Focused Specialization is Required for New Consultants to Get Referrals

There have been layoffs in big tech and many former execs are now fractional experts and consultants. I’m getting a lot of outreach for referrals, but many new service providers struggle to help me refer them.

Here are the 3 things I recommend to all of these new solo SaaS service providers:

  1.  Stop saying “I have done a lot of things for several different software companies. I could do many things.” I understand you are very experienced and you are trying not to narrow in yet, but this doesn’t help me or anyone else refer you.

    I don’t refer generalists who do many things for many people. Ever.

    I ONLY refer qualified specialists who are great at solving an important problem for a specific type of company at a certain stage of growth.Like this: “I have done a lot of things in my career, but I’m best at being the first exec product leader for marketing tech software companies as they grow from $5M to $50M.”

    When a founder I meet like that has that product leadership problem, I can refer that and it would be a gift to the CEO who is looking for specialist help.

  2. Stop talking about all the things you can do (or have done) and start talking about the specific problems you solve for a specific target client. Tell me the acute problems you solve.

    Don’t make me do the work to connect your “features” to a customer problem and think up the solution. That’s just marketing and sales 101.

    Most early-stage SaaS founders with under $10M ARR are not looking for generalist consultants. But they do have big problems and they are asking around to find people who can help.

I hear requests like this from founders and CEOs every week:

  •  We are struggling with the efficiency of our demand gen expense and need to get good at organic marketing.
  •  I need to have a more strategic financial advisor that can help me evaluate potential growth strategies, not just tell me what we did last year.
  •  I need someone to map out our customer onboarding processes and make drastic improvements in how fast we get customers to value.

Most entrepreneur-CEOs are searching for solutions to important tactical problems first. They aren’t looking for strategic generalists who can run things after they get figured out.

3.  Pick a stage to focus on and declare it.

I’m amazed at how many exec job seekers, fractional leaders, and strategic consultants don’t tell me the size and growth stage of the software companies they are best for. But it’s always there.

All founders and CEOs know there are execs who are great at specific stages – getting to $1M ARR, getting to $3M, to $10M, or to $30M.

Pick a starting point stage and stay with them as they grow. Your background, superpowers, and business model depend on serving the right size of software company at the right stage of growth.

It’s usually better to start with a declaration of clear focus and change it later.

What problem do you solve for whom? Just be great at that.


Get the weekly Practical Founders email and podcast update.

Share Practical Founders


Win the Startup Game Without VC Funding

Learn how all 75 founders on the Practical Founders Podcast created an average founder equity value of $50 million.