Insights and Resources

Is your consulting firm a job shop in disguise?

By Jim Thompson

One definition of a job shop is:

“A business or facility specialising in the manufacture or fabrication of parts in relatively small quantities, produced to the specifications or requirements supplied by the customer.”

Obviously, you don’t manufacture parts but is the rest of the definition a reasonable description of what you are?

If so, that’s okay because that’s what most of the buyers of consulting think they want.

Before engaging you they most likely have already decided and specified what they want and the problem they want you to solve.

Not sure about you but we have been a job shop in a past life and looking back one that I didn’t enjoy – it eventually wore me down.

Taking on jobs that I didn’t really want to do, were poorly scoped, dealing with technical buyers many out of their depth but still calling the shots, not charging enough, doing what they wanted even if you knew it wasn’t right, competitive quotes and RFP’s, but we rarely if ever said no as we had mouths to feed.

Yes, we were doing okay financially albeit very lumpy and unpredictable – feast or famine – but too often not what I would call professionally fulfilling.

So how can you break that cycle and move to a better more fulfilling place?

The first step is understanding how to do it, the second making the time to do it, and the third having the courage to do it.

I can certainly help you with the first step which is the easy bit and to a certain extent the third but the rest is up to you and your own intestinal fortitude.

Okay so a bit on the how;

Basically, you have to take control of the buying cycle, that’s right take away the power from the buyer and give it to yourself.

And how do you do that?

  • By reinventing yourself, not necessarily on the inside but certainly from the outside, the way you present yourself to the market.
  • By creating something your clients haven’t seen or heard before and want to buy that they can’t buy a replica of somewhere else.
  • By injecting yourself as early into the buying cycle as possible before they are ready to buy or ideally before they were even thinking about it before you came along.

And how do you do that?

  • Don’t conform to what the market wants you to be otherwise you end up looking the same as everyone else.
  • Stop trying to appeal to everyone out of fear, disenfranchising or losing a certain set of clients.
  • Stop talking about yourself and trying to differentiate on service level attributes.
  • Develop a perspective, your view on how to solve a particular problem set for a particular type of client.
  • Articulate your perspective in an engaging and compelling format.
  • Define a “your way or the highway” engagement model and don’t change it when the client asks you to.
  • Develop a nurture-based lead generation program targeted at the economic buyer – typically only C-suite but ideally the CEO.

This is what we mean by making yourself marketable.

Before you start

Before beginning any engagement and to create a more valuable initial conversation we ask you to download and read our guide.


Inside you will find out more about the One Rabbit philosophy, learn some uncomfortable truths and how to market your firm.

Why it’s so hard for consulting firms to market themselves.
Practical steps you can take to overcome the uncomfortable truth and leapfrog your competitors.
The most common mistakes that consulting firms make in marketing themselves.