I think the most exciting entrepreneurial opportunity out there for indie consultants is to find and adopt an orphan problem and them build up a brand colosseum around the solution.
There are 3 terms in there I need to explain.
- You're a self-employed consultant.
- You do actual consulting (helping clients initiate or respond to change), not the kind of "consulting" that big bodyshops do (integrating big software systems, project management, etc.). You may use a variety of delivery models for that consulting; you are not constrained to 1-to-1 services.
- You have a small team or you work by yourself, perhaps with some part-time or virtual assistance or with ad-hoc per-project teams assembled from your professional network.
- A problem with no commoditized solution.
- A commoditized solution is one where, even if the actual consulting project is custom scope, there is a somewhat standardized approach to solving the problem, and this approach is largely the same across multiple vendors.
- One hint that you are looking at a problem with a commoditized solution: it's common for buyers to issue RFPs seeking competing proposals to solve the problem.
- A business that offers a combination of problem-focused services the market wants to buy and a more aspirational or philosophical ethos the market wants to buy into.
- The services both solve problems and support the market's progress towards the aspirational goal or philosophical approach that lies at the center of the brand's "colosseum".
- In this way, the services are a tangible fractal of the intangible ethos the brand advocates.
I talk more about the brand colosseum idea here: /pov/brand-marketing-and-direct-response-marketing-for-indie-consultants/
Again, I think the best, most interesting entrepreneurial opportunity out there for indie consultants is to find and adopt an orphan problem and them build up a brand colosseum around the solution. I stress the word entrepreneurial because this path involves risk.
For many of us, the indie life appeals, but taking on additional risk beyond the baseline risk involved in self-employment does not appeal. This is 1000% fine. :) In this situation, the advice to find a "river of money" (aka: a problem with a somewhat commoditized solution) and set up your business next to that river of money is the ideal approach. Get good at reliably producing results for clients who need search engine marketing, EOS implementations, website messaging strategies, HR incentive plans, marketing work, or any one of a thousand other semi-commoditized solutions and you'll have a stable, reasonably low stress way to make a good living. And even within the domain of semi-commoditized, "normal" services you can be a leader or innovator.
I'm fascinated, however, with the upside potential offered by combining pragmatic self-made expertise with the sheer audacity of the brand colosseum model.
It's audacious on two counts:
- You believe that the problem(s) you're focused on are significant enough to build a business around, even though few others are doing so.
- You believe that you can identify and articulate an aspiration or philosophy that is better than what the market currently holds to.
This audacity, especially the second point, sometimes takes my breath away. I marvel at the boldness and vision my clients exhibit.
It's why some of my services (like TEI) have a similar level of audacity baked into them.
The indie consulting business model menu offers several appealing choices.
I think the opportunity to build a brand colosseum is the most exciting one.