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The 7 Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Consulting Firm

Imagine how fun this would be at your consulting firm: you and your colleagues launch every day with a towering pile of valuable gifts that will make the hours more productive and effective.

You can have that.

In fact, you, personally, can create that scenario.

Well, one of you can. (See below.)

The Three Yous (and the Three Firms)

Past You is the person you were every moment before now. Past can’t untaste that moldy malasada. Too late.

Future You is the lucky consultant who’ll be wearing your clothes, working with your clients, and speaking on behalf of your consulting firm tomorrow, next week, next year and beyond. (Future Firm is your consulting firm in the future.)

Today You is you right now. Primed and poised to win consulting engagements, deliver massive value to clients, and, importantly set the table for your consulting firm’s future.

Today You is uniquely qualified to stack the odds in your favor going forward.

Your investment into a handful of activities now will yield enormous dividends for your consulting firm in the future.

The list of ideas below is a starting point, and I look forward to reading your additions.

The 7 Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Consulting Firm

Little Black Book of Capacity/Demand

When you’re already drowning in consulting work and another client is ready to sign is not the time to start looking for subcontractors.

Similarly, when the well has dried up is too late to look around for “friends” who could steer consulting subcontracting work your firm’s way.

Today: Locate and nurture resources you can tap for swing capacity and swing demand. Track those people in a “little black book” that Future You will use.

Emergency Exit Maps

Hotel rooms have little maps that show you how to get to the stairs because in the chaos of a fire, the elevators are reserved for first responders and you may not be thinking straight.

You can’t anticipate every eventuality. (Did anyone other than Bill Gates plan for a global pandemic?) However, you can consider what you’ll do if a critical activity blows up, and you can sketch out directions to assist Future, Panicked You.

Today: Create an emergency exit map (a.k.a. Plan B) for each of your consulting firm’s most important initiatives and systems.

Conversation CliffsNotes

Most consultants use an old-fashioned phone call preparation machine that works like this:

Input– Time reviewing past conversations and wracking your brains about possible topics.

Output — Anxiety.

Replace that awful machine with Conversation CliffsNotes

Today: After each conversation with a contact, jot down the key points and topics you’ll need during your next conversation.

Stamped-in-Steel Decision Guide

Making decisions absorbs time and energy and can spark arguments among members of your consulting team.

However, when your consulting firm can refer to clear and consistent decision-making criteria, arbitrating future choices will be a breeze.

Today: Ensure you have a well-defined, written, easy-to-access compendium of your strategy, mission, vision, values and current priorities.

Handy Dandy Backup Files

When Future You accidentally deletes 12 chapters of the book you’re drafting or your assistant mistakenly overwrites your consulting firm’s contact list, (s)he will be ecstatic that Today You set up comprehensive backup systems.

Today: Back up your files. Seriously. And ensure you have a reliable, up-to-date system for recovering any file that’s deleted at any time.

Gift-Wrapped Business Development Meetings

Chasing consulting prospects that have gone dark drains your batteries faster than a triple-decker electric pizza oven.

Your business development efforts will run smoother when your calendar is filled with agreed-to, pre-scheduled meetings.

Today: Always, without fail, set a specific date and time for your next conversation before you complete your conversation with a contact or consulting prospect.

Happy Elves

Every day you may encounter dozens of people who could assist you in the future. They’re colleagues, prospects, partners, subcontractors, vendors, consulting clients and more.

Will they happily respond when you reach out and step up when you need them? Yes, if you’ve invested in your relationships with others.

Today: Be nice. Respond to anger with grace. Generously offer value. Treat those you encounter with respect. (Everyone. Not just people you think will help your consulting firm.)

Those are just a handful of benefits Today You can provide for Future You and your consulting firm. I bet many others come to mind.

So, before, you start building the gifts outlined above, Right Now You can help out Future Readers by sharing an idea below.

  1. Terry Pappy
    August 19, 2020 at 6:48 am Reply

    Absolutely love this, David. You definitely had the muse when you came up with the structure and position of this piece, as it really is a reframer. Thank you!

    • David A. Fields
      August 19, 2020 at 8:30 am Reply

      Reframing is good–particularly when it sets us on a better track!

      (For the record, this particular article went through several iterations with completely different positionings, and the waste bin is overflowing with content that was discarded.)

      Your feedback helps, Terry. Thanks for posting!

  2. Carole Napolitano
    August 19, 2020 at 11:08 am Reply

    Thanks for this piece, David. One of the gifts I have learned to give my future self is a method for accessing items I have developed that I will no doubt want to use/adapt again: the Power Point slide I slaved over to render a model or produce a graphic; the language I crafted for describing distinctions between different 360-degree feedback approaches in a proposal; process outlines for some of the services I provide (e.g., strategic planning). After years of searching for items that I knew were in SOME presentation or email or document SOMEWHERE, I can now trust that when I need to find something going forward, I now have a better way to pull it up efficiently and avoid having to reinvent my own wheels!

    • David A. Fields
      August 19, 2020 at 12:01 pm Reply

      That’s a heck of a gift, Carole… and also a tease!

      What’s your magic system for saving/filing/accessing information? I’m really happy about your addition to the list and am sure plenty of other readers would like to know the details of your gift.

  3. Carole Napolitano
    August 19, 2020 at 1:11 pm Reply

    Thanks, David. A couple of things: one is a Word doc titled “Location of Graphics” which is where I catalogue Power Point slides that I know I will want to use again — e.g., a particular ice-breaker, a model of change, a diagram of dialogue vs discussion. I just list the specific slide along with the title and date of the presentation it appears in. The other thing I do is save parts of proposals or emails that have recurring utility in more than one place. So, for example, in addition to saving a proposal outlining approaches to 360 feedback in the file folder for that client, I will save all or part of it in a topical folder on 360 feedback. Another example is cutting and pasting language I have sent to a client organization outlining pre-work for a retreat . . . which then gets saved in the Prework folder within my Retreats file. It’s a few minutes of extra work on the front end, but a huge time-saver on the back end. (I hope this is helpful.)

    • David A. Fields
      August 19, 2020 at 2:01 pm Reply

      Thank you for sharing your process, Carole. Definitely fodder for thought and, as you said, a lovely gift for Future You!

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