Grow your Consulting Business
Leading with Quality and Values

Grow and lead with your values. It doesn't need to be one or the other. If you own or lead a consultancy, and feel strongly about growing it leading with your values, join our (free) first coaching webinar and find out how we grew a £42 million consultancy, kept our values and culture, and are helping others do the same.
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Value Led Consulting Modules

At the heart of our training, coaching and virtual non-exec packages are the 9 modules we've identified for profitably growing a consultancy with values. Each is covered in detail within the video and webinar-based training, with supporting template checklists, agendas, and frameworks to accelerate implementation of each.

Vision

Your vision should mark out what is important for you, ideally in a differentiated way, so that you attract the right consulting staff and project work.

Why should the most talented consultants in your space come work for you? Why should a client seeking the highest quality delivery seek your services?

This module covers topics such as:

  • Why is a vision important?
  • How to create it
  • Vision to Strategy to Plan
  • The Role of Effective Board Meetings

The Board

There are many roads to setting up a consultancy. The commonest is where you were previously consultants, met or worked together on a project, and decided that you had enough of a meeting of minds to decide to go it alone. Or you may have spotted an opportunity, and set up to fill it.

Regardless, there'll come a point when you'll want to split responsibilities and formalise decision making in some way to enable growth. There are many ways to do this, but there are some common themes, as well as decisions to be made regarding how you work as a board.

Key components of this module include:

  • The Role of The Board
  • Your real Roles
  • Remaining Client Facing
  • Key CEO, CFO, COO and CTO Responsibilities
  • The CKO (Chief Don't Know) Board Member without easily defined role!
  • Non-Execs and Coaches

Consultants

Every business likes to call itself a people business. Most aren't. But successful consultancies have to be.

Great consultants help you win the right work. They help you deliver it excellently. They help attract other great consultants. They make your life easier, more fulfilling and more profitable.

So your process for finding, recruiting, retaining, challenging and growing, and even leaving the right consultants has to be the most solid part of your business. In our own business, we did this so well that we became the destination employer, fired all our hiring firms, saved well into the 7 figures on recruitment costs alone while recruiting the best in the industry. It is a wonderful thing when you have this in motion.

We'll cover areas such as:

  • The £££ criticality of getting this right
  • Attracting and Finding Great Consultants
  • The hierarchy of things to look for
  • Recruiting and On-boarding
  • Retaining and Growing Stars
  • Parting Company

Business Development

Your oxygen. If you're not winning profitable projects, you have no consultancy.

How do you attract the right prospects, and then convert them into customers? And as a professional services business, your business flow needs to look more like an airline than a product business. If a plane leaves with empty seats, you can't fill them later. Similarly, if you pass a month without enough work for your consultants, you can't get that time back and recoup the missed revenue. AND you need to win the right business in an ethical way that adds disproportionate value to your clients.

We'll cover topics such as:

  • What is your differentiator?
  • What does your funnel look like?
  • Routes to market
  • Qualification
  • Proposals, Pitches and Rates
  • Closing
  • Pushing the Boundary -vs- Promising the Undeliverable

Values and Culture

We're huge believers in putting values front and centre in business. Making what you stand for clear helps you to attract and retain people aligned with where you're going. It makes decision-making easier if people know where you stand.

The best people are looking not only for a pay cheque, challenge and responsibility, but increasingly they also want meaning. It's not an easy list of demands, but we should welcome this if we want our own life mission to mean more than a balance sheet. Applying focus on how to turn your values into habits and ways of working, how to demonstrably lead your team with them, is critical to making values stick.

We look at how to take your values, turn them into how you work, drive your culture, and...

  • Why this is important
  • How to articulate them without resorting to cheesy motivational posters
  • How to turn your values into habits
  • How to reflect your values in how you run the business

Project Delivery

Quality project delivery is important for at least 3 reasons. It enhances your reputation, which helps follow-on and new business. By getting things right more often first time, it allows you to deliver higher quality more profitably, which is a genuine win win for you and your client. And finally, it is an attraction and retention tool for the best consultants, and helps get you into a virtual cycle where you get the best, they help you further improve your delivery, helps to attract the best again.

This is not a module about Prince II, Six Sigma, Agile or Waterfall. You need to go with what works for you. But whatever you choose, you need to deal with:

  • The importance of quality
  • Quality consultants or quality processes?
  • Standards and resistance to them
  • What Flavour of Methodology?
  • Continual Learning

Operations

If Business Development is the oxygen for your business, then operations are its central nervous system. Smooth operations, which for us includes consultant scheduling, career development, policies and infrastructure, should allow your consultants to work without undue friction and positively help in their growth. If your scheduling is not intimately tied to your career development plans, or if your Working Away from Home policies undermine motivation, or if your timesheet and expense systems are complex and unclear, all of these undermine consultant productivity and sap away at morale.

And if your operations isn't the central hub for your values, you're on a hiding to nothing.

We cover areas such as:

  • The Central Nervous System
  • The Centrality of Consultant Scheduling
  • The impossible balancing act: Project Needs, Utilisation, Business Development and R&D
  • The integration hub for your consultants
  • Is HR here?
  • Where your values live or die

Client Growth

If you're in consulting with a creed that doesn't revolve around an obsession of adding multiples more value to your clients than what they pay you, then you're in the wrong business.

But that doesn't mean your clients should be taking you for a ride - you should both benefit from the engagement. That's a fine line to tread, and client management needs to be a core competency that you and your consultants develop.

So we look at:

  • The Creed of Adding Value Disproportionately
  • Client management and farming
  • The other options your client has
  • Client matchmaking - sh*g, marry or kill

Numbers

There are many key numbers for your business aside from your P&L, balance sheet and cash flow. Your business will die during growth if cash flow's not front of mind.

But it will not grow if you don't have a framework for turning your values, vision, and culture into profit.

And in a business where your biggest cost and revenue both depend on time, that's even more accentuated. You pay your consultants whether or not they are on a project (we're not fans of zero-hours contracts), but you only get paid if they're billing a client. You'll also want to build a cushion (time 'til lights out), and balance how much you eat into it for growth when hiring may run ahead of billing. Getting a firm handle on the key measures for a consulting business is critical, and should be monitored at least monthly.

This is not training on reading a P&L or balance sheet. You can get that from a ton of books and websites. We look more at topics regarding the key metrics and metric cascades that impact a consulting business. Such as...

  • Pipeline
  • The Dreaded Utilisation Metric (and alternatives)
  • P&L and Cash flow (the light touch - see above!)
  • Project Profitability
  • The much desired predictable, recurring revenue
Modules_mini

1 on 1 Follow-Up Calls and e-mail Support

The webinars are interactive and allow us to answer and discuss as many of your questions as we can get through. Once the webinar is over, you'll be assessing what and how to apply the content to your consultancy and creating your own plan.

Strategy and Objectives Workshops

Values Workshops

Whether it's providing the best opportunities for people to flourish,or using your skills for sustainability, environmental impact, clean water, economic empowerment, local schools, or any combination of these and others, we believe strongly in putting values front and centre for any organisation. Not only is it simply better, done well, it also reaps rewards for your business.

Culture

Whether you've thought about it or not, your company has a culture. And that culture pervades everything that your company does - from how it treats its own people, to your staff's satisfaction at work, to how you treat your customers, suppliers, and any other stakeholders.

We're not big fans of a 3 month culture survey which either tells you the bleeding obvious, or kills the culture it's trying to document. However, we KNOW there is value in articulating your culture, knowing what's important within it and what you want to keep. It's only by doing this that you can attract the right staff and help shield your business against turbulence.

We've personally seen how getting this right reduced recruitment costs by over 7 figures, and helped companies get the best recruits in their field.

We can help you articulate yours and put in place a plan to keep your culture and values front and centre of your growth plans so that they reinforce each other, rather than feeling like it's impossible to have a great place to work AND make money at the same time.

Contribution

We believe that all companies have a responsibility to add positively to the communities that they operate in. Giving people reasonable employment and treating them well is definitely a big part of that. Building a sustainable business, and we mean not just environmentally, but a business that looks beyond quarterly earnings and is designed for the long term, is in our view the responsibility of every business owner.

But beyond this, there are also ways to contribute positively (and many time, profitably) to a company's stakeholders and community.

If altruism alone isn't enough of a motivator for you (and we get that - not everyone feels the same about this), survey after survey shows that companies which explicitly contribute to their communities are more appealing to staff, and some studies even show a correlation between financial success and a solid contribution strategy.

Now you can decide to give some of your profits to charity, and no charity will refuse that. However, there are always ways to contribute that are more valuable than money, more integrated with your strategy, and may even cost less. We'd love to help you find out how.

Connection

The best companies have built strong connections between their owners, employees, staff and communities. Admittedly, best is by our own highly subjective measures, though we're not alone in this view!

Strong connections foster loyalty, feelgood, and give you more scope for when things go wrong (which they inevitably will, even if for a short while). And they're also built on a strong set of values. We can help you improve this in line with your values and culture.

Why use Inspired Indie? Who are you?

The founder of Inspired Indie co-founded a consultancy which he grew from 2 to 30+ consultants before it was merged into a larger consultancy. There, he took on and turned around a rapidly diminishing team of 60 consultants, growing it eventually to over 200 before the company was sold to a large corporate, where he led a team of 500 consultants across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

So he brings the experience of having been there from 2 consultants to 500.

I'm Iyas, the founder of Inspired Indie, and the main person delivering our service. I've been consulting for nearly 3 decades, and over that time, based on a core set of values, I've led consulting teams from 2 as co-founder and co-owner, through to 500 as an acquired full services agency.

Phase 1 - Startup to 30 consultants

  • Co-founded a Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse consultancy;
  • Grew it to 30+ consultants;
  • Primarily blue-chip client base such as Lloyds, Mothercare, Debenhams and Yell.
  • Merged into a larger Business and Technology consultancy, in which I took a shareholding stake.

Phase 2 - Communities of Practice

  • Took on a board role in merged consultancy to develop our Intellectual Capital;
  • Created communities of practice and community days, which were responsible for significant increases in knowledge sharing and capability development.

Phase 3 - Growing to 200 Consultants

  • As part owner and board director, took over a team of 60 consultants, our largest, in a turnaround scenario;
  • Leading with a set of principles focussed on developing our team to become world class, I put in place a structure and practices that reduced consultant churn (i.e. the % leaving us every year) from a disastrous 40% to an industry leading 6%;
  • Grew the practice to over 200 consultants, started a practice in India, recruited a support team, recruited a recruiter to overhaul recruitment (too many 'recruits' in that sentence?);
  • Made us a destination employer so we no longer needed any external recruitment while we grew from 60 to over 200 consultants, and saving well over £1 million in recruitment fees;
  • Created an environment where we achieved recognition (ranked 4th Full Services Agency in Europe by Forrester), challenged and grew the best consultants, and (nearly) all enjoyed the ride;
  • Created a children's charity alongside, and aligned our consultancy's fundraising efforts to it with fun events put on by our operations team.

Phase 4 - Acquired for £42M

  • Board member and part owner when we were acquired for £42 Million ($84 Million at the time) to kick-start a consulting practice across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
  • Took on the entire EMEA consulting team of nearly 500 ranging from UK to South Africa, Spain to the Middle East;
  • Grew and started practices in new territories;
  • Left to go back to independent companies where I believed the values were more aligned with my own beliefs.

Phase 5 - Helping Other Consultancies

  • Founded Inspired Indie to work with independent companies looking to grow in a way that is aligned with the founders' values. Using growth and values to reinforce each other, rather than in opposition.
  • Started working with consultancies, the businesses that are closest to my heart and experience.

I am convinced that a more human and sustainable world will be built on the success of independent entrepreneurial and local businesses. Businesses that value their founders, their customers and their staff more highly than the quarterly or daily whims of stockmarket traders.

And that is the mission of Inspired Indie. To help independent businesses flourish. Starting with consultancies, the businesses that I know and love best.

I'm not a fan of seeking out recommendations. So the following is simply what happens to be on my LinkedIn profile.