top of page
  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Challenges In Achieving Product-Market Fit For Solo Consulting

#BuiltInPublic Approach To Sharing GTM Challenges And Missteps

Launching and growing a consulting business comes with unique challenges, particularly in finding the product-market fit (PMF) and the right go-to-market (GTM) strategy. For months, I meticulously developed my consulting services to align with my target market’s needs. Despite having a portfolio of nine case studies from paid client engagements, I struggled to secure new clients and achieve a sustainable PMF and GTM fit.

In this blog post, I will share the challenges I faced. If you are a consultant or agency owner, I hope my reflections spark growth ideas in you.

In an earlier blog post, I share my trials and frameworks that led to these challenges. In a future blog post, I share the potential next steps to my GTM strategy.

You will need 2 minutes to read this post.

Consultant thinking through his ups and downs.
Consultant thinking through his ups and downs.


Challenges In Defining A Niche

I started by offering “product management consulting” services, but the output was not tangible. Does a product consultant help prioritize the backlog, interview customers, or write PRDs? None of those are valuable without complete context. A Product Manager’s job is to make informed decisions with extensive cross-functional context. Context and consulting do not align well.

I talked to 40+ consultants to understand their niche. I refined my niche to ‘customer experience consulting” because I’d improved customer experience at Twilio, reducing support tickets by 30-50%. Every business says they want to provide a great customer experience. However, the value was not tangible, so that didn't work either.

After writing the case studies, I realized my work was in marketing strategy and product-led growth (PLG). So, I refined my niche to offer those services. However, my full-time experience was not in marketing, so I still faced a credibility challenge.

Challenges In Identifying Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

I targeted B2B SaaS companies where my former colleagues or classmates worked hoping for an easier entry. But most of those companies had the skills I offered or preferred hiring someone full-time instead of a consultant.

I talked to small and medium businesses (SMBs), but they did not need my data-driven marketing approach. They could be served by a content marketing agency.

I talked to tech startup founders. They were not receptive because they were either overwhelmed by pitches from marketing agencies or lacked the finances to hire a consultant.

I then decided to talk to businesses similar to Twilio (my former employer) or Distill (my former paid client).

Challenges In Establishing Sales Motion

I talked to over 40 consultants and agency owners to learn their sales motions. I practiced reconnecting with connections I had lost touch with. I wrote about my learnings here. Although I was successful at reconnecting, but often did not lead to prospects or referrals. They gave me helpful advice, but the probability of finding a client seemed slim.

I contacted former colleagues who had moved to small B2B SaaS companies and were in business (not engineering) roles. I also talked to former colleagues or classmates who had been in big consulting firms or had helped me in my career.

I talked to 2nd-degree connections, but the process of getting introductions was slow.

I researched ways to do cold outreach, but had concerns about:

  • Cold emails getting flagged as spam, 

  • LinkedIn’s high cost and usage limits, and 

  • The low likelihood of connecting with targets over international phone cold calls.

I signed up to Umbrex, but realized it is only for ex-MBB consultants. I signed up for Catalant and found some interesting projects. To succeed on a platform like Catalant, I needed to improve my pitching skills instead of my prospecting skills.

I realized I needed to spend most of my time in sales and delegate the product or marketing project work to grow my consulting practice. I would need to own prospecting, request introductions, and cold outreach.

Consulting Next Steps

I outlined potential next steps to grow my consulting business via GTM changes here: Revamping GTM Strategies For Solopreneur Consulting Success




Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page