Being a consultant takes a few ingredients. All consultants have to be able to juggle wearing a multitude of different hats while completing a variety of goals and objectives. Your job is to create plans based on what your customers want or need. So, what’s the difference between a good consultant and a great consultant? Good consultants reach out to existing customers and ask them what they might want or what they need. They then create plans around the feedback that they’re given. They’re playing it safe. Great consultants, on the other hand, dream about what people really want or need. They bet on those ideas paying off and they take risks to produce greatness.

This may not sound like something you’re familiar with, but you can actually find many examples of companies developing products and services that people didn’t know they wanted or needed. They aren’t asking for it, but once they see it and have it they wondered how they ever lived without it. One such example is the smartphone.

If you’re waiting for customer validation before you make any moves, you’re playing it safe. This is not how greatness is achieved. Playing it safe is time consuming and it is only addressing the immediate visible wants and needs. Thinking above and beyond the scope, to dream about what people really could want or need and then acting on it, is taking a risk to produce greatness.

In an interview with Elon Musk, Musk commented on innovation. “[T]here’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.” This applies to the vast majority of companies who get stuck in the loop of producing legacy products instead of risking innovation that may affect their profits.

You can be good by addressing visible wants and needs with small improvements over time. On the other hand, you can take the risk, chance the fall, and create products and services that your clients didn’t know that they needed in the first place. The choice is yours.

What kind of consultant do you want to be? What is the correlation for you between risk and innovation? What is the difference between a good and a great consultant? Comment below!