Recreate the Support of a Large Firm for Your Independent Practice
Regardless of where you are in your independent consulting journey, your client’s expectations around efficiency and project deliverables are molded by the outputs of well-established large consulting firms. If you’ve worked for a large consulting firm in the past, you likely had access to many resources that helped you ensure project deliverables were timely, professional, and polished.
However, as an independent consultant, this work falls on you. And if your past experience didn’t require you to manage processes like seeking additional support or slide deck creation on your own, you may not have the expertise or time to handle them.
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Here are some resources you can leverage to recreate the support of a large firm.
1. Tap into outside subject matter expertise.
As your independent consulting practice or boutique consultancy scales, you must stay focused on efficiency. That includes times during which you take on more work, expand into new practice areas, or grow your list of clients. After all, time to value is a major reason clients choose to work with independent consultants.
At a large firm, a Partner may simply place multiple available consultants on a large project. That isn’t a luxury you have when working independently, though. So, when identifying other independent consultants to work with, tap into your professional networks and alumni networks, or look for partners on freelance platforms like Catalant.
For a consultation about a subject that you may not have experience with, you can engage “expert networks” like GLG and AlphaSights. These platforms make it easy to get in touch with subject matter experts and those with specialized knowledge who can offer the right insights to ensure you are equipped to solve the client’s problem appropriately.
With the support of expert networks, you’ll be able to take on more work and deliver it efficiently — simultaneously, you’ll gain subject matter expertise in different areas of your segment and others.
2. Find preferred sources of market research truth.
Maintaining a deep understanding of your market segment is critical when working independently. While at a large firm, you might meet with other consultants and partners daily and discuss the market and trends among clients or access unique reports, client and market surveys, and other forms of market diligence and analysis.
As an independent consultant, it’s your responsibility to seek preferred sources of market research truth and apply that information to your practice to help you stay relevant and competitive. In doing so, you’ll be able to better explain your perspectives throughout pitching, kick-off, and the duration of the project.
Here are some ways you can do this.
- Gain access to relevant research reports (e.g. Plunkett Research).
- Use expert networks to speak with subject matter experts.
- Use artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up the research process. For example, ask ChatGPT questions to kickstart exploring a new market or feed it data, like customer reviews or surveys, to get quick insights and trends. Or use Elicit, an AI-based research assistant, to automate your research workflows.
- Use survey tools like Typeform to gather perspectives directly from your clients.
3. Use a deliverable support service.
While creating, formatting, and designing project presentations may not be your area of expertise, it’s another critical part of your role as an independent consultant. A high-profile client will have a hard time taking you or your work seriously if it’s not polished, clear, and professional.
The issue is that you may not know how to do this. If you came from a large firm, you likely had the option to email your rough deliverable off somewhere, and a day later, a beautiful project deliverable landed in your inbox. Coming from the industry side, you may have spent little to no time formatting project presentations.
To combat this issue as an independent consultant, you need access to the right support for this. For example, you could use Catalant’s Deliverable Support Service (DSS). DSS offers Experts on the platform exclusive access to visual design services at no cost. In one-to-three business days, your project presentation materials, reports, and infographics will be prepared and ready for you to present or deliver to your client.