Wouldn’t it be great to land a massive, game-changing new project for your consulting firm? Maybe. However, huge assignments have equally huge downsides, and there’s a better way to grow your consulting firm.
You may have bumped up against an opportunity or two to win a whale of a project—perhaps even dethroning Deloitte or some other big name consulting firm to secure an engagement that would dwarf your typical assignments.
It’s understandable that you’d covet a mega-assignment that could instantly double your revenue and lift your consulting firm to the next level of success.
However, rather than angling for whales, you’ll build a more successful, healthier consulting firm by hauling in netfuls of trout. And if you’re already landing plenty of trout, then start reeling in salmon.
A giant project could potentially swallow your consulting firm.*
Consider some downsides:
- Higher Risk of Failure. You’re not currently built to deliver a project that is 5-10 times the size of your typical engagement. You probably don’t have the people nor the proven systems and templates required to deliver A+ work on a much larger scale. Similarly, you may not be built to handle the large leap in complexity that accompanies a mega-project.
- Elevated Client Scrutiny and Expectations. Your consulting firm is always on the line to produce top-notch results; however, the heat of the spotlight on your project flares up to an uncomfortable level when jump from, say, a $200k project to a $1m engagement. (Or from a $20k project to a $100k project.)
- Distorted Portfolio Risk. Outsized consulting projects are difficult to sustain, and if you can’t win more, your revenue can suddenly plummet by 50-90%. That’s uncomfortable, to say the least.
- Post-Project Vacuum. When your outsized project is complete, you’ll have the expensive delivery structure (e.g., systems, personnel) and/or the emotional expectations that correspond to huge projects.
Hence, be wary of assignments that would require a fundamental transformation of your consulting firm in the short term.
On the other hand, if your consulting firm is well established, then focus on upgrading to bigger, “everyday” fish (salmon vs. trout), and snagging the occasional big tuna.
(Big tuna = a project that would represent up to 40% of your total revenue.)
A big tuna stretches your consulting firm without requiring fundamental transformation. You’re compelled to upgrade your approach, processes, and capabilities. It also funds future expansion so that you can hook more big fish in the future.
Have you ever landed or turned down a whale of a project? What was the impact on your firm?
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.