The Society of Professional Consultants

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How to Determine that One Thing for Which You Want to Be Known!

Tuesday, March 05, 2024 10:22 AM | Laura Burford

You pick-up the phone and hear…

​“I was referred to you. I understand you are the expert, the Go-To-Person. I believe you might be able to help me.”

​As you listen your face lights up. You get off the phone. You are ecstatic. The person who called understood your focus, that one thing for which are known and the person who referred you understood your expertise. That is GREAT!

​Has this ever happened to you?


I love it when a client calls to say it has happened to them. I can hear the joy in their voice and their face is glowing. They talk about how easy the conversation was and how the next steps include a discussion about a consulting opportunity.

The first step to becoming a successful “go to” consultant is having clarity as to your WHAT, for want you want to be known, and WHY, the reason for doing what you do.

Determining your focus requires self-reflecting, assessing, and evaluating you in three areas:

  • Understanding who you are and what matters to you.
  • Leveraging your experience, expertise, and strengthens.
  • Determining what a client needs, desires, and open to paying for assistance.

Determining your FOCUS, your What and Why, is a balancing act.


But before I discuss each in more detail, let me clarify what I mean by FOCUS.

Focus is your consulting business’ FOUNDATION.

Think about the foundation as the base of a house. Getting the foundation right occurs before a builder can add the frame, roof, and windows. If the foundation is not properly set, the overall structure is weakened.

The same holds true when establishing a consultancy. You want ensure the foundation, your focus, is solid because it impacts just about every major decision you make within your business starting with how you define and find an ideal client to engaging with and building long-term client relationships. Clarity as to your focus helps you find people who want to work with you and for whom you want to serve.

Get you focus right and you can soar. Get it wrong and it is very possible you will struggle or even fail.


When I started my own business, my focus was too board. I was considered the Jack of all Trades, the Master of None. I heard comments such as you have a great business plan; with your experience and expertise you wouldn’t have any problems; and you might want to connect with a ___________ (fill in the blank).

Looking back, I wish someone had pulled me aside and offered hard love questioning my focus because my focus was not that one thing that would make me soar.

Overtime I narrowed my focus down to an area of information technology for which I knew people needed and wanted assistance. I knew they were willing to pay for help but there was one problem. It was not an area of information technology that I enjoyed.

My internal compass was not aligned with the external need and no matter how hard I tried my heart wasn’t into it. There was no joy in running the business.

It took me time to get my focus right. I wish I could say I was unique but I am not. Many consultants struggle with clarifying their focus.


Below is an approach to help you clarify your FOCUS – your What and Why. It is the approach I discuss in the Consulting Mastery program. It is an approach that requires you to self-reflect, assess, and evaluate.

Start by understanding who you are and what matters to you. This requires you to

  • assess who you are and want to be,
  • evaluate what matters to you and is important to you, and
  • determine the effect you want to leave on others

You define who you are not only based on what you have done in the past professionally and personally but also based on what you want your life to look like in the future.

You evaluate what you like as well as dislike to do. Ask yourself what lights up your face when you talk about it. People say to me that when I talk about helping people become successful consultants, my face lights up.

You contemplate how you define success, success on your terms, not someone else’s. So often we define our success based on someone else’s definition.

Understand You is all about you. This is “Your Zone.” It is where everything seems just right for you. Life feels and is comfortable.


Next Build on You. This is not about reinventing who you are. Rather it is about building on what you have already done. Many of us have done things because we needed to do them or people expected us to fill certain roles. As you assess your experiences, expertise, and strengths, you may need to change your mindset.

Start building on you by assessing your professional and personal experiences. Highlight what experiences brought you joy as well as those that you wish you never experienced.

Evaluate your expertise. Has someone put you on a pedestal because of your expertise? If so, why? You might be surprised to learn that the place on the pedestal, is an area you have never considered.

Finally, assess your strengths. You want to leverage your strengths and place your weaknesses on the sideline.

Don’t be surprised if you experience an “aha” moment as you evaluate your experiences, expertise, and strengths. The first time I seriously evaluated them, I did.


Finally, evaluate the Demand and Desire. It identifies what people are open and willing to pay to get your assistance. It is a merger of their need and want. The easiest way to illustrate this area is to describe a scenario which I’ve encountered several times and you may have as well.

During a meeting, a person describes something that they would like or they want. They continue by saying they really need that something and provide a reason. However, the more you dive down and discuss that like, that want, and their need, you realize they are never going to be open to paying for any assistance. You might even realize they will never do anything. There is a need and a want, but no demand and desire to pay.


The Small Sliver

​After assessing you, evaluating your experiences, expertise and strengths, and the demand and desire of people, combine your findings. Evaluate everything and look for areas of overlap and mergers. Keep evaluating until you find a point where all three intersect. This intersection is a small sliver of everything you have reflected on and evaluated.

This point, this small sliver, is where you will find your FOCUS.


Key: You could end up with several “things” in that small sliver. If that is the case, and that is common, ask yourself what are you most interested in. Often what you are most interested in is the problem you want to solve or the problem you solved for you.

If you follow this approach, can I guarantee that you will get your focus right the first time? No, I can’t. But I can guarantee you will be closer to determining a focus that you will enjoy, built on who you are, your experiences, expertise, and strengths, and it iwll be something for which people not only need assistance but for which they are will pay.

What I can ensure is that by following this approach will move you closer to determining that one thing for which you become known as the expert or the "Go To" person.

Sara Blakely said it well,

“Differentiate yourself. Why are you different? What’s important about you? Why does the customer need you?”

My question for you: Do you have clarity as to the one thing for which you want to be known?


Laura Burford helps solo-consultants create sustainable consulting businesses. She is the founder of Laura’s Consulting Guide and the creator of the Consultant's Blueprint and Consulting Mastery program. Check out her YouTube channel and sign-up for Consulting Insights newsletter.   

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