July 23, 2020

The Indie Consulting Business Model Canvas V0.1

A way of thinking about your practice

Earlier this week we ran a highly experimental session around defining and mapping out an indie consulting business model canvas.

Indies unfortunately are starved for any kind of “review” of their business - no peers, no colleagues, no performance review, and sometimes no time to reflect. This work can be incredibly useful - to just stop and reflect on your own practice. Especially on where you might want to evolve / grow your practice in the future.

So I created a template for spending some time with your business, journaling, mood boarding and filling out a picture of what your practice looks like, how it works and where there might be blind spots.

The canvas I created is geared towards my own worldview, my own practice and so on - so please treat this as only one possible way to do this. There are as many indie styles as there are indies!

For my canvas I structured the canvas around 4 “worlds” - and within each theme 3 provocations:

Inner World

  • What stage is my indie consulting at?
    • Provocation: Who are your peers? Who do you look up to?
  • Who am I? How do I describe myself?
    • Provocation: How would you describe the work you want to do not just what you currently do?
  • What’s my growth story?
    • Provocation: How might you turn your personal growth story into a client-relevant narrative?

Outer World

  • How strong is my network?
    • Provocation: Do people in my network have an accurate detailed picture of the kind of work I do / want?
  • How do clients know they can trust me?
    • Provocation: What is the most trusted brand or institution that you’re associated with? How can you make that more visible?
  • How do I show my thinking?

Client World

  • What do clients look like?
    • Provocation: What common traits can you identify in your clients as humans? What are common traits of your point of contact not just the company?
  • What does my strategy work look like?
    • Provocation: What are the expanded contexts above/adjacent to my strategy work?
  • What does my stewardship work look like? (More info on strategy/stewardship here)
    • Provocation: What parts of my strategy work are NOT part of my stewardship work? How might I learn how to do them or partner to provide expanded stewardship?

Money World

  • What is the financial situation?
    • Provocation: Where is the panic level? What is enough? How long can you go without work?
  • What is the avg size of a client? Avg year?
    • Provocation: How can you smooth the gaps between projects? Do you have any passive / recurring income?
  • What is the avg length of a client engagement?
    • Provocation: What triggers a client project ending? How can you reflect / identify these earlier?

My own reflections

I spent a few hours (yes it took me that long!) mulling these and sketching out some answers and you can get a feel for it here (click to enlarge):

Note - I think the right stance here is to use the text on the left as journaling and the grey areas on the right as a mood board. The aim is to create an open, exploratory sense of your practice - NOT to create a definite, polished “one pager” for your business.

I’m still opening up and mulling some of the ideas but a few things I realized about my own practice:

  • Google is such a core part of client’s perception of me and yet I never ever reference Google. How to expose this part of my identity more publicly? (without talking about the times I cried in the office lol)
  • I do a lot of writing but almost none of it is tied to arcs and narratives clients care about! The handful of times I’ve written about decentralized branding, content & brand etc have driven client interest directly. I should do more of that.
  • I have no beef in my public persona :(
  • Executive sparring is a key piece of personal growth and definitely the next type of work I’m after

Go make your own!

The figma file with my own template and a blank template is here:

indie business model canvas template

Go make a copy and have fun!

I’d love your feedback on what is most/least valuable here? And I’d definitely encourage asking your own provocations - adapt this to your own practice!

Please share back on email, DMs, discord etc.

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This post was written by Tom Critchlow - blogger and independent consultant. Subscribe to join my occassional newsletter: