Finding your Niche in the World of Procurement Consulting and ‘Owning It’
When it comes to finding work in consulting, casting a wide net may yield some results but they might not be the most valuable to your career and personal development long term. Results can be vastly improved by identifying your niche and marketing to businesses that are aligned to your goals.
The market size of procurement outsourcing services in the UK is $1.5bn. In such a substantial market it is important to stand out and know your niche.
Why is Finding your Niche so Important?
Clients expect a certain level of expertise from a consultant. It is not always possible to be an expert in every discipline. Attempting to become an expert in various fields can only make harder to succeed in any of them. Concentrating on one niche will allow you more space to learn and grow your skills – so you can provide true value to your clients.
Greater Earning Potential
Working within a niche allows you to dive deep in a client’s needs and build a very specific skillset and level of expertise. In turn, you can charge a premium for this knowledge. General consultants who don’t have a specific specialism will achieve results, but they won’t be as successful or in depth as those achieved by a specialist consultant. Therefore, specialising increases your value, and in turn your ability to increase your rate.
Consultancy UK reported in 2020 that the average day rate for an independent consultant at Director level would be £3,000+ but this would vary based on expertise and experience. Growing expertise is an essential step to increasing revenue.
It goes without saying that the smaller your field, the less competition. In more general practices, there is likely to be an increased amount of competition. However, fewer consultants have the specialised skills or experience to meet the needs of clients within a niche. Therefore, if you can define your niche, you can attract clients where there is less competition.
Work Towards Your Goals
Once your niche is defined, you will find it easier to set a strategy in order to reach your longer-term goals. You can define your own career goals and start to work towards them; working with clients you can provide real benefit to, and in turn grow your portfolio.
How to Find Your Niche
Finding your niche in procurement consulting might not be straightforward; especially if you are a talented consultant across different specialisms. However, there are some considerations to be made that can help you define it.
Evaluate Your Skills
The first step to discovering your niche is to evaluate the skills you already have. Make a list of your soft and hard skills, it might become obvious very quickly in what area your skills lie.
What Do you Enjoy?
Once you know where your skills lie, think about what you enjoy that these skills could lend themselves to? It’s not always as simple as ‘doing what you love’ but if you have the skills and passion for a certain specialism it will make for a rewarding career.
Consider In-Demand Skills
Finding work as an independent procurement consultant is paramount to your success and longevity in the field. Therefore, choosing a niche where your skills are in demand will put you in the best position to find work.
Skills With the Most Earning Potential
Similar to the above, to maximise earning potential consider which of your skills would earn you the most in the long-term. Likely, it will correlate with those that are the most in demand.
Narrow it Down
After making the considerations above, you should begin to understand where your niche could lie. You already know you want to focus on procurement, but could you specialise further?
Below are some of the different areas of procurement that you might want to focus on.
Indirect/Strategic Procurement - many companies are adapting the way procurement works within businesses, allowing it to act as a strategic force that drives other aspects of the business. This means that we will see an increase in strategic procurement and demand for highly skilled procurement strategists.
- Contract Management
- Supplier Management
Demand and Supply Planning – planners perform one of the most important roles in procurement and work with a variety of different tools to ensure supply match’s demand. It is an essential role especially in industries such as consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.
- Excellent analytical ability
- Statistical data analysis
- Networking and interpersonal skills
Continuous Improvement – many companies want to know how they can improve their supply chain to become leaner and more agile. This is generally where consultants will come in.
- Strategic mindset
- Ability to offer a ‘birds eye view’
- Supply chain experience
eCommerce – a strong knowledge of eCommerce is one of the most sought-after supply chain skills. Especially following the pandemic.
- eCommerce experience
- Digital knowledge
- Supply chain experience
3rd Party Logistics – as with a lot of supply chain management, 3rd party logistics is moving in a more strategic direction. More and more companies are replying on 3rd party providers, and if you are interested in logistics, it is good area to consider.
- Supply chain management
Supply Chain Software – finally, software and technology play a vast role in procurement and the entire industry is much more reliant on big data. Because of advancing technologies playing such a big role, the demand for these skills is constantly growing.
- Software development
- Supply chain experience
- Software implementation
Once you have decided on your niche, it is important to know how to sell yourself and continue to grow within your specialism. Do this through growing your expertise, choosing to work with clients who you can offer real value to and that benefit your long-term goals and networking with peers in your industry.
Growing your presence and sharing your expertise will also help you to become a go-to source within your niche and enable you to attract clients that need your expertise. At Choix we can help you do this – through connecting you to clients that require your skills and other experts who can help you build your career.
The beauty of the procurement industry is the variety, and at Choix we love to hear from our community – to understand their thoughts and views on consulting, and to help others. Choosing to work as a generalist or within a niche in consulting is a debated topic, so we would love to know whether you think finding a niche is a help or a hinderance as an independent procurement consultant?