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Episode 137: How the Lack of Focus Can Hurt Your Consulting Business—with Erik Jensen

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. By the end of this episode, you're going to be 100% convinced that niching down in your consulting business is going to make your life so much easier. You're going to get more clients. You're going to be able to run your business so much easier. I know it's that thing that so many consultants are frightened to do or aren't clear why they should do it.

But I brought on a guest, and he and I are mind-melding on why this is such a great idea. Erik Jensen from Predictive ROI. He works with consultants and other small businesses on exactly how to do this, and he's going to convince you why this is such a great idea. And then we'll talk about out how much easier it will make your life and why it makes your life easier and why it will make your business stronger. Let's get started. I want to welcome to my show today Erik Jensen. Erik, welcome to the show.

Erik Jensen: Thanks, Deb. I appreciate being here. I'm looking forward to the conversation.

Deb Zahn: Wonderful. Well, let's start off. Tell my listeners what you do.

Erik Jensen: We are a digital marketing firm, but we're really in the thought leadership space. We help agencies, coaches, and consultants build a position of authority and monetize it. That's what we do. It's pretty straightforward.

Deb Zahn: Nice, simple way to say it. By the way, everybody should copy that. A nice, simple way of saying what you do and what your value is. That's key.

Erik Jensen: If it was only that easy that it just like comes to us, but it takes a lot of iterations and hard work to get that narrowed down.

Deb Zahn: Absolutely. But worth it because when it's that crisp and it's that clear, people get it and now they're excited to have a conversation.

Erik Jensen: It pays dividends for sure.

Deb Zahn: We're going to talk about one of the things that you do in a framework you have, and I love the way that you describe it, which is to plant your flag. What do you mean by that? Why is that so important for consultants?

Erik Jensen: Planting your flag is really about claiming a space within the minds of your consumers. None of us as business owners can be everything to everybody. And if I had to point to the single biggest mistake I see for consultants is their tendency to morph their products, services, and teaching focus to whatever the potential client wants. And that may seem like a good idea at the time, but it also keeps them firmly planted in the ranks of the mediocre.

When we think about planting our flag of authority, what we really mean is what do you stand for, right? How can you make sure that everyone knows who you help, how you help them, and what that outcome is going to look like? If you want to stand out as a business, it's just something you got to do, right?

Deb Zahn: What would you say to the consultant who just heard that and you scared them? Because they think, "I'm never going to get any client if I in any way narrowly define myself." What would you say to them?

Erik Jensen: OK. That's a great question. This is something that we see all the time, the fear of niching down, the fear of opportunity costs. And I get it. It's a real fear. I don't blame any listener that hears that and goes, "Well, that's lovely for someone else, but it's not the reality for me." It's probably one of the scariest things that any business owner faces. I mean, this is whether or not you're just starting a business or whether you've been in business successfully for 20 years.

These are the same fears, the same conversations that we have all the time with our clients. Let me put it into flow to kind of maybe help anybody who's trying to wrap their mind around that understand what I mean. And without planting your flag in a narrow area, you don't know who you help, why you help them, or how you help them, right? Because you're trying to help everybody do everything. And without knowing who you help, how you help, and why you help, how can you possibly have a good value proposition?

I mean, the whole point of a value proposition is clarity of who I help, how I help, and why I help them, and what that outcome is going to be, right?

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Oh, that.

Erik Jensen: And if you don't have a clear value proposition, you're bound to have sales copy that's generic and schleppy and bad. And if you have bad marketing materials, then you're always going to be trying to do hard sales to cold leads. It sounds like at the outset what you're doing is you're saying, "Erik, take this entire ecosystem of people I could potentially work with and I want you to get rid of them." And what that feels like is I'm asking you to cut your baby in half, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Because a lot of times business owners look at their business as their baby. I mean, it's a ton of work. It's a ton of effort. Blood, sweat, and tears go into this thing. They're just like, "Erik, I'm not cutting my baby." OK, but your business is not a baby. Your business is a grapevine. Anybody who's ever tried to grow grapes for wine or anything along those lines knows you do not let the vineyard grow wild. If you do, it doesn't work.

You have to trim the vine down so that it's producing the most that it can because it's focusing all of its energy, all of its nutrients into one task, right? And that's making those grapes. I'm not asking you to cut your baby in half. What I'm asking you to do is treat your business as what it really is, and that is something that can be cultivated to produce a very specific outcome if you do it right. It's not going to kill it. It's going to make it more focused.

Deb Zahn: I love that and more delicious.

Erik Jensen: And more delicious, right? Easier to consume.

Deb Zahn: Exactly. Your analogy was so much more refined than the one I had in my head, which was if I show up at let's say like a Denny's and I say, "Oh yeah, I can work in the kitchen," that means I could be a line staff. I could be a dishwasher. I could be all kinds of different things. As opposed to my friend who can walk into a restaurant and say not just I'm a pastry chef, I'm a French pastry chef. And therefore, she's going to command a much higher price.

She's going to be more valued at the places where she most wants to do the work that she loves. As opposed to me, I could be slinging hash. I could be taking out the trash. I don't know what I'm doing.

Erik Jensen: Yeah. I think that's part of it. When we think about planting a flag, we also equate that to thought leadership. The reason why we kind of use the two different analogies is sometimes planting a flag is what resonates with someone. Sometimes the idea of like a thought leader, it's like, "Oh, another thought leader. The world doesn't need more of those," or whatever it happens to be.

But here's the reality, in the example that you just gave, one of those two people is a thought leader in what they do. If I need to know how to bake a pastry, which one of you am I going to go to?

Deb Zahn: Don't go to me.

Erik Jensen: Don't go to me either. I love to eat baked goods, but you don't want to trust me to bake them. I'm just going to use this as kind of an example, right?

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Erik Jensen: Thought leaders don't create content that anyone else could easily create.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Your cook, the generic cook, is just going to be cooking meals that anybody else with a basic understanding of cooking could probably do.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Right? Thought leaders also don't create content about everything, right? That line chef is creating everything from hash browns to pancakes, to toast, to salads, whatever it is needed. And thought leaders don't compete on price.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: If you're competing on all these generic aspects, what's the only lever you have left to move? It's price, right. If you're like, "Well, I sound like everybody else. I do the same things as everybody else. I help everybody, so I don't even have a specialty. I don't understand your industry or your problem better than anybody else. The only thing I can say is, but I'm cheaper than them."

Deb Zahn: That's right. You'd never hear a French pastry chef say, "I'm the cheapest French pastry chef that you'll ever meet." They'll say, "I'm the best."

Erik Jensen: If they did, you're going to be like, "I don't know if I want to hire you."

Deb Zahn: Exactly. Your last job was at Costco. what?

Erik Jensen: Yeah. Right. Right. It's like, nobody wants half-price sushi. There's just something suspicious about that, right? We'll just continue with these food analogies.

Deb Zahn: No, I love the food analogies. Let's say you're going to set your fear aside and you say, "OK, wait, they're on to something. I kind of get it. I get the food analogy. I'm going to define very clearly who I am, who I serve, and what value I provide to them." What do I do with that? How then does that translate into how I actually get business?

Erik Jensen: Right. I'll break it down at the beginning part because I think that this is where most people struggle, and that is, how do you actually plant your flag with authority? That's the first thing is, how do you actually do it? This is not easy. Just the same way as we talked about that opening statement of, what do you guys do, right? It takes iterations. It is not a silver bullet. But there are three elements to being able to plant your flag with authority.

Number one, what is your true expertise and experience? Where do you truly excel? Let's use a typical example of what I see consultancies do a lot. They're like, "We don't have any one industry we focus on. We don't work exclusively with C-suite versus teams versus leadership teams. We're across the board there, the problems that we solve for people are, boy, it really depends on the problems facing the business itself.

We dig in and we try to understand those problems that we can create solutions for them." Right?

Deb Zahn: Yup.

Erik Jensen: All of that is great. You've told me that you're good at making stuff up on the fly. You're good at making sure that you're smart enough to be able to come up with solutions to problems. That you probably love solving problems. There's nothing wrong with any of that stuff. But what are the problems that someone presents to you that you're like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to knock that one out of the park. I don't have to create the material for it. I've got all sorts of worksheets and tools built around this."

My success, whenever it comes to this, people always tell me like, "Oh my goodness, this was one of the most impactful things that I've ever done." That's your true expertise. What's your genius? That's the first thing that you've got to understand about yourself. Do not go broad. Narrow is better. That's going to be true on all of these. The next one is, what's a unique point of view about that piece?

What do you think that is different or what do you believe that is different than what is typically believed about that? For instance, there is a wide held belief and has been for a little while, although it's starting to get debunked now, that millennials are just terrible employees. Right? Well, of course, that happens every generation, everything along those lines. But ah, man, they're just the worst.

What some people did when it came to hiring and training and things like that is they decided to say, "Well, my unique point of view is it's not the generation, it's the person type." Millennials don't suck. They did research on it. They actually did peer-reviewed research and they double-checked and they said, "OK. What are the personality traits that are the problem?" You know what they found? It's multi-generational.

Every generation has the same sort of mindset and every generation also has a mindset that you can rate people. Their point of view is, you're wrong. It's not all millennials. It's this other thing, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Another great point of view is we believe that mom is the primary decision-maker for all healthcare decisions. She must be the primary audience for all marketing, whether or not she's the patient, right? That's a very strong point of view of we believe this. And then the third thing you need to have is, why do you actually care.

Now, I know that that might sound like no big deal, but it actually does matter because your why for doing this is part of what's going to drive your generosity in it. It's going to drive your interest in it. It's going to drive your curiosity, and it's going to drive how you show up to be the work that you do every day.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: The intersection of all three of these areas, like if you can imagine a Venn diagram, that centerpiece right there, that's your flag.

Deb Zahn: Love it.

Erik Jensen: This is what I'm good at. This is my point of view on that, and this is why I care to do that work.

Deb Zahn: I love that. I love all of them, but I love that last one in particular because prospective clients can tell if you don't have a why. They could tell if you don't really have a stake in what it is that you're offering them. It is a bit repelling.

I've had clients tell me that when somebody shows up and they might say very similar things to you, they might say, "Oh, I've achieved X, Y, and Z," whatever it is that that convinces them that they have the basic goods to make it happen, I have heard from clients they often make the decision based on who they think actually gives a crap about what they care about. And I would too.

Erik Jensen: We want someone to care about our business as much as we do. This is a big decision to have someone come in and consult and say, "You need to make big changes. This is what you need to do and why." I got to trust that you've got their best interests at heart and that you actually care about the work that you do.

Deb Zahn: That's right, or you're either indifferent to the pain or a cause of said pain, which is the other problem.

Erik Jensen: Absolutely.

Deb Zahn: One of the other things that consultants get afraid about is...Say they're with us. They're like, "All right, I'm ready to plant my flag. What if I want a different flag later? Am I going to get stuck there?" Is the other thing I hear quite often from consultants. If they can be convinced to niche down, there's a fear that puts them in a box. What would you say to them?

Erik Jensen: Yeah. I understand that mentality, and it comes from two places in my experience generally. The first reason someone fears niching down and feeling like they're being put in a cage is that they want to keep continually exploring new things. They just love to learn. If that's what's driving you, I would challenge you with this, and that is if you're narrowed down on something and you're actually narrowed down on something, there's plenty to learn.

People spend their entire lifetimes learning about a teeny tiny little section of something. It's OK to learn really deeply. An inch wide and a mile deep. You're not going to run out of things to learn. And then the other reason that people do it is that they think that if I narrow down in this one thing, I'm going to lose or walk away from business.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: That opportunity cost fear prevents them from really understanding the possibilities of niching down. When you niche down, everything that you do as a business gets faster, easier, and more profitable. Everything you do, your sales, your marketing, your onboarding process for new employees, your onboarding for new clients, your accounting, your bookkeeping. Everything gets easier if you niche down. Many times business owners are overwhelmed with all the things that they have to do, right?

Drew McLellan at the Agency Management Institute, he's brilliant. One of my favorite things that he talks about all the time is many agency owners are accidental business owners, right? They were really good at something, and they went, "Well, I could do this." And then they're like, "I'll start a business and it'll be great." And then lo and behold, they're like, "Wait, I don't actually understand how to run a business. I understand how to do the thing, but I don't understand how to run a business."

And very quickly it's overwhelming. The same thing is true with a lot of consultants and coaches and things along those lines. If you're an accidental business owner and you're listening to this, it will make the process of becoming a savvy business owner much, much faster, and easier than trying to be good at everything.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Because you don't have to reinvent the wheel for every new client that you get. You can actually train people to take stuff off of your plate. If every time you're going into a new client or a new situation, you are making stuff up and it's all coming out of your head. And I say, "Can you find someone to be able to take that over from you? Can you hire someone to be able to help you? Can I help you with that?"

You're going to go, "No, man, this is just tough work. They got to be able to think strategically. They've got to have this experience. It's just no one can take this stuff over from me." It's like, OK, fair enough. Now I go talk to that same person who has a really tried and true system, and they help very specific people, very specific problems. I say, "Hey, could you train someone to be able to do this piece of your work?"

And they go, "Oh, well, yeah. Basically they just follow this process, this outline, and do this tool and ask these five questions and do this sort of stuff. I mean, yeah, they're going to need a little bit of experience. But if they did a ride along with me for like three months, yeah, absolutely. Sally could totally take over that piece for me." Vastly different in your ability to grow as a business.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Now you can scale because it's not dependent on how many hours you have in your day.

Erik Jensen: Right. Niching down, I get it. It is scary. It's one of the scariest things that you do. I said that before and I'll say it again because you're not alone if this is a fear that you have. But I have yet to talk to a single business owner who has niched down who has regretted it.

Deb Zahn: That's right. I would agree. I've seen so many people resist, resist, resist, resist, and then almost out of desperation because nothing else is working, they grab onto the lifesaver, which is niching down, and they're like, "Fine. I guess I'll do it." And then everything gets easier and it gets clear and you start to get business. It's almost like that magical switch that happens. Now you actually get to enjoy what you do and you get to do it because now people are going to pay you to do it.

Erik Jensen: Well, and you get to spend your time actually working on the business. You can actually do excellent work instead of frantically working on the next presentation or tool or workshop you've got to put together because you've never done it just like this and you're customizing it for this client. Here's a lot of things that I hear too. A lot of people say, "Well, that's one of my value propositions is I customize everything for my clients. That's what makes me stand apart."

No, it doesn't. It makes you sound like everybody else. And I will tell you that the savvy business owners that purchase that stuff know you're making crap up.

Deb Zahn: That's right. They know you just cut and paste.

Erik Jensen: Right. They're not going to call you on it if they believe that you can do it because they're trusting in your ability to make stuff up that is going to be helpful to them. But they're not going to look at you as less than if you come to them and say, "This is what I do in exactly how I do it." Let's imagine you're going in for heart surgery. Do you trust the heart surgeon, or do you trust the general practitioner who goes, "I read some books. I think I can figure this out."

Deb Zahn: I know where the heart is.

Erik Jensen: Don't worry. Yours is going to be custom.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, that's not terrifying at all. It doesn't mean rote. Repetition bores a lot of people. I don't think that's what you're saying. I think it's important to point out. One of my niches is I get groups of people to come to an agreement on things, particularly if they're mad at each other. I'm good with the people who are mad at each other and come to an agreement. The joke is I cure decision-making disorders in groups.

And now every time I show up and my special way of...My point of view is that people don't make rational decisions. They make emotional decisions. Part of when I come in is understanding that the feelings matter as much as the actual words that are coming out of folk's smiles. Every group is a little bit different. I get this version. I get that version. It's a little bit different, but the tools that I use are in my toolbox.

I might pull out three different tools and a little bit different with that group and a little bit different with that group, but essentially my process is the same. It's not boring, but I'm not coming up with an approach from scratch every single time I walk in. I got tools that I know work. They work in different circumstances. I pull out the tool I need when I need it.

Erik Jensen: Right. I mean, again, just going back to that French baker, that pastry chef as our example, there's probably only about 20 ingredients that person ever uses.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: But they create a myriad of different options for someone to be able to consume. What you're looking for when we talk about niching down is the core elements and truths that you know are accurate. For instance, when we do our work on authority, we know that there are 10 truths of authority. I'm not going to list them all right now because listening to me talk through a list is not going to be super, super interesting.

If someone is actually interested in becoming an authority, we'll send them a book for free. No strings attached, anything like that. We know that because someone follows these 10 truths, they're going to be able to take that with them no matter what permutation there is in their business. It's just accurate. There are truths. And again, this gets back to your point of view.

There are deep truths about the work that you do as a consultant that remain true no matter how the business is different because you see the problems, all of them because we all do, right? We all have the lenses that we look at life through. You see their problems through your lens and your filtering through some stuff. What I'm suggesting is get to know your filters and just make them clear rather than letting them be subconscious.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Let me touch upon one other thing that I know relates to this that is also part of what you folks talk about, which is creating your cornerstone content, which presumably you have to know who the heck you are before you know what your cornerstone should be. What does that do for a consultant that not having that doesn't let them do?

Erik Jensen: Awesome. This kind of gets into your previous question, which I answered part of and then never fully answered the rest of it of like, how does planting your flag really take you all the way through, this is what I'm talking about and who I'm serving, all the way through closing a sale. We use cornerstone content in a really specific way. Cornerstone content is something that is regular, so you're doing it on a regular basis. This podcast would be an example.

It can be sliced and diced into smaller content. Again, this podcast is an example of that, right? You can take this in smaller bits. You can write blog posts off it. You can write emails off it, social media off of it, things like that. It is not a one-trick pony, meaning that if let's say the world exploded and all this stuff happens and, I don't know, your podcast hosting platform went down and closed doors, you could just move your podcast to someplace else.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Let's say if iTunes decided, "You know what? We're done. We're not doing anything else with podcasts," OK. Well, you've got Libsyn. You've got Google Play. You've got Stitcher. You got all these other platforms. So it's not a one-trick pony. There's plenty of places to do that. If you're building a business or a cornerstone content in let's say doing Facebook Lives, that's tricky.

Because if you built your platform on Facebook and Facebook decides that they don't want to support that anymore, you got a one-trick pony on your hands.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: What you do is you take the cornerstone content, and every time you do that cornerstone content, it should be about hammering your flag deeper into the dirt in the area that you're claiming. Every time you do this podcast, I know that we're happening to talk a lot about food in this particular episode as analogies, you're not all of a sudden getting on and saying like, "Hey, who wants to hear about recipes?"

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Right? That would be weird and it doesn't serve the cornerstone content.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Every time the cornerstone content helps you dive deeper into your authority within this particular space. You know who you're speaking to, what you're speaking to them about, and how it's going to be helpful to them and your point of view around how that helps them, right? Throughout all of that, you're weaving through, why do you care?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: If I were to ask you, why do you care about your audience?

Deb Zahn: Because I want to reduce suffering. That's my shortest answer.

Erik Jensen: Right, but you know it.

Deb Zahn: I know it. I know why I started this. I saw too much suffering. I did what I could to alleviate it, and I thought, I need to take that to scale.

Erik Jensen: Right. And the right people listening to this are going to hear that message, Deb, and they're going to go, "Oh, I love that she doesn't want me to suffer. I don't want me to suffer."

Deb Zahn: Suffering sucks.

Erik Jensen: Right? Suffering sucks. I'm glad we're aligned on I don't want to suffer, right?

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Erik Jensen: For us, when I think about myself and my business partner Steven, we care because small business is in our bones. It's who we are. It's who our families are. It's who our friends are. We love small business. It's just what we do. We're passionate about it. We would nerd out on it, even if we didn't have a business around it.

Deb Zahn: That's right. You talk about it even when your friends hope that you don't like at dinner parties.

Erik Jensen: Right. That's what a good authority is, right? You are kind of that person who for the right people are like, "Man, I want to hear more." But for the wrong people, they're like, "Oh my God, this is so boring. How can you still be talking about this?" And you're like, "Oh, let me tell you more." Right?

Deb Zahn: Love it. What I'd like about it, and I want to hammer this in with the flag, is I've seen a lot of consultants who are like, "Oh, I should do marketing. I should do social media, and I should do whatever," and it doesn't match what they actually do as a consultant. They're now sending a signal often to a different audience, different message, different flag or lots of little flags. I can't tell who they are and what they're doing, so it's not going to serve their purpose.

Erik Jensen: Yeah. What we usually...That's amazing. Man, apparently we use way too much food in our analogies in Predictive. We usually call that throwing spaghetti at the wall, right? Is you're hoping something is going to stick. You don't know what's going to work, so you're just like chucking it and hoping something is going to stick. And then you'll immediately go, Oh, that was the thing. Look, it got me a client, or it got me two clients. I must now instantly dive deep into that one thing."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: And unfortunately, what that does is, again, it means that you're jerking back and forth. And not only are you giving yourself whiplash, if you have a team, you're giving them whiplash too. Your audience who's trying to consume your information is also getting whiplash. They have no idea who you help or how you help them. It feels like you're throwing darts at a board. You don't see it as a business owner as much when you're doing it yourself. But I promise you, your audience sees it. They experience it every time.

Deb Zahn: Clients have said the words to me about other consultants that they just seem all over the place. They can't tell if they're really for them or not. They just kind of watch and they're like, "Well, maybe when they settled down, it'll make sense to me," or they don't even take the time and effort to say that because there's plenty of consultants who already know what they want.

Erik Jensen: Right. And that's the thing is if you're not competing on that particular piece as an expert in that field and they know that you can do that thing, somebody else is going to be planting that flag. Somebody else is going to be consistent about that message. That's who you're competing against. You're competing against that heart surgery. There will still be clients who decide to go with you, but you know why they're going to go with you?

Deb Zahn: That's right, and they may only go to you once. And they realize, "He didn't know where my heart was. What are you talking about?" Oh my goodness.

Erik Jensen: I went in for heart surgery, and I came out missing a leg. It was weird. I think I'm going to pass on going to that surgery.

Deb Zahn: Pretty much.

Erik Jensen: There's no way planting a flag will hurt you as a business. I promise you. When you take that cornerstone content and you create this regular stuff and you're diving deeper into it all the time, you're forced to think about it all the time, you're putting out consistent content all the time about this specific thing, with a specific set of people, and you're using this specific point of view and framework to be able to talk about at it, there is comfort in knowing you know what you're talking about.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: And then you're slicing and dicing that all into these cobblestone pieces so that you're able to disseminate across all these platforms, to your point, without having a bunch of randomness in it, without throwing spaghetti at the wall, without putting all these tiny little flags out there. There's a consistency. It all draws back to what you're doing. Now, let's think about what that does for the rest of your business.

I know who I'm helping, how I'm helping, and what problems they're facing, what industry they're in, my point of view, the framework that I use, all those pieces, and it's consistent. I'm not remaking that for every client that I have. Well, I bet my value ladder just got a whole lot clearer because I know which products and services I need to have in my value ladder. Because I solve these six problems, so maybe I have six products, or maybe I have a good, better, best.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Where it's good solves two problems, better solves four, best solves all six, right? It's going to make when you articulate any of your marketing and your sales conversations really, really clear. What do you do? This. What problems you solve? This. Right? In fact, they're not going to be asking you that at stuff because they're going to have consumed your information. They're going to come in. They're going to go, "Oh my gosh, I've been so looking forward to this conversation. Here's the problem," and they're just going to lay it on you.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: You're going to get to be there as someone who's asking questions, absorbing information, not prescribing, right? Because if you're trying to do everything differently for every person, all you can do is prescribe. You're like, "Well, I think you should do this, or maybe you should consider this, or could you try that," or things along those lines.

Deb Zahn: More spaghetti.

Erik Jensen: Right, more spaghetti. Whereas when they're coming to you and they know what you do, you don't have to convince them that you know what you're talking about.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And when they say what problem that you solve, you can actually then answer yours because you pre-qualified them. I just got off a call with a previous client who just showed back up with six figures in hand and said you. There wasn't anybody else. They are not talking to anybody else about this. It's because they know I solve the problem they have in front of them, and I'm fun to work with, and I talk about food.

Erik Jensen: There you go.

Deb Zahn: All of those things. And that sales process just got easier. I didn't have to do anything because I had that clarity and that's all they've ever experienced for me.

Erik Jensen: Great. When you think about the transitional moments in your business, from like someone going from they don't know you to maybe they're on your mailing list, to now they're showing up to webinars or Q&A's, to maybe they bought a single product or service from you that's got a limited time, to now it's monthly reoccurring revenue. Again, each one of those stages is easier because you know this is your problem. This is who it is. This is how to solve it. This is my framework.

This is my point of view. Let's keep going down this path, right? All your sales materials, all your sales conversations, you name it, everything gets easier. And I know I said that earlier, but everything gets easier.

Deb Zahn: It truly does. I feel like there's a t-shirt that needs to happen that says, "Niche down. Everything gets easier."

Erik Jensen: Right. Yeah. If I can go back in time and whack my younger self upside the head, there are only two lessons I would pass on. One is don't do it all yourself. Hire people who are smarter than you at the things that you're bad at, right? Because they niche down and they're really good at that thing.

Deb Zahn: Thank you.

Erik Jensen: And niche down yourself so that you can focus on your area of genius so that people will hire you for the exact same reason as you would hire someone else.

Deb Zahn: Absolutely. Yes. I refer to my first six months of consulting as my pre-niche years, six months of pain because nothing was working.

Erik Jensen: Well, you were a quick learner then.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. It took about six months. I finally knocked myself up the head and went and asked somebody who said, "Have you niched?" And I'm like, why would I do that? Erik, this has been so rich, and I feel like we could probably have a multi-hour podcast Joe Rogan style, but way better. But where can folks find you?

Erik Jensen: Yeah, absolutely. We can be just found at It's pretty straightforward. And then I had mentioned earlier for anybody that is interested in the 10 truths of authority, and honestly, that's two-paragraph in the book or three paragraphs, but we do have a book. It's called Sell With Authority. You can just go to And that's actually free.

We care pretty deeply about authority and helping others achieve that for their business because we know business is hard. Business is really hard. And anything that we can do to help businesses be better about that, we're thrilled to be able to do that. We want to be able to help as many business owners as possible. I don't care if someone ends up working with us. I don't care if they never speak to us again.

If they want the book, they can go there. We'll send it to them and hopefully that will help them along in their journey as a business.

Deb Zahn: That's fabulous. And we will have a link to that in the show notes, including to your website, but specifically to that. Erik, let me ask my very last question and you knew this was coming.

Erik Jensen: I did.

Deb Zahn: Which is the other thing niching down can help with is bringing more balance to your life. How do you bring balance to your life? However, it is you think about or define that.

Erik Jensen: Yeah. Does niching down help bring balance? Yes. But how do I bring balance to my life? The honest answer is I'm not great at it.

Deb Zahn: Yep.

Erik Jensen: And I know very few business owners that would say that they have mastered it if you asked them that during a tough week or a tough month.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: There's a lot to be said for looking at balance in a different way, in my opinion. Recently I had the opportunity to hear a presentation. It's at a conference hosted by Elite Entrepreneurs, which is for seven-figure business owners. While the whole presentation was awesome, it was really, really great, there was one line that really hit. What he said was, "All of you say that family comes first." He's talking to a room full of business owners, right?

Very successful, things like that. And then he goes, "And all of you are liars. And that's OK." Right? Because all of us, we look at our true time and energy and resources and things like that. Running a business takes a lot and sometimes that means it's going to be unbalanced. But what I took away from that was, you know what? Give yourself some grace sometimes, right? Many days I don't have the balance that I want, and I can't be perfect at everything. No one can.

You can't be 100% focused on every aspect of your life all the time. We're physically incapable of it. Give yourself some grace. Try to be better. Try to learn and try to build your business to support your goals. I think that's the other side of this that I would recommend. I'd mentioned earlier Drew McClellan. He's one of our mentors here at Predictive, and he calls work-life balance unrealistic. It's about work-life blend.

How are you designing a business that supports each other? If I look at Predictive, I never wanted to work in an office. I don't know. Maybe some of your listeners are feeling the same way. They're like, "Yes!" Or maybe some were like, "Man, I miss working in an office, but I never wanted to work in an office." Predictive is 100% remote. Always has been, always will be. I like working with small businesses, not large corporations. We work with small businesses.

I like to travel with my family. When we travel for business trips and things along those lines, I usually try to bring them with and we take a couple of extra days and we explore the place that we're in. Balance is hard. Balance is really hard and you're going to it up as often as you get it right. But give yourself some grace and don't try to be superhuman because it's unrealistic.

Instead, try to find the small things that you can do to change in your business that are going to help you support that work-life blend.

Deb Zahn: Love it.

Erik Jensen: Hopefully that's useful.

Deb Zahn: I love that actual approach, particularly the give yourself grace part because I think sometimes people beat themselves with a balance stick, which doesn't help. It actually just creates hard feelings that make everything else harder.

Erik Jensen: Yeah. I think we get unrealistic expectations. People are really good about seeing everybody else's front of the stage and judging their back of stage versus everybody else's front of stage.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: You don't see this stuff that's going on. They're like, "Uh, they've got a beautiful house and beautiful family and nice car and they're going on all these adventures," and all that sort of stuff. To the back of stage and it's like, yeah, they never get to spend time in that house. They never drive that car.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Their laundry is insane.

Erik Jensen: Right because they're working 16 hours a day.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Erik Jensen: Find out what's right for you as far as what that balance looks like or that blend looks like and try to improve a little bit every day.

Deb Zahn: Love it. Well, Erik, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. There were so many I know you use the term golden nuggets, and I would say there was many in here. Thank you so much. I think this is going to be really helpful for folks.

Erik Jensen: Awesome. Yeah, I hope so. Obviously, if anybody has any questions about this stuff, they can reach out to me. It's just too. Again, we're happy to answer any questions. We got a Q&A as well that folks can come in and just drop in and ask questions as well. We try to be as helpful as possible just like you because we believe deeply in this sort of work.

Deb Zahn: Fabulous. Thank you.

Erik Jensen: All right. Thank you, Deb.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or if you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is, one is, if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

And then the last thing is, again, if you've gotten something out of this, share it, share it with somebody you know who's a consultant or thinking about being a consultant, and make sure that they also have access to all this great content and all the other great content that's going to be coming up.

So as always, you can go and get more wonderful information and tools at Thanks so much. I will talk to you on the next episode. Bye-bye.

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