If you have a good amount of knowledge and experience in a particular area of business then starting a consulting company might be a smart move.
Perhaps you have some doubts.
One thing that puts some people off the idea altogether is the high level of competition that exists.
Rather than see if they have what it takes to become a consultant, many people let their dream die before ever giving it a chance.
So, how can you avoid that fate?
How can you go from being an average consultant aiming to deal with high levels of competition to one who is succeeding?
Simply put – growth.
Let’s get ready to go beyond the basics and explore how to grow a consulting business that is built to last.
1 – How to choose the right niche for your consulting business
Your niche is your source of value.
In a saturated market, being a generalist consultant is the fastest route to obscurity and failure.
Instead, prepare yourself for analysis and introspection as you seek your specialism.
Pinpoint where your passion and proficiency intersect with market demand.
This isn’t just about being unique – it’s about becoming irreplaceable.
You can’t neglect the realities of the market.
You need to face them head on and consider how to adjust to them.
But how exactly?
When considering these points, it’s important to focus on both the present and the future. Viable long-term success should be your guiding light.
With that in mind, let's answer a series of questions to help you find the right niche for your consulting business:
1. Which areas in your field lack expert voices?
2. What problems frequently arise that lack efficient solutions?
3. Where do clients express the most dissatisfaction with existing services?
4. What emerging trends or technologies might create new challenges?
5. Are there underserved sectors or demographics in your industry?
6. How are industry leaders adjusting their strategies, and where are they falling short?
7. What adjacent industries might benefit from your expertise?
These questions may seem deceptively simple, but if you answer them with as much honesty and self awareness as you’re capable of, they can give you the info you need to move your consultancy forward.
2 – Why you should specialize and narrow your focus
Some people get a little nervous when they consider the process of specialization.
They worry that becoming a specialist will cut them off from a large portion of the market.
While that happens to be true, it also happens to be a very good thing.
Here are the benefits you can expect to enjoy as a specialist consultant:
1. Higher demand due to specific expertise.
2. Ability to charge premium rates.
3. Enhanced credibility in your field.
4. More referrals from satisfied, niche clients.
5. Less direct competition.
6. Streamlined marketing focused on a target audience.
When you see the advantages of being a specialist in black and white, it’s clearly the right option to take!
3 – How consulting companies create a strong online presence & brand
A brand is more than a logo; it’s a symbol of everything your potential customers, both as individuals and a group, think, feel, and believe about you.
Your brand communicates your business values, your approach, and the results clients can expect.
Your website also has an important part to play in helping your consulting business grow and thrive.
Interacting with your website is often the first impression a potential client will have with your company.
Because of this, you need to make sure your website is clean, clear, functional, and provides a suitable aesthetic and satisfactory user experience all round.
Aside from your website, what are some effective ways to grow your consulting business online?
1 – Use the power of SEO
In today’s online age, SEO is essential.
Rise above your competitors by ensuring your content is relevant, in-demand, and of top-tier quality.
Don’t get too caught up in trendy SEO theories or buzzwords.
Instead, aim to fulfil these SEO fundamentals and you’ll never go far wrong:
- Carry out keyword research to find a match between what your audience wants and what you are capable of providing.
- Make sure that your content is more up to date, helpful, and enjoyable than your competitor’s.
- Create groups of content on similar topics to show you have solid knowledge and expertise in whichever area you want to write about.
Don’t overthink things.
The above three points will serve you well as you aim to grow your consulting business.
2 – Strategic content creation and marketing
Content marketing goes beyond just articles—it’s a commitment to consistently add value, understand what your audience needs and wants to consume, and to offer it to them in a way which is more enjoyable and useful than your competitors.
You have a valuable chance to position yourself as the go-to expert in your field by delivering sharp insights and actionable advice that potential clients will actually be grateful to receive.
When you provide so much value with your free content, it’s inevitable that people gain a lot of trust and excitement to experience your paid offers and services.
3 – Other online methods to grow a consulting business
Here are three other avenues to explore when growing your consulting business.
1 – Use social media to engage with your audience, showcase your successes, and foster genuine connections.
2 – Email marketing is more than reaching inboxes—it’s about building relationships. Segment your lists, send purposeful messages, and remain top-of-mind for your clients.
3 – Paid ads should drive action, not just eyeballs. Position your services strategically, enticing the right people to take the right steps.
Of course, we are just scratching the surface here.
But it’s better to keep things simple and go all-in, especially during the early days of trying to grow your consultancy.
4 – How to grow your consulting business through networking and partnerships
The business arena revolves around trust and reputation.
You should attend relevant industry events to learn and make genuine connections.
Every handshake, every exchanged card, every conversation holds potential.
So how can you leverage your network?
Here are the steps to build business relationships that can help grow your consultancy.
Over time, you'll probably adapt this process to your own needs and preferences.
However, when you're starting out, following these seven steps is a tried and tested way to build your business via relationships and partnerships.
Step 1: Identify businesses that offer complementary services
In the world of consultancy, it's not just about what you bring to the table—it's also about who you bring along with you.
Reflect on the landscape of businesses surrounding you. Who could make your offering more complete? By associating with companies that complement your expertise, not only do you broaden your scope, but you bolster the collective value to clients.
An astute consultant identifies and synergizes with such businesses, opening pathways to collaborative growth.
Step 2: Prioritize mutual benefit, not just what you can gain
While it might be tempting to always put your firm's interests first, successful consultants recognize the long-term value of mutual gain.
When embarking on partnerships or collaborations, always ponder this: What can we achieve together that we couldn't accomplish apart? By focusing on shared victories, you set the stage for enduring relationships and compounded success.
It's a strategy as rewarding as it is insightful.
Step 3: Regularly reassess and reevaluate partnerships to ensure alignment
Even the most promising partnerships can drift with time.
As markets shift and business models evolve, what was once a harmonious relationship might no longer serve both parties effectively. That's why top consultants don’t just form partnerships—they nurture and recalibrate them.
By periodically reassessing and reevaluating your collaborations, you ensure that both parties continue to sail in the same profitable direction.
Step 4: Be transparent in communication and expectations
Clear skies in business are often the result of transparent communication.
By being straightforward about what you expect and what you offer, you eliminate potential misunderstandings and foster trust. Clients and partners alike will appreciate—and respect—the clarity.
It's not just about sharing your game plan; it's about ensuring that everyone is reading from the same playbook.
Step 5: Attend joint industry events or co-host webinars
Why limit the power of collaboration to closed-door meetings?
Elevate your partnership to the public domain. By attending industry events together or co-hosting enlightening webinars, you amplify the reach of both brands. Not to mention, these shared ventures become testament to your collaborative spirit, drawing even more eyes and ears to what you jointly offer.
It's smart, and it’s strategic.
Step 6: Promote each other’s services where appropriate
There's strength in vouching for one another.
When you encounter clients who could benefit from your partner's expertise, don't hesitate to recommend. Similarly, foster an environment where your partners reciprocate.
Such mutual endorsements not only benefit the end client but also cement the bond between partnering firms.
Step 7: Celebrate mutual successes publicly
Triumphs are sweeter when shared.
Every milestone achieved, every hurdle crossed, deserves recognition—especially when it's the fruit of joint efforts. By celebrating your shared victories in the public domain, you not only acknowledge the hard work but also spotlight the efficacy of your collaboration.
After all, in the consultancy world, a mutual success story can be a compelling marketing method.
Other companies you partner with, and clients you go the extra mile for, stand a chance of generating referrals. Referrals are often the lifeblood of a thriving consulting company.
So what should you do to facilitate the referrals process?
Exceed client expectations, and they could become your vocal advocates.
But don’t wait for referrals to come in—actively seek feedback and testimonials.
Even that simple step can set you apart from more passive competitors.
Why not take it?
5 – How to take a strategic approach to services offered and pricing
Flexibility in pricing isn’t about undercutting—it’s about understanding.
Recognize client needs, budgetary constraints, and perceived value.
Tiered pricing or packages allow clients to choose what fits, removing an obstacle to working with you.
But which services should you offer?
The answer to that question is entirely down to whichever specialist consulting niche you chose.
What do successful consultants in your space typically offer? Which do you feel able to provide?
While core services may remain, introducing complementary offerings keeps you relevant and in-demand.
Listen to market demands, anticipate needs, and consistently adapt.
You want to strike a balance between responding to market demand while also not changing things too often or for the sake of doing so.
6 – How to use client feedback to continually improve
A lot of companies get feedback and testimonials.
But not nearly as many turn this information into action that helps their consulting business grow.
Here's how to utilise feedback in the right way to grow your consulting company:
1. Host regular feedback sessions with long-term clients.
Regular check-ins with long-term clients help identify areas of improvement.
It shows you value their input and are committed to adapting based on their feedback.
2. Implement client surveys post-project completion.
After finishing a project, send out a survey.
It’s a structured way to gauge client satisfaction and gather insights on where you can do better.
3. Act on feedback—make necessary adjustments.
It's essential to not just listen to feedback but act on it.
Modify your services based on what clients tell you to ensure you meet their needs effectively.
4. Be open to constructive criticism; it fuels growth.
Don't shy away from criticism. It's a tool for growth.
Taking it positively and making changes accordingly can enhance your service quality.
5. Celebrate positive feedback and share it.
When you receive praise, share it.
Positive feedback can bolster your firm's reputation and demonstrate the effectiveness of your services.
6. Regularly reassess services based on client needs.
Clients’ needs can change over time.
Regularly review and adjust your services to stay relevant and valuable to them.
7. Always thank clients for their input; it’s gold.
Feedback is invaluable.
Always thank your clients for taking the time to provide it. Their insights can be crucial for your business growth.
You now know the role client feedback should play in your business growth.
Next, let's explore how investing in skills and development also has a part to play.
7 – Why you should invest in skills and professional development
In consulting, today’s expertise can be tomorrow’s old news.
Continuously update your knowledge. Enroll in courses, attend workshops, and never let your skills stagnate.
Also be aware that the industry landscape is shifting, with new challenges emerging every day.
Try and see staying on top of current trends as the bare minimum aim.
Ideally, you want to monitor trends, technologies, and shifts with the aim of anticipating future consulting demands.
This relates to skills and development as it's important to align your efforts with the needs of both the present and future.
The specific technical skills you cultivate within your business will depend entirely on your niche.
However, it's also worth investing in soft skills. These are applicable to any area of consulting and can really set your company apart from your competitors.
We recommend prioritising investment in the following soft skills to help your consulting business grow:
1. Effective communication
Effective communication is about conveying ideas with clarity and listening with intent.
For a consulting business, mastering this skill is pivotal. By investing in communication training sessions and promoting open dialogues, consulting firms can ensure messages are accurately received and delivered.
When communication flows seamlessly, misunderstandings are minimized, and client trust is built, paving the way for business growth.
2. Emotional intelligence
Being attuned to one's own emotions and those of others defines emotional intelligence.
In the consulting space, understanding and responding to client sentiments can set a firm apart. Cultivate this skill through self-awareness exercises, empathy training, and regular feedback sessions.
As your consultants harness emotional intelligence, they'll forge stronger client relationships, ensuring ongoing collaboration and repeat business.
3. Critical thinking
Critical thinking involves analyzing situations objectively and making informed decisions.
In consulting, where challenges inevitably arise, this skill is indispensable. Encourage your team to approach problems methodically, question assumptions, and weigh evidence.
As your team's critical thinking is sharpened, they can offer more robust solutions, positioning your firm as an industry leader.
4. Problem solving
Every consulting gig is, at its core, about solving a problem.
Equip your team with problem-solving frameworks and encourage brainstorming sessions. Regularly challenging team members with diverse scenarios can also refine this skill.
With adept problem solvers on board, a consulting business can assure clients of innovative and effective solutions, leading to growth and enhanced reputation.
5. Time management
In the fast-paced world of consulting, time is a premium asset.
Mastering time management means optimizing productivity and meeting deadlines consistently. Consider tools and training that emphasize prioritization and task scheduling.
As your team learns to utilise their time effectively, they can handle more projects simultaneously, increasing the firm's revenue potential.
The consulting landscape is ever-evolving, making adaptability a prized skill.
Being open to change and quickly adjusting strategies is essential. Foster a culture of continuous learning and encourage team members to stay updated with industry trends.
A consulting business that swiftly adapts to change can always stay ahead of client needs, resulting in long-term success.
7. Team collaboration
Consulting projects often involve multiple experts coming together.
Team collaboration is about harnessing collective strengths effectively. Facilitate team-building activities and invest in collaborative tools.
As the team's synergy improves, the quality of deliverables escalates, leading to satisfied clients and long-term business relationships.
8 – How to leverage the power of systems and tools
Technology is evolving at an incredible pace. By choosing systems, software, and tools that are aligned with the needs of your consulting company, you allow yourself to work in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Using the right tools for admin can make a huge difference.
Every minute spent on administrative tasks is a minute not spent adding value to your clients.
Embrace automation. From invoicing to scheduling, utilize tools that save time, reduce errors, and let you focus on what you truly excel at: consulting.
You can also leverage software to manage client relationships more effectively.
Relationship management goes beyond remembering birthdays. A sophisticated CRM system tracks client interactions, maintains a history of projects, and anticipates future needs. It’s not just about managing; it’s about mastering client relationships.
The final tool we recommend for every consulting business is a project management solution.
Choosing an effective project management solution, such as Asana, can benefit you in the following ways:
1. Centralized communication: Keep all stakeholders in the loop with unified platforms.
2. Task prioritization: Highlight urgent matters and allocate resources efficiently.
3. Time tracking: Monitor time spent on tasks to improve future estimations.
4. Document management: Store, share, and edit critical documents in real-time.
5. Milestone tracking: Celebrate achievements and keep projects on course.
Never think of software or tools as a substitute for the right people with the right skills.
Instead, see them as a way to empower your team and multiply their existing effectiveness.
9 – How to turn clients into your biggest advocates
Meeting client expectations? That should be an absolute bare minimum standard.
To truly succeed, aim to wow your clients whenever possible.
Go that extra mile. Offer insights they hadn’t considered. Deliver ahead of schedule.
When you surprise in the best ways, you don’t just retain clients—you turn them into promoters.
We talked about how to make the most of feedback earlier, and that's also relevant here.
Keep the channels of communication open.
Encourage your clients to voice concerns, share insights, and collaborate on solutions.
When you do this effectively, you stand a far better chance of creating long-term clients that go on to become your biggest advocates.
Aside from generating valuable new business, long-term clients have the following advantages:
1. Deeper understanding: Familiarity with client needs speeds up project initiation.
2. Increased trust: Long-term relationships foster mutual respect and understanding.
3. Reduced acquisition costs: Retention is often cheaper than acquiring new clients.
4. Predictable revenue streams: Repeat clients stabilize cash flow.
5. Enhanced testimonials: Long-term clients provide richer, more impactful stories.
6. Opportunities for upselling: Familiar clients are more open to new service offerings.
There's nothing more rewarding than forming a long-term partnership with a client and watching them thrive as they follow your advice over the years.
10 – How to sustainably scale your consulting business
Scaling isn’t about indiscriminately adding more clients—it’s a far more strategic process.
It’s about increasing your impact without diluting your quality.
As you scale, ensure your growth is aligned with your vision.
Avoid the temptation of rapid expansion that leads to overextension. It's better to grow at a slightly slower rate and survive than to get too aggressive and tank the entire business.
Every consulting business will have a rate of growth they feel is right for their aims and resources.
Whatever that looks like for you, keep these seven principles of sustainable scaling in mind:
1. Regularly reassess your business plan and adjust for new goals.
2. Prioritize team development; they are the backbone of your growth.
3. Implement robust systems before you think you need them.
4. Always focus on value delivery, even as client numbers soar.
5. Diversify revenue streams to protect against market fluctuations.
6. Build a feedback loop; as you grow, client insights become even more vital.
7. Maintain a balance between acquiring new clients and retaining existing ones.
You will inevitably experience some growing pains – but no experience is wasted as long as you learn from it and turn challenges into valuable knowledge along the way.
How to combine growth with sustainability
Growth without sustainability is one of the fastest ways to destroy your business.
Sustainable growth revolves around consistent value delivery, adapting to changes, and ensuring your resources—both human and material—are utilized optimally. It’s a commitment to long-term vision over short-term gains. The tortoise, not the hare, wins the race in the consulting world.
Your team’s wellbeing is intrinsically linked to your business health. Sustainable growth ensures they aren’t overworked or underappreciated. Investing in their continuous development, well-being, and ensuring a work-life balance isn’t just ethical—it’s strategic.
Financial prudence is the foundation of sustainable growth. Manage cash flows meticulously. Reinvest wisely. Guard against unnecessary expenditures and always have a cushion for unforeseen market upheavals.
Financial agility ensures that you can make it through tougher economic times when they inevitably arise.
Are you ready to grow your consulting business?
It’s action time.
Transforming your consulting business isn’t about some temporary eye-catching initiative—it’s about consistent, sustainable steps.
While the principles in this guide will serve you well, nothing beats putting them into practice and gaining invaluable firsthand experience.
Never lose sight of the fact that growing your business allows you to serve more people and leave a legacy of lasting impact.
We wish you every success along the way.