Last year, Considerati, a Dutch legal and public affairs consulting firm, was named one of Holland’s fastest growing businesses by a prestigious Dutch financial newspaper, Het Financieele Dagblad. Last month, the UK’s most respected financial newspaper, the Financial Times, included the company in the FT1000, its list of the fast-growing companies it considers the driving force of the European economy. In this blog, we catch up with Considerati managing partner Ton Wagemans to discuss the secrets of this success and the challenges that were overcome to achieve such high growth.
From our chat with Ton, we’ve put together three things to get right if you want to break through the growth ceiling that traps many consulting firms.
Ton and his business partner, Bart Schemer, come from academic backgrounds and have developed expertise in designing the ecosystems in which technology companies and data-intensive organizations can thrive.
Ton and Bart positioned their firm to help digital businesses deal with the legal and policy challenges regarding new technologies (i.e. privacy, security and data protection) – essentially helping clients build trust with their stakeholders.
“In 2007, we started a business in what we believed was a very niche market at the time, so had very little competition,” says Ton. Despite the lack of competition, Ton and his partner found it difficult to translate their knowledge into a successful, viable proposition that businesses would pay for.
Quick and easy steps to successfully catalyze growth
Here’s a list of some of the vital steps consulting firms can take straightaway to put them in a position to drive sustainable growth throughout the business:
- Fine tune your proposition
Understanding the target market is something consulting business find difficult. It will be a struggle to effectively market your value to clients without knowing the specific issues affecting them and how your business is ideally placed to address these.
The more information you are able to put together on your target audience, the easier it is to define your value proposition and laser in on where you can add the most value to clients.
Ton explains: “Having expert knowledge is only part of the process. We knew what we had and what we can deliver. However, if you fail to put that into context for clients and prospects, they won’t be able to see how to realize the value you’d bring to their organization.”
Tip: A razor-sharp proposition will also allow the business to evaluate how to price their services based on the perceived value.
Read our blog on supporting client growth and new business through market proposition.
- Prioritize client relationships
Client relationships will suffer without a robust account management process. Have you agreed regular catch-up meetings? How about clear and achievable targets? You should make it a priority to implement a replicable process of managing customer relationships and the accounts at an organizational level.
Such a process will ensure that the quality of service is consistent across the company.
A thought-through account management process will give the client confidence in your proposition and strengthen the relationship you have with them. Make sure to receive regular feedback from the businesses you are involved with and engage with them on every step of the delivery process to give you the opportunity to get to grips with their issues and work closely with them on finding a solution.
Account management is about taking the next step from service delivery to becoming an irreplaceable partner to your clients. It’s easier to achieve this goal if the process becomes part of the culture and fabric of the firm.
Ton makes the point that it’s a mistake to ignore this aspect of the business. “It’s easy to focus on service delivery and bringing in new business. However, taking the time to design and develop an account management process means that staff can adopt and replicate how you want to manage clients and the way you deliver services to them. This will ensure that high-quality services can be provided consistently across the business.“
Check out our blog on nurturing client relationships for tips on how build long lasting relationships.
- Working ‘on’ the business, not in it
People with great technical expertise often launch consulting firms, but have little experience growing a business. This leads to the leadership focusing too much on areas they are most comfortable, often prioritizing delivering a service (i.e. working in the business) over critically assessing the company’s needs and building a robust proposition or intellectual property.
To accelerate growth, the leadership team will need to focus on putting in place processes and systems that support growth. Entrust the day-to-day activities to senior staff and cut out any commitment that isn’t directly making the business money.
Ton gives an example: “As a research academic, I spent a lot of time in academia chairing committees that were not relevant to the business. Taking David’s advice to reduce my involvement in these committees meant that I could spend valuable time working to grow the business.”
Click here to find out if your leadership team working ‘on’ the business.
Since implementing these lessons and making use of on-going support from Equiteq, Considerati has been able to grow its revenue and headcount significantly in the last 3 years, leading to the recognition from the Financial Times, which included the business in the FT1000, which celebrates the companies generating jobs and sustaining Europe’s competitiveness.
Ton concludes: “Breaking through that glass ceiling and building a multimillion euro business requires bringing in people with the expertise and skills to transform your growth potential.
If you are ready to discuss plans to realize the value in your consulting firm, please get in touch with us for a confidential conversation.
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