When I first made the switch from compliance to consulting, it was a bit daunting. There weren’t checklists to follow or rules to guide me. It was like going from the compulsory to the interpretive part of the program.

I remember vividly the first time I encountered what seemed to be an insurmountable challenge. It was overwhelming. I was afraid. And I was afraid to admit I was afraid.

I went to the partner to seek their advice on how to approach the issue. They must have recognized the deer in the headlights look on my face, as they had been where I was before. There was a slight pause before the partner asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” I wasn’t sure if it was a trick question or if it was a way of inviting me into their personal space by sharing their desire to partake of elephant meat.

Before I could respond “I imagine with a LOT of hot sauce” they responded, “one bite at a time.”

It was so obvious. And it made sense. And I already did it all the time on smaller challenges. But I had let the magnitude of the challenge and my nagging internal voice of doubt take center stage.

CPA’s looking to start or expand their advisory services may have the same feelings and fears. It is natural and we all suffer from self-doubt to some degree. It is also hard to motivate yourself to start something new when you are so busy.

If you are a CPA adventuring out beyond compliance-based services, be kind to yourself and don’t set the bar of success too high. While it would be wonderful to land a $20k advisory engagement out of the gate, it is unlikely.

Start with an hour or two of billable time to help a client think through their customer segmentation. Repeat that with another client. Or perhaps a client could benefit from a SWOT analysis, or help another client analyze an idea for a new product or service. Frankly, you are already doing advisory services when the client calls to “run something by you”. The concept is not foreign. The construct is.

Bit by bit, bite by bite, your confidence and comfort will grow, along with your revenue and profitability. Your clients will have received valuable insights. And your advisory services will be built brick by brick.

The Growth CPR framework was designed with a “one bite at a time” mindset. It is not a solution looking for a problem or a “sell everything on the truck” flurry of pitches. Those approaches are hollow and contribute to the poor perception of “consultants”.

Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching new heights. You can do this. And you don’t need hot sauce.

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