- November 17, 2021
- by Guest Author
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Like most businesses, there’s a time when you reach full capacity. After all, you only have so many billable hours in a month. Usually, at this point, you can’t efficiently serve your customers.
As a consultant, you’ll have to decide whether to plateau or scale.
Being the savvy business person you are, I’m sure you’re looking to scale. The question is, how do you do it? The answer lies in efficiently planning your business processes.
What are the challenges in planning in the consulting industry?
Consulting is an inherently challenging business. After all, your main job is to help your clients overcome their own challenges and improve themselves. But to do that, you must overcome the challenges in your own business. And most of them boil down to planning and strategy.
Here are some of the most common areas you may find challenging as you run and grow your consulting business:
Determining how to scale
One of the biggest planning challenges for consulting businesses is determining the best method to scale. You have three options in this area:
- raise your rates
- offer more consulting products
- get more clients
Take time to look into each growth model and consider which works best for you and your business. And whichever model you decide to go with, ensure you have the right tools, human resources, and capacity to handle the growth.
Handling different projects
Particularly when you reach the growth stage, you’ll find yourself handling a diverse portfolio of projects. From strategic projects to performance improvement projects to turnaround projects, your table may be full of projects that pull you in different directions. This can cause your service standards to suffer. Ultimately, it could even lead to you losing some clients. Failure to plan and design a system that will effectively help you scale could lead to your business regressing.
Managing different timelines
Another planning challenge you’ll face as your consulting business grows is that of projects running on different timelines. This is where you must wear your project manager’s hat if you’re to enjoy a healthy growth phase. Failure to manage each project properly could result in you missing your deadlines. A few tips to help you manage project timelines include:
- clearly define each project’s scope (also helps avoid scope creep)
- set milestones for your team and clients
- use a project management tool to improve task management and productivity
If you can be efficient in managing multiple project timelines, scaling your consulting business becomes easier.
Maintaining service standards
Whether you decide to scale by raising your rates, taking on more clients, or expanding your service packages, maintaining your standards will be a challenge. With each new client you take on, you have fewer resources at your disposal to help you work on your deliverables. Despite that, you must ensure that you maintain your standards. Failure to do that will lead to overwhelm and burnout when you scale.
How should you start implementing efficient project management?
Scaling your consulting business hinges on you implementing an effective project management strategy. Here are a few tips to help you do that:
#1 Use a time tracking system
One of the first steps to ensuring proper project management is to use a time tracking system. A time tracking system will help you:
- discover and eliminate tasks that are not productive or those that can be automated.
- boost your team’s productivity.
- identify team members who are more proficient at particular tasks than others.
These benefits of time tracking help rectify inefficient planning. They also help you avoid micromanaging your employees as you know what each team member is doing at each particular time.
#2 Boost productivity through scheduling
Another project management hack that will help you scale your consulting business is scheduling. Besides helping you maximize your time, scheduling tools also help you:
- reduce multi-tasking
- increase employee focus
- streamline role allocation
But if you’re dealing with a limited budget, or you’re not sure what you should be scheduling, here’s a few ways to narrow down your choice of tools:
Schedule for your strengths
Basically – get more from what you know you’re good at.
For example, if you’re a hit on Instagram and want to exponentially increase the power of your following, you could get an Instagram scheduling tool.
Scheduling to your strengths makes it easier to prove ROI, but, as a consultant, ROI isn’t always about money. So another option is to…
Schedule for your weaknesses
This is your ‘just do it for me so I never have to worry about it.
It might be your financials, or your copy, or your day-to-day organization.
While it’s harder to see monetary ROI, these tools should make your life less stressful, giving you more headspace and positive energy to focus on the things you enjoy.
Schedule for goals
You don’t need to schedule forever. If there’s a goal in mind – let’s say it’s reaching a certain amount of viewers, subscribers, or followers – you can find a tool that can make it easier to get there.
Then you can cancel your subscription. Remember, you’re not tied in forever!
Using a scheduling tool is one of the best ways to increase your team’s productivity. Of course, this results in your business having more capacity to take on more clients and projects.
#3 Automate parts of your service
Many aspects of running a consulting business are repetitive. Automating such tasks is one way you can make project management easier. It also frees up more of your time, allowing you to scale effectively.
An example of such a process that can be automated is assessing your clients’ performances. One of the best ways to do this is to allow them to self-assess using a survey. You can then automate the generation of personalized reports.
Include your own tone of voice, branding, and expertise in the report, to maintain the personal touch your clients want.
Time. it’s the one asset we all wish we could have more of. Unfortunately, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. But limited time shouldn’t stop you from scaling your consulting business. If anything, if you manage it well, it should give you a competitive advantage — to scale your business and over your competition.
Time’s up on this phase of your consulting business. The sun has set. It’s time to scale and embrace a new stage of your business. But to successfully do that, it will take effective planning.
Stefan Debois is the founder and CEO of Survey Anyplace, an online software tool to create engaging surveys, assessments and personalized reports. Besides kitesurfing, Stefan is passionate about using technology to build professional relationships with people at scale.