Glossary of terminology for the indie consultant






Commodity

Commodities are sold using a horizontally-scalable business model; this enables profitably selling products or services that have a high degree of consistency and quality to a large market that expects reasonable pricing.

Horizontal Scalability

The ability to increase the unit sales or revenue of a business by adding employees, thereby increasing throughput. Simply: scaling by selling more things (rather than selling more valuable things).

Hybrid Scalability

The ability to scale by both selling more things, and selling more valuable things. Implemented in the solo consultant context by developing products (books, courses, etc. which allow you to "sell more things" without working more or adding staff) and more profitable services (advisory services, group seminars, etc. which allow you to "sell more valuable things").

Lead

A prospect who has indicated interest in your services.

(In the past I've classified mere email list subscribers leads, and this was a mistake; I confused the norms of the commodity context with the realities of the custom consulting context.)

Lead Generation

Activities that increase the likelihood that you connect with existing demand for services. Such connections in the consulting context should lead to exploratory conversations.

Point Of View (POV)

A point of view is an argument (a claim of truth, supported by evidence) made in service of your audience's best interest, made from your clear and relevant perspective.

Learn more about POV

Positioning

Moving a company or brand into a desired market position by 1) changing the product, service, or 2) attempting to change the market perception of the product/service, or 3) by attempting to increase visibility for the product/service. In the consulting context, positioning is a strategic effort to cultivate an economically-valuable reputation.

Prospect

A potentially qualified buyer within your target market. Does not need to be currently interested, and you do not currently need to be in conversation with them for them to be a prospect. If they could have a need and budget now or at some point in the future and would see you as a credible option, they are a prospect. The size of a target market is the number of prospects (as in prospective clients) it contains.

Specialization

A temporarily narrowed focus in service of an enhanced ability to 1) earn visibility & trust and 2) more quickly cultivate economically-valuable expertise. Specializations are often temporary (1 to 3 years) because the increased visibility and trust that often follows them may lead to more interesting adjacent opportunities or to more challenging opportunities that require you to recruit complementary skills (a sort of re-generalization at a deeper level of impact and effectiveness).

Strategy

Commonly: Efforts to avoid a company's reversion towards the mean. 😏

Ideally: Focused effort (including research, experimentation, and planning) to increase the probability of a desired outcome under conditions of moderate to high uncertainty about whether the outcome will happen.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a long game, played in a spirit of service, focused on the market-facing question(s), transformation, or optimization you decide to own, and "won" by making your market into ever-more effective thinkers, deciders, and implementers.

Thought leadership requires four ingredients:

  1. A thought leadership agenda
  2. Valuable experience and/or primary research
  3. A point of view
  4. A layered content creation and publishing plan

Learn more about thought leadership

Vertical Scalability

The ability to increase revenue or profit by adding higher-priced products/services that are sold with the same people-infrastructure. Simply: selling more valuable things (rather than selling more things).