As a Consultant, your work directly influences the decisions a company makes, so you have to ensure that you know how different types of businesses, and their respective industries, function.
Depending on the field you choose to specialize in, one type of business consulting strategy could be much more effective than another. Specific industry factors, such as the predictability of a line of work, can play a huge role in deciding which approach you take. Understanding when it’s appropriate to build upon a certain strategy is crucial to this role.
To help you get started, here are some common business strategies that every Consultant should understand.
The classical approach aims to steadily grow and maintain a company’s competitive advantage. It requires the Consultant to analyze the organization’s current situation, make a long-term plan, and advise them on how to execute it. These plans generally change very little and are reviewed approximately once a year unless something really out of the ordinary happens.
When to use this strategy: As a Consultant, you should use this approach when working with clients from more predictable industries that aren’t likely to be revolutionized over a short period of time. For example, this is commonly utilized in the Oil & Gas industry because it’s unlikely that a competitor is going to find a new source of oil in the coming weeks or months.
How to prepare: To prep yourself to handle these types of situations, you should practice executing long-term plans on a smaller scale. For example, as a student, you can create a detailed plan of the courses you’ll take each term. Sure, there might be some small adjustments, but there shouldn’t be any big changes unless something drastic occurs, such as a change in program.
The adaptive approach aims to create a plan that is extremely flexible and can be applied to any unexpected situation. Strategies created with this approach aren’t usually targeted towards long-term goals because the business’ industry could change completely overnight.
When to use this strategy: This is the ideal approach when Consulting with clients from industries that are unpredictable and change quite frequently. The Technology industry often prefers this approach because both consumer reactions and competitor releases are unpredictable and have the potential to completely revolutionize the field at anytime. For example, computer companies will often release new operating systems every few years but constantly update them according to customer feedback – testing and patching common issues or adding in new features.
How to prepare: Keeping up to date with recent news in your field of interest can help you handle adaptive strategies. It’s impossible to know what’s going to take the industry by storm next, but the best thing you can do is arm yourself with information. For example, if you want to work in Technology, you need to have a solid grasp of what’s currently trending – maybe even practice predicting where the industry is likely to head next.
The visionary approach aims to create plans for new business ideas. It can involve either generating a new line of business or a new industry altogether. These are generally long-term strategies and expect the company to follow through with set plans in order to reach predetermined goals.
When to use this strategy: This is the best approach to take with start-up companies. The plan should be formed based on a predictable future, not because the industry is predictable, but because the goals are clearly outlined and unlikely to change. If you get the opportunity to work with a start-up company, you should value the experience; it’s a unique chance to help build a concept from the ground up – the possibilities are endless!
How to prepare: One of the biggest challenges a start-up company faces is getting their name out there. That said, researching successful attempts can help prep you for working with start-ups. For instance, you can look into projects on sites like Kickstarter and Patreon to see what people have done to draw interest and anticipation from supporters. Finding trends in what works can help you form great visionary strategies for your clients.
These are only a few of the many strategies Consultants use, so you should definitely look into more if this is a career path you want to pursue. However, these three common approaches are a great place to start!