Grow Your Consultancy Using The Hub Firm Method
Start with your own vision ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 29/07/2020 @ 8:00AM
Many consultants left employment and set up on their own to escape the trappings of working in a large organisation. A common complaint being that their time was spent managing the organisation rather than delivering their core skills to their clients ...
Creating a Hub Firm may be a great way to grow your consultancy!
copyright: jacky sherman / asentiv
However, they discover that remaining small can also have it's down side. If they are successful they hit their ceiling and have to turn work away. Or they find that they cannot bid for some work as they don't have the skills or time necessary for larger projects.
"One solution is to develop a Hub Firm!"
A Hub Firm builds on the strengths of having a strong network of complementary businesses who you can draw on to provide services for your clients when you either don't have the time or the skills to deliver on your own.
Usually, but not always, it grows out of a strong referral relationship. The difference is that you as organiser are at the centre co-ordinating the project. You will usually take the lead in acquiring the client and bring in others to deliver specific parts of the project. These specialists in their own field (the cooperative firms) may, in their turn, bring in sub-specialists from their own network or Hub Firm for their expertise (shown as the blue circles in the image above)
In some industry sectors this is the normal way of operating. The construction industry comes to mind where the builder may bring in their own subcontractors of associated trades such as plumber, plasterers and electricians.
Business and management consultancies also use variations of this to greater or lesser degrees of sophistication. The consultant may bring in a marketing expert who in turn brings their web developer, copywriter, graphic designer or photographer.
The advantages for both the consultant and client is a confidence that the team knows each other and can work smoothly together and problem solve. For the Hub Firm in the centre, they are able to pitch for projects larger than they could manage by themselves
However, working collaboratively where each member of the team is working as an independent contractor can have it's own problems. Here are some things to consider when setting out such an arrangement:
How well do you know this specialist?
What is their special area of expertise? Their competencies may be an obvious area, but do you also know their ethics and reliability? Do they 'fit' with this client?
Who 'owns' the client?
Make sure you have clarity and a formal agreement around the commercial arrangement with both client and co-operative firm. Who bills the client and who is accountable for what? Who is free to negotiate further work from that client?
Is reciprocation part of the deal?
An important one to get clear is to manage the expectations on both sides. Referrals are not always reciprocal or the main purpose of the relationship. Some specialists work purely as freelancers for other firms because they don't enjoy the marketing and sales part of running a business.
What they offer is their speciality which, in turn, increases your ability to operate further up the food chain and creates competitive advantages that you couldn't on your own.
However, they can also add value to your marketing through their other relationships, promoting and introducing you to others who need your expertise. As they are operating within your client's organisation, they are well positioned to notice further opportunities for the Hub Firm and bring them to your attention.
I'll leave you with my top tip: Draw out a Hub Firm around your expertise. Who should be in the centre? Do you want to grow your business through leading the Hub Firm or reducing your marketing time by joining other people's Hub? Or maybe you don't want to do this at all and prefer to employ someone or stay small?
Now, which kind of expert would you put in each position on the diagram above? Are you ready to put some real names against all or some of these? Are you already working this way with some people, and which ones need some effort to come on board? Where are the gaps in the service you can offer your clients or Hub owner? How can you meet people to fill those gaps?
"I'll finish with a health warning because
I've seen this many times before!"
Beware being over enthusiastic and going straight for a fully blown 'virtual' organisation. I've seen so many people enter the networking scene and have what they believe to be an original idea to form such a company offering the expertise in the room. Before they have had time to get to know each other well they are forming a company, paying for branding, a website, an accountant and guess what? No customers!
My prescription is to start with your own vision of a hub. Keep it small and informal then grow from there.
Until next time ...
Would you like to know more?
If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about growing your own consultancy using the Hub Firm method, call me on 07970 638857, leave a comment below, or click here to ping over an email and let's see how I can help.
About Jacky Sherman ...
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
What a fantastic way to earn a living!
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