What is the Biggest Bottleneck in your Business Consulting Practice?
If you work in a large business consulting practice, chances are that you have a team supporting what you do, and you don’t really get caught up in day-to-day administration, chasing the next assignment, or typing up your conclusions and recommendations. You probably don’t have to worry too much about pre-screening clients or making sure that your firm gets paid for every billable hour. When you travel, perhaps a secretary looks after your travel arrangements and all you have to do is turn up. Happy days if this is the way it works for you!
But what if you are part of a smaller business consulting firm or a solo-practitioner and you don’t enjoy the luxury of being pampered? You probably have to do way more of the things that you would prefer not to be doing, and administration time eats significantly into your billable time. So how do you cope with all of these challenges that come your way? Most of us would say – not too well. We know that we should be focusing on high value-added activities but in reality we get caught up in low or no value-added activities.
The question is how do you change this situation? I spent several years looking at this problem in relation to my own business consulting practice, when the following list of daily activities I got involved in came to the fore:
- Answering emails (the greatest time thief of them all)
- Answering the telephone (nobody else to do it)
- Attending networking events (how else can you get new clients?)
- Keynote speaking (building credibility)
- Making travel arrangements (admin)
- Attending “get-to-know-you sessions” (also known as freebies)
- Marketing (finding the next client or couple of clients)
- Generating invoices (most important activity of each day)
- Credit control activities (making sure I get paid on time)
- Paying bills/invoices (admin)
- Blogging (sharing my knowledge for free)
- Creating training videos (sharing more of my knowledge for free)
- Social media engagement (another marketing activity)
- Writing reports for clients (admin)
- Creating proposals for clients or prospects (admin)
- Business assessments (one of the revenue generating activities)
- Benchmarking clients against best business practice (part of assessments)
- Executive coaching (another revenue generating activity)
- Program or project management (yet another revenue generating activity)
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Perhaps you have an even longer list than mine. The biggest challenge is to focus more on the revenue generating activities and to automate as much of the other stuff as you can. It is also helpful if you consider recruiting a secretary, a part-time personal assistant, or buy some time from a competent virtual assistant online.
But how can you generate economies in some of the client facing activities and in some of the things that only you can personally do? This is where automation comes in. When documenting the activities in the bullet list above, I examined how I could automate some of the big time thieves. I looked deeply at the processes I go through as I romance potential clients. I did process flows around what was a suitable client and what was not. I created a database of information in relation to the client engagement process, the analysis protocols like benchmarking, the generation of client reports, and the creation of proposal documents based on my investigative work at the beginning of an assignment.
You may well ask so what? Well, I took this to the next stage wherein I created a detailed design for a piece of cloud-based software that would be able to do the following tasks:
- Replace the first “meet and greet” session with a secure online questionnaire that determines the suitability of the potential client for my consulting practice.
- Take the answers provided by the CEO of any business and benchmark this against observed best business practice, using a proprietary numerical scoring mechanism.
- Analyze all of the answers provided by the CEO and create a commentary that reflects what is going on in their business, and how certain activities can be improved upon.
- Generate a coherent report on the business that would be the same as any report I would normally prepare after personally completing a detailed analysis of a business.
- Create a proposal document that reflects the improvements needed in the business, a set of clear recommendations and a rate card for the work.
- Allow the white labeling of the applications so that my brand could be replaced by the brands of other business consultants.
- Allow the reports to be customized with the IP and industry experience of individual consultants, including editing of auto-generated content.
- Provide a secure mechanism for communicating with clients using standard email templates and guaranteed delivery using Mandrill app.
The software has since been built and it has been extensively tested in the market for accuracy, time saving capabilities, and robustness. Not only do I use it on a daily basis in my own consulting practice, I also license it for use by other consultants in their practices as well. Couple this with the use of a virtual assistant online, and I now have released a significant amount of my time for more marketing and more execution with clients, whom I know I can do my best work with. The product is called GrowthOracle and you can find out more about how you may be able to apply it in your practice, on this website.
If you are a business consultant and you think that you would benefit from a free trial of GrowthOracle in your practice for 30 days, with no obligation, simply click on the following link and we will have you set up on the system within 24 hours http://growthoracle.com/landingpage2/