Why Learn About Consulting Business Models?
This handbook helps you better understand the key components of a boutique consultancy’s business model, presents you with a specialized tool to review your practice, and provides examples of how consultancies have been incrementally innovating their business models.
Here are a few reasons to read this:
1 Jargon-free definitions
Business models are often praised or criticized, but what does that really mean?
"A big part of the firm's success comes from a strong business model." This statement has become commonplace, but the discussions surrounding it are often filled with business jargon, subjectivity, and frameworks ill-suited for our consulting world.
This handbook aims to cut through the noise by providing a clear, jargon-free definition of what a business model is, specifically tailored for solo, micro, and lifestyle consultancies
2 Actionable Strategies for Growth
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the vast majority of business model support you can find out there leaves you with little to no guidance to implement those changes. The goal here is to do the opposite. This handbook doesn't just offer theoretical insights; it provides practical, actionable strategies that boutique consultancies can implement.
Whether you're a seasoned consultant or just starting your own practice, this handbook is an essential tool to support sustainable growth.
3 Insights into Industry Trends
Want to stay ahead of the curve? With real-life examples of innovative models like instant, collaborative, and fractional consulting, this handbook offers a window into trends shaping the consulting industry.
It's not just about understanding traditional models; it's about exploring new ways of creating, delivering, and capturing value. This handbook serves as a valuable resource for those looking to stay competitive and innovative in our rapidly evolving market.
What You Will Learn About Consulting Business Models?
Across 8 mini-chapters, you will understand what a business model really is, learn a specialized framework you can use to review and rethink is, and check how consultancies are actually implementing innovative ways to work:
- Understanding Business Models
- Going Beyond Generic Frameworks
- Value Proposition Drivers for Boutique Consultancies
- Key Resources for Boutique Consultancies
- Key Processes for Boutique Consultancies
- How Consultancies Capture Value in Boutique Consultancy
- Examples of Business Model Innovation in Consulting
- Taking Action in Boutique Consultancy
You can find navigation links at the top or bottom of your screen.
I’ll provide a recap and an exercise on the last page of this handbook, but I highly recommend taking personal notes. Doing this helps you better absorb ideas and come up with insights for your own consulting practice.
Who Should Read This?
TThis handbook is relevant for:
- Boutique consulting founders and partners who are looking to prepare for the future, minimizing risks and capitalizing on future opportunities and new trends.
- Solo consultants or advisors who are launching their own consulting practice or exploring different ways to sell their services, deliver engagements, and build a profitable business.
- Business analysts who are interested in better understanding the boutique consulting space, in special firms with under 15 full-time employees and up to $1 million revenue/year.
The estimated reading time for this handbook is 40 minutes. If you fall into one of these categories, investing the time to read and take notes will undoubtedly provide you with new and actionable insights.
Who's Danilo Kreimer
I'm not just writing about this topic; I've lived it. As a consultancy founder and the founder of the Boutique Consulting Club, I've advised over 30 boutique consulting firms across Europe, the UK, Canada, and Brazil. I've also personally worked with more than 50 consultancies to review, explore, and successfully implement business model changes.
My hands-on experience qualifies me to write about this subject. If you're interested, you can learn more about me here. Now let's jump into the handbook.
Understanding Business Models
What Exactly Is A Business Model?
First things first: what exactly is a business model? It's a question that's easier asked than answered.
When you delve into academic publications, thought leadership, and popular research, you quickly realize that there's no universally accepted definition. It's a complete mess, and that's likely why most discussions are filled with business jargon and subjectivity.
Among the thousands of definitions, we find:
- A company's core strategy for profitably doing business.
- An outline of how a company plans to make money with its product and customer base in a specific market.
- A framework or recipe for making money by creating and capturing value.
- A combination of resources that generate value for the company and its customers.
These definitions are simple and clear but not so useful when we want to understand how to start making changes to our consulting firm. What does it mean to change or innovate our business model? We need more clarity on the different components of an organization and the levers we have at our disposal to "do business."
A more useful definition comes from Osterwalder, Pigneur & Tucci:
"A Business Model describes the rationale for how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value."
We won't delve into what value consists of here - if you want to learn more about value in consulting, we've created a specific handbook just about this topic.
This gives us a good starting point to explore business model innovation.
Value creation, value delivery, and value capture are universal functions of every business. Now, we need to understand the smaller parts that each of these functions consists of. Only by doing this can we start to look for patterns and possibilities of experimentation.
So, what are the essential components of a consulting business? The short answer: It depends on the framework you adopt.
Introducing: Business Model Frameworks
A framework is like a blueprint, a structure or set of ideas we use to make sense of the world. Since there's no single definitive answer to how an organization can create, deliver, and capture value, different people have devised various ways to approach the problem. That's why we find dozens of business model frameworks as thinking tools.
The probably best-known business model framework is the business model canvas, designed by Osterwalder and Pigneur. It uses 9 building blocks to visually describe how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value: Key activities, key resources, key partners, the value proposition, customer segments, channels, relationships, cost structure, and revenue stream.
These blocks guide and influence your thinking on how your business can operate.
It may sound obvious, but this means that the framework you choose to use when analyzing your consulting business matters just as much as the process you go through to rethink and make changes to it. The tool shapes the process. And the process will bias results.
On Choosing A Framework For Your Boutique Consultancy
As the old saying goes: "To the man with only a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail." Not every problem is a nail, just like not every business is the same. If a boutique consulting firm operates differently from a tech start-up or a massive retail organization, why use the same building blocks to understand how each works?
You wouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, and reject every framework available to us.
As every consultant knows, specific knowledge is cultivated through pattern recognition. When we’re confronted with a new challenge we might have no clue where to start. But after solving the same kind of problems for the same kind of companies, distinguishing signal from noise becomes much easier.
Rethinking your business model is like making changes to the foundations of your house. You need them to be strong, and only a madman would play around with them without proper guidance - mistakes can be catastrophic. Maintenance is required for competitiveness. New foundations must be built for growth. To avoid wasting time, energy, and resources, choosing the proper framework matters.
Which leads us to our next question: What is the best business model framework for boutique consulting firms?
If the questions matter just as much as the answers, we better pick the most relevant ones for our industry and context. This requires a long and methodical work of:
- Identifying existing business model frameworks;
- Going through literature and case studies to understand their business use;
- Exploring strengths and limitations of each framework, and their relevance for boutique consulting firms.
Luckily for you, I volunteered for the job.
Going Beyond Generic Business Model Frameworks
Existing Consulting Business Model Frameworks
There are hundreds of business model frameworks. I've analyzed the following 10:
- The Business Model Canvas;
- The Four-Box Model;
- The Flourishing Business Canvas;
- The Component Business Model;
- The Fluidminds Framework;
- The VARIM Model;
- The Business Model Navigator;
- The Causal Loop Diagram;
- The Board of Innovation’s Business Model Mapping Tool;
- The Business Model Mixer.
Some of these, like the Business Model Canvas, act like a visual artist's palette, painting a picture of an organization to illustrate trade-offs. Others, such as IBM’s Component Business Model, are more "logical" and focus sharply on operations. There's no one-size-fits-all recipe here.
We've decided not to delve into detailed comparisons here to keep this handbook concise. If you're intrigued by an in-depth discussion about these frameworks, feel free to drop me a line. Let's cut to the chase.
The Lack of Specialized Tools for Boutique Consultancies
The Business Model Canvas and the Four-Box Model are elegant and user-friendly but often feel too generic for consultancies. They were designed for a broad spectrum of organizations. The only industry-specific tool we found, Sioo’s Business Model Mixer, is a more descriptive tool that illustrates innovation trends but gives little space for discussions on how its business components can work together.
This isn't new to me. Part of my advisory work includes helping consulting partners review their business models and, by the end of the process, I always felt slightly frustrated with those popular frameworks. They work. But I wish there was a more specialized framework for boutique consultancies.
And that made me question whether I should create a new framework myself. No one likes to reinvent the wheel. And popular frameworks such as the Business Model Canvas will give you 80% of the benefits.
But those 20% were too frustrating to ignore. My mission is about showing people that there’s a different path to building and growing a consultancy, one on their own terms. Micro boutique founders and partners are already underserved and deserve better tools and ideas.
That's why I invested time in crafting an alternative framework, one tailored for micro and lifestyle boutique consulting firms. Allow me to introduce the Boutique Consulting Canvas.
Introducing The Boutique Consulting Canvas
The Boutique Consulting Canvas (BCC) is a specialized framework designed for consultancies with 1 to 20 full-time employee equivalents. It's also a more fitting tool for solo consultants and advisors (with no support staff) and scale-up boutiques (up to 50 people staff) compared to other popular business model frameworks.
The BCC was developed through interviews with boutique partners, a literature review, and empirical observation. It borrows a similar high-level structure from Johnson's Four-Box Model.
As you can see, it includes something similar to the three universal functions of every business: Value proposition, value creation, and value capture:
- Value proposition: How you express what value you bring to clients and how you differ from competitors.
- Value creation: How you deliver value to clients, requiring both resources and processes.
- Value capture: How you transform value into profit.
Before we delve into each component, let's clarify when to use the BCC instead of other more popular business model frameworks.
It all comes down to one question: What's the standard you want to operate in?
An existing business model framework will give you 80% of the results. There's plenty of content, books, and courses for a DIY approach, and countless professionals who can facilitate a business model review for a fee.
If you are starting a new practice or planning to make significant changes to your consultancy (be it by choice or necessity) and want to make it right, the BCC is a powerful framework to use. Simply put, it's a much more specialized framework. Feel free to connect if you're looking for expert guidance on how to use it.
Now, let's take a deeper look at each of its components, provide examples of how consultancies use this tool to adopt profitable and sustainable business models, and discuss how you can put these ideas into practice.
Value Proposition Drivers For Boutique Consultancies
The Four Value Drivers In Consulting
Your value proposition isn't just a statement; it's a promise. It's how you articulate the value you bring to clients and how you stand apart from competitors. But value is a multifaceted concept, and it can mean different things to different people.
Research and observation in the consulting space reveal five dimensions of value. When we ask clients why they hire consulting, what they really want is better, easier, cheaper, faster, and/or safer solutions.
Since none of the boutique consultancies I interviewed wanted to pursue a strategy completely based on price differentiation, we crossed that dimension out. Even if you have economies of scope going on, it's simply too challenging for micro consultancies to gain a sustainable edge only through price. And new technologies such as generative AI are making it even harder.
This leaves us with the following value drivers:
- Specialization: Helping clients produce better project outcomes than their teams or other consultants can generate.
- Risk Mitigation: Helping clients minimize the risks associated with the project.
- Decreasing Time To Value: Helping clients accelerate change and achieve results faster.
- Simplification: Helping clients simplify the project delivery, generate desired outcomes, and make decisions.
If you want clients to see value in your services, you must demonstrate competence in at least one of these dimensions. That's how you differentiate.
It's worth highlighting that there's no single way to create value within any of these dimensions. If you want to be seen as a safe alternative for clients, for example, you could:
- Take some of the project risks by adopting outcome-based pricing, or adding a guarantee to some of your services;
- Produce clear project documentation or standard procedures for the client;
- Ensure compliance with industry regulations or standards.
All of these initiatives will convince clients of your value add.
Picking Your Dimensions
What does value mean to your clients? Understanding this is crucial for building a reputation as a value-adding partner. That's when the importance of research, and knowing how your prospects think and behave comes into play.
Your clients' industry plays a big role. Companies in the manufacturing industry, for example, may be more likely to care about safety, whereas clients in fast-moving sectors like tech and direct-to-consumer retail might want to see results as quickly as possible. Even within the same industry, different company cultures and leadership personalities will value different things.
These dimensions are like the colors in your branding palette. Some firms are seen as competent across all dimensions, while others shine by focusing on just one or two. Choosing what you want to be associated with, and communicating that clearly, is a way to make competition irrelevant.
On Differentiation in Consulting
A key clarification that consultants will not find in generic marketing advice is that differentiation is one of the drivers of a strong value proposition - but not the only one. Think of your value proposition as a three-legged stool - resonance, differentiation, and substantiation all need to support it.
It has become common in the marketing space the idea of using opposition to increase the power of your messaging. Some marketers go as far as saying you should pick an enemy, raise a flag and strongly oppose a business practice or an idea. You should be a contrarian.
We believe consultancy founders need to be careful with such advice. Research shows one of the main motivations for consulting buyers to bring external support is risk mitigation. Those who want to run new experiments usually do it themselves or with their internal team.
Buyers want to feel like they are hiring something safe, that they can understand, and that will reduce the risk of bad things happening. Although there are cases when taking radical opposition makes sense, there are many when it does not. That’s why we recommend you to hire specialized help when working on your brand messaging and value proposition.
Key Resources For Boutique Consultancies
Value creation in our framework refers to how your consultancy actually delivers value to clients. To do that, you need both resources and processes. Let's take a quick look at the four main resources you must consider when analyzing or rethinking your consulting business model.
Those resources are people, intellectual property (IP), market assets, and your relationships and partnerships.
People here refer to your firm's employees, contractors, or collaborators. They are responsible to support you by working on the main processes your consultancy needs to survive and thrive - getting new work, delivering projects, etc. (more on this tomorrow).
In your business model review, the main questions to pose here are:
- Which kind of support do you want to hire?
- Where are those people coming from?
- What do you need in order to attract, hire, and/or retain them?
There are several possibilities here. You can operate in a traditional partnership model, employing full-time people in a hierarchical structure. It can be a collaborative structure, where you or your core team lead client engagements but bring external consultants or other firms to collaborate on assignments. Lifestyle boutique consultancies leverage their founders' personal brand and keep a small team in a flat structure.
IP is nothing more than codified knowledge. These can be a billion things, but I think it's helpful to divide them into 3 categories (hat tip to Prof. Joe O'Mahoney): Business Development, delivery, and operations.
- Business Development IP: Helps you sell more, better, and faster at a lower cost. Examples: Marketing content, pitch methodologies, proposal templates.
- Delivery IP: Helps you standardize and/or scale by enabling high-fee work by cheaper consultants. Examples: Methodologies, process maps, questionnaires.
- Operations IP: Helps you continually improve the effectiveness of your infrastructure. Examples: SOPs for admin tasks, strategy, team alignment.
The type of problem your consultancy chooses to focus on solving matters here. "Procedure firms" that solve common and frequent problems often have high levels of IP on the three groups - solutions are often productized and there's a high team leverage.
On the other opposite, if you solve complex and unique problems your consultancy will tend to have a low level of delivery IP. The focus here is usually on business development IP that demonstrates expertise and creates demand, such as articles or presentations with a strong and distinct point of view.
Market assets refer to resources that are captured or built as you interact with your target audience. As opposed to your IP, they can't really be "codified" in any way - although they can be leveraged to produce new IP, such as new research and methodologies.
Under this category we usually include:
- Market Data: What you know about your target audience. It can be used, for example, to inform your strategy and personalize your marketing initiatives.
- Market Channels: Owned and earned market channels to distribute your message and offerings to people. Examples include a large and targeted email list, social media reach, a monthly column in a trade association's magazine.
- Market Position: Your reputation, awards or industry recognition, special accreditation.
These are powerful resources that are often overlooked when boutique consultancies are planning for growth.
Relationships & Partnerships
I'll say it again: The consulting business is a relationship business. Trust is the most important currency here. You won't go anywhere if you ignore it. Your relationships and partnerships play a crucial role in the trust-building process.
Relationships here refer to your existing network, composed of all the people you personally know. These include those you have occasionally met. Those who work in the same space as you do and would gladly put you in front of their audience. And also your super fans - delighted clients, peers, colleagues.
Some of them might be partners. Partnerships are strategic alliances with other people who can accelerate growth. These include:
- Brand partners: Improve your visibility and reputation in the space.
- Affiliate partners: Are paid a commission to recommend your offerings.
- Product partners: Supply you with additional offerings that add value to your business.
Relationships are often the main resource of consulting founders with a corporate background, which is why they should be part of your business model analysis. And while not every consultancy is ready for partnerships, they can make or break a practice.
Key Processes For Boutique Consultancies
Now it's time to look at the second component responsible for value creation in consultancies: Processes.
The four main processes you must consider when analyzing or rethinking your consulting business model are: Business development, offering delivery, IP management, and team alignment.
Business development, in a broad sense, refers to how your consultancy markets and sells its offerings. If we had to elect one main goal for this set of processes, it would be to sustainably generate revenue. Business development includes:
- Offering Mix & Pricing Strategy: Your ability to develop new products and services, and price them professionally.
- Marketing Capabilities: Your ability to earn visibility, interest, and trust from your target market.
- Sales Capabilities: Your ability to convert interest into more projects and revenue.
- Systems: The key tools and practices that support business development.
This is where I focus the most in my work with solo or micro consultancy founders. When we're reviewing their business model, however, it's important to zoom out and avoid getting into the nitty-gritty of each of those business functions.
What you want is to identify a high-level approach to bringing in a surplus of market demand to your consultancy. Are you going to tap into existing demand, replying to RFPs and bidding on competitive projects? Will you proactively create new demand, with laser-focused marketing initiatives and consultative selling?
Your offering delivery process is how you actually get the work done, delivering what you've sold to clients. There are two key questions you want to answer during a business model discussion here: Where will the delivery be, and what role will you and your team have in the engagement?
The location seems trivial, but it impacts the rest of your business model. You can deliver your services in person, with consultants being physically present at the client's site. You can do it remotely, with consultants delivering the entire project or engagement online without any physical interaction. Or you can adopt a hybrid model, with consultants sporadically going to the client and supported by online tools, processes, and databases.
The role you and your team will have in the project also matters:
- Are you advising or selling strategy? Here the goal is to provide insights, make a diagnosis, and/or make expert recommendations based on the diagnosis.
- Are you doing hands-on consulting, with you and your team also being responsible for assisting with the implementation of recommended solutions (either by doing or overseeing execution)?
- Are you selling change management and permanent improvement of organizational effectiveness? In this case, consultants can also take the role of coaches, trainers, and interim managers.
Each one of those roles consists of different ways to solve client problems and deliver on your value proposition. Your choice, of course, will need to be aligned with your current resources - especially your people and IP.
We already talked about IP since it is a key resource for any consultancy. But it also comes with a process. What we call IP management here refers to how your firm codifies, stores, and shares knowledge.
As your consultancy grows your codified knowledge will need to be updated. At some point, you need a process to organize and make sure you're leveraging IP in any way you can. As a best practice, it's important to make someone responsible to clean and review your IP system.
Of course, it makes no sense to have a great IP management process if your consultancy doesn't create any new IP in the first place. While your team can help, the initiatives here should be at least led and supervised by you or a partner. During your business model discussions, however, I recommend you focus on which available resources can support your IP creation, and how that process should look to fully support your value proposition.
The last key process refers to how your consultancy improves the value of its team members - both in terms of their own motivation and alignment with the firm, but also in terms of the quality of their work.
This might be relevant even for solo consultants or advisors. If you often work with associates or subcontractors to deliver projects, for example, you rely on their talent and willingness to work with you. When you show you care and actually invest time and money into developing your team, three things happen:
- You improve the quality of your delivery and add more value to clients;
- It sends a strong message to the market that you walk your talk; and
- It helps you attract and hire better talent.
The last point should not be underestimated for small consultancies. You will never have the budget to compete with large firms for stellar talent by paying more. This means creating a healthy workplace and investing in internal training is a necessity for most people-based consultancies.
How Consultancies Capture Value
So far, we've covered:
- The value proposition, your promise of value to clients that highlights how you differ from competitors and alternatives;
- The key resources every consultancy needs to deliver value: your people, IP, market assets, and relationships and partnerships;
- The key processes that leverage those resources: Business development, offering delivery, IP management, and team alignment.
Now, it's time to look at the third and last component of this framework. After creating and delivering value, your consultancy needs to capture part of it. Without this, your business will be neither profitable nor sustainable.
There's no real secret behind financial management. The BCC uses the same components as many other business model frameworks: Your revenue model and cost structure. They are the two drivers of profitability in any business.
The most important questions to ask here are "what" and "how": What are you charging clients for? And how exactly are you charging them?
For consultancies that follow a traditional revenue model, the answers to these are one-off projects and hourly pricing, respectively. Your revenue comes from consulting engagements. And they are priced based on time and materials, or assigned a fixed price based on an estimate of the number of hours.
Of course, this has changed in the last couple of decades. Innovative revenue models are continually brought to market. Some find client adoption. Others end as an experiment.
Now the best-performing boutique consultancies have multiple revenue streams. They go beyond selling consulting, and add training, software and digital products, books and market research, licensing of their IP, and much more. They understand most clients pay for results, no matter how you deliver them.
As for the "how" question, such products naturally led to more opportunities to generate recurring revenue - which in the past was restricted to retainers. Dozens of publications have also attested to a growth in the use of performance-based and value-based pricing in consulting. Of course, every choice has its pros and cons.
We can even find challenger firms in the market experimenting with non-monetary fees, where rewards may also take the form of learning or marketing exposure. These are, however, foreign practices for most consulting clients. If you're interested in exploring those, I highly recommend you tread carefully and hire specialized advisory to discuss how changes can impact the rest of your firm.
Consultants must take their cost structure seriously. I've met several partners who neglect it, and don't even know what their monthly expenses are. As I wrote before, it's basic economics - and that means problems here are largely predictable.
The heart of it lies in the trade-off between increasing fixed costs and building capabilities.
Fixed costs might include full-time employees. Long-term office rent and equipment. Or even your own compensation, if you withdraw a predetermined amount of money from the business every month.
This overhead might be the basis of your competitive advantage, what differentiates your firm from others. But as you build more and more capacity, the pressure to feed it also increases. And now you're tempted to accept any opportunity that comes your way just to keep that machine working.
To sustain premium prices and high profitability, you should always aim for a disproportionate amount of demand when compared to your capacity. How to make this work? That's one of the goals of performing a business model review.
Examples of Business Model Innovation in Consulting
What does innovation look like in the real world? That's what this section aims to explore.
I must admit, this part of the handbook is still under construction and in the process of being refined. I've started to outline examples and interviews from boutique consultancies that are breaking the mold with innovative business models. Yet, there's still a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to be drawn from the community.
And that's where you, dear reader, come in. If you're part of a consultancy that's doing things differently, or if you know of firms that are shining examples of innovation, I invite you to reach out. Your insights and contributions can transform this section into a valuable resource for others in the consulting field.
Together, we can put together a rich collection of examples that not only illustrate the principles discussed in this handbook but also inspire others to think creatively and strategically about their own consulting practices.
So why not become part of this collaborative effort? Stay tuned for updates, and don't hesitate to contribute. After all, isn't innovation all about thinking outside the box and learning from one another? Thank you for your understanding and engagement as we work to complete this vital part of the handbook.
How You Can Take Action
Performing a Business Model Review in Consulting
Transforming your consultancy isn't just about dreaming big; it's about taking concrete steps. The first of these is performing a business model review.
This review isn't a simple brainstorming exercise; it's a critical analysis that can uncover hidden opportunities and potential pitfalls in how your practice is currently working. By examining your consultancy through the Boutique Consulting Canvas (BCC), you can gain insights that lead to actionable strategies.
But using the BCC isn't about merely filling in boxes or following a rigid template. Remember, a fool with a tool is still a fool. The real value comes from engaging deeply with the framework, asking probing questions, and challenging assumptions. It's about understanding the unique dynamics of your consultancy.
The process of performing a business model review can be enlightening, but it can also be complex and challenging. It requires a willingness to be honest about your current state and a commitment to making necessary changes. If you're unsure about how to navigate this process, or if you want to ensure that you're leveraging the BCC to its fullest potential, professional guidance can be invaluable.
That's why I offer private support to consultancies looking to use the BCC, gather feedback, and build consensus within their teams. Together, we can dive into the intricacies of your business model, uncover hidden opportunities, and create a roadmap for success.If you’d like to learn more, don't hesitate to reach out.
Implementing Changes in Your Boutique Consultancy
Before putting together this handbook, I’ve shared the Boutique Consulting Canvas with our email subscribers. One of the most popular questions we received was about implementing changes, and I think it's worth addressing here:
Hi Danilo. Absolutely love the Boutique Consulting Canvas, and have already set aside some time to go through it with my business partner to rethink our practice. Question: Once we identify issues or desired changes, how do you recommend we prepare to implement them?
Reviewing our business model review can feel a bit abstract, since we need to zoom out and distance ourselves from the consultancy as much as we can. But it's worth nothing if we don't put those changes into practice.
From my experience, implementation always needs to be tailored to each consultancy. Context matters, and things that are insignificant in one firm might be the source of all the execution problems in another. However, there are three activities I'd recommend to every consultancy:
- Break down changes into projects;
- Document and reallocate your resources;
- Adopt management best practices.
Break Down Changes Into Projects
Once you and your partners (if you have them) have reached a consensus and agreed on which business model changes you'd like to prioritize, you will probably get stuck. The work is simply too big and complex. You don't know where to start.
The science-backed answer is simple: Start small. And the best way to do it is to zoom in and start listing all of the initiatives that you'll likely need to implement to make that big change.
If your goal is to improve your value proposition by decreasing time to value, for example, you could:
- List existing offerings you want to review;
- Identify the friction points that slow time to value in consulting, which might include onboarding, communication, project delivery, etc.;
- Research or consult an advisor to identify ways to reduce or eliminate those friction points;
- Prioritize changes based on cost, feasibility, client demand, or any other relevant factors;
- Implement each change in your offering delivery;
- Review your value propositions and marketing messaging to include the new benefits and differentiation drives.
This is a fast way to get unstuck and start moving forward.
Document And Reallocate Resources
To make changes, you'll need resources. This sounds obvious, but time and time again I see founders adding a huge list of projects to their plans only to find out they don't have enough time or people to actually complete them.
You get no points for trying. Ideas without implementation won't grow your consulting business. Document what and how many resources each project will require, compare it with those you have, and prioritize accordingly.
What if you lack resources? Then all that’s left for you is to become resourceful.
Resourceful consultants use confidence and imagination to solve problems with no or fewer resources. They ask themselves:
- What haven’t I tried yet?
- How are other people solving these problems?
- Who has access to the resources I need, and how could I partner with them?
It might take them longer to implement changes, but resourceful founders and consultancy partners always find a way to gather and mobilize resources for important initiatives.
Adopt Management Best Practices
Once you're done with the strategy part, it's time to pull out what every consultant loves: best practices. They will save time and reduce the risk of your projects getting stalled.
I won't get into details here, but this is the basic stuff that many micro consultancies still don't do right. Asking, "one of you, please get this done" will result in no one doing it. There clearly needs to be one DRI (directly reponsible individual), a due date, and a way to later check if that person actually completed the task. Accountability systems and external support can go a long way to help here.
Last tip: If you are the one responsible to implement any business model change initiative, make it your top goal. Those projects have a long-term and disproportionally large impact on your consulting business. Better take them seriously.