To grow your consulting business, it is best to begin with the problem you will solve for clients. Why? There are lots of firms with solutions that no one will buy. The idea you have for your firm is valid, but only if you can do the following:
- State the problem you solve for clients.
- Determine that the problem is pervasive.
- Confirm that clients will be willing to pay to solve it.
- Prove that the problem is urgent.
Growing a consulting business is challenging. In the early days of your business, you will be working for free. You will be burning through whatever cash you have until clients start paying you. There will be competing professional services firms you’ll need to defeat to grow. You cannot afford to waste time evangelizing a solution. You need to generate paying clients as quickly as possible. So, how do you do that? Identify your client’s urgent problem.
How to Get More Clients? Identify Your Client’s Urgent Problem
Hypothesizing that your client’s problem is pervasive without backing it up with research and definitive proof is a waste of time when starting a professional services firm. If you fail here, you will struggle to grow your consulting business further down the line.
Your firm’s solution should be addressing a client’s pain point that is urgent and that they are willing to pay for. If your solution is more of a nice-to-have, you will fail to see an increase in your client base. Let’s look at what happens when you don’t adequately research the need for a solution before entering the market.
Case Study: Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Your Consulting Business
An entrepreneur recently came to me looking for investment capital. He had an idea for a professional services firm. He was seeking start-up capital to hire staff, develop the service, and take it to market. He explained his solution elegantly. He was clearly a domain expert. His field of expertise was price optimization in the information security business.
I asked him to explain the problem that the target client was experiencing. He answered by saying that the clients were unaware of the problem they had. The problem was demand curve modeling. He was going to bring it to their attention. His target clients did not know they had a problem. Strike one.
Next, I asked how many clients had this problem. He answered, “All of them.” He showed me that approximately ten thousand information security companies needed price optimization. He stated that he would reach 1 percent market share by the end of year three, resulting in one hundred clients. He suggested that each client was going to pay $250,000. This meant that his three-year revenue projections were $25 million. He assumed that every company in the sector had the problem. Strike two.
I asked if he had confirmed that his target clients were willing to pay $250,000 to solve this problem. He shared a price list from competitors in the space and stated that target clients would hire him because he was 20% cheaper. Lastly, I asked if the problem was urgent, and the answer was “No, but it should be.” Strike three.
While the entrepreneur had identified a possible solution, his target clients were not even aware that it was a problem for them. Therefore, this solution isn’t solving an urgent pain point. The core takeaway is: If you don’t understand whom you are targeting and their urgent challenges, you will fail to engage them – no matter how loud your voice may be.
How to Grow Your Consulting Business: Top Questions to Ask
My advice – be in the painkiller business. Do not be in the vitamin business. Why do more people buy painkillers than vitamins? When you are in pain, it is urgent. You are willing to pay to make the pain stop now. Be sure that your solution addresses a real problem, that the problem is urgent, and that clients are willing to pay to solve it.
If you want to grow your consulting business, use this game plan. Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer no to eight or more of these questions, you do not have a problem worth solving.
- When you explain the problem to friends and family, do they understand you?
- Does the problem exist in various industries and companies of all sizes?
- Does the problem exist in many geographies?
- Are clients paying to solve the problem right now?
- Have clients been paying to solve the problem for years?
- If clients do not solve the problem, are the consequences severe?
- Is there a trigger event that puts clients in the market for your solution?
- When clients have the problem, do they work to solve it by a deadline?
When strategizing how to grow your consulting business, asking yourself these questions is critical. Professional service firms need to offer relevant service offerings. If your solution isn’t relevant, you will be yet another boutique with solutions that no target client wants to buy.
Grow Your Consulting Business. Be Lasered Focused On Your Client
Start with the problem you will solve for clients. Be sure that the problem is easy to understand and that many clients are experiencing it. And be sure that clients are willing to pay to solve it. Lastly, ensure that the problem is urgent and is one that the client cannot ignore.