Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Michael Zipursky, and I’m the founder & CEO of Consulting Success®. We help consultants optimize their consulting business. That means helping them improve their service offerings, pricing, marketing, messaging, lead generation, and more.
We have two flagship products:
Momentum: our course for new consultants who are looking to transition from the corporate world to starting and growing their own consulting business.
Clarity Coaching Program: our coaching program for consultants who want a personal and customized strategic plan to grow their consulting business — and a community of like-minded consulting business owners.
Consulting Success® is a 7-figure business with high-profit margins — one that allows us to travel and work with clients around the world.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My cousin Sam and I had run and sold several businesses before starting Consulting Success®, working with clients like Panasonic, Dow Jones, The Financial Times, Royal Bank, and more. We were at a good place with our consulting businesses. However, we wanted to build a business that allowed us to work from anywhere — one that gave us the freedom to travel the world and spend more time with our families.
We started Consulting Success® 11 years ago without a monetization plan, simply sharing what had worked (and didn’t work) for us in our prior consulting businesses. We wrote a lot of content about consulting: how to win clients, how to price your services, how to converse with your clients, etc. Our goal was to help up and coming consultants implement the best practices that worked for us.
Our “aha” moment came when readers asked if we had a course on consulting. So, we built that course. Our second “aha” moment came when our students asked if we offered personal coaching for their consulting business. So, we built a coaching program. We didn’t validate our services — our audience requested them. In a sense, they validated the business for us. By sharing content, we built an audience. And that audience wanted more help: requesting us to build a course and coaching program to help them start and grow a consulting business.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Our process for building our first product was very iterative. We took the questions and topics that our readers asked us most about, wrote our best content on those questions and topics, and packaged it all together into a system:
By sharing content, we built an audience. And that audience wanted more help.
These were information products, making them easily replicable and inline with one of the main business principles: profitability. We kept in close contact with our first customers. They gave us their feedback on what was missing from the course. So, we took their feedback and improved the course, launching a “2.0” version of our course:
Getting those first few customers is crucial. They’ll give you feedback on your first product. Then, you can take their feedback and improve your product. You’ll get even more customers — and more feedback. It creates a feedback loop, helping you improve your product with each iteration. This is the process we use with all of our products and programs to this day. “Launching” is not an event. Instead, it’s a process that never ends.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We had two “launches” — our first launch was launching our website. It was purely content-based at the start. It didn’t take a massive investment to start writing and sharing what we knew. We set up a simple website and started publishing content.
We had spent a decade before doing the work. We weren’t expert content marketers when we first began. We simply wanted to share what we had learned — and to help others apply it. We were hoping to build up an audience so that we could turn it into a business. And that’s exactly how it happened.
Our launch was straightforward: our readers asked us for a course and coaching program, so we created them. Because we had people asking for our products, we started generating revenue as soon as we launched. That’s the beauty of building your audience first before your product. You have people ready to buy from day 1.
One of the biggest lessons we learned is this: when people are asking you to make something, you know you’ve found a solid product or service idea. We’ve made the mistake of investing tens of thousands of dollars in an idea before asking if the market wants it. But when you take a content-first approach, you put your customer first. From your free content, your audience will guide you toward creating something they will happily pay for.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain clients?
Content marketing — sharing our expertise — is our most powerful vehicle in attracting and retaining clients. We’ve made a habit out of the following activities:
We publish a lot of in-depth articles that drive rank highly in search engines, providing us with organic traffic. This has worked for us since the very beginning and continues to work now. When we’re writing about something, we aim to publish the best content on that topic.
We survey our audience of over 30K consultants and then publish our findings. We’ve done this for consulting fees, marketing for consultants, and health & wellness. These are some of our most popular articles, and help us establish ourselves as experts. Other websites frequently link to these studies, providing us with backlinks that boost our SEO.
We email our audience frequently, keeping them updated on our latest content. Follow-up has always been a critical part of our business. With an email newsletter, you can follow-up with your audience at scale. You never know when people are ready to buy...and if you email them frequently, you stay top-of-mind. They’ll think of you first when they need what you have to offer.
On the Consulting Success Podcast, we interview other consultants and entrepreneurs who share their stories and best practices. Everyone we interview is a little different. Some of them are experts at sales. Some of them are experts at operations. Some of them are experts at lead generation. In every interview, there is a story — a story your listeners can take and apply to their business. That’s what has made our podcast a hit: we strive to make it actionable for our listeners.
We’ve published four books on consulting. Our most recent book helps consultants navigate the new economy. When you’ve been consistently doing content marketing, your books will practically write themselves. They are one of the most powerful credibility markers you can have for your business.
We’ve made the mistake of investing tens of thousands of dollars in an idea before asking if the market wants it.
We approach all of our marketing and sales with a long-term mindset. Always be thinking about how you can add value to your audience. What are they struggling with? Where do they want to be? What can you write, record, or say to help them? That’s what value creation is. And content gives you leveraged value creation. There’s only one of you, and you can only talk to so many people in a day. But you can write one blog post, and it can be ready for millions of people. Share what you know — and do it consistently!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We’re very proud of where we’ve taken Consulting Success® thus far. It’s a highly profitable 7-figure business. It’s allowed us to build our desired lifestyle — a lifestyle where our business serves us, and not the other way around. All of our work can be done remotely. But, we also have an office for team meetings when in-person contact works better.
We get to work with amazing, smart people all over the world. We also host meetups with clients so that we can all get together and meet in person. This sense of community is an integral part of our business — and what makes us happy to do what we do.
Looking forward, in addition to working with experienced consultants helping them to grow and scale, one area of focus will be helping people transition into becoming consultants. Any knowledge worker who works for an organization is building expertise and skills every day. They are creating value for their employees with that expertise. One of the only things separating them from being a consultant is the ability to go out and market this expertise so that they can serve multiple clients instead of an employer.
There’s a reason why so many people dream about starting their own business — freedom, flexibility, and reaching their true potential. A consulting business allows one to do that...and it’s one of the lowest-risk businesses you can start. Helping people transition from a job they don’t like to a business they love is at the core of why we started this business.
Partnership has also been a big part of our success. No matter what type of business you’re in, cultivating relationships is important.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the most important themes in our business is the idea is Imperfect Action. Many entrepreneurs are perfectionists. But, in entrepreneurship, perfectionism is a form of procrastination. Execution is what matters. And you cannot execute unless you’re constantly shipping. Continually shipping, iterating, and improving our content and products is at the root of our success.
We love Reid Hoffman’s quote: “If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.” Emphasizing progress over perfection is key.
Partnership has also been a big part of our success. No matter what type of business you’re in, cultivating relationships is important: with your customers and with the other players in your industry.
Who provides sales services for your market? Who provides financial services for your market? Who builds software for your market? Get to know these people. They can provide value for your audience, and you can provide value for theirs. Marketing is so much easier when you earn the right to “borrow” someone else's audience.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use a variety of tools to run Consulting Success. One of our principles is reducing complexity, and we’ve chosen platforms/software that we feel are the easiest to use in their respective categories.
- Website/Content: WordPress
- Email Marketing: MailChimp
- Marketing Funnels: ClickFunnels
- Virtual Coaching & Meetings: Zoom
- Email Outreach & Follow-Up: Boomerang
- Software Integration & Automation: Zapier
- CRM: Hubspot
- Outsourcing: Fiverr, 99designs
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are too many to name! What’s more important than any particular book, podcast, our resource is the desire to continue reading, listening, and learning.
That said, books and podcasts lack accountability and personalization, which are key to improving your business. To that end, we’ve found coaches to be the most influential resource. If we are struggling with an aspect of our business, we invest in coaching for that aspect. Working closely with someone who has achieved what you want is the closest you’ll ever get to a “shortcut” in entrepreneurship.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Pay very close attention to your mindset just as much as you do on the various tactics, tools, and strategies. What does your self-talk sound like? Are you taking care of your other needs — your sleep, your fitness, and your relationships? Many entrepreneurs romanticize the idea of going “all-in” — but if you don’t take care of your health, you’re putting your entrepreneurial pursuits at risk.
We’ve coached hundreds of entrepreneurs, and we’ve studied the importance of taking care of your health and wellness. The data is crystal clear: take good care of yourself, and your business will take better care of you.
Understanding yourself is key when you are just getting started. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you see the most potential? If you are doing something you love for people you love to serve, you won’t need to rely on motivation or inspiration. It will all flow naturally. That doesn’t mean you’ll be excited to wake up every day and work on your business — but you will feel a sense of duty.
You have a specific gift, and you owe it to the world — your prospective and current customers — to go out there and provide it for them. There’s nothing like your business to provide a sense of meaning in your life. But if you’re looking at purely where the money is, instead of what your heart loves to do, it will never feel quite right.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’ve recently brought on 2 new full-time team members and we bring on contractors on an ongoing basis. But right now, we aren’t looking to hire for any specific positions. That said, we are always looking to grow strategically.
Where can we go to learn more?
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