AMA: Marc Jantzen, founder of The Consultancy Growth Network

There's nothing like that feeling of community. Marc Jantzen is the founder of The Consultancy Growth Network, a membership-only community for ambitious consultancy owners where they can learn from the best of the best.

Marc Jantzen - Photo credit: New Minds

Hi Marc! Could you start by telling us a bit about your company?

The Consultancy Growth Network is a community for owners and leaders of consulting businesses. We have over 100 companies and over 250 individuals involved in our community.

Our purpose is to provide insights, actionable advice and relevant introductions to owners and their senior teams. We are on a mission to make the senior team’s journey easier and faster, so they avoid the pitfalls and have more fun along the way.

I have gathered together a team of Growth Experts, all of whom have built and sold a consulting business between £10m - £30m.

We also have a fully vetted group of specialist providers who dedicate themselves to helping consulting businesses succeed in areas such as marketing, recruitment, finance, legal issues and business management software.

Together we are building a one-stop-shop for senior teams to get help with whatever they need.

We run a series of expert-led events both online and face to face and we have a thriving online community. We have a comprehensive set of tools, templates and insights available to members mostly in video format.

A core part of what we do is bring members together who offer complementary propositions to similar roles in the same sector creating opportunities for introductions and/or partnership.

How did the idea for the Consultancy Growth Network come about?

After selling my consulting business I was mentoring owners of consulting businesses sharing some of the lessons I had learned on my 17-year journey. It became apparent that the same challenges kept coming up time and again.

One evening, I was invited along to a community-led event for owners of digital marketing agencies and I was blown away by the atmosphere and the value of bringing owners together under one roof.

I know there was nothing on the market for owners of consulting businesses and so I invited the owner of the Agency Collective to become my mentor and help me build a community for consulting business owners. And as they say, the rest is history…

How would you best describe your business philosophy?

Don’t stop the proposition thinking.

Develop a proposition that has an unquestionable, measurable value that is easy to articulate. And keep listening to what your customers are saying and reinvent what you offer so you continually stay ahead of their needs.

Be all over the commercials, understand your KPIs and forecast variables so you learn to anticipate exactly how your business will perform in the future.

Engage your people and treat them like adults. That means giving them both responsibility and recognition, trusting them to do the right thing whilst being there to coach and support them.

What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

That's an interesting question.

The obvious biggest mistake was when I trusted my business partner who hived off our biggest client and part of our team and sailed off into the sunset leaving our culture damaged and our business decimated.

But the truth is I have him to thank for the company we subsequently became. We went from a culturally damaged unprofitable business to one making £1.6m profit inside two years and selling the business for £12m.

We were one team on one mission and it was a fantastic developmental journey. We would not have achieved this without the kick in the stomach in the first place. I’ll let you decide whether it was a mistake to trust him!

Sounds cheesy but I do believe that a mistake isn’t really a mistake if you learn from it and come out stronger.

What a roller-coaster ride! If you were going to invest in a startup business and you could only give one piece of advice to the team running that company, what would it be?

Invest in your differentiation and make sure it speaks to the needs of your customer base.

Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? 

We are in the process of planning an EMI scheme for the team.

Fantastic. How do you keep your team aligned?

I am completely transparent about my plans for the company, I involve them in my strategic thinking and invariably develop consensus. This means we rarely experience members of the team deviating away from our agreed direction.

Each individual has an overriding KPI that aligns with the direction of the company so everyone understands how important they are and how they contribute to the overall success of the business.

Bonuses are based on a collective performance that encourages individuals to work as a team and support each other.

Finally, regular communication through a combination of scheduled, structured, recurring meetings and informal ad-hoc conversations.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

Hire intrinsically motivated people who want to succeed then make sure they are clear on what is expected of them and give them the tools to do the job.

Ensure they spend enough physical face to face time in the early months to build rapport with key members of the team.

Encourage them to set up online and offline clusters that arrange to meet in the office, for drinks or have regular online catch-ups.

Have you ever had a near-death experience?

I got caught in a yacht between Mallorca and Menorca in 40mph winds and 4m waves – it is not an experience I would care to repeat!

Don't blame you! Do you have any pets at all?

Yes, I do. This is Stan.

Stan

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Leonardo di Caprio.

Solid choice. Well, thank you so much for your time, Marc. It's been a pleasure.