One of the aspects of The Consultancy Growth Network that our members particularly value is the openness and honesty of our expert advisors.
Recently we put them on the spot by asking what two things they would pay more attention to if they had the chance to grow their consulting business all over again.
Here’s what they said.
Augusto Negrillo – started, scaled, acquired and sold businesses from data and analytics to business and IT transformation
1. Use equity as a tool
“Too late we realised that we had a powerful tool at our disposal that we were ignoring. I now know that it’s a very useful tool to both motivate and attract people. I’ve gone from holding onto it all myself, to giving it to minority stakeholders, to sharing it amongst the whole team. The change was radical. Had I known earlier what its value was as a tool, I would have used it very differently.”
2. Embrace tension
“If can you manage it in a positive way, conflict is a beautiful thing. My board needed to have opinions that were different to mine, because the gold dust existed mostly within the fine lines of compromise.”
Marc Jantzen – built and sold his consultancy for £10m. Now advises consultancy owners via TheNub
1. Invest more in the business
“We made £1m profit in our first three years and we distributed 100% of it. If we’d taken a longer term view, we would have invested in our methodology, understood the marketplace, developed our proposition, brought in senior people and more.”
2. Strategic partnerships
“We should have taken more time and worked harder to find organisations with whom we could jointly go to market. One particularly complimentary strategic partnership took a lot of effort to secure, but our first project together was £1m. We didn’t replicate that enough.”
Dom Moorhouse – built his consultancy to £20m in 5 years. Author, mentor, NED and angel investor.
1. Networking with peers
“As we grew our business, 80% of the challenges we went through were not unique. I realised late that the ability to bounce things off peers is hugely valuable. If I was back in that early stage of my business, I would jump at the chance of being in a broader peer network.”
2. Important others
“I would pay more attention to the gradual attrition of my most important relationships. I would make sure I had a friend outside of work who kept me calibrated. I would give them permission to call me out if I was spending Sunday nights on calls with colleagues when I didn’t really need to.”
David Bailey – professional services advisor since 2009. Built and sold his firm to Hitachi consulting.
1. Internal delegation
“As we grew we were too command and control from the centre. A member of our team, who was running a £140m IT transformation programme for a client, had to come to the board for approval of a £1,000 unbudgeted IT spend. That was a real wakeup moment. In hindsight I would have delegated much more, much earlier.”
“We started out doing a particular thing, then our clients asked us to do more, different things. So we obliged. Before we knew it we had as many proposition as we did consultants. It was such a distraction. We should have kept our focus on what we were best at.”
Article | Operations
Ali El Moghraby
Head of Marketing
The Consultancy Growth Network