2024: The Dawn of a Golden Era for Boutique Consulting

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2023

Unpack the future trends shaping a lucrative year for independent consulting powerhouses

2024 has all the signs to become the best year yet for solo consultants and boutique consulting firms. The year is going to be filled with more opportunities than ever. There will also be challenges for some, especially if you have a small client base and can’t seem to grow it any further or you are trying all of the marketing tactics that seem to work for all of the other businesses but don’t work for you.

The big picture

US businesses will continue to grapple with increasingly complex challenges. While there are many, I keep my eye on these top three to look at for consultants:

E-commerce and Digital Marketing

Brands will be focusing on this despite economic uncertainties, with a spotlight on adapting strategies, experimenting, and honing in on profitable avenues. An essential part of this growth will be managing privacy correctly.

Trends suggest a push by consumers for innovation, which could lead to a reshaping of the retail industry. For example, in 2024, I expect a significant uptick in the use of augmented reality (AR) and computer vision in the retail sector, with predictions of a 50% increase in their usage.

AI and automation are also set to redefine the digital marketing space. The sophistication of these technologies will continue to climb, leading to elevated efficiency and heightened personalization. Furthermore, as voice-activated devices become more prevalent, optimizing content for voice search will be crucial.

However, there's a note of caution with social media. A perceived decline in the quality of these platforms may lead to half of consumers reducing their usage significantly. I am one of them. This is partly due to concerns about the spread of misinformation by generative AI. I expect LinkedIn to be least impacted, but X, TikTok, and Facebook? I do not see it.

Remote Work

The global workforce has grown to love the flexibility that remote work offers, allowing them to manage their personal and professional lives better. They will continue to resist returning to the office because it often means a return to less flexible hours, longer commutes, and returning to the stress and rigidity of office environments.

Many employees feel they are more productive when working remotely, contrary to some prominent executive beliefs. They fear that returning to the office might disrupt their newfound productivity and work-life balance.

That’s why companies will increasingly have to support flexible work hours, invest in efficient work management tools, emphasize mental health, and educate employees on setting clear boundaries between work and personal life.

Cloud technology is crucial to make all of that happen. It offers accessibility, flexibility, and integration with remote access tools that ensure that team members can work efficiently irrespective of their location.

Remote access tools are becoming essential as they enhance productivity, security, and flexibility for distributed workforces. But which ones to choose? How do small business owners evaluate features like high-speed connectivity, end-to-end encryption, and cross-platform compatibility?

Personally, I always wonder, why any small business opts to work with Microsoft Teams. But that’s subject to another conversation.

But let’s not forget the need for robust cybersecurity, including advanced endpoint security, multi-factor authentication, and AI-enhanced threat neutralization.


There will be a strong movement toward environmental consciousness among companies. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive will require over 50,000 companies to disclose the impact of their operations on nature.

This regulation is set to extend to even more companies in subsequent years, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 80% of the Global 2,000 companies will be recording and reporting their carbon data using quantifiable metrics of their environmental impact, marking a significant increase from 50% today.

As nations confront climate change. This renewable energy boom will likely continue to alter the global energy delivery infrastructure profoundly. 2024 could be a turning point for technological sustainability. Innovations in solar power and eco-friendly gadgets are set to lead the trends.

Cross-functional partnerships that leverage technology, policy, and finance in support of the growth of the clean energy market are likely to become as unusual as seeing someone wearing a mask at Costco.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Some industries, such as healthcare, non-profit, and education will continue to strive to create more inclusive workplaces. The return-to-office policies may affect DEI outcomes, with implications for employee burnout, turnover, and engagement.

In 2023, CHROs began addressing the "unadjusted pay gap" and are expected to continue this into 2024, as it becomes a crucial metric for fair and equitable treatment in companies. Performance reviews, traditionally biased, will pivot towards a data-driven approach to mitigate these biases and foster diverse, high-performing workplaces.

Performance reviews will evolve as CHROs leverage data analytics to overcome biases that affect career progression. Pay explainability will differentiate companies, as they must now justify compensation practices and career opportunities. Because pay equity and career equity are now seen as interconnected, CHROs will have to communicate this integration to stakeholders, influencing corporate narratives and business growth.

Pay insights will decentralize, empowering front-line managers and recruiters with the information necessary for fair pay decisions, facilitated by advanced data analytics.

AI's integration into HR will mature, moving from experimental to strategic use. CHROs must ensure AI use aligns with policy and strategy, maintaining human oversight for decision-making in HR processes.

Overall, the synergy between pay equity and career equity is becoming more pronounced, with increased disclosure requirements and pressure from various stakeholders pushing companies towards more equitable practices they’ll increase their search for cutting-edge expertise that specialized consultants bring to the table.

Types of consulting services under pressure

Given these trends, let’s look at what types of consulting services might become under pressure in 2024. In general, here are a few areas where demand will decrease based on current trends:

  • Traditional Marketing Consultancy: As digital marketing continues to dominate, the demand for traditional marketing strategies like print media, television, and radio advertising will continue to decrease. Companies are seeking innovative ways to engage with tech-savvy consumers, leaning towards digital marketing strategies, analytics, and AI-driven personalization.
  • Manual Process Optimization: With the rise of automation, AI, and machine learning, there's a declining need for consulting services focused on manual process improvements. Businesses are looking for ways to implement smart technologies that can automate tasks, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
  • Basic IT Support Services: As cloud computing becomes more prevalent and businesses become more tech-savvy, the need for basic IT support might decrease. Companies may look inwards for IT maintenance or use automated services, reducing the reliance on external consultants for basic IT needs.
  • Generic Business Strategy Consulting: In an era of hyper-specialization, companies might seek industry-specific advisors who offer deep expertise rather than generalists. As a result, demand for broad, generic strategy consulting might lessen as businesses look for consultants with niche, sector-specific insights and experience.
  • Compliance Consulting in Maturing Regulatory Environments: As companies become more accustomed to regulations that were recently introduced, such as GDPR or CCPA, there might be a reduced need for external compliance consulting. As the learning curve flattens and internal teams become proficient, the reliance on external consultants specifically for maturing regulations might decrease.

Remember, these predictions are based on current trends and could change with new technological advancements, economic shifts, or unexpected global events. It's also worth noting that as some areas decrease in demand, others will rise, creating new opportunities for consultants to adapt and thrive in changing markets. Always keep an eye on the market, continue learning, and be ready to pivot your services to areas of growing demand.

Are you ready to lead the charge?

Then here is where I see increased momentum:

  1. Increased Demand for Specialized Expertise: As businesses become more complex, there's a growing need for specialized knowledge and expertise. Boutique consulting firms are typically specialized in a particular industry or function, which makes them well-positioned to take advantage of this trend. In 2024, we could see an increase in demand for boutique consulting firms that have deep knowledge in areas like digital transformation, sustainability, data analytics, and more.
  2. Rise of Remote Consulting Services: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that remote work is not only possible but also effective in many circumstances. This trend is likely to continue into 2024, with more boutique consulting firms offering remote consulting services. This can not only reduce costs but also allow firms to tap into a global talent pool.
  3. Greater Focus on Sustainability and Social Impact: As companies strive to be more environmentally conscious, consultants who specialize in helping businesses reduce their carbon footprints and implement sustainable practices will be in high demand.

Boutique consulting firms that can offer expertise in these areas will likely see increased demand. This could include helping companies develop sustainable business strategies, implement social impact initiatives, or navigate regulatory requirements related to environmental and social issues.

Opportunities in 2024

Given all that, here are my predictions about what businesses will increasingly look for in boutique consultants in 2024 and where opportunities are:

  1. Increased Specialization: Expect a surge in clients seeking consultants who don't just scratch the surface but understand the nuances of their niche.
  2. Global Virtual Presence: As the world leans into remote work, consultants who fully use virtual collaboration tools in their service delivery will find themselves in high demand.
  3. Insight from Data: In the era of information, consultants who can translate data into actionable strategies will lead the pack.
  4. Personalized Services: Clients will value consultants who tailor their services to unique business landscapes.
  5. Tech-Forward Solutions: Whether it's AI or next-gen blockchain applications, integrating cutting-edge technology will set consultants apart.
  6. Strategic Partnerships: Collaborations between boutique and larger firms could redefine business solutions, bringing together the best of both worlds.
  7. Dynamic Adaptability: The ability to pivot swiftly and effectively in response to market shifts will be a non-negotiable trait for successful consulting firms.

Are you ready to adapt and thrive? What will it take for you to find your sweet spot in 2024? Consider doubling down on what’s already part of your offering, pivoting to a new consulting direction, or repositioning yourself.

Many potential areas of specialization can help boutique consulting firms get the boost they want in 2024. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: With the rise of AI and ML technologies, businesses will need guidance on how to implement these technologies effectively and ethically.
  2. Cybersecurity: With the increasing occurrence of cyber threats, businesses will look for consulting firms that specialize in protecting their data and systems.
  3. Sustainability Consulting: As companies strive to be more environmentally conscious, consultants who specialize in helping businesses reduce their carbon footprints and implement sustainable practices will be in high demand.
  4. Biotechnology Consulting: With rapid advancements in biotech, consulting firms with specialized knowledge in this area could become increasingly important.
  5. Data Privacy Consulting: As data privacy laws become stricter, businesses will need consulting firms that can help them navigate these complex regulations.
  6. Remote Work Consulting: Given the shift towards remote work, consulting firms could specialize in helping businesses manage remote teams and implement effective remote work policies.
  7. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Consulting: As VR and AR technologies become more mainstream, businesses may seek consulting firms that specialize in integrating these technologies into their operations or marketing strategies.
  8. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting: As businesses strive to create more inclusive workplaces, consulting firms that specialize in DEI initiatives could see increased demand.
  9. Employee Wellness Consulting: With a greater focus on work-life balance and employee well-being, boutique consulting firms might lead the way in developing innovative policies and practices that promote a healthy work environment.
  10. E-commerce and Digital Marketing Consulting: As more businesses move online, consulting firms that specialize in e-commerce and digital marketing could become increasingly important.

The list could potentially expand as new trends and technologies emerge. And of course, this list does not factor in uncertainties of a looming climate catastrophe and caustic elections in the US.

Precisely because of that, to speak with Kenney Chesney, we’ll need to build a better boat. That includes refining our sweet spot with every change that impacts our ability to grow and thrive.

What I asked all of my clients to do now is two things:

  1. Drop something old that is no longer working, in the way, or broken, and then
  2. Replace it with something new.

For example…

  • If you are consulting on compliance in maturing regulatory environments, upskill in environmental regulations and sustainable business practices.
  • If you're a generalist, niche down.
  • If you're not analytics-savvy yet, it's time. Learn to interpret data, draw insights, and craft strategies around them.
  • If you're small, look for collaboration opportunities with bigger players.
  • If you're in marketing, dive deep into AI and analytics. Become the master of digital campaigns and privacy management. If your expertise is elsewhere, find the tech that's disrupting your field and master it.

 And if you’d like some help defining your sweet spot in 2024, book a Sweet Spot Momentum Call with me: https://www.teamlawless.com/schedule-pumpkin-plan-momentum-call with me. It’s free.



50% Complete

Be in the know

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss my latest updates, blogs, news, and events. I will immediately share with you my worksheet The Pillars of High Performance as a Thank You Gift.