How Freelance Consultant Platforms Are Disrupting the Consulting Industry
If you look up the work ‘disruption’ in the dictionary, you’ll find it to be synonymous with words like ‘disturbance’ and ‘disorder’.
However, ‘industry disruption’ has a different, but kind of similar meaning. It’s when a smaller company, product, or service enters the market and gradually affects the established big businesses in any given industry.
In this article, we’re going to understand how freelance consultant platforms are causing a disruption in the decades-old consulting industry.
We’ll discuss how businesses used to hire consultants before, how they hire them now, and how this whole process affects both companies and consultants.
We’ll also talk about why more and more consultants are choosing to go freelance instead of trying to climb the corporate hierarchy.
But first, let’s go back in time and understand how the whole consulting industry came into existence.
A Brief Recap on the Consulting Industry
Until the 20th century, there was no such thing as ‘big consulting firms’. Business owners had to trust their own business acumen and take important decisions without expert advice. The risk was high, and, as you can imagine, the anxiety while taking these risks might have been high as well. Companies wished that they had someone to look up to - someone who could guide them in the right direction, someone who could give them an assurance that their business decisions are right.
Well, this gap in the market was filled by consulting firms. In the 20th century, a few consulting firms like McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group emerged. Businesses now had access to the brightest minds in the world. They could approach these firms to help them solve their problems. Consultants working for these firms would meet clients, collect data, analyze it, and offer recommendations.
It’s fair to imagine that businesses must have felt really comfortable taking decisions after receiving expert advice from consultants. All of these consulting firms are in business to this day and businesses still approach them for advice. But everything is not like it used to be before. Surely, businesses will always appreciate it if there’s an expert out there who can help them navigate the ever-changing business world. However, the way businesses find these experts have changed a lot in recent times. Let’s understand how.
The Emergence of Freelance Consultant Platforms
Just until a few years ago, businesses used to approach big consulting firms when they needed management consultants. But not every business could actually engage with these firms. Sometimes, the high prices stopped a business from hiring consultants, and other times, the consulting firm itself would not want to work with a company due to the firm’s internal policies, such as onboarding only one company from a particular industry as a client.
But now, businesses can find top consultants without engaging with a single consulting firm. Thanks to freelance consultant platforms, a lot more businesses can now hire well-qualified freelance management consultants. And the best part is, a lot of these freelance management consultants have worked for big consultancies before. One can easily see a lot of people who identify as ‘ex-(Big Consulting Firm)' on LinkedIn profiles these days. Well, it’s true. A lot of these consultants have now left the corporate world and are pursuing a freelance consulting career. We’ll discuss the reason behind this later in the article. But first, let’s understand another aspect of freelance consultant platforms.
It’s true that a company could hire freelance management consultants through a freelance consultant platform, but that’s not it. Today, businesses can find consultants for almost any business problem—whether it’s marketing, social media ads, human resources, or digital transformation. This gives businesses the opportunity to select the best consultant from every field, instead of giving all their cash to one big consulting firm (which will eventually narrow the talent pool).
The Rise of Freelance Management Consultants
So, how do these freelance consultant platforms find consultants who’ll work on a freelance basis? Well, as mentioned before, more and more consultants are leaving the usual way of working and going freelance for several reasons. First, they want flexibility. A PwC survey showed that 66% of millennials want flexible work hours, something which is not possible when a consultant is working in a big, highly competitive consulting firm.
Secondly, a lot of management consultants want to work on their own terms. They want to be able to choose the projects that they are really passionate about - not the ones that their firm offers them. Consultants want to take on more responsibility early on in their career, instead of going through hierarchies and bureaucracies for years.
The Online Consulting Marketplace, Freelance Consultants, and Companies - How All Three Benefit Each Other
A lot of companies’ main priority is to hire the best talent - whether it’s through a big consulting firm or the online consulting marketplace. The pandemic has also reinforced the belief that a person’s talent matters more than their location. Even the businesses that didn’t allow their staff to work remotely before had no choice but let them do so. So, in the future, a business that’s based in New York might not necessarily engage with a consulting firm there. They might just use the internet to scour the online consulting marketplace and end up hiring a consultant who’s based in Berlin.
And the process of hiring freelance consultants through an online consulting platform is hassle-free. A company can approach a consulting platform and have a confidential chat with them about their needs. Then, they will receive profiles of top candidates who have the right skills for the job. The company can then talk to these candidates and choose the best ones for their business. All the admin work will be handled by the online consulting platform itself.
This method is way more convenient than going the usual route - which is, posting an ad on a job search platform, then seeping through dozens of CVs and doing background checks on candidates on one’s own - goodbye precious time and money, hello stress and anxiety!
A business can avoid all this by engaging with a consulting platform in the first place. These platforms have access to hundreds of qualified freelance consultants who have worked with big firms before. Even if a business needs a consultant in a hurry, these platforms have the capability to find the top ones within hours.
In conclusion, one must remember three things:
- There are businesses out there who really need management consultants.
- There are freelance management consultants who are as qualified as the ones from big firms.
- And last but not least, there are online consulting platforms who can connect the two.
Together, all three of them make a great team.