Boutique Consulting Firms vs. The Big 4
Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
– Damon Richards
There is an ongoing debate in life that extends beyond the boundaries of consulting. Is it best to shop big business or is there value in investing your dollars into smaller more specialized companies.? That same question applies to Boutique Consulting Firms vs. the Big 4.
The question is what are you gaining when you choose to go with one type of agency over the other? And what are you sacrificing?
We have broken the decision process down into 3 categories to base your decision.
BOUTIQUE CONSULTING FIRMS VS. THE BIG 4: CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
Unless a company works relentlessly to maintain a strong corporate culture, it often becomes watered down by the bureaucracy of large companies.
Smaller firms tend to have a culture of adaptability while big companies tend to move slower in the adoption of new methods.
However, the Big 4 consulting firms have a prestigious reputation for excelling in their field for a long time.
One of the pivotal benefits of working with a Boutique Consulting Firm, they tend to have a distinct culture that your business can either identify with quickly or determine that you don’t have a proper fit.
So why is the culture of a consulting agency relevant to your business?
Culture is a good indicator of the inner habits of a company; a glimpse of their strengths from a fundamental subconscious level.
If your business is very creative and struggles with the methodical structure that comes with business processes, financial statements, accounting and tax preparation, then you need to find someone who can bring balance to your organization, without compromising your own culture.
Sometimes it’s vice versa. Your business is very good at systems and managing finance but lacks any emotional component to really light a fire in the souls of your employees and customers.
Think of it like two kids at the playground. Usually, you know when friendship clicks, and there is something worth developing.
Yes, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask, which we will dive into the next section.
BOUTIQUE CONSULTING FIRMS VS. THE BIG 4: TYPE OF SERVICE
Understanding what kind of process a consulting company will take you through is as important as anything. In the world of specialization, a boutique consulting firm might focus on a narrower area of expertise but could have much more impact in that area than a Big 4 firm.
Although a Big 4 firm will generally have a broader supply of consultants to work with based on the specific nature of your challenges.
Which brings me to my next subject, cost. Your business is going to pay a premium to get the major players in the door.
Very different than what it’s like with consumer goods. Companies like Walmart or Target offer lower costs, and reasonable value while boutiques offer higher costs and potentially higher value.
One thing JaxonLabs has tried to do differently to create a niche within the consulting space is focusing our energy on developing business strategy in conjunction with its relationship to brand value. We have adapted our tools and frameworks to support businesses in these areas.
Other consulting businesses like The Bridgespan Group focus their energy on mission-driven organizations and philanthropists to drive smart strategic decisions and develop leaders.
If you take a look at a company like PWC (who bought Booz & Company) has such a diverse set of consulting capabilities that it will help large companies with complex issues in a multitude of areas.
BOUTIQUE CONSULTING FIRMS VS. THE BIG 4: COST OF CONSULTING SERVICES
As noted above, Cost tends to be one of the major turn-offs with a Big 4 Firm. That and the key players who tend to sell you on a project (the Partners and Senior Level Staff) don’t pass it off to their subordinates and take all the glory.
Those smaller Boutique Consulting Firms tend to be flatter from an organizational structure stand-point. You can bet their key-players are going to be diving head first into your work. So your relationship and feedback will probably be more authentic throughout the life of your project.
The simple truth is, there are times to choose a major player, and times to go with a specialized boutique firm. Consulting is a matter that is dependent on the challenge we are working to solve and how those challenges change over time.