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Consulting Firm Business Plan: How to Differentiate

A business plan for a new consulting firm cannot simply explain the expertise and experience of the founders and expect this to be a convincing argument on its own. The plan must say who the competitors you fill face for business are and describe how your firm is different (your differentiation) from these competitors. Differentiation should not be just for the sake of being different, of course, but should lead to competitive advantage for your consulting firm which gives you a way to win business consistently and profitably.

Differentiate Through Expertise

Your personal expertise, or the combined expertise of your team of consultants, can create enough of a difference. If this expertise can make your firm a one-stop shop for certain types of clients, you may be able to win business by showing clients how much simpler it will be to work with your firm than with two or more for services. On the other hand, if your expertise is deep in one particular area, you can compete by offering more expert service than others billing themselves as one-stop shops. Making either case rests on the expertise you bring to the table and how well you can prove it through your work, marketing, and reputation.

Differentiation Through Price

You can win business through price differentiation, generally by charging lower prices for similar services as clients. To make this type of differentiation work, you must have the means of achieving lower costs for your consulting business than a competitor who offers higher prices. This can be difficult, as larger firms may have more overhead to cover their rent, marketing, and more, but they can save money by hiring lower paid consultants to execute much of the “grunt work” of research and analysis on client engagements.

Differentiate Through Process

The process you take your clients through is a third way to differentiate your firm. This may be a difficult element to market, as price and expertise are generally the first things a potential client will look for when evaluating options. However, by clearly articulating a consulting process which makes clients feel safer, more in control, or better able to act on recommendations given, you can potentially appeal to consulting clients with bad past experiences with other consultants or who have fears about the basic idea of bringing a consultant into their business. Certain processes can even be patented in order to protect your firm against imitation.

Want more tips? Here's a related article: How to Start a Consulting Business

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