10th Annual Women in Consulting (WIC) Survey Reveals Strong Optimism as Best Practices Generate More Revenues for Consultants

November 6, 2011

San Jose, CA – October 24, 2011—While the two-year worldwide recession has devastated many businesses, results from the 10th annual Best Practices and Compensation Survey by Women in Consulting (WIC), a collaborative community of professional consultants and small business owners, offers proof that optimism about opportunities for the next 12 months is strong and following multiple best practices helps consultants earn much more.

“For the majority of those surveyed, business momentum continues and their optimism for the next 12 months grows unabated,” said WIC President Avery Horzewski. “Following best practices, like increasing the ways in which you network, outsourcing to other experts, and being price smart, is the surest way to grow a consulting business.”

Key findings show gross revenues climbed eight percent over last year. Median net revenues, after paying subcontractor fees, rose 16 percent. The past 12 months’ strong revenue growth is credited to more available work, a greater use of subcontractors, and an emphasis on using the full spectrum of best practices to attract and retain clients, survey respondents report.

“There’s a very strong uptick in requests for services across the board and the ability to pay for them. More cash is available and clients are less paralyzed by fear of the unknown and are quicker to decide,” said Emily Hall, president of Olive Grove Consulting of Belmont, CA, whose business more than doubled since last year.

Revenues Climb for Many

Survey responders nationwide reveal compensation increases:

  • 57 percent of survey participants saw a revenue increase during the past 12 months
  • Median gross revenue in 2011 was $130,000, up eight percent from $120,000 in 2010
  • Median net revenue was $117,000, up 16 percent from $101,000 in 2010
  • Median gross revenue among the top 20 percent of earners rose eight percent to $325,000 after holding stable for the past two years
  • Median net revenue among the top 20 percent of earners jumped 10 percent to $270,000, up from $245,000 in 2010
  • Hourly rates have rebounded, after dropping significantly in 2009, and are the highest in the history of the survey—topping at $150

“While the business climate is still tough for some, the majority are experiencing steady improvement with some even reporting explosive growth during the past year,” Horzewski said.

Consultants’ optimism that the economic turnaround is happening is clear, as 60 percent anticipate more revenues in the coming 12 months. This represents a significant shift from attitudes in 2009, when only 35 percent expected increased revenues. Optimism even reigns among surveyed consultants who experienced decreased revenues during the past 12 months, as 61 percent of them expect to earn more revenue next year.

“There is a lot more work this year. My telephone is ringing off the hook,” said Sue Raisty-Egami, president of Sure Product Consulting of Los Gatos, CA.

Best Practices Generate New Business

Use of social media continues to be pervasive with LinkedIn far ahead in usefulness for generating new business compared with other networking tools, followed by online communities. Facebook slipped in popularity slightly with 67 percent of respondents counting it among must-use networking and communication tools.

While networking and communicating have always been top ways to grow a consulting business, the combination of many best practices is how top earners are pulling in much more new business and retaining clients.

To grow a consultancy, survey respondents recommend following a variety of best practices, such as broadening networking beyond traditional in-person events and forming collaborations, partnerships, and joint ventures with consultants whose expertise complements your own.

Use of subcontractors is also recommended. Among those surveyed, 70 percent employ subcontractors—an increase of 10 percent over last year’s survey. Meanwhile, among the top 20 percent of earners, 90 percent of them report relying on subcontractors to grow their businesses.

A December 7th webinar detailing the survey results is complimentary for WIC members and $30 for nonmembers. To attend, register online at www.womeninconsulting.org. A free summary of the 2011 WIC Best Practices and Compensation Survey is available on the WIC website, and detailed findings are available online exclusively to WIC members.

About WIC

Women in Consulting (WIC) is a vibrant, diverse, and powerful community of consultants and small business owners working to build strong businesses. Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998, WIC provides its 400+ members and affiliates a forum to connect and share with like-minded professionals. Established as a nonprofit, collaborative community to foster successful businesses for its members, WIC sponsors programs and activities to help members network, improve their skills, and thrive even in a tumultuous economic climate, and also provides consulting leadership and support to the community at large.

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