Can Management Consultants Be Good Startup Founders?

Management Consultants as Startup FoundersTraditional management consultants (and advisors) are MBAs who have spent a decade or more in the corporate space.

I’ve studied 500+ of them and over 80% fell in this category.

Funnily enough, this is mainly dictated by the background of “management consulting”. This isn’t a popular title in the startup ecosystem and most founders haven’t gone through this process in the first place.

Therefore, most advisors in the space use different titles such as:

  • Digital consultant
  • Growth strategist
  • Startup consultant
  • An advisor for startups
  • Business consultant for startups

You can also find general consultants who have successfully sold their startups, angel investors who offer consulting on the side, business coaches — but rarely management consultants.

Or even company/startup founders who love helping out and provide consulting services.

Even if we take the traditional profile of management consulting, most of them won’t thrive in a startup environment because:

They successfully operate with existing resources.

Challenges That Await Management Consultants

The challenges of building a startup revolve around other areas:

  • Innovation (finding a product-market fit)
  • Building a team from the ground
  • Low-capital investments (bootstrapped)
  • Creatively building a small team that could scale
  • Finding innovative ways to generate leads at no (or low) cost
  • Deploying a flexible, fast process to iterate quickly

Management consulting doesn’t tackle most of those areas. According to Wikipedia:

Management consulting is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance, operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of plans for improvement

This suggests an existing, successful organization, a self-sustainable one that manages to generate a profit despite its inefficient processes. Translate that to: revenue, staff, resources, management layers, a somewhat established brand.

This is why most management consultants often prefer to consult existing businesses instead of launching startups.

Yes, some will be a great asset as co-founders thanks to their background. But, generally speaking, it’s a different skill set.