David A. Fields, Consulting Firm Expert, Author, Speaker

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David A. Fields, Consulting Firm Expert, Author, Speaker

Consultant, speaker and best-selling author David A. Fields helps build consulting practices that are lucrative and lifestyle-friendly. He has guided consultancies ranging from one-person startups to the consulting divisions of some of the world’s largest companies. 

David still advises corporate clients too as the leader of his firm, Ascendant Consulting. His latest book, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients, is Amazon’s highest-rated book on the business of consulting released in the past 30 years.



[00:00:01] You're listening to Scaling Up Services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

[00:00:22] I'm your host our guest today is David A Fields. And David is founder of Ascendant Consulting and is the author of the irresistible consultants Guide to Winning clients. And we're going to talk a little bit about we can talk about how to build a consulting business. We're going to learn about his background and his strategy. David welcome to the program.

[00:00:40] Thank you so much. It's really a delight to be here.

[00:00:43] I'm a big fan of yours and this is a fun conversation because I think building a consulting practice building a consulting business. You know I've been in consulting probably for 20 18 say 20 plus years now. I guess if I do the math and it is you know it is it is not easy. Consulting is kind of an easy business to start but it's a harder business to scale and is a harder business to get right. In many respects. So I'm I'm excited about this conversation is I think there's a lot of people out there who are in this boat or in the boat of having built a business built the practice and they're trying to figure out how do I take it to the next level. So why don't we start with a little bit of your background. I know that you had you've been in consulting and had a different areas. Give us a sense of national background how did you get to where you are today.

[00:01:22] Sure. Well I'll do my best to do the short version. I did a decade in corporate mostly for GlaxoSmithKline which wasn't GlaxoSmithKline at the time but it is now. Yes. So you got kind of that that was less fortunate to get that blue chip training and then worked for a boutique consulting firm and helped grow that and went in at the bottom and then worked my way up to partner and over again about about a decade nine years something like that. And one of the other partners and I decide to spin off and form our own firm.

[00:01:54] And so that worked famously Well I'm incredibly well for about four weeks.

[00:02:03] Yeah.

[00:02:04] And then my partner decided you know this whole entrepreneurial thing maybe not not his gig. Yeah he was not the primary breadwinner and so he could do that. And so I found myself in the business oddly enough or unfortunately enough. So we were a pair. His job was to bring in the business. He was a relationship guy a sales guy you know a rainmaker. My job was to be the engine room. These these were the roles we had played working you know each of us working our way up to partner at that boutique. I am an engine room guy. Yeah. And create cool models and great delivery and all that kind of stuff. And so I found myself without a partner without clients. And you know rapidly without money and had to learn. So the first year was it was a total disaster. But by year two I had done just shy of seven figures and then never looked back. Now some interesting things happened along the way. I changed my model to a general contractor model where I actually ended up being the person who sold business and then I would bring in subs to do the work which is very common now but wasn't as common 10 or 12 years ago. Yeah. And through that process I really became a student of why and how clients choose certain consultants because I was choosing consultants for every project. I was a client. Yeah. And also how you sell and win and win bigger projects more lucrative projects.

[00:03:31] Yeah that model. I see that model again and again you've got to have one partner who's the or one kind of heart leader of the company who's the sales relationship client person and the other person you know another one who's very focused on delivery on operations on you know executing on what assault is that do you see that as a pretty typical or pretty standard model for a lot of companies.

[00:03:55] Well I think it's important to have those roles covered. Yeah.

[00:03:59] What you will find is you know any of your listeners who are in partnerships with one other person they will tell you you know that's not easy to person firms tend to be fairly unstable and challenging to pull off over the long run. It's all the struggles of a marriage without the good parts. And you know so to to people is tough and I work with a lot of two people. I was actually up in LA I won't say the exact city I don't want obviously but I was at a client last week doing a session it was basically marriage counseling.

[00:04:32] I mean I walked into a maelstrom and I was furious at the other. I mean just I mean he was almost in tears. And you know this is not uncommon.

[00:04:41] Yeah. What's funny I even find that a lot of the situations like you get brought in on an issue and the surface level argument is about one thing that actually seems pretty innocuous and you realize that this is just a proxy war for some historical thing that happened five years ago. Hasn't only been resolved.

[00:04:58] Exactly right. The you know partnerships good the whole idea of partnership is very interesting and I see a lot of what works and what doesn't work in anyway. Well what happened then is at some point some of the consulting firms I was bringing in as subcontractors started to say whoa hold on a second. How are you winning all this business. How come when you ask me what I would charge for a project I said one twenty five and you sold it for four ninety five. Exactly right. And so purely as a lark I took on a couple of consulting firms as coaching clients and it really was just as you know this would be kind of funny I'll do me a favor.

[00:05:32] That's now ninety five percent of my business. Yeah it's almost completely crowded out the corporate side. I love doing it. So I basically work only with boutique firms now I take on some solos and to help them in that transition to if they want to build if they want to be just a successful solo practice that's fine. Or if they want to make that really difficult leap but a lot of what I do is you know how do we get you from 2 to 10. How do we get you from 10 to 50. And that's it. I mean that's the whole thing now.

[00:05:59] Great niche. I mean I think that you know what a lot of things. You know we always talk about it as if you want to if you want to get bigger and if you want to scale and if you want to scale faster you've got to focus. You got to decide on all the things you're not going to do. So this idea of zeroing in on how to work with boutique consulting firms is a great target. Was that a difficult choice for you or was that not a pretty natural look pretty obvious. This is what you should be doing.

[00:06:20] It's not what I follow the market which is what I always recommend right. It's the foundational principle in consulting and probably for any service business. But certainly in consulting the number one principle is being what I call right side up is understanding that the business isn't about you. Yeah it's about them. It's about your clients. And I learned this when I was at the boutique where I'd sort of you know learned my craft and then I've learned that here too it's because the market asked me for this because consultants were saying how do you do this will you help. I said sure. So I didn't go out looking for it.

[00:06:54] What I did is I was open to the opportunity to pay attention pay attention to what what exactly I think on one hand that that seems kind of obvious. On the other hand I'm sure it's difficult for many people what ends up getting in people's way of not just listening not just following the market.

[00:07:10] Oh are you kidding it's brutally difficult. I do huge sessions on this and this is as true with people were starting up as it is working with a firm that's about 40 million dollars right now. We had a two day session in New York and it was a lot of it was how do we get ourselves more focused. You know what. You know it's you would think this is easy it's actually very difficult. The big obstacle is the person looking back at you in the mirror because the number one starting place for a typical consulting firm is what have we done in the past. Who are we. What's our definition. Who's looking back at us in the mirror. You know what are we good at. And that's the wrong place to start. The right place to start is what are the big market problems now which of those could we solve. But we got to start with the market problems. What does the market want. These are things you can learn a new skill you can learn to solve a problem.

[00:08:02] Well you can't do is make people have the problem you solve.

[00:08:05] At least I'm not supposed to change to what they what they care about. So an act.

[00:08:10] Yeah back in the days when I was in product management and you know it ran like cough cold businesses we would joke about sending sick people on airplanes you know to continue to fight the flu. You know you can't really do that.

[00:08:22] And so where do you find the insight. I mean I think it's one thing to say you know follow the market. It's another thing is like where do you actually get the market insight. The understanding of what the market wants like what are the strategies you recommend or what is the process that you put people through in terms of actually getting really specific about and really understanding you know at a deeper level what the market needs are.

[00:08:43] So I mean I have an exercise you're exactly right I put people through something I call the problem eater which is basically figure out what's the problem. You want to solve. You want to focus on that is the critical piece. This is actually more than anything else. What holds back a small company. That's one of the early hurdles is figuring out what is that problem that you know this is not rocket science. Like most of the consulting and service business it's a very simple business.

[00:09:08] It's just not an easy business. You just have to to do some research and ask people. Now you have to ask the right question. And one problem is people tend to ask the wrong question. Yeah people tend to say Hey Bruce I'm really thinking about starting a business in extrusion of plastic or helping plastic water bottle extractors. What do you think of that would you think that would be good. That is just fundamentally the wrong question. The right question I want to ask is Hey Bruce What problem or problems have been so pressing and urgent and burning for you over the past year or two that you actually spent money to have somebody help you solve them.

[00:09:47] So I like I like that I like it for many reasons. One is I really like it is because you focus on the money. And I think that's why I came out of the lean agile software development movement and know kind of lean product and lean startup this whole idea of customer development and one of the things that from a product point of view people always kind of got wrong was you know asking people well is this a problem for you. And they would say yes you know and there would often be lots of problems that they had but it wasn't necessarily the biggest problem and it wasn't a problem they would put money against. And it was wasn't until you had money exchanging hands you know even if it was a prerelease preorder you know getting them to put money on to the problem was was a really good indicator of what was real evidence that this problem was big enough that we could build a product around it. And I think that's the same thing on the service side. You can you know when you see people spending money trying to solve something that's an indicator that it's a problem that it has solved or has a meet.

[00:10:41] Exactly. And I'm a huge fan of being a follower. So that's why I said I didn't want to know will you spend money on it. I don't know what you have already spent on you. Yeah he is. Here's what I know is if you've spent money on a problem two things are immediately clear to me. One there's a decent chance you're going to spend money on it again. These people who spend money to solve a problem spend money to solve the same problem over and over again. This is why you get junkies in various forms of self-help or of because they keep trying to solve that problem. And the other thing I know is if you've spent money to solve that problem there's probably someone like you who's in your position who hasn't spent the money yet but will yeah. So I'm looking I told one of my clients the other day I don't want to be the first restaurant on the corner. I want to be the third restaurant on the corner.

[00:11:33] And I like that I think that a lot of people are trying to be or or focus on the idea of being first to market. Well a that they're trying to be first to market and sometimes that's not the best place to be. If the market's not developed yet or it doesn't really prove it yet. The other one is is that they when they see someone already kind of in a market that kind of turns them off you know they say oh well so-and-so is already doing that. It's like no look if they're doing it that means there's money there that you know if they've got a successful business. The question is how are you going to approach it the same way as it just geography. Do you have a different set of attributes that you're going to sell against. There's there's room there's room for other players in market as well.

[00:12:09] That's exactly. There's tons of room and actually. So one of the things that I say which is fairly different I think from where people tend to think is I say don't worry about differentiation. I don't differentiate. OK. Tell me more differentiation. So I grew up in consumer products. I was all about differentiation. And then I thought OK well that must be you know that's obvious that's marketing differentiate. Well that's actually all wrong when it comes to consulting. OK because the buyer of consulting services isn't looking for different what they're looking for is solved. They're looking for credible reliable solution to their problem. So if you say look I've got something really new whiz bang different the reaction is going to be oh that doesn't sound proven. I you know I don't want to be the first one to try it. Really this isn't technology. I don't want to be the first one with an iPod. I want just my problem solved. I want you to fix it. Help me get my software out the door quicker or help me with my leadership issue. All right. We're not in most cases about 95 percent of cases.

[00:13:05] They're trying to solve the pain and they don't want different. So less about difference and more about proven.

[00:13:11] That sounds absolutely credible reliable. And as you said there's plenty of business out there. I mean last I looked the U.S. economy was somewhere around 14 trillion dollars in advisory services alone advisory services of all sorts. So the folks who are listening here whether you know there are an architectural engineering or any any kind of advisory services is somewhere around eight hundred billion dollars now which is enough for you Bruce and me and like six of your listeners to divvy up and probably leave least at least a little bit for some other folks just a bit just a little bit and we're generous that way.

[00:13:46] So.

[00:13:46] So talk to me about the proven because I think that's that's an interesting angle like how to prospects customers want want problem solved and then they want to know they're going to get solved. They will pay for solutions that they feel are reliable credible. How do you deliver a message. How do you deliver a pitch that gives that to them that that is successful in closing those deals.

[00:14:10] Ok can I gently push back on. Sure. I mean generally push back on the word pitch. I don't think consultants pitch pitching is let me have your your money I mean to do something cool and along the way you'll benefit. Whereas consulting is let me help you and along the way I'll benefit. And you know it again because we're not we don't create problems if someone has a problem we can help them with it. But the credibility piece which starts to lead towards trust and trust is the number one determinant of which consulting firm if any a client will will turn to and probably which accountant they'll turn to which you know whether Attorney architect you name it is going to be based on trust some belief that you can help me that you have my interests in mind that you're not going to make me look bad. Does being the three components of trust. There are long term ways to build trust and there are short term ways to build trust there. Clearly the more expertise you have and that you're able to demonstrate the easier it is the number one thing clients look for unfortunately is industry expertise.

[00:15:13] Geez. Yeah. So let's talk about that one a little bit because I think that's that that is sort of the biggest issue I find in most of these kind of consulting situations is on one hand you know a client wants industry expertise but they don't they don't want people that are working for competitors and things like that like how do you how do you kind of balance this. You know I'm. I'm not sharing competitive information I'm not working with your direct competitors but I want you to have worked with your my direction. It's like how do you bridge that gap radio.

[00:15:44] I was about it. And I will say I work with your direct competitors.

[00:15:50] I'm not going to tell you about them any more than I would tell them about you if need be depending on on the situation. We will have different teams working on your businesses. So you'll you will want that expertise. Use it.

[00:16:02] You want so much work on your competitor who understands the business just not someone who will allow your knowledge of of them confidence to right to affect what we know advise you and vice versa. Because that wouldn't be kosher. Yes. But I work with. You'd have to pay me huge premiums to get an exclusive in an area.

[00:16:25] Yeah I mean I'm again on the development side. That was always the issue too it's like we want to you know we want you to have you know large code repositories of all the things that we typically need in our industry. Anything you write for us has got to be proprietary. It's not like we want the benefit of you sharing everyone else's all over everyone else's code base but we want those base locked away. It's always a challenge.

[00:16:46] I don't you know it's good. It's good to ask for that and I appreciate you asking. And that's not going to happen. And in fact that's not really what you want. Let me explain why. Yeah.

[00:16:55] Or you're gonna pay a significant premium.

[00:16:59] Yeah but you get a premium they'd have to pay that. They wouldn't be able to swallow it.

[00:17:03] Typically that's the kind of stuff that gets them back to. OK fine Well we won't make it exclusive.

[00:17:08] Yeah but it's going to be 5 10x. I mean. And. That's in most cases a metric the research on this is unequivocal that the number one attribute clients look for is industry expertise which I find enormously frustrating. That's not what they should be looking for. And my first book was written for clients because remember my business started off as a GC model and it was all about helping clients.

[00:17:30] And so my first book was how to hire how to find and hire consultants. I just stopped looking for situation expertise. Yeah.

[00:17:36] You don't need someone who's expert your situation they're walking all around your building you need someone who's expert in the outcome you're trying to achieve. And that's the you know that does like beat my heading up the wall that that might be right. But clients don't care. Okay. Yeah that sounds good. Have you worked in my industry.

[00:17:50] So is this like I just they need to check the box or is this you know that this is the so this is more than just I'm not going to start talking to you unless I think that you've got industry action case it was it was something that they were literally using as a criteria for making a final purchase decision. All right.

[00:18:06] It's very often a criteria for our final purchase you know for it to qualify qualifier to even get in the door in many cases. Now it's not always that's not 100 percent. That's just the number one attribute. And so it's far easier to build your business if you have industry focus. These folks are just talking about that are on my mind because I'm actually meeting with them again this afternoon. There are about 40 million are completely focused on one narrow aspect of the insurance business. Yeah. Right. Which is very common. There's a group I work with down in Virginia focused in a very narrow aspect of pharma and we've built them quickly over the couple of years from you basically start up to I think they're going to about 4 or 5 million this year not so bad in a couple of years. Yeah it's about a 10 million dollar group.

[00:18:50] I work with that in California that focuses exclusively on municipal waste rice salad with you know a talked about focus. Yeah. You know one narrow thing and yet you know it's it's millions and millions and millions of dollars. So you know that's that's where you build that's the basis for a strong firm.

[00:19:09] And so do you advise do you advise your clients to choose that so they kind of get through that hurdle or get over that hurdle of interest or expertise and then so then what else. Once you kind of have the industry expertise angle what else goes into that kind of process for helping prospects trust you or feel confident that you're gonna be able to solve their problems.

[00:19:29] Okay. So so yeah so because we've gotten to this through trust. So part of it is industry expertise is obviously if you have case studies if you've done it before like you and I have been around for a while so that a certain amount of grey hair does help because we've seen it. We've been there right. We've made the mistakes and seen how to do it right.

[00:19:45] So all of those things help you know I publish it. I write a fair amount. And so people can see what my knowledge base when I'm on stage people can see it. So some of that becomes very easy you can demonstrate and you can get a brand over time but there are things you can do very quickly that will help you build trust. A few of them just for instance. One of them is listen. Yeah. You know it's remarkable. Most people do a pretty lousy job of listening. Listening is very difficult but if you will just listen you will build trust with the persons at least knows that you are hearing them know that you are paying attention to them that you can read your listening well enough you can reflect back that you're focused on them that builds trust because they know most people don't focus on them. Most people aren't listening. Most people are just rehearsing what they're gonna say next.

[00:20:35] Yeah it's interesting. I think you know there's this kind of trust equation out there and I remember one of the variables being the that to the extent one of the negative variables was to the extent that they perceive USL focused right now if you come across as being self focused not them focused. That's going to reduce your trust.

[00:20:49] So this idea if you can listen and actually show them that you're hearing what they're saying and actually thinking about it and reflecting it back to them using active listening and stuff like that stuff well will increase your level of trust.

[00:21:02] Absolutely. Yeah. I'll give you I'll give you one little technique. This is more technique issue than philosophical good part of what we're talking about is philosophical. So I'll leave you something at that is just flat out technique is I mean I call looped backs and it's making a small promise and then living up to it. So for example let's say you and I are having a conversation between you and you ask me you know could I give you a couple of examples. I might say yeah I give you a couple examples. If you don't mind. Let's get back to that in five minutes just so we can finish a couple of things we're in. We're talking about and then five minutes from now I say no. You wanted some examples let me give you those examples. OK what I've done is I've made a small promise and then I'd looped back to that promise delivered on it.

[00:21:42] Things that prove delivery. Exactly. You see what happens is is when you're working with a prospect a potential client a potential customer there. They want to trust you but they don't know. They don't have any experience with you on the big things. They don't have any experience with you delivering on the big commitments. And so all they can do is base their judgment on how you perform on the little things you show up on time. If you promise something if you promised a materials did you send it to them. Yeah right. All those little pieces and you can actually create opportunities for yourself to demonstrate that you live up to your commitments.

[00:22:21] Yeah. I like that. I think I use that a lot of promising to send them something a follow up you know with an article or a book or something like that. You know that's important for me in the beginning as the relationships as is having those little things where you're providing making promises and deliver them and sending it to them later and vice versa. I think that's also they I'm always looking for to as is finding ways for them to make little promises and and deliver on. Because that shows me that they're interested and they're they're engaged in the relationship in the conversation by actually following through on things they don't deliver. That's an indicator for me.

[00:22:52] Yeah that's very smart. That's great.

[00:22:54] So what else about trust so. So these are the things that a company a firm can do to build trust in the kind of sales conversation and that sales process sure. Anything else that we haven't talked about.

[00:23:05] Oh I mean there's there's tons right because there's whole books written on this and this is just one one aspect. I mean ultimately the biggest I think skill sets that are critical in this is one the ability to listen.

[00:23:18] I teach half day modules for firms on listening to it's one of my most popular ones it's actually one of most fun ones to do. And no it's not what you think we don't just sit for half an hour quietly listening you know that that would be fun to you know so listening. So that's half of it but then the other half is being able to take what you listen to and reframe a trust.

[00:23:41] You build credibility when you are able to demonstrate to your your client that you know their world perhaps better than they do or you can see it in a way that they haven't thought of before but that will be incredibly beneficial.

[00:23:55] So it's this is this just reflecting back to them this is what I've heard you say is this or is this.

[00:24:00] I've heard you say this and I'm thinking of it this way like you're adding something new to it yet in mere fact that ideally it's here's what I've heard you say and then makes a lot of sense in fact that that is a very common way to think of it. If you're open to it I'd like you to show you a different way to think about this. Here's how I would do this. I would think about this in three parts. And now you're creating a model for creating a framework something they can hang their hat on and go holy cow. Yeah I didn't realize that you know that's how we're so consulting to me is very simple business. There are only there's really only three parts plus strategy. There's only three parts. You've got to win engagements and you have to create value. That's the spending cycle. I mean that's the heart of it right now when engagements and we profitably create value underneath that you have infrastructure that keeps that cycle spinning that's it. And that's the whole business. Super simple. Once you understand that model then you can work on it then you can build your business. You can see what do we say what do we need to do with each of these and wrap strategy around it. What do we need to do them. So that's just one example of a simple model and being able to give your prospects a way of thinking of the world that simplifies it and helps them and is different and gives them an insight builds trust builds credibility. Really. I mean it shows you know what you're doing which hopefully you do that helps of course. Well the best way to be trusted is to be trustworthy.

[00:25:19] Yes to be able to successfully deliver on what you're promising. So what else typically goes kind of right or wrong inside.

[00:25:26] Consulting firms in terms of so if we get the if we get the market focus right. If we get the trust right know what are the big things that you need to focus on or put in place to successfully scale a consulting firm.

[00:25:39] Sure. Well. So there are three very common challenges in a boutique firm a boutique firm is one challenge or facing is how do we get more rain and especially get more rainmakers. I was talking yesterday to the CEO of a firm that just called me and said We've got 200 consultants probably two of whom are producing 75 percent of the revenue. Wow that's not unusual. Yeah. So how do we get the rest of the rainmakers. We have 30 people at the rain making level. How do we get them to more consistently create rain. How do we when we get rain. How do we make that rain bigger right. So that's one problem. More rain from more rain makers and that comes from having the right process more than anything right. Because you asked me to analyze almost all these cases. The second big challenge for a boutique firm is how do we profitably scale. How do we grow this thing and produce and continue to produce good results with quality wells.

[00:26:35] And is that typically the issue is that quality tends to suffer. Yeah absolutely.

[00:26:39] It's easy to do when you're five people and it's a very dynamic and you're all talking to each other and you can maintain everything you get five hundred and all of some that communication starts to break down in the firms.

[00:26:48] There are some natural inflection points. And by the way only one percent of consulting firms make it past 20 million dollars.

[00:26:55] So 11 percent in number.

[00:26:56] So only 1 percent of the 1 percent of all firms get past that. So you know so let's say you though you're trying to build it to 10 million or 15 million. There are some important inflection points you get past once you get a lot past 20 million once you're at well this firm actually ushers one hundred million. Once you you start getting 100 200 300 million you actually look much more like any corporation. And the problems are a lot like corporations but you know sub 30 million the problems are quite different. You know number one being how do we get more rain from one more rainmakers. Number two being how we scale profitably and number three being how do we attract and retain top down.

[00:27:32] Yeah exactly. Talent's always an issue.

[00:27:34] Exactly. Talent is always an issue. And those are not completely separate issues they are intertwined. Now often there will be an aspiration that will tack on that I hear which is how do I get out and how do I sell. And you know my response is always I'm not actually here to help you build a business to sell.

[00:27:51] I'm here to help you build a business you want to keep it like that because that's where I like to play.

[00:27:57] You might want to sell it but I'm not an investment banker.

[00:27:59] Well I think also I mean make sense I mean if you want to keep it that's going to be more likely that other people want it to. If you don't want to keep it there's probably people don't want it.

[00:28:09] Yeah that's true though there are some differences between building a firm to sell and building a firm to keep and you invest more in a firm you want to keep and you know whereas a firm you want to sell you can do some short term things that will drive up revenue but to really make a healthy growing firm in consulting especially you have to invest in in every what everybody says is the number one asset. But we tend to under invest in and that's the people.

[00:28:34] And where do you invest. I mean so it's easy sale. You invest in your people but how do you actually do that. What are the areas that you look at where you suggest firms invest in in terms of talent.

[00:28:44] Yeah. Well town acquisition and talent management it's actually the first staff position I recommend adding when you get to a size where you can have staff people meaning someone who's not in some way creating value directly for a client either because they're an analyst behind the scenes or they're a consultant or a principal or an owner facing the client what's the first position you have that doesn't do any of that.

[00:29:05] It's a talent development person someone knows how to find talent how to develop them how to pay attention to your people figure out who needs what kind of support what kind of prodding what kind of growth the firms I work with that have put that in place accelerate past the rest of them they zoom past the rest because their people are all they're digging it right they have a passion for it that's been stoked they are living it they're seeing they're growing they're winning more clients it makes all the difference in the world I think makes a lot of sense the challenge or the I think the misstep a lot of folks making that in that move though as they end up hiring like an H.R. person who ends up being like an AG that you know they know somebody else making sure that there's a policy in place and a time off manual all these things.

[00:29:51] And that's not because I think that's the that's that's it.

[00:29:54] Yeah. You outsource that stuff. That's that. You said H.R. stuff that you can outsource but people development talent management thinking through what skills do we need to give our people and then how do we give them. And then again on end on an individual level how do we develop these people and do we have the right people. How do we make sure we've got a players who's identifying the key players and helping them walk out the door.

[00:30:17] It's just culture. I mean is this we're talking about you know the actual company culture as well. Sure part of it having a culture on purpose is every every company has a culture and culture is a different question.

[00:30:28] Right.

[00:30:29] That's part of it because so someone who has the time and wherewithal to really think that through and really think through those those organizational issues when my clients is struggling with this because the owners are at the you are our age and all.

[00:30:43] There's no one in the middle and then they have a bunch of millennials and folks are hiring directly from home from school and they're absolutely mystified.

[00:30:51] You know what is making these kids think what's making them tick how come they don't behave the way we behaved released the way we think we behaved exactly. You know when we look at our past through rose tinted glasses and you know what they need actually someone who can help them manage and develop these millennials.

[00:31:09] Yeah yeah that's a big one. As the senior folks move into these leadership positions and are looking at you know developing younger younger talent that is a whole kind of art in itself. You know I've seen people that can do that really really well and I've some people struggle enormously with figure out how to develop younger earlier stage talent. It's a it's not easy.

[00:31:28] No it's not the whole human capital side is very very difficult. It's important but you know it's one piece. You still do need to be able to make rain. You got to have a revenue generating engine that works and you can rely on and you have to have scalable delivery.

[00:31:44] Now those three together and you know then you're starting to cook with gas as they say.

[00:31:48] Yeah.

[00:31:49] So no one cares how you typically work with clients like what's your engagement structure with the firms that you're advising coaching.

[00:31:55] Well depends which of those three they're looking for. Right. So are they looking for for overall growth. Or are they looking for you know you just help us on our revenue generation. Well I do. It's about 50/50. OK.

[00:32:07] All right. So when it comes to can you help us attract and retain the right people. I don't play in that area actually.

[00:32:14] Yeah. You advise them that it's something they need effects but that's not your area.

[00:32:19] Well I'm not a recruiter. I'm not. You know as I do the first two I don't do the third one. You know how do we make more rain. How do we scale the business if it's scaling the business. It doesn't look that different from any other consulting gig. I have a diagnostic that's pretty well proven we spend a couple of days together. I interview tons of people in addition and often talk to clients. Yesterday I was on a ride along actually with a client at their client to understand how they are are presenting how they're perceived. So I Terrell's part of the business. I'm like Yeah I mean it's great. You know nice diagnostic there's there's 19 levers we can look at the see which ones need to be be focused on and then we set priorities focus and knock them out.

[00:33:01] It's not overly complex you know as an entity it's not easy. Yeah. Well well as in any other business it's you know it's hard to fix it from the inside. Yeah I have a business coach helps me with my business. You say wait a second I grow consulting firms for a living. Why would I have someone help me because I'm in it. Yeah exactly. You're in the bottle. Exactly right.

[00:33:21] That's exactly right. And so you know so some of it is is helping them see the the obvious some of it is helping them just focus. You know someone has to smack them is a no don't don't thing on another project. Let's get this thing fixed. But somebody of course is a lot of it is experience I built a lot of firms and so I can say don't go down that path. You can by the way I'm just gonna tell you it probably won't work.

[00:33:46] This is probably what's going to happen. Yeah and here's a path that I've seen work over and over and over again. So you know it's not overly complex. You know it's just a path that seems to work.

[00:33:55] David if people want to find out more about you about the work that you do. What's the best way to get a hold of you and get more information.

[00:34:01] Web sites easy, www.davidafields.com and pretty much everything is there. And I'm easy to reach.

[00:34:07] Yeah. It's a great site I've gone through it a couple times. I'll make sure that the URL is in the show notes here so people can click through and get more information and contact you. David that's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time.

[00:34:18] Likewise. Thank you. I really enjoyed it yes. Great questions.

[00:34:21] Thanks. This is fun. I mean I'm sure we could go on for another couple hours but we'll set up some time to do more detailed episodes in the future.

[00:34:27] Perfect. Thank you so much.

[00:34:55] You've been listening to Scaling up Services with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt. To find a full is a podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. This is a Web site that scaling up services dot com and toll free to sign up for the free newsletter scalingupservices/newsletter.