Overcoming Challenges in the Early Stages of Consulting

Laurent Parenteau



In the early stages of consulting, engineering leaders often face common challenges such as building a reputation, finding clients, and establishing a brand. In a recent conversation among top-tier engineers, we discussed strategies for overcoming these challenges and shared insights on how to navigate the consulting landscape.

Building a Reputation

One of the key challenges in the early stages of consulting is building a reputation. As one engineer mentioned, "Most consultants already have brand recognition or a big network. They have been known for their work in top companies or have given numerous talks." However, for those starting from scratch, it can be a time-consuming process.

To build a reputation, networking plays a crucial role. Attending events and connecting with startup founders can help establish relationships that may lead to future opportunities. It's important to focus on connecting with people who may benefit from your expertise and keep yourself top of mind for them.

Finding Clients

Finding clients is another challenge faced by engineering leaders in the early stages of consulting. While networking helps in building relationships, it may not immediately result in paying clients. One engineer shared, "A lot of people I'm connecting with through marketing are not in a position where they need my services, but they know people who do."

To find clients, it's essential to provide value and demonstrate your expertise. Offering free workshops or recorded videos can be a great way to showcase your knowledge and attract potential clients. Additionally, leveraging platforms like capital factory or conferences can help you reach a wider audience and connect with potential clients.

Establishing a Brand

Establishing a brand is crucial for engineering leaders in the early stages of consulting. It helps differentiate you from competitors and builds trust with potential clients. One engineer mentioned, "Having a strong brand recognition can make a significant difference in attracting clients."

To establish a brand, it's important to create valuable content that resonates with your target audience. Consider repurposing existing talks or workshops into recorded videos that can be shared online. This not only showcases your expertise but also provides value to your audience. Additionally, consider participating in conferences or events where you can present your ideas and connect with potential clients.

Overcoming Challenges

During the conversation, we discussed strategies for overcoming the challenges faced in the early stages of consulting. One engineer shared their plan of offering workshops to help clients approach engineering in a more structured manner. They mentioned, "I'm envisioning people coming to the workshop with an actual real live piece of work that they have. It's a ticket. How do we approach this ticket? What's our first step?"

By offering workshops, consultants can provide value to potential clients and establish themselves as experts in their field. It's important to be prepared for different scenarios, such as participants not having any work to bring or concerns about intellectual property. By being flexible and adapting to the needs of the participants, consultants can create a valuable experience for everyone involved.


Overcoming challenges in the early stages of consulting requires a combination of networking, providing value, and establishing a strong brand. By building relationships, offering free workshops or recorded videos, and participating in conferences, engineering leaders can navigate the consulting landscape and attract clients. It's important to be adaptable and continuously refine your approach based on the needs of your target audience. As one engineer mentioned, "There is no single formula, but with time and practice, you'll find what works best for you."

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Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership Training

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