Time Management: The Critical Resource for a Small Consulting Practice. Is the Internet the Answer?
As all consultants know, there is one fundamental fact: you only get paid when you deliver services. The client does not care about your Sales/Marketing or General and Administrative costs. Given the fact that most consulting practices are small, the same people often have to handle delivery of services as well as Sales/Marketing and G&A. Thus, these three functions literally compete for the same time, and because only a very unusual person is an expert at all business functions, generally most small consulting practices are not very efficient at these tasks.
The Internet has been a massive force for change, and one of its key values has been to democratize access and capability. With Internet capability, everyone can be a publisher (blogging systems), build a video channel (youtube), or sell to the world (eCommerce). With this backdrop, one might well expect the Internet to solve the fundamental issues of better efficiency for Sales/Marketing or to reduce radically the cost of G&A. However, the rate of change of Internet technology has been so rapid that most small consulting practices simply are not in a position to absorb the technology. Further, the technology is generally built to be consumed by more sophisticated clients. Thus, large consulting practices can indeed use Internet technology for deep data mining and analytics or sophisticated targeted. However, this capability is largely out of reach for most small consulting practice firms.
What would be an appropriate solution for a small consulting practice?
1. Simplicity: Using a tax analogy, they need the 1040EZ form of the Internet-- something that provides maximum benefit with minimum complexity.
2. Cost: Most of the major software systems are out of reach for small consulting practices, so there is a need for a "linkedin" -type business model to help them.
3. Training: Integrated training and support are critical for closing the adoption gap for most small consulting practices.
After addressing these three issues, small consulting practices could increase their productivity dramatically and shift their focus to what drives revenue.
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