Consulting depends on changes and challenges. We help find the way forward.
The world is overwhelmed right now by massive challenges. In our lifetime we have seen global challenges coming as swells, slowly rising, or as ripples, rising and falling. But now we face multiple tsunamis.
As a consultant what will you do? How can you adapt? How can you help?
Table of Contents
- Looking at Global Changes and Challenges that will Change Your Independent Consulting Business
- Finding Opportunities that Expand Your Consulting Niche
- Finding Consulting Opportunities in Global Challenges
- Deciding on a New Consulting Niche
- Next Steps
Surfing a safe, comfortable wave is low risk and casual fun, but it’s a good idea to be prepared for the “Big One”, even if you want to let it pass under you.
Preparing for the "Big One" gives you the option of positioning for it and taking advantage of its power or letting it slide under you. If you aren't prepared, there is a good chance you won't have a choice. You will Wipe Out.
In my 30+ year career as an independent consultant to Fortune 1000 and Global 1000 companies I’ve been fortunate to successfully surf two tsunami waves. The first was the worldwide adoption of Microsoft Windows/Office. The second was the move from Real World to Digital Marketing. Both waves carried me into technical and strategic consulting to Fortune 1000 and Global 1000 organizations. Both were personally exhilarating, financially rewarding, and gave me the chance to help millions of people!
In our consulting course and mentoring we show new and experienced consultants how to leverage their expertise to take advantage of a consulting tsunami. The last stage in our Consulting Mastery Series (tm) is "Productizing Your Consulting Services and Creating Multiple Streams of Income".
Looking at Global Changes and Challenges that will Change Your Independent Consulting Business
This is the second of three blogs looking at the global chanes and challenges that face the world and how the will change your independent consulting business,
- Changes and challenges facing the world and consultants
- Massive opportunities for consultants
- Leveraging massive changes in consulting
The first blog, Changes and Challenges Facing the World and Consultants, described a few of the global economic and business challenges.
This second blog, Massive Consulting Opportunities during Global Changes and Challenges, looks at how to see global changes and challenges can affect your clients and bring you opportunities.
The third blog in the series, Leveraging Changes for Greater Consulting Opportunities, will look at how you can position yourself to take advantage of this new world. Do not miss this blog.
Consultants are reward for breaking through obstacles and turning them into opportunities. However, worldwide we now face more changes, challenges, and opportunities than we have seen since World War II.
In 2022 and beyond we face,
- Global Climate Change
- War in Eastern Europe
- Recurring outbreaks of COVID-19
- Restructuring of global supply chains
- Digital Transformation across all industries
- “Virtualization” of business communication
- Global inflation (and will it turn to recession?)
- Corporations restructuring for the freelance economy
Finding Opportunities that Expand Your Consulting Niche(s)
Every one of the crisis above presents consulting opportunities in business, non-profits, and government. You can help deliver solutions and scale your independent consulting business.
As an independent consultant you can wait meekly for clients to ask, “What do you know about how we can restructure our supply chain?” or “Do you know what we can do to reduce the use of plastics in our products?”
You can get out ahead of other consultants in your niche, identify issues, find solutions, build your skill sets, and be a leader.
As independents we don’t have our own research and customer support departments to discover these issues, but we can leverage and personalize the research that is readily available. I’ve given examples of some sources in the next section.
When looking for opportunities, try this approach,
- Begin by searching online for case studies of critical issues in your niche.
- Review niche forums in Quora, Redditt, or industry forums and chats for discussion on the challenges.
- Check the research posted by large consulting firms and niche consulting firms on areas they are spearheading. International consulting firms are opening new divisions and hiring consultants for these new changes and challenges.
<The next section of this blog has example links and excerpts.>
- Once you have a background on issues and solutions, then present these issues to your prospects/clients and ask if they would like to do a Discovery Session to brainstorm impacts and solutions. Look for a sponsor or two to back you in your Discovery Session.
Click here to learn how to do a Strategy/Discovery Session and get a template to guide you through a Strategy/Discovery Session.
- As well as leading the Discovery Session, you should write-up findings and potential solutions. Prepare for this meeting so you are the thought leader (or one of them) in the meeting and remain the consultant of choice.
Finding Massive Consulting Opportunities in Global Challenges
The top global consulting firms are building new divisions, hiring consultants, and building strategies for global challenges in Sustainability, Supply Chain Restructuring, Digital Transformation, and more.
You can leverage the research large consulting firms have done in identifying issues, impacts, and solutions. You just need to translate them to fit your niche. In the third blog I will go into marketing, upskilling, and partnering to handle these new consulting solutions.
TIP: Write down your ideas for services and solutions you could provide. You will need your ideas in the next section of this blog. The third blog will expand on this work.
I did a few quick searches with Google to see what issues and solutions large consulting firms are proposing. If you belong to an industry association for your niche (you should), you can also search the association website for articles and discussions on these same issues.
Sustainability consultants primarily work on Net Zero improvements to reduce carbon, increase cost-benefits, and environmental benefits. As a product/service development expert you may also want to work with clients to improve their environmental impact in the use of plastics, recycling, and ecological impact.
Sustainability, Net Zero, and Green changes in a company very often include or create changes throughout the company in products, marketing, finance, quality control, ... everything. If you are an independent consultant you may want to partner with a sustainability consulting firm to support them in areas that are not their specialty.
Personal Note: During my MS Physics I worked with a team researching methane absorption of infrared radiation. The results were used by government satellites to differentiate between ICBM missile launches and forest fires. During the research, the team discovered that methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide retained heat for an incredibly long time. All those decades ago we couldn’t image the earth destroying consequences. Global Climate Change is an IMMENSE crisis that is here now. Global Climate Change is real science.
McKinsey & Co. - Sustainability, Innovating to Net Zero
“McKinsey aspires to be our profession’s preeminent impact partner and advisor on sustainability, climate, energy transition, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG)—from the board room to the engine room. We are working with clients to lead a wave of innovation and economic growth that safeguards our planet and advances sustainability.”
Bain & Company - Sustainability & Responsibility
“We can help you embed sustainability in every facet of your strategy and operations, to address everything from energy and emissions to investments and due diligence. Our sustainability consulting expertise extends to plastics recycling and sustainable materials, food and nature systems, supply chain optimization, and diversity, equity and inclusion.”
BSR - Sustainability Consulting
“With more than 25 years of global experience, we provide advice to companies to help them make impact and achieve strategic advantage through sustainability. Our service offerings are designed to meet the immediate demands of a single project as well as to integrate sustainability into a company's ongoing operations.”
Strategic Sustainability Consulting
“Strategic Sustainability Consulting provides organizations with the tools and expertise they need to actively manage their social and environmental impacts. We specialize in helping under-resourced organizations implement sustainable solutions usually reserved for large, multinational companies.”
Digital Transformation Consulting
Digital transformation consulting helps businesses and governments create new value through the application of data and technology. The result is faster production and services, speeding delivery while reducing risks and costs. Estimates are that COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation by four to five years. Digital transformation is impacting all companies and services, from financial to industrial to agricultural.
“By taking a bionic approach, blending human and technical capabilities, companies can kick their digital transformation into gear—and keep the momentum going... Digital transformation isn’t a new imperative for business leaders, but COVID-19 has made it more urgent, with companies looking to enhance their agility, speed, and data-driven decision making. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/the-evolving-state-of-digital-transformation
…More than a third of respondents (to our survey) felt that their organization lagged behind its competitors. Many companies have yet to apply digital technologies and ways of working at scale. Or to create a culture that embraces change…”
McKinsey & Co. - The new digital edge: Rethinking strategy for the postpandemic era
“Our survey confirms that the future will belong to companies that put technology at the center of their outlook, capabilities, and leadership mandate. … After seeing how the pandemic had sped up the adoption of digital technologies by several years, we took a closer look at how companies are rethinking the role of digital technology in their overall business strategy and how to conduct business at the quickening pace that’s now needed to operate.”
Working from Home (transformation) Consulting
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the movement toward more working from home, freelance employment, and virtual meetings. Over the two to three year period of the pandemic entire industries were disrupted, management methods completely overturned, and new methods of teamwork and project management evolved. Now we face the evolution to a combination of In Office and Working from Home. There’s a lot of leadership, teamwork, and culture work for consultants. For consultants it means a rapid shift toward remote consulting.
McKinsey & Co. – Future of Work After COVID-19
“This report on the future of work after COVID-19 is the first of three MGI reports that examine aspects of the postpandemic economy. The others look at the pandemic’s long-term influence on consumption and the potential for a broad recovery led by enhanced productivity and innovation. Here, we assess the lasting impact of the pandemic on labor demand, the mix of occupations, and the workforce skills required in eight countries…”
“PwC’s second survey into attitudes about remote work finds US executives and employees converging around a post-pandemic future with a lot more flexibility, yet few are prepared to completely abandon the office space.
As a result, by design or default, most companies are heading toward a hybrid workplace where a large number of office employees rotate in and out of offices configured for shared spaces. This model embraces the flexibility that most employees (and some employers) crave after working from home for months. It’s also a complicated way to organize the work week and is likely to transform a company’s culture, employee engagement, the way the work gets done and how office space is used.”
Bloomberg - Return-to-Office Chaos Is the Best Thing to Happen to Consultants Since Y2K
“A new breed of “experts” is here to help desperate employers navigate these uncharted waters. Too bad no one knows anything.”
Search on Google for consulting firms working on other areas of massive change that might impact your niche. Scan through the consulting service offerings from these firms for areas you might investigate.
Deciding on a New Consulting Niche
Before you pivot your consulting business to the next Big Wave, it’s best to gather your ideas, research them, talk them over with your peers, sleep on it, and then start making decisions.
Remember, the safest solution is to,
- Maintain your current consulting business
- Research and investigate new issues that could impact your niche
- Do Discovery Sessions with your clients to discover needs and propose these issues
- Validate and prepare
- Do a LEAN pivot
Blog 3 in this series will give directions and resources on preparing and/or pivoting for consulting on one of the new waves.
Tip: If you wrote down ideas as you were scanning other consulting service offerings, you can use the following table to fill in and expand your ideas.
When you recreate this table, put your Niche at the top, for example, Operational Planning for Medical Devices. Challenges are the global issues that will cause problems, such as, Supply Chain or Sustainability. Impact is how the Issue will impact your niche. My Services are your consulting service solutions. Potential is the level of opportunity. My Deficits are the skills, partners, and marketing you will need for this.
Before you pivot and run off in an exciting new direction, temper your decision with these thoughts,
- How close to the bottom line is the impact? The greater the value and closer to the bottom line, the greater the value of your consulting service.
- How aligned is a new service with your existing consulting services and branding?
- What is the risk/reward ratio?
- How long will it take you to upskill or build a partnership?
- Can you get ahead and stay ahead of competitors or have they already built momentum?
There is a lot to consider when adapting to a new niche or consulting service area, but there can also be incredible opportunity. The big waves that are coming will make a huge difference in your life and your client's life, whether you are prepared or not.
In Blog 3 in this series, Leveraging Massive Changes in Consulting, I’ll give you tips on making a LEAN pivot, leveraging yourself, and scaling to use the power of the tsunami.
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