The state of the consulting world is in flux at this moment in time. At the time we had our first PCA meeting of the 2008 – 2009 year, we all knew that the economy was in the midst of a freefall. Anyone who was paying attention to the market and the news knew that we were heading in the wrong direction, and it didn’t look like we’d be turning things around any time soon.
Come December, things got much worse in a hurry. It was like after the election the government decided to just give up and stop trying. Companies seem to see that themselves, and decided to unload the number of employees in an attempt to possibly save themselves.
It didn’t really work. Some companies survived, but some didn’t. Unemployment continued to grow throughout the summer, and now we’re still looking at around 9.8% unemployment.
Things really haven’t gotten all that much better, unfortunately. There’s speculation that there will be a major crash of commercial real estate, which could potentially end not only with major bank closings (over 400 are being predicted to close within the next year) but more people being unemployed . No, this doesn’t bode well for the country at all.
How does all of this impact consultants? In most industries, consulting companies are having a hard time of it. It’s not that companies don’t need the help, because they do. It’s more along the lines of companies not having an understanding of how to spend money they don’t have so that they can potentially make more money later on.
That’s easy to understand. No one has ever accused the finance people who manage the budgets of companies to be the most ambitious thinkers, except for those who are skimming money from the company. Their job is to do the budgeting for the company and protect their profits, if there are any to be had. Spending money in trying to attain those profits, or grow those profits, works when companies recognize their shortcomings and invite consultants in for assistance. When things are tough, though, everyone goes into the mode of holding back and waiting to see if things improve. Few people think about bringing in consultants to help them get through their problems, although we know that’s really the way to go.
In a way, that’s why looking at things such as the seminar we’re about to have on branding is an important thing. Gone are the days when most of us can assume that companies know what it is we do, and that they will talk to us, let alone hire us, just because we present solutions that will help them. Word of mouth advertising doesn’t work as well in an economy experiencing a downturn. Figuring out how to get your message out so that we can not only help others with their problems, but make a living for ourselves, is an imperative.
How do you view the state of consulting in your business? It’s an interesting question for all of us to consider, and then figure out what to do about it. We know that potential clients need us; how does one get the message across to them?