By: Michael Zipursky

Summer 2020 Issue

In 1929, the first major U.S stock market crash occurred, causing The Great Depression: the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world. 

It took twelve years – but the stock market did recover. 

In 1999, the Dot.Com bubble burst. People lost fortunes speculating on internet businesses. Nonetheless, the market did recover. 

Then, in 2008, the U.S housing market bubble burst due to an overabundance of subprime loans. It was the most severe economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. In 19 months, it was over. 

Are you seeing the pattern here? 

COVID-19 – and the fluttering economy as a result of it – isn’t the first pandemic, and it won’t be the last. The market and world always bounce back. 

Let’s examine 3 strategies to help your consulting business not only survive and manage during the global pandemic – but thrive during and after it.

Audit Your Expenses: Keep What’s Valuable & Cut What’s Not 
The first part: survival. This is not where you want to spend most of your attention, but it is important. 

There are 4 steps here: 

  1. Open up a spreadsheet and list all of your business expenses. 
  2. List the dollar amount for each expense.
  3. Write the impact it has on your business. Does it generate an ROI for your business, or is it just nice to have? 
  4. Decide on whether to cut it from your expenses

“Value drivers” add value to your business. They help you make money or save money. They provide a direct return on your investment. 

Anything that helps you start conversations with your ideal prospects (like your email newsletter software) is a value driver. You should never cut these, because they contribute directly to your bottom line. 

Items that aren’t “value drivers”, like that tool you’re paying for monthly but rarely use, should now go on the chopping block. If you don’t need it, and it’s not adding direct value, get rid of it for now. 

This is also a good time to work on your negotiation skills and ask for discounts on non-value-driver expenses. Many services and product providers are offering flexible payment terms or discounts. Take advantage, and you can save hundreds – even thousands – of dollars. 

Go on offense: create new value & offers
The best way to operate during a pandemic, or any time of chaos and uncertainty, is to go on offense. 

You’ve trimmed the fat. Now, it’s time to generate new business. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but approach this period with a growth and abundance mindset. What you do now to land more business is worth far more than cutting expenses. 

Some industries are not only surviving the pandemic – but thriving because of it. For example, many consultants serving these industries have seen their lead flow increase during this time. 

  • eCommerce
  • eLearning
  • Healthcare
  • Consumer Goods 
  • Telecommunications 

Even if you don’t specialize in these industries there is plenty of opportunity for you to grow your business.

Sure, some organizations have cut budgets, slashed spending, or put a pause on many areas of their business including external resources like consulting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have problems anymore. 

In fact, they likely have more problems than ever before. This is not the time to put your head in the sand and wait for things to improve. The most successful consultants are using this time to strengthen their relationship with existing clients and find ways to provide value to future clients. 

If you haven’t already, check in with your clients. Don’t talk about business – ask how they are doing personally first. Then, ask how they’re managing this change. 

If they bring up any problems or projects where you can add your expertise, then explore how you can best support them through an engagement. 

Many clients won’t be willing to dive into a full-budget project right now. Be collaborative and creative and explore what a smaller starter offering looks like. 

For example
BluPrint Partners, an eCommerce operations consulting firm, offers an Ops Performance Review. This service includes what clients need to upgrade, improve, implement, and install with their eCommerce operations. It’s the first step of their full engagement – and they sell it as a standalone, lower-priced option for clients. 

Offering smaller engagements by reducing your scope – while still providing value – is a great way to generate short-term revenue. You’ll also set the stage for larger engagements once the time is right for your client. 
Finally, think virtual consulting, coaching, and workshops. 

If you can’t be on-site, how can you deliver the same level value? Or, how can you deliver as much value as you can? 

Most people are now accustomed to using Zoom, Slack, etc. Unless you’re in certain industries, you can still create tremendous value for your clients without being on-site. Focus on what you can do using these platforms rather than what you can’t do.

BONUS: Plan for The future
As mentioned earlier, this level of uncertainty won’t last forever.

If opportunities are limited and you have more downtime, you have two choices: 

  1. Sit tight and hope for the best. 
  2. Use the downtime to bring more success into your future.

Perry Marshall has a consulting client who runs advertising for a company that installs equipment in schools. 

The owner told Perry… 

“With these quarantines going on, schools are not going to let us come on the property and install equipment!” 

Here’s what Perry told his client:

“Don’t try to convince the terrified company owner to call the school. You get on the phone, call the school, and ask on his behalf. 

Tell the school, ‘I have someone who needs to install important equipment at your school. What safety or health checklists do they need to follow?’ 

In other words, pave the way for your clients.”

Now is where you must become bolder with your approach. 

Don’t shy away from more direct tactics or sharing your unique point of view – even if it does polarize people. 

You can also do this with your content. Publishing content is another fantastic way for you to benefit later from the work you do now. 

Most consultants write content that is focused on helping clients solve their problems. 

This is a good approach – but it's only half the equation.

When you write content that is bold and polarizing, you are tapping into something much stronger: your prospective client’s worldview. 

Action step: your consulting business pandemic action plan
To summarize: you can turn a bad situation into a good one by taking action.

Here’s a quick action plan you can complete over the next two weeks to set yourself up for success: 

  • Cut your non-value-driver expenses so you can save money
  • Reach out to a current client who you haven’t spoken to, ask how they are doing and how their business is doing — if you can help, offer an engagement
  • Develop content that adds value for your clients and the marketplace and publish it consistently 
  • Plant seeds: do work that might not pay-off in the short term, but will pay off in the long term

By taking these actions, you’ll improve your finances, marketing, business development, and client relationships. 

And while you can’t control how long this situation will go on for, you can control how you handle it, the actions you take and the success you create.


Michael Zipursky is the CEO of Consulting Success® and Coach to Consultants. He has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, RBC, and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets, but more importantly, he’s helped over 400 consultants from around the world in over 75 industries add 6 and 7 figures to their annual revenues. Over 35,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. Michael is also the author of 3 Amazon Best Sellers including ACT NOW: How successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty (go here to get a free copy of Michael’s book).