with a consulting client) and get it done.

Now it’s your turn.

You’ve probably got a lot of things you know you need to do, but you’ve been busy.

Things that, once done, will strengthen your business… permanently. Assets that will help you attract better clients, qualifying new leads, onboard newly signed projects, or build up your referral base.

You know there’s something that you should be doing to work on your business—you just have let busy-ness get in the way.

That’s the “Be Your Own Consultant” challenge. And I hope you’ll take part in the challenge.