Are Business Consultants the New Great Resignation?

by | Business Advice, Operations Management, Staff Management

In the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in business consultants quitting their consulting practice to pursue other opportunities. Many of these people are responding to the same issues that triggered the Great Resignation for employees – and it’s no coincidence.

That’s right; the Great Resignation isn’t just a thing of the past – it’s expanded to business consultants quitting which can be just as devastating to companies.

Like employees, consultants are tired of dealing with long hours and high-stress levels. They’re fed up with overly demanding clients who don’t understand the value of their expertise. Business consultants quitting reflects the cultural shift toward individuals wanting flexibility and more control over their work-life balance.

So, let’s take a deeper look into why business consultants are leaving consulting and how their reasons are similar to those that triggered the Great Resignation.

Business consultant quitting his job

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation was triggered by the high numbers of employees who left their jobs because they were unhappy with the direction of their companies or felt undervalued by their employers. This mass exodus caused businesses to rethink how they treated employees and resulted in initiatives like parental leave and flexible work arrangements.

Now, we’re seeing that trend spill over into consulting. The number of business consultants quitting has risen dramatically in the last two years. A typical consultant now only spends two to four years in a consulting career before they close shop and move on to something else. Studies indicate that business consultants quitting can be attributed to not feeling appreciated by their clients, being tired of working 60+ hours per week, or the constant need to sell their services.

Over the last decade, business consulting has changed dramatically – and not necessarily for the better. Consultants complain that companies hire them for strategic thinking or creative problem-solving but actually want them to do routine, boring work. They want more in their lives.  They want to feel like they’re making an impact. And most importantly, they want to feel appreciated for all their hard work to deliver top-notch consulting services.

The similarities between employees and consultants are striking; both groups are leaving careers that once seemed secure because they don’t feel valued or appreciated.

Business man quitting and packing his belongings in a cardboard box

Top 5 Reasons Consultants are Quitting

Business consultants are leaving the consulting industry in drove. According to one survey, about half of all consultants plan to leave their career within two years for something else.

Yes, the world of business is changing. And to make sure you can hang on to your favorite consultant, it’s important to know what’s driving the trend of business consultants quitting.

1. Better work-life balance

When it comes to business consultants, there are plenty of reasons for them to decide to leave consulting. The high stress, long hours, and uncertain pay can be overwhelming. But there’s one factor that seems to be driving more and more consultants to quit: a better work-life balance.

Consultants are often expected to work long hours, and the stress of their jobs can be overwhelming. Many consultants feel trapped by their clients’ demands and feel a lack of control over their schedule. This is especially true when working with start-ups or high-growth businesses that expect consultants to be available 24/7.

Opting out and finding a “regular job” in pursuit of more manageable career is a common reasons for consultants quitting.

2. Unrealistic client expectations

Consultants are often hired because a business needs a quick fix to problems they’re experiencing with their company – but business problems rarely have easy solutions. As a result, consultants often find themselves in situations where the project quickly grows, and they’re asked to deliver unrealistic results. It’s death by scope creep.

As clients expect more from consultants than ever before, consultants are making the difficult decision to walk away from that career altogether so they can prioritize themselves and create more work-life balance.

3. Don’t like constantly selling

Another top reason business consultants are quitting is because they don’t like constantly selling. Consultants often feel like they’re on a merry-go-round of constant pitches to potential clients and upselling current clients, and they just want to get off.

It’s a well-known industry fact that one of the top reasons consultants quit is because they don’t like constantly trying to find new clients. They don’t like the mindset of having to be continually selling themselves – and their ideas – to get clients. Consultants quitting and finding a job that doesn’t require sales is often a relief.

4. Unable to create a sustainable income

This is by far the most common reason for business consultants quitting. It takes time and effort to build up your client base and establish yourself as an expert in your niche. If you have clients who aren’t paying on time or are constantly haggling to a discounted fee, it’s hard to build up enough revenue to sustain yourself financially.

5. Want to “do” instead of “advise”

Another reason consultants leave consulting is that they want to “do” instead of “advise.” They don’t want to be a cog in the wheel. They want to be able to make decisions and take action.

Most people who become consultants do so because they want to be their boss and have more control over their work. Unfortunately, many consultants find themselves in situations where they are doing a lot more advising than doing.

Business people smiling in a meeting

What This Means for Your Businesses

Every business under the sun has hired or will hire a business consultant at some point.

But what if there aren’t enough consultants to go around? As more and more consultants drop out of the market, the consultants that are left will be able to pick and choose their clients. Just as businesses compete for talented employees, companies will now have to start competing for good consultants. We’re entering a period where a consultant with a proven track record of success will be in higher demand than ever before, and your business will have to up its game in how to work with consultants.

Business people in a casual meeting

3 Tips to Keep a Good Consultant

Small businesses rely on the skills and expertise of consultants to optimize their business and grow. And with consultants quitting left and right, good consultants will be in short supply with high demand. But by following a few simple best practices, you can hang on to your favorite consultant.

1. Be a good client

In a world where people are looking for more flexibility, control, and freedom, business consultants are a great resource to help you grow your business and achieve your goals.

But like any relationship, it takes effort on both sides. If you want to hang on to your business consultant, you need to treat them like gold.

Business consultants are people, just like your employees. It’s important to respect their boundaries. Don’t expect them to drop everything just because you asked them to, and don’t expect them to work nights and weekends because you need something asap.

And make your payments on time – don’t make them wait! You probably don’t appreciate it when your clients delay payments, and neither does your consultant.

2. Don’t treat your consultant like a vendor

Consultants are partners, not vendors. Don’t treat your consultant like the relationship is just a purchased transaction because it’s not.

A business consultant is more than someone who cranks out work for you. They are typically involved in discussions about the inner workings of your business. They develop relationships with management and team members so they can understand what’s going on and make meaningful recommendations to move the business forward.

Treat your consultants like a valued extension of your business to make sure they stick with you and don’t dump you for another client.

3. Practice scope control

Scope creep is the bane of every consultant’s existence. As the client, you ask for little things here and there, and before you know it, the requirements have grown by 20%, but the agreed-upon fee hasn’t budged.

The consultant ends up doing more work than expected, but when they ask for an adjustment in the fee, businesses push back and insist that the requested work is within scope when they very well know that it’s not.

Be open and fair about the additional work you’re requesting for a project already in process. Ask your consultant if the new tasks are within scope and if not, ask them how they’d like to handle that. They’ll either tell you it’s no big deal and they can cover it, or they’ll give you a quote for the extra work. Either way, you’ll be treating them with respect, and that goes a long way to keeping a good consultant.

Business consultant with a client

Business consultants are in high demand. They can help you with all sorts of things, from improving your accounting to providing insights into the latest marketing trends.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain: business consultants can be an invaluable asset for any company that wants to succeed.

Looking for a good consultant?