It is easy to forget that when it comes to some of the needs of a consulting business - like small business growth, marketing, sales, speaking and client communications - some of the best advice will come from the leaders of those domains across all industries, not just from consulting. Taking that mentality a step further, I picked up “Grow Smart, Risk Less: A Low-Capital Path of Multiplying Your Business Through Franchising” by Shelly Sun. While most consulting operations are not franchised by the definition of the Federal Trade Commission (are there any?), nonetheless the approach to business growth by many is through multiplying successful offices or practices into different geographic locations or practice areas. The franchising approach is very analogous to expanding a consulting business.
This led me to “Grow Smart.” In this book, Sun talks about how to build each practice from a “ground floor” perspective, honing them to the point where they can run without the founder involved daily. Sun gives readiness criteria for expansion of the concept in this way. She talks about the skills and capabilities that should be evident in those buying into a franchise and how to support them in the opening process, such as “Join-the-Team” days. Finally Grow Smart is about how to maximize revenue from the “divide and conquer” approach of franchising. Sun bases her advice on her experience growing her company from $1 million to $100 million in five years.
Expanding a consulting business from being an Oracle partner to a Microsoft partner or from Chicago to Seattle is obviously going to have differences from opening your first non-company owned franchise restaurant. However, the mentality is the same. As Sun, who has been on Undercover Boss, states, “the success of the franchisees and that of the franchisor are interdependent.”