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What Type of Consultant Are You? - Find Your Niche!

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Published:
January 28, 2022
Reading Time:
11 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

If you’re reading this article, chances are, you have already decided that you don’t want to be a generalist. It is probable that you are already thinking about choosing a specific area of consulting to specialize in.

But what is specialization anyway? And how to go about becoming a specialist consultant?

If you’re thinking that being a specialist only involves choosing to work on a particular type of project, like finance or strategy, then you’re just scratching the surface. In reality, specialization goes way deeper than that, and to truly succeed as a specialist, you should understand all the steps of the process.

In this article, we will discuss four aspects of specialization and teach you how to choose the right consulting niche for yourself.

What Is Specialization in Consulting?

Consulting is a broad term that includes various niches, such as operations consulting, strategy consulting, digital transformation, to name a few. When you’re new to consulting, it’s almost impossible to choose one particular consulting niche to specialize in. First, the consulting firm you work for will make you start with the basics. This will include projects from every sector of consulting.

Once you start getting used to the process, you should think deeply and choose the areas of consulting that you can be really good at. You may also be able to request your seniors to give you certain types of projects that are related to the consulting niches that you like. But, as mentioned before, initially in your career, you may be given a wide range of projects from different areas.

However, as time passes and you learn more about the consulting business, you will be able to specialize in the chosen consulting niche. This comes with its own benefits (which we’ll discuss later in this article).

Now, specialization doesn’t just include the type of work you do—it includes a number of other factors, like geography, the type of industry, the nature of the service, etc. Let’s discuss them one by one.

1. Specialization based on location

Are you an expert in the business and political affairs of the European Union? Or maybe you have lived in Singapore for a decade and understand the market really well. Before you choose the type of consultant you want to become, you should take a look at a world map. Select the locations where you’re likely to succeed.

These locations could be within a country or continent, but you can also go global. Being an expert in a particular geographical area could have a snowball effect. For instance, if a potential client types “Best freelance marketing consultant in Frankfurt” on Google, your name could be on top of the list. Similarly, other clients could find you using the same method and you may start getting more and more inquiries.

2. Specialization based on industry

Whether it’s technology, government, or finance, specializing in an evergreen industry comes with its own benefits. For one, there’s constant work which will keep you busy and help you generate a decent income. Secondly, when you market yourself as an expert in one industry, you become the go-to person for clients in that industry. This will make you the type of consultant who is highly sought-after and can charge a premium fee.

Before choosing an industry to specialize in, make sure you do your homework and research the future growth of that industry. For example, a financial advisor who specializes in stocks and shares might find themselves in dire straits in the next decade. This is due to the fact that AI and online trading websites take over the industry and make stock advisors obsolete.

3. Specialization based on clients’ roles

As a freelance consultant, you could offer services to only certain types of individuals in a client’s company. For example, if you’re a corporate strategy consultant, you could choose to work with only CEOs and the advisory board. And if you’re the type of consultant who excels in human resources consulting, you could lend a helping hand to the HR department.

Role-based specialization could be a great way to truly understand a client’s problems at a personal level. Furthermore, this knowledge can be used to offer an outstanding service to future clients.

4. Specialization based on problems

What business problems have you solved in the past? Is there any particular type of problem that you’re really good at? If yes, then you could choose to specialize in solving those specific problems for clients. Let’s take cost reduction as an example. Every business, no matter what industry it is in, has one common goal: Reduce costs and increase profits. You’re the type of consultant who can come up with better processes, streamline existing processes, optimize resource allocation, and negotiate with suppliers? In that case, you should try specializing in the cost reduction sector.

And this is just one example—there are many other common problems that businesses face regularly. In such situations they reach out to consultants for help. For instance, lead generation, merger & acquisition, foreign expansion, market entry, etc. are some hot issues that businesses face from time to time. So, make a list of problems that you can solve really well and become a specialist in solving them.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Specializing in a specific niche can help you become a thought leader.
  • Specialists may be able to charge a higher price and attract new clients relatively easily.
  • Specializing can be based on a particular industry, geographical location, client problems, or organizational roles.
  • A consultant should choose a niche that they’re passionate about given that it is likely to grow in the future.
  • Competitor research should be conducted before deciding the niche.
  • Finally, you should ensure that the market validates the service that you’re thinking of offering.

How to Find a Consulting Niche to Specialize In?

Now that you’re aware of different types of specializations, you may be thinking: “Well, I kind of like all of them, not sure which one to choose.” The paradox of choice. The more options we have, the more difficult it is to choose one. Don’t worry, we’ll help you select the best alternative for your career. Let’s understand how.

1. Specialize in an area that you’re passionate about

What gets you up in the morning? When do you feel that sense of accomplishment in your consulting role? Fact is, even though money is good, simply working for money may get boring after some time. In consulting, the difference you make in a client’s organization is the real reward. So, list down the projects and events that made you feel special. Have a careful look at that list. It’s likely that a lot of the consulting engagements in the past that you absolutely loved were in a specific niche. Let that be your niche!

2. Choose a niche that’s in demand and is likely to grow in the future

You don’t want to end up working years in a consulting niche just to find out that it’s no longer in demand. Always research and even ask senior consultants about the likelihood of success in a particular area of consulting. So, for instance, if you’re thinking about specializing in the retail sector, remember that e-commerce is a multi-billion dollar global phenomenon that’s taking over retail. Such disruptions are everywhere. Thus, choose your specialization wisely.

3. Conduct a competitor analysis

Alright, so you have chosen a consulting niche that you’re passionate about and it’s likely to grow in the future. That’s great. But guess what—it’s possible that there are many other consultants with the same goal in mind. Let’s assume you’re thinking about becoming an independent digital transformation consultant. In that case, you should just do a quick LinkedIn search to find out how many competitors you have.

If the competition is high, don’t be disheartened. You could also narrow down your niche to cut through the traffic. For example, you could choose to become a digital transformation consultant who only works with SMEs in London. By doing this, you’ll be able to reduce competition significantly.

4. Test before you go all in

This is the final stage of choosing a niche after you have narrowed down your options and precisely know what you want. But there’s one key step that you must take before going all-in—you should have the market validate your offering. Simply put, market validation is selling a product or service before it even exists. You should know what your target audience wants, when they want it, how often they want it, and how much they are willing to pay for it.

Final Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article. In conclusion, specialization comes with a lot of benefits. You could become a leader in a particular niche and be able to charge a higher price. You will also have an easier time finding new clients because of your reputation as the "go-to person". It will attract clients to you. However, it’s important to think deeply and do a lot of research before choosing a consulting niche to specialize in. Whether your selection is based on a geographical location or a specific type of problem. You should be completely aware of the demand, competition, and future growth of that area.

type of consultant, What Type of Consultant Are You? – Find Your Niche!

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