To Keep Growing, Come To Grips With Your Capacity

How to solve the delivery problem, and quit using "full capacity" as an excuse to stall growth.

If you want to bring more clients, projects, and revenue to your consulting business, there's a topic that you will need to address: your capabilities.

Many consultants are reluctant to sell new projects - even to the point of sabotaging business development tasks - when they're not sure the firm can deliver more work.

This is more common with solo consultants, who completely shut down any business development initiative when they're fully engaged on projects. This poor habit leads to the famous "feast and famine" cycle, the number one driver of stress, anxiety, and poor decision-making.

But even boutique consulting firms face the same challenge. Sometimes partners openly recognize that the fear of not keeping up with demand is pushing them to slow down prospecting efforts. Other times, there's a silent resistance - no one hits their targets anymore, and "lack of time" becomes the favorite excuse to focus exclusively on delivery.

The fact is that, if you want to sell more and bigger consulting work, you and your team need to believe you can deliver your marketing promises on every new project signed. Even when you're incredibly busy.

How To Increase Your Delivery Capacity

There are several ways you can deliver more work. Some will be better for short projects with a narrow scope, others for bigger projects that require expertise in different areas. Some will require you to invest money or time in it, or maybe you will need to get creative and look for ways your clients can help.

Here are the most common solutions you can use to increase delivery capacity:

  • Improve your delivery processes: This might be boring for you, but it works. When you document your methodology and create a database of templates, checklists, and presentations that can be quickly put into action, you are saving time that can be directed to new projects. Automating recurring tasks also helps you increase capacity.
  • Shift implementation to clients: You don't need to do everything yourself. Depending on the project, some clients may even pay you more if you move upstream and shift some of the work to their internal team. Instead of collecting and compiling data from multiple departments, for example, you can run a 2-hour workshop to teach your client's team how to do it, and simply overview the process.
  • Keep a "rolodex" of collaborators: Most small consulting firms know the importance of calling external contractors, but are not fully prepared to leverage them. A good rule of thumb is to nurture relationships with at least three professionals on each skill you need to complete your projects. Make sure you work closely with them on internal tasks before you call them for client work.
  • Hire more staff: Sometimes you need to hire internal staff, but be cautious. Good talent is hard to find, the real cost of an employee is much higher than their salary (it's also costly to fire a bad hire), and each new fixed position adds emotional and administrative burden to your business. Wait until you're always calling for contractors with the same expertise before bringing it inhouse.

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