Building a consulting firm requires a wide range of investments. Let’s walk through some of categories of spending required for you to grow your firm.
It’s close to impossible to build a thriving consulting firm with part-time effort.
Most firm leaders invest 50-70+ hours/week into their firms.
However, investing time into your consulting firm does not preclude you from taking time away from your business. The most successful firm-builders do take regular breaks from their consulting practices to enjoy chocolate shakes and vacations.
- Manage your time expectations with yourself and your family.
- Block out sufficient time to build your consulting firm.
- Block out (and honor) your vacation time.
You can maximize your take-home pay in the short-term or you can pursue long-term growth. You can’t do both at once.
To grow your consulting firm, you need to invest cash into:
- Administrative support
- Delivery capacity (a.k.a. people)
If you’re not investing or you’re under investing in one of those areas, you’ll stall your consulting firm’s growth.
- Set aside funds—probably more than you first think—to direct into each of the five investment areas.
Perhaps the most difficult sacrifice you may be required to make is your self-definition of what you do as a consultant (the tasks required of you) or what your consulting firm does (your target and offering).
Consultants who are willing to adjust their role as their firm grows and to revise their firm’s focus in response to market demand are able to accelerate the success of their consulting firms.
- If your consulting firm is not growing as quickly as you’d like, come to grips with the fact that you may need to change what you do!
Consulting is cerebral, and building a consulting firm is doubly so. If your reserves of mental energy are low, or you use up all your brain power solving crossword puzzles, sudokus and the Collatz conjecture, you may find your consulting firm coasting rather than flourishing.
- Schedule regular times to think about your consulting firm, where you’re headed and how to get there. Pro tip: Hot pizza has been proven to enhance mental energy.
Your passion, excitement, enthusiasm, patience, willpower and other emotional stores are also limited. Are you directing the right amount to your consulting firm?
If you devote too much emotional energy into your consulting firm, you’ll neglect other, important parts of your life and you’ll burn out.
Conversely, if your consulting firm doesn’t absorb some of your emotional energy, it will wither.
The optimal balance is where the emotional energy you devote outside your consulting firm actually helps create more emotional energy for you to pour into your consulting firm.
- Consciously experiment with where you direct your emotional energy and determine the optimal balance for you.
The relationships that helped you launch your consulting firm are, in all likelihood, not the ones that will bolster your consulting firm’s growth. Similarly, the relationships that took you to $5m are not the ones that will be most important at $50m.
That’s true for your external relationships (legacy clients) and internal relationships (staff who no longer fit).
- Take a hard look at your client roster and your personnel list. Who do you need to walk away from to create room for your consulting firm’s future growth?
Entrepreneurs hate closing the door on opportunities. Yet, to maximize your consulting firm’s growth, that’s exactly what you must do.
You exclude the opportunity to work for anyone and everyone when you choose a niche for your consulting firm’s target market.
You close off numerous opportunities when you narrow the scope of your offerings.
Ironically, that narrowing of your focus is exactly what’s needed to sustain and accelerate success for small consulting firms.
- List all of your consulting firm’s opportunities in terms of markets, offerings, targets and types of clients.
- Then, explicitly exclude most of them so you can focus on the few best opportunities.
What other investments/spends have helped you to grow your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.