Want to Join a Boutique Consulting Firm? Read This First!
Are you finding it difficult to get into McKinsey, BCG, Bain & Co., or other top-tier firms? Or maybe you’re just not sure whether you want to work with big firms or go for the rather simple ones? Truly, career choices can be hard to make sometimes.
Decades of success and a powerful client base have made MBB and Big 4 firms the most sought-after destinations for aspiring consultants. Many ambitious and hard-working candidates try their luck every year. But, only a handful succeed to get their foot in the door.
However, candidates often forget that they can still become successful consultants by working for aboutique consulting firm. Even though these firms are small, the opportunities can be big if you know how to leverage them.
In this article, you will learn what you need to know about a career in a boutique consulting firm. By the end of this article, you’ll be in a position to make a more informed career decision.
What Exactly Is a Boutique Consulting Firm?
Boutique (noun): A business or establishment that is small and sophisticated or fashionable. That is the dictionary definition of the word boutique.
However, in a consulting context, a boutique consulting firm refers to a firm that is small in size and offers a limited amount of niche-based services to its clients. There is no particular definition of a boutique consulting firm as such, but there are certain features that you can look for in a firm to identify whether it's a boutique firm or not.
- Boutique consulting firms have a smaller number of branches, hire a limited number of employees, and usually offer services in one to three niches only.
- Even though they’re smaller compared to MBB and Big 4, they still offer nearly the same amount of salary to employees.
- Boutique firms may be under pressure to close more projects and find new clients, so, you, as a consultant, will be expected to put your best foot forward all the time.
- Career advancement in boutique firms may be faster due to a lack of strict hierarchy and lower competition.
- Working for a boutique consulting firm as a consultant will help you specialize in one particular area and this expertise may be a useful asset for future growth.
- Exit opportunities are not as exciting in boutique firms as they are in big firms with established brands.
Smaller offices and limited branches:A boutique consulting firm may only have one small office, but some may even have ten to fifteen branches in different cities or countries. But how does having fifteen offices worldwide make a firm small? You see, when you are considering the size of a boutique firm, it must be compared to MBB or the Big 4, which have thousands of branches and lavish offices in high-rise buildings all around the world.
Services in a narrow range of niches:While top-tier consulting firms that own the majority of market share can offer services in a wide range of niches—from strategy consulting to digital transformation and everything in between—boutique consulting firms cannot afford to do that. These firms have to stick to narrowed-down niches, for example, asset management or risk advisory, due to smaller budgets and a modest clientele.
Smaller teams:Again, small doesn’t necessarily mean that these firms only have 1-10 employees. The best boutique consulting firms may have up to two hundred employees, which is still very small as compared to the big consulting firms that may have hundreds of staff members working in just one of their many buildings. The culture in smaller consulting firms is also likely to be very casual and you may not see a very strict hierarchy that is prevalent in MBB or Big 4.
Six Things to Consider Before Joining a Boutique Consulting Firm
Whether a boutique consulting firm is right for you or not ultimately depends on what you want out of your career. However, we can make your decision a bit easier by discussing a few points that you should keep in mind before signing that contract.
Hope these factors help you choose whether you should join a boutique consulting firm or tough it out and join MBB or other top firms by hook or crook. However, remember that if you have the right motivation and training, you can still have a very successful consulting career even in a boutique firm. And don’t forget that you can still work for a big consulting firm after working in a smaller one, although, if you switch to a bigger firm after working for a boutique one, you may get a position that’s on the same or lower-level.
Alright, that’s a lot of information to process so fast, right? So, take some time and think about it deeply. Good luck.