The number one goal of any business is to generate an income through sales. Therefore, when you start your own consulting business a great deal of your effort lies in building and nurturing relationships with the aim to convert leads into jobs. It is a great feeling when you secure a new client that values what you do and provides you with the opportunity to assist them in achieving their desired outcomes. For most consultants, this feeling becomes their driver. However, even though you’ve secured a few jobs, you’re busy delivering and continuing to convert additional opportunities; you also need to start thinking about the back end of your business.
One of the greatest differentiators between our business and its competitors is how we manage and run the back end of our business. Whilst we have many team members in a role of winning and delivering work, we also have a number of team members bringing operational skills and expertise to our organisation. Together they ensure that we have a sustainable, and successful platform providing our consultants with the ability to play to their strengths increasing the value of our service provided to clients.
We work with many consultants, contractors, partners and clients as part of the work we do. There are also many compliance and operational requirements we must meet. What I have learnt is that a number of these individuals do not appreciate the value in having this depth of operational experience, expertise and IP within an organisation. Many consultants choose to work solo, sometimes with the assistance of a PA, or they build a business that consists of a range of very experienced individuals without any support. The problem with these business models is that those individual, experienced consultants are then required to take on operational responsibilities that takes them away from what they do best (consulting). It also creates a high level of non-billable hours in the work week that they wouldn’t usually have to do. Through experience these people generally end up neglecting these tasks or completing to a poor standard only creating inefficiencies and increased costs for themselves.
Unfortunately, there is a great deal of naivety around what is required and how time consuming this side of your business can be. Often it isn’t until you become the owner of a business that you start to appreciate how much time, effort and investment is required to build a business that is sustainable, scalable and complies with legislation etc.
By taking the time to invest in your systems, processes, hardware, marketing material, website, finances, HR, IP, and all of the other random ad hoc tasks and activities that are required to run your own business, you are essentially investing in the long term sustainability and value of your business.
If you are thinking of leaving your current organisation to go out on your own, don’t be naive around the investment required to run this side of any organisation. The grass usually isn’t greener on the other side, unless in this case you have someone who is capable and willing to manage this for you. You may perceive the operational, administrative side of the business as the very unsexy, often un-rewarding side of your business that often gets managed in a very reactive way. Take the time to understand what it involves, appreciate those who take on this role and ensure your organisation runs smoothly!