When I was at Jarden, a large global CPG, we announced a merger with Newell Brands. Over the next 6 months, our headquarters in Atlanta and NY turned into a conference room full of management consultants who were tasked with finding efficiencies between the two large $8b organizations. What they were providing was a high margin, somewhat commoditized service. Large global companies are often inefficient and can afford to pay these rates, but the same can’t be said for startups. There’s definitely a time and place for management consultants, but like other industries, theirs is also being disrupted. This is good news for entrepreneurs who now have alternative tools.
I’ve been speaking recently to startups that need strategic insight but aren’t in the position to bring on a large consulting firm, and are looking for more affordable solutions that can provide a lot of the same value. While not necessarily new, the knowledge economy has accelerated expert network organizations which has proven to be a boon for freelancers as well as for many different types of companies (hedge funds, brands, and even management consulting firms themselves). These expert networks allow clients to find industry professionals in specific fields that then consult on an hourly basis all through the platform. The math is not complicated – why pay $1000+ per hour for a top tier firm when you can get experts with niche knowledge for <$250 on average. Startups can make one strategy FTE hire (preferably someone who comes from one of the big management consulting firms) and that individual can then work with the expert network to find candidates for many strategic initiatives. In the end, this is almost certainly more affordable than paying a McKinsey or BCG and a good alternative for cash strapped startups.
Some good all-around expert networks to look at are: