Do I need to realign my consulting practice for the times? I have a strong reputation for top line growth but it seems all people want these days is cost cutting.
A brand is a promise of what you can and will deliver for clients. It takes time and resources to establish a brand and once, established, more time and resources (and performance) to maintain. There will always be reasons, regardless of the size, pedigree or focus area of your practice, to chase after a sizable revenue opportunity. Especially when the economy slows, a call from a past client or prospect asking you to advise them in an area outside your brand is tempting. But the offer is not as attractive as it may seem.
You can compete on specific criteria, usually quality, cost, speed or variety, but not all. If you are known for quality or cost, but not variety, once you start to take on engagements outside your area of specialization, you weaken your brand. Now you are known as someone who will do just about anything (even if you do it well) and start to become a commodity. There are plenty of companies who are still looking for top line growth and, sooner rather than later, there will be a lot more. Tip:
Redouble your efforts to locate growing companies and position yourself for an economic recovery. Respond to offers to do work outside your reputed areas of expertise with the comment, "I appreciate your confidence in my abilities but you are asking for services outside my area of specialization and I think you would be better served by someone who specializes in this area." Even better if you can recommend a few firms who can provide these services. Your brand remains intact and is now even stronger in the eyes of the person who requested services outside your specialty. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA