Management consulting has always been relevant across the globe, especially in developed countries like the United States. As early as 1997, U.S businesses already accounted for roughly $12 billion spent on management consulting alone.
But the field has since blossomed into a highly-coveted industry, with more people and businesses signing up every day. The Association of Professional Consultants, based in Irvine, California, is a professional body that represents management consultants in the United States. Very recently, the association recorded a spike in calls from persons trying to learn more about the field.
Are you one of such people looking to hack it in consulting? Here are five tips on how to start and run a successful management consulting business.
1. Find a Niche
First things first, you must find a niche that you know inside-out. No business is going to pay someone who isn’t well-versed in the field they claim they are knowledgeable in. Before anything, ensure you have a deep understanding of the area you are trying to specialize in.
For instance, if you have sound knowledge about computers, you could quickly become an IT consultant. You can start a company where you consult with companies and offer expert advice on computer network setups, usage, repairs, and maintenance.
There are also plenty of good opportunities in industries such as marketing, accounting, auditing, engineering, health, fitness, etc. For more inspiration, Firm Consulting has advice and training to support you in your consulting business journey.
2. Find Out the Needs of Your Industry
Your industry will definitely have its modus operandi as well as the everyday needs of the people who operate in it. After you have found your niche, you should also study the main pain points within that particular industry.
Having a general knowledge in your field of expertise is simply not enough as every potential client will have unique challenges. You need to think along the line of what is commonly lacking within a large circle. Conduct comprehensive research both on and offline to find that missing link, then cater your solutions towards those needs. Else, you may end up being redundant.
3. Start Attracting Clients
You need to start marketing yourself to attract the right clients. And the best way to do this is through willful persuasion. For this to work, your messaging needs to be highly specific. Businesses will resonate with you once you speak directly to their unique pain points.
Avoid the use of highly generic terminologies in your ads that do not convey the exact services you are offering.
For instance, let’s say you are a yoga expert running a yoga consultancy business. Do not make the mistake of simply making a bold ad showing people doing all kinds of complex yoga routines. The reason is that many people already know what yoga is all about and may not see the point in signing up for your services. So you might want to try a more bespoke approach.
How about an ad like this: “Are you a busy, stiff worker looking for a yoga coach who’s gentle on beginners and considers your tight schedule? You’ve just reached so and so…” That’s it; you’ve just caught the eye of a coveted audience looking to get started in yoga. The message is clear and makes the ideal customer feel like you are speaking directly to them.
4. Pitch High Profile Clients Directly
One of the ways to take your management consulting business to the next level is learning to pitch directly to high-profile clients. Sometimes, catering to one big client may be all you need to run a successful consultancy firm. It is even less stressful when you look at it. You will do a better job when you are fully invested in one client, plus the free time it affords you to face other endeavors.
But convincing a potential client isn’t a simple walk in the park. You need to develop a great elevator pitch that can close even the most challenging clients. This pitch should speak directly to the client’s need, but most importantly, you must find a way to offer and sustain value. All of these, mind you, should be done in a short time frame of not more than a few minutes. If you are going to be doing it in a written business plan, you go straight to the point in not more than three concise sentences.
5. Invest More in Your Business
Simply running a consultancy business is not enough. You must learn to keep reinventing yourself. Every industry evolves with time and to remain relevant requires that you stay in the loop of these changes. One way to do this is through continuous investment in tools, resources, and human capital. It could mean investment in software technology, hiring more staff, training certain key personnel in new in-demand skills, etc.
Even as a management consultant, you may also need to be in contract with other consulting businesses. These businesses may not necessarily be in your niche, but they could have direct relevance to your field of specialty. Take, for instance, you run a consultancy firm where you need a constant update on certain key statistics. You are going to need the services of a professional data analyst or scientist.
We are in the information age now, and you need a way to constantly be in touch with your audience. This means having a reliable website, which ultimately translates to hiring and maintaining the services of a web developer.
You’ve just learned five great tips to start a successful management consulting business. It can be fun in the long run but to make it work requires the right skills, patience, and dedication. But most importantly too, it requires a thought-leadership approach to the craft.