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Business Strategy Consulting Explained for Beginners

March 22, 2024

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Quick Answer to 'What is Business Strategy Consulting?':

If you're a small to medium enterprise (SME) owner feeling overwhelmed by the digital landscape, you're not alone. Many entrepreneurs struggle to carve out a space online, streamline operations, and improve customer engagement. Business Strategy Consulting might just be the lifeline you need. It combines expert advice, careful analysis of your current practices, and strategic planning to propel your business forward. Whether it's boosting your online visibility or enhancing operational efficiency, a strategy consultant can guide you through the maze of modern business challenges.

Strategy consulting isn't about one-size-fits-all solutions; it's tailored to address your unique challenges. Through a combination of market research, competitive analysis, and deep industry knowledge, strategy consultants provide actionable insights to help you make informed decisions and achieve sustainable growth. Think of them as the catalyst for change, aiding in not just envisioning a future for your business but also making it a tangible reality.

Strategic Consulting Process Infographic detailing steps from analysis, planning, to implementation, with emphasis on objective analysis, crafting strategic recommendations, and providing implementation support. - business strategy consulting infographic process-5-steps-informal

Understanding Strategy Consulting

When we talk about strategy consulting, we're diving into expert advice aimed at the top-level decisions of a company. It's about the big picture—where a company is heading, how it's going to get there, and what it needs to do to beat competitors. But how does this differ from management consulting? Let's break it down.

Strategy Consulting vs Management Consulting

Imagine you're at the helm of a ship. Strategy consulting is like having an expert navigator on board who helps you chart the course through uncharted waters, deciding on the direction and the path. They're focused on the long-term journey and the big decisions that will get you to your destination.

On the other hand, management consulting is like having an expert crew to manage the sails, the engine, and the day-to-day operations. They're involved in improving the ship's efficiency, solving operational problems, and making sure the ship can make the journey decided by the navigator.

Big Three, MBB

In the universe of strategy consulting, three giants stand tall: McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company. Collectively known as the Big Three or MBB, these firms are the Olympians of the consulting world. Their prestige comes from decades of influence, extensive global networks, and the ability to attract top talent. They've been shaping the strategies of the world's leading companies, making them go-to sources for businesses seeking transformative advice.

Strategy Consulting Firms

Beyond the Big Three, numerous strategy consulting firms offer specialized and industry-specific advice. These firms might not have the same universal name recognition, but they deliver deep insights and strategic guidance tailored to specific sectors or challenges. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem, providing valuable perspectives and innovative solutions that drive businesses forward.

Why It Matters

In today's rapidly changing business landscape, the right strategy can make the difference between leading the market and falling behind. Strategy consulting firms, whether they're part of the Big Three or specialized players, offer the expertise and outside perspective that can help companies navigate these challenges. They're not just advisors; they're architects of future success, helping businesses to identify and seize opportunities for growth and innovation.

Keep in mind that the essence of strategy consulting lies in its focus on high-level, impactful decisions. Whether you're part of a global giant or a niche player, the goal remains the same: to guide businesses towards a successful, sustainable future.

In the next section, we'll dive deeper into the skills that make a successful strategy consultant and how these professionals make a tangible difference in business.

By understanding the distinctions and the landscape of strategy consulting, businesses can better navigate their paths to growth, and aspiring consultants can find their footing in this dynamic and impactful field.

Key Skills for Strategy Consultants

Becoming a top-notch strategy consultant isn't just about what you know; it's about how you apply that knowledge. Let's break down the essential skills you need to thrive in business strategy consulting.

Analytical Skills

Imagine you're a detective in business. Your job is to look at the evidence (data) and solve the case (business problem). Analytical skills are your magnifying glass. You need to dig into data, see patterns others miss, and draw insights that can steer a company in the right direction. It's like finding the missing piece of a puzzle that everyone else has been searching for.


If analytical skills are about finding the missing piece, communication is about explaining where the piece fits and why it's important. You could have the best ideas in the world, but if you can't explain them clearly and persuasively, they won't make an impact. Strategy consultants must articulate complex concepts in simple terms. Whether you're speaking to a CEO or a department head, your ability to convey your message effectively is crucial.

Market Research

Understanding the battlefield is key to winning any battle. Market research is how strategy consultants map the terrain. It involves gathering information about market trends, customer preferences, and competitive landscapes. This knowledge allows you to identify opportunities and risks, much like a navigator charting a course through unknown waters.

Competitive Analysis

Now, imagine you're not just navigating unknown waters but also outmaneuvering other ships. Competitive analysis is about understanding your opponents—their strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and vulnerabilities. It's a critical skill for advising companies on how to position themselves, differentiate their offerings, and capture market share.

Strategic Planning

Finally, all these skills converge in strategic planning. This is where the magic happens. Strategic planning is about taking the insights from your analysis, the clarity from your communication, the depth of your market research, and the cunning of your competitive analysis to craft a roadmap for success. It's about setting goals, defining actions to achieve those goals, and allocating resources efficiently.

By mastering these skills, strategy consultants can provide immense value to businesses. They become the architects of growth, the navigators of market complexity, and the trusted advisors CEOs turn to when the future seems uncertain. As the business landscape continues to evolve rapidly, the demand for skilled strategy consultants will only grow.

So, if you're aspiring to make your mark in business strategy consulting, focus on honing these key skills. They are the foundation upon which successful consulting careers are built, and they're what will set you apart in this competitive and rewarding field.

Remember that these skills are not static. They evolve as the market changes and as new challenges arise. Continuous learning and adaptation are part of the journey. Let's dive deeper into how to navigate common challenges in strategy consulting and turn them into opportunities for growth.

Common Challenges in Strategy Consulting and How to Overcome Them

In business strategy consulting, professionals often face a series of hurdles. Let's break down these challenges and explore practical ways to overcome them.

Change Management

at every level. To manage change effectively:

  • Keep everyone informed and involved.
  • Break down the change into manageable parts.
  • Celebrate small wins to keep morale high.

Navigating Uncertainty

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that uncertainty is a constant. Strategy consultants must be adept at navigating these unpredictable waters. How? By being flexible and ready to pivot strategies as needed. Continuous market research and scenario planning are your best tools here. Always have a Plan B (and C).

Mobilizing for Change

They did this by:

  • Clearly articulating the vision and benefits of change.
  • Involving key stakeholders in the planning process.
  • Providing the necessary resources and training for a smooth transition.

Sustained Growth

Achieving growth is one thing; maintaining it is another. Bain's Global Private Equity Report suggests that sustained growth requires a balance of innovation and efficiency. Diversification and market expansion strategies can help businesses maintain momentum. Regularly revisiting and adjusting your strategy is crucial.

Strategy Execution

is the gap between strategy formulation and implementation. To bridge this gap:

  • Set clear, measurable objectives.
  • Assign accountability for each goal.
  • Regularly review progress and adjust as necessary.

In summary, the challenges in strategy consulting are significant but not insurmountable. By focusing on effective change management, navigating uncertainty with flexibility, mobilizing teams for change, ensuring sustained growth through innovation, and emphasizing flawless strategy execution, consultants can drive meaningful and lasting impacts for their clients.

As we shift our focus to the next section, we'll explore how aspiring consultants can kickstart their careers in this dynamic field, armed with knowledge on overcoming these common challenges.

Best Practices from Strategy Consulting Pros

Entering business strategy consulting can seem like navigating a labyrinth: complex and filled with potential wrong turns. Yet, the insights from seasoned pros can serve as a reliable compass. Here, we distill their wisdom into actionable practices that can illuminate the path for beginners.

Objective Analysis: Start with a Clear View

The foundation of effective strategy consulting lies in objective analysis. This means taking a step back to view the company as if you're an outsider, without any preconceived notions. A consultant needs to understand where the company stands in its current market, identify its strengths and weaknesses, and recognize the challenges it faces.

One compelling example comes from a strategy consulting engagement where a consultant analyzed an urban hospital's struggle to maintain its mission amidst financial constraints. By objectively assessing the hospital's operations and its place in the community, the consultant helped redefine the hospital's strategy, focusing on access, experience, and empowerment. This shift not only secured a Medicaid waiver for over 100,000 patients but also improved the hospital's financial health.

Strategic Recommendations: Crafting the Roadmap

After thorough analysis, the next step is to provide strategic recommendations. These are not just any suggestions, but well-thought-out plans that align with the company's long-term goals and objectives. It's about creating a roadmap for where the company wants to go and how to get there.

Consider the case of a leading truck OEM looking to expand into Asian markets. Through strategic recommendations, consultants facilitated potential joint-venture discussions with a large Chinese manufacturer, laying the groundwork for an integrated global strategy. This approach exemplifies how tailored recommendations can open new doors for growth and expansion.

Budgeting Advice: Streamlining for Efficiency

In the realm of budgeting advice, consultants can show companies how to cut costs without cutting corners. It’s about making the company’s money work smarter, not harder. This involves identifying areas where resources are being wasted and reallocating them to more productive uses.

A practical tip is to conduct a granular review of the company's expenditures and compare them against industry benchmarks. This can reveal opportunities for savings that can be reinvested in more strategic areas.

Production Strategies: Boosting Efficiency

When it comes to production strategies, the goal is to enhance efficiency without compromising on quality. This could mean recommending technology upgrades, streamlining processes, or even rethinking the product development lifecycle.

An inspiring example is when consultants advised a semiconductor equipment company to leverage an unexpected opportunity in the healthcare space. By aligning production strategies with this new market demand, the company not only diversified its revenue streams but also saw a significant increase in valuation.

Opportunity Management: Seizing the Moment

Lastly, opportunity management is about identifying and capitalizing on new revenue streams or product offerings. This requires a keen eye for trends and the agility to pivot strategies as needed.

A strategy consultant’s role here is to help companies anticipate changes in the market and adjust their strategies accordingly. For instance, when a U.S. alcohol beverage company wanted to strengthen its position in the premium market, consultants segmented key portfolio priorities and identified capabilities that matched the company's strategic goals. This forward-thinking approach enabled the company to carve out a stronger presence in the desired market segment.

By embracing these best practices from strategy consulting pros — objective analysis, strategic recommendations, budgeting advice, production strategies, and opportunity management — beginners can set themselves up for success in the complex yet rewarding field of business strategy consulting. As we delve deeper into how to get started in this dynamic career path, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, guided by the insights and experiences of those who have walked the path before.

How to Get Started in Strategy Consulting

Diving into business strategy consulting can seem like navigating a maze. But don't worry! Let's break it down into simple steps to get you started on this exciting career path.

Education Requirements

First things first: education. While you can enter the field with a bachelor's degree in business administration or a related area, aiming for an MBA could give you a significant edge. An MBA not only deepens your understanding of business management but also sharpens your analytical and problem-solving skills. Think of it as your golden ticket to catch the eye of top consulting firms.

Gaining Experience

Next up: experience. There's no substitute for real-world experience. Internships at consulting firms or industry-specific companies can be incredibly valuable. They provide a sneak peek into the consulting world and help you build those crucial skills needed to thrive, such as effective communication and decision-making. It's about more than just the title; it's the hands-on experience that counts.

Knowing the Landscape

Now, let's talk about knowing the landscape. The consulting field has seen its ups and downs, especially with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the demand for consultants is bouncing back, with a growing need for innovative solutions in the changing business world. Staying informed about the industry's trends and challenges will prepare you for what's ahead.

Familiarize Yourself with the Industry

Understanding the industry is crucial. Strategy consulting firms come in two flavors: pure-play firms that focus solely on strategy consulting, and those offering a range of services, including strategy. Top names to know are McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company. These firms are giants in the field, known for their impactful work and thought leadership. Getting familiar with these firms, their work, and their culture can provide valuable insights into what makes a successful strategy consultant.

McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company

Speaking of the big players, let's zoom in on McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company. Often referred to as the "Big Three," these firms set the gold standard in strategy consulting. They offer services to the world's leading businesses, governments, and institutions. Working at or even interning with one of these firms can be a game-changer, providing unparalleled exposure to high-stakes business problems and the opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

To wrap it up, getting started in business strategy consulting is about combining the right education with real-world experience, staying informed about the industry, and understanding the landscape of top consulting firms. It's a journey that requires hard work, dedication, and a continuous thirst for learning. But for those who are up for the challenge, it can be an incredibly rewarding career path that offers the chance to make a real impact on the business world.

Now, as we move forward, let's explore the tools and strategies that can help you succeed in this competitive field.


In the journey through the complex and dynamic world of business strategy consulting, we've traversed the landscapes of analytical skills, strategic planning, and overcoming challenges in change management and strategy execution. It's clear that the path to success in this field is both challenging and rewarding, requiring a deep understanding of market dynamics, a keen analytical mind, and the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of uncertainty.

As we wrap up our exploration, it's crucial to highlight the role of digital transformation in today's business strategy consulting. At Plumb, we understand that the digital age has rewritten the rules of engagement between businesses and their customers. Our focus on Digital Marketing, Creative Branding, and Website Design is not just about creating a digital presence. It's about crafting digital experiences that resonate with your audience, drive engagement, and fuel growth.

Digital Marketing is no longer a choice but a necessity. When attention is the new currency, our strategies are designed to ensure that your brand not only captures attention but retains it, turning viewers into loyal customers. Through targeted campaigns, SEO, and social media strategies, we help your brand shine in the crowded digital marketplace.

Creative Branding goes beyond logos and taglines. It's about telling your story in a way that's compelling, memorable, and authentic. It's about creating an identity that reflects your values and resonates with your audience. At Plumb, we dive deep into your brand's essence to unearth and articulate what makes you unique.

Website Design is your digital storefront, and in many cases, the first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It's not just about aesthetics; it's about functionality, user experience, and conversion optimization. Our approach to website design ensures that your site is not only visually appealing but also strategically engineered to drive business objectives.

In conclusion, the journey into business strategy consulting is one of constant learning, adaptation, and growth. Whether you're navigating the complexities of change management or crafting a digital marketing strategy, the key is to stay focused on your goals, be ready to pivot when necessary, and always keep the customer at the heart of your strategy.

At Plumb, we're committed to helping our clients navigate the digital landscape with innovative solutions that drive real business results. Let us be your partner in this journey, helping you to glow and grow in the digital age. Discover how we can transform your business strategy with our comprehensive suite of services. Explore our solutions now.

The world of business strategy consulting is changing, but with the right partner, the possibilities are limitless. Let's create something amazing together.