Plenty of athletes earn fame and recognition for their brilliant, first year (a.k.a., their rookie year). They’re showered with champagne, praise and confetti… which sticks to the champagne—that part wasn’t well planned out.
Far, far fewer of those phenoms are known for their extraordinary, enduring career. Why? Because they make a rookie mistake. The same mistake your consulting firm may be making.
The rookie mistake is believing that the core asset or capability that carried them to success in one year will be enough to guarantee success in future years.
Your consulting firm has one, overarching, invaluable asset that determines your success from the start. It’s not your IP, or your offering, or your process, your profiteroles or even your people.
Your consulting firm’s single, most important asset is your network of deep, trusting relationships with decision makers.
And, just like the rookie, if you expect the relationships that carried your consulting firm in prior years will continue to sustain you in the future, you’re likely to run into an unpleasant dry spell.
During your consulting firm’s formative years, your connections with a few well-funded executives in need of your offering are all you need to quickly gain traction. Business development can look downright easy if you launch your firm with a handful of clients strongly connected to your leadership team.
In fact, I have worked with consulting firms that built very substantial practices from only one or two clients. For a few years.
Alas, all commercial relationships end at some point. Some may flicker on and off for years, and a precious few may last over a decade; however, most consulting relationships produce revenue for a limited time.
As a result, most small consulting firms exhaust their initial relationships within seven years of opening. Then the firm hits a hard wall, and it’s far less pleasant than peeling off sticky confetti.
You can avoid this rookie mistake by following a fundamental rule of consulting firm management:
The Rule of Replenishment
You must add at least 15% new contacts to your consulting firm’s Network Core every year.
Your Network Core consists of influencers and decision makers with whom you have a strong relationship.
Athletes whose careers last decades are constantly improving their most fundamental skills. Likewise, to create a profitable consulting practice for the long term, tirelessly build your consulting firm’s Network Core.
If you always meet or exceed the Rule of Replenishment, your consulting firm will enjoy perennial all-star status.
What are you doing to follow the Rule of Replenishment?
Text and images are © 2024 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.