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4 Steps to Scale Your Consulting Business

By Michael Zipursky

Let’s look at how you can scale your consulting business.

You’re in the position where you want to grow your consulting business. You want to create a lot more leverage. More freedom. More flexibility.

So much so that your business can run to without your direct day-to-day involvement.

Most consultants find they hold on to the stuff that they don’t need to be doing for far too long because they think that they can do it better than anyone else.

This is where are you can start to enjoy a much more significant income — but in a way where you don’t have to spend as much time to create that income.

So here are some best practices that I want to offer you and share with you — some of the observations that I’ve gained over the years working with hundreds of consultants around the world in many different industries — and also building multiple consulting businesses myself.

Step 1: List What You Don’t Need to Do

The first thing that you want to do here is look at what you don’t need to do.

You want to go through an exercise where you list out everything that you do, from start to finish, in all aspects of your business. Especially regarding project delivery, but also marketing, administration — everything.

And when you’ve listed it out, you want to identify the areas that you don’t need to be directly involved in.

Most consultants find they hold on to the stuff that they don’t need to be doing for far too long because they think that they can do it better than anyone else.

You want to go through this list and really be honest with yourself and ask: what areas do I really need to be involved in?

What are the highest value areas that require my knowledge and my expertise?

What are all the other areas that somebody else could assist with?

What you’ll find in many cases that you can actually identify people who can be just as good as you are — who we bring just as much to the table and get stuff done for you a lot faster — and it doesn’t cost that much to do it.

Step 2: Find Contractors for Your Consulting Business

The second thing that you then want to do, connected to number one, is look for those people.

You want to find contractors.

freelancers hired to help scale a consulting business

Don’t go out and hire full-time people. You don’t need to.

Find contractors. Look at outsourcing. If you’ve found a whole bunch of different things that you don’t need to be doing, start to give these tasks to contractors.

Start to bring those people in to do specific tasks. You’re just going to be focused on your one area of expertise, but everything else around you want to get off your plate.

As an example, it might be formatting presentations. It might be doing some direct outreach to people. It might be an administration, or bookkeeping, research — so many things that you don’t need to be doing yourself that aren’t high value. Get them over to somebody else.

Step 3: Building Your Consulting Bench

The third thing that you then want to start to implement is building your bench before you need it.

This is one of the things that I recommend to a lot of our coaching clients as they’re starting to really see growth in their consulting businesses.

Here’s the key: do this before you need it.

A lot of consultants experience that they hesitate to go after larger projects and engagements because they feel they can’t handle them.

But it’s a catch 22: they can’t handle it because they don’t have the resources to be able to deliver or to successfully complete that project.

They way around that is to start building your bench now.

team of consultants hired to scale and grow a consulting business

Find people who can help you to take on all these different aspects, especially when it comes to project delivery. And then when you have them, you’re going to feel much more confident to go out and win those larger projects. You’ll know that you can deliver on them because you have the bench.

The other thing too is that you don’t want to wait because people that can help you might not be available when you need them on a pinch.

You want to start to cultivate relationships with multiple people who can help you in different areas.

If one isn’t available when you need them, you have two or three others that could also help you. Work on building your bench even before you even need it.

Step 4: Productize Your Consulting Offers

Number four is to start to productize your offers.

The key here is to identify all the different elements within your business and within your service delivery where you can create better processes and systems around them — where you can remove things that really don’t need to be there that might take time.

Then, hone in and package the elements that will provide a great result and outcome for the buyer.

The more that you can work towards productizing your offerings, the greater leverage that you’ll be able to create.

You’ll be able to create more systems and processes around them.

consulting developing a system to scale his business

You’ll be able to bring people in. They will know exactly what they need to do.

The opposite of productizing your offerings is customization.

If you’re doing a lot of customization, then it means you’re always recreating new stuff. This means it’s harder to train people, which means there are fewer processes and fewer systems.

And then is much more difficult to scale a business around because the only way to handle more customization is to bring in more people, more resources, and more infrastructure.

It’s is not a good model and not one that I recommend for most consultants.

If you want to build a lean, highly profitable consulting business, then you want to start to build productization into your service offerings.

We do a lot of work in our coaching program with clients and help them to go through a process so they can create very valuable, highly profitable offers that clients can easily say yes to that don’t take a lot of time to deliver on – and also creates a lot more value for the consultant.

This leads to more flexibility, more freedom, more impact, more income — which is what all consultants want.

Scale Your Consulting Business The Right Way

To recap, the four steps for you to go through to scale your consulting business:

  • #1 — figure out what you don’t need to be doing.
  • #2 — all those elements, either remove them or outsource them to contractors and outside sources.
  • #3 — build your bench before you needed it. Don’t wait. Start building those relationships. Start cultivating them right now. Find people who could help you to deliver or to run your business.
  • #4– productize your offers. Take steps towards that because this is really the key to scaling your business — getting more productizing in place so there’s less custom work.

If you work through these four things, you’re going to feel much more control of your business. You’ll have greater clarity.

And you’ll have a much more direct path towards greater growth and scaling.

If you have questions about growing your consulting business, scaling it to the next level, or want some help with any of these processes or any of these steps, you can reach out to us at Consulting Success® and check out our coaching program for consultants.

2 thoughts on “4 Steps to Scale Your Consulting Business

  1. Do you advocate “building your bench” with associates / freelancers or hired employees? This, for me, is the biggest mindset hurdle in moving from solo consultant to building a team.

    • Great question Ross. The answer is all and will depend on what stage you’re at, your cash flow situation, goals etc. It’s always good to start by having a bench of talent that you can access. That can begin with contractors and freelancers. And when it makes sense look at shifting that to full-time team members.

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