As you think about how to grow your consulting firm, you may want to explore new offerings or new markets for your services. For instance, the opportunity to win doorway advisory projects looks wide open, or you could turn your attention to the booming fireworks market.
Whether you’re expanding on a successful service line or revitalizing your consulting firm by shifting your focus, significantly changing your target market and/or offering will require time, effort and resources.
Maximize your likelihood of success by asking the right questions from the outset.
Start with the five, quick analyses below to reveal whether the new opportunities your consulting firm is considering will yield bountiful riches or empty hopes.
5 Easy Questions to Separate Huge Opportunities from Huge Time Wasters
Is There Market Need?
Your starting point is always the market. At first blush, beauticians may seem like an attractive target for your consulting firm; however, perhaps their needs are only skin deep.
Fortunately, there’s a well-established method for evaluating market need: the Problemeter Exercise. (Explained in depth in this book.)
The Problemeter grades potential opportunities on four dimensions: urgency, pervasiveness, expensiveness and your consulting firm’s skills.
Focus on urgency and expensiveness first. Too many consulting firms squander their resources beseeching prospects to solve discretionary, low-priority challenges.
Do You Have the Right to Win?
Your consulting firm must be perceived by prospects as a credible purveyor of a reliable solution. If this is your consulting firm’s first foray into the athletic market, your track record is bound to be lacking.
Nevertheless, your consulting firm’s past experience, breakthrough thinking, or big-name relationships could all give reasons for prospective clients to trust you. If you don’t have a strong right to win—from your prospects’ perspective—then reconsider pursuing the opportunity.
Does it Fit?
If your consulting firm has built a successful practice advising commercial apple orchards, some colleagues might suggest branching out by adding orange or lemon groves as prospective clients.
However, perhaps those targets aren’t appealing to you or your last venture into the citrus market left a sour taste in your mouth.
Your consulting firm’s interests, values and culture all play a role in evaluating potential opportunities. If you or others on your team find a target or offering boring or somehow loathsome, you’ll run into staff retention problems and probably won’t produce outstanding consulting work.
Do You Have a Profitable Solution?
Remember, the complementary parts of the Consulting Cycle are: Win Engagements and Profitably Create Value.
The addressable market for envelopes may look attractive on paper; however, hold back your stamp of approval until you’re sure your consulting firm’s offering will deliver a good return.
Plenty of consulting firms are staffed with smart people who can figure out an answer to the market need. That doesn’t mean they can deliver exceptional value at a high margin.
Is it Scalable?
One of the toughest challenges consulting firms face is scaling.
If the wheel optimization market requires bespoke consulting solutions that are dependent on high-skill, high-experience individuals, you’ll find that puts the brakes on your ability to expand your consulting firm.
Conversely, prioritize opportunities that allow you to de-skill and systemize your solution.
Puns aside, the five questions above will guide you well. What else do you consider when you’re evaluating opportunities for your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.