Consulting companies go out of business when they consult themselves into their own grave and only grasp what's happening when it's too late to stop. What the hell am I talking about right here? I'm talking about companies who put their hands up and say "We Solve X" so loudly they can't hear the people screaming that they need to solve Y. That's something that as a consultant, I can't let myself fall into.
When I was working with a consulting organization a couple of years back, their entire business was based around providing a single service to a particular Fortune 500 corporation. They had a few minor clients, sure - but the core of what they did was that one service area. In essence, they weren't much more than an outsourced department. They were driven by that individual client, they were driven by their needs, and there was no way out of it.
They're still chugging along right now. They're turning over more cash than my business. Which is sweet. But if that one client and that one service area disappears, they are instantly out of business. This is not the way to run a company, believe me.
So what's the alternative? The Service Scenario.
I don't set myself out to offer one service area to one customer. I have a specific methodology that lets me run a lean consulting practice. It's about creating a Service Scenario. Here's what that looks like...
- I choose a particular niche audience to offer a niche service to. Here's an example of that. We know that many small businesses need to create an actual plan to grow beyond their initial traction. They need practical growth, not vague advice. So we created a specific consulting program to work with small business owners in order to solve that.
- We brand the solution. We don't just say look, we offer services that can help. We give the service its own brand, in this case "Grow101" and let that brand do the talking. It's completely focused on the value proposition, while still tying into the overall brand.
- We design a tiered version of that service. Tiered, because we give people a low barrier of entry to start working with us, by downloading a simple growth guide and working through it on their own. We then have a paid tier where people can access specific content and training. Finally, a premium tier wraps it up by giving people the opportunity to work one on one with me and solve their problems in an intimate way.
This leads to a great place for us to exist and offer services. When we niche, brand and tier, we're not dedicating ourselves to running one single path and running it until we're so worn out we can't switch up or change.
If you follow this kind of formula, you can offer multiple Service Scenarios at the same time. We tend to offer 3, generating revenue from each that we can focus on researching what the next Scenario is going to look like.
Stagnation is the death knoll of a consulting practice. You have to guard against it, and a working methodology like this can be the secret.