TSS #016: The Real Definition of Consulting

Nov 04, 2023

Read time: 3 minutes

When the term "consulting" comes to mind, most people conjure up images of highly educated professionals in luxurious offices advising Fortune 500 companies.

The stereotype is one of Harvard MBAs jetting around the world, decked out in fancy suits, to attend important meetings and shape corporate strategy.

But this glamorous stereotype misses the mark entirely.

The reality of modern consulting is much closer to home than you might think. In fact, it's nothing like what you've been led to believe.

Consulting today looks very different than the prestigious, elite image typically associated with the field.

The real consulting world is one of ordinary people solving everyday problems.

It's small business owners looking for ways to grow, parents striving for better health, entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams.

In this series, we will delve into the world of consulting to uncover its true essence and value.

You'll learn that consulting isn't about pretentious credentials or upper class privileges.

It's about making an impact through practical expertise and guidance.

Consulting is for anyone willing to help others achieve their goals.

The landscape has changed.

Consulting has been democratized.

Are you ready to discover what it's really all about?

What is Consulting? The Official Definition

According to the Oxford Dictionary, consulting means "engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field."

That’s pretty simple. Expert advice + a specific field.

In other words, to build a consulting business, all you really need to do is focus on helping a specific niche solve the problems they are facing.

That’s it.

Everyone has a problem they want solved.

The more important the problem being solved, the more people are willing to pay to have it solved.

The definition is straightforward.

If you can provide valuable expertise to a group looking for help, you can be a consultant.

Formal qualifications are not required.

The True Meaning of Consulting

People seek advice because they want to change something in their lives or business.

They know their desired outcome, but need help getting from point A to point B.

The true meaning of consulting is helping people solve problems and move from their current state to their desired state.

The more valuable the client's goals are, the more they may pay for assistance achieving them.

Consulting fees can vary widely based on the value created.

For learning and development (L&D) professionals specifically, valuable consulting advice might include:

  1. Customized Learning Solutions: Creating customized training programs that align with an organization's unique goals and needs. Advising on how to tailor impactful learning experiences for specific audiences and objectives.
  2. Effective Content Creation: Providing guidance on how to develop engaging, interactive learning materials. Advising on instructional design strategies, media selection, and crafting compelling content.
  3. Technology Integration: Recommending technologies and platforms to create state-of-the-art online training. Advising on tools to foster an immersive, seamless digital learning experience.
  4. Assessment and Evaluation: Offering methodology to evaluate training effectiveness and ROI. Developing insightful assessments and surveys to capture the impact on learner performance and organizational goals.
  5. Adaptive Learning: Guiding the implementation of adaptive learning to create personalized, self-paced experiences. Advising on leveraging data and analytics to tailor training to individual needs.
  6. Accessibility and Inclusivity: Ensuring learning is accessible and inclusive for all populations. Advising on universal design principles and how to adhere to accessibility standards and regulations.
  7. Professional Development: Providing strategic advice on nurturing talent and skill-building. Guiding the creation of development programs, career ladders, and continuous learning pathways.

Why People L&D Consultants

There are three main reasons people hire consultants:

  1. They can't reach their goal alone.
  2. They want to achieve their goal faster.
  3. They want a proven system to reach their goal.

Many clients have already tried and failed to reach their objectives.

They know it's possible, but need guidance connecting the dots.

Others want expert help to reach their aims more quickly. Learning from scratch takes time - consultants can help skip past common mistakes.

Some clients simply want to follow a proven blueprint to get results quickly. If someone else achieved their goal already, why not replicate what worked?


The world of consulting has evolved beyond the stereotype of elite MBAs advising large companies.

Today, it is open to anyone eager to help others achieve their goals through expertise and guidance.

For L&D professionals, this new landscape enables exciting possibilities.

You can leverage your invaluable skills to start an impactful consulting business.

Offer custom learning solutions, compelling content creation, and strategic professional development programs to progress people and organizations.

While getting started will require effort and perseverance, the potential rewards of consulting are immense.

The demand for skilled L&D guidance makes this field ripe with opportunity for aspiring consultants ready to share their talents.

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