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#36: Sources of Insight into What Companies Want

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 27, 2009
With large businesses being so conservative in their consulting investments these days, it looks like small businesses may be my firm's best bet for near term engagements. What consulting services are most in demand these days?

This varies a lot by industry, but there are a few general factors in most small businesses needing consultants these days. Of course, this assumes that the company is aggressive about growing and not retrenching like its larger counterparts. Think about what any business does when time get tough - they get creative. A consultant who can uncover innovation opportunities should do well. But what are the best ways to do this?

You probably already read the annual estimates of business trends in Inc. magazine, the Economist, Fortune and other business periodicals. These are good as general guides but for insight, try to find investment, market research or corporate strategy forecasts. Take an Intuit investigation of small business innovation. This is a great view of how businesses (written for small ones but most insights apply to large ones as well).

Tip: Another place to get the inside scoop is the recently published annual reports of companies in your industry. Each report will have some section titled something like, "Significant Known Events, Trends or Uncertainties Impacting or Expected to Impact Comparisons of Reported or Future Results." Get reports from annualreports.com for several companies and compile the common themes. At a minimum, you will have some good competitive information to run by a prospect. At best, you will know the kinds of consulting services best able to help companies in this industry.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  customer understanding  innovation  market research  planning  proposals 

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