Joining an Existing Boutique Consulting Firm vs. Starting Your Own
The global consulting market is one of the most well-established of all professional services. It is expected to grow to nearly $900 billion by the end of 2021.
So there seems to be enough work out there. The question for individual consultants is how best they should set themselves up to tap into it.
One option is to join an existing boutique consulting firm. Another is to start a firm of their own.There are pros and cons for both.
But the online consulting marketplace is providing benefits to rival both of these options, and freelance platforms may be worth considering.
What are Boutique Consulting Firms?
Very large global projects are generally taken up by the Big Three (McKinsey, Bain and the Boston Consulting Group), the Big Four (the consulting arms of the accounting firms Deloitte, PWC, KPMG and EY) and other Tier 2 consulting firms (like Accenture, Oliver Wyman, Kearney, and LEK).
Boutique Firms are smaller, localized, and specialist firms. Their focus is on high quality within niche markets, often with elite clients. They may limit themselves to working in just one or a few related industries, functions, or locations.
They perhaps reflect the advice of the author Tom McMakin: “Stick to your segment. Focus is your friend. You want to be known as a dominant and consistent voice in your industry.”
Other small to medium-sized firms will target SMEs in local or regional markets. They may be generalists or specialists but do not have the size of the global firms or the elite status of boutiques. They tend to compete on price.
Independent consultants are individual professionals who work on their own rather than in a firm. They usually work on smaller projects and with local SMEs.
The Pros and Cons of Working in Boutique Consulting Firms
As for anything, there are pros and cons to working in boutique firms.
The Benefits of Working for Boutique Consulting Firms
Boutique firms may be small, but they offer significant benefits.
- They often pay nearly as well as the top firms.
- There is prestige attached to working with a firm regarded as elite and providing high-quality work. This opens many doors to consultants after they exit.
- Consultants acquire in-depth skills in specialist fields.
- Smaller firms tend to be more flexible and innovative than larger ones.
However, the most important benefit may be that individual consultants do not have to spend so much of their time networking and marketing their skills.
The Cons Of Working For Boutique Firms
Boutique firms may not have the long hours, time away from home, or the pressures and stresses of the top firms. However, a significant drawback may be their specialization. A consultant coming from one of these firms could have very narrow experience and expertise.
The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Boutique Consulting Firm
There are drawbacks, but also some distinct advantages to setting up a firm of your own.
The Benefits Of Your Own Boutique Firm
These are some benefits to consider:
A Different Consulting Option: The Online Consulting Marketplace
The online consulting marketplace is disrupting all previous consulting models.
Online platforms provide the benefits associated with both established and new boutique firms, and even with the major consulting companies:
- Ongoing work
- A wide variety of projects, not limited by geographic location
- Guaranteed payments
- Administration and marketing being undertaken on your behalf
- Time freedom to work when you want and on the projects you choose
- The chance to collaborate with other freelancers on joint projects
Perhaps some of the better online platforms may be considered the modern version of boutique consulting firms?
Options Available for Consultants
Whether you start a firm or join an established boutique firm, there will be pros and cons.
A new option provided by online consulting platforms may be worth considering. These platforms offer independence and a degree of job security, with access to a worldwide market of projects.
They combine the benefits of starting a firm and joining an existing one.
Consultport is an online specialist consulting platform.
They will match clients to consultants and take over all the administration, payment, and quality control responsibilities. Contact them to find out if you qualify to be registered on their platform.