If your attention is kidnapped by major, unforeseen events, some of your obligations and responsibilities are going to suffer. However, there are two types of activities you must maintain to keep your consulting firm healthy and on track.
As a consulting firm leader, you keep a lot of plates in the air, and when you scan your organization, you can see even more plates spinning.
Client projects, thought leadership development, marketing efforts, people management, process systemization, technology upgrades, Business Development conversations, annual planning, capacity planning, lunch planning… it’s a veritable circus.
Without full attention on your business, plates start clattering to the floor.
Ideally, you walk deliberately along your consulting firm’s growth path, maintaining your concentration as you carefully spin up additional disks.
Alas, life has a nasty habit of littering the path with rocks, potholes, chittering squirrels and lemonade stands; i.e., disruptive events that steal your attention, trip you up, and send dishes whirling off in all directions.
Over many years and hundreds of consulting firms, we’ve seen all manner of unfortunate (and occasionally fortunate) circumstances derail consulting firm leaders.
As your firm grows and advances through the 10 Stages of Consulting Firm Growth, fewer and fewer spinning plates are held aloft by you, personally.
That’s good and bad news in terms of disruptions.
On the plus side, if the focus of you or one of your colleagues is abruptly pulled away, fewer responsibilities are at risk and there are more hands at your consulting firm to fill the gap.
On the down side, your consulting firm has additional points of failure. More people walking the path increases the odds someone at your consulting firm will hit a rock and faceplant.
When you, a member of your team, or your entire consulting firm stumbles into a attention-stealing disruption, there are two plates to keep in the air; to prioritize above all others.
One plate is obvious: client work.
Your consulting firm has a contractual and ethical obligation to deliver high-quality work to your clients despite whatever train wreck or balloon ride threatens your focus.
The other plate is less obvious: network maintenance.
In all circumstances, keep your consulting firm’s contact network warm.
Even firms with outstanding marketing engines rely on their network for most of their work. And when marketing sputters or outside forces throw a wrench into the normal stream of inquiries, your network keeps your firm afloat.
Your network of contacts is your consulting firm’s most valuable asset. The energy required to warm up a network is many multiples of the energy needed to maintain it. Hence, letting your network cool will set your firm back or, potentially, cripple it.
Network maintenance is easy, too. Simply ensure every contact receives a nice, personal email from your consulting firm every quarter.
If you find a way to deliver your client work and maintain your network, you can see your consulting firm through virtually any circumstance, no matter how disruptive.
Are there other plates you would prioritize when life gets in the way of your consulting firm’s daily business?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.