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Chaos Commanders for the Win: Certifications and Competitive Advantage

staff of chaos commanders

Tammy and Timmy will be moving to their new house with a big truckload of furniture and household items. Following a tip from a friend, they decide to hire a professional organizing service to help them get settled.

They’re happy to see how many options they have, but they’re also a bit overwhelmed at making the choice. They finally narrow it down to three candidates:

Clutter Cancel

  • professional-looking website
  • nice photos of staff
  • testimonials
  • 5-star reviews

OTT Organizers

  • professional-looking website
  • nice photos of staff
  • testimonials
  • 5-star reviews

Chaos Commanders

All other factors being more or less equal, Tammy and Timmy notice the CPO certification and contact Chaos Commanders first, hiring them soon thereafter. Delighted with the service, they refer several family members and friends to Chaos Commanders over the following year.

Could Clutter Cancel and OTT Organizers have also provided great service? Probably, but they ultimately didn’t stand out enough in the marketing phase, so they never got the chance.

All successful businesses have this one thing in common: they have found a way to distinguish themselves from competitors. For consulting and service companies, certifications can be one way to make that distinction.

Individual vs. Company-level Certification

Certifications played quite a critical role at the marketing analytics company that I sold in 2019. As our main activity, we supported a range of software products. For some of these products, a few people on staff earned individual certifications that we were able to then reference in marketing materials and sales discussions. The individual certifications were sufficient at the early stages.

As the company grew, we worked with the software provider to fulfill the broader requirements for company/agency-level certifications.

These certifications also served as a foundation for our partner marketing arrangements, whereby the software provider brought clients to us. (See my Partner Marketing for Consulting Growth and Partner Marketing and Reselling for Consulting Startups videos to learn about this game-changing approach for leveraging other companies to grow your business.)

Combining certifications

When you’re competing in the marketplace, the magic is often in the and.

For example, if you’re starting your own HR consulting business, instead of going too broad, you might begin to distinguish yourself by targeting a specific vertical, such as law firms. If, in your marketing and sales materials, you were able to state that you and/or your team members had both the Certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR/SPHR) and the NALA Certified Paralegal (CP) credentials, would you not be more compelling to your target audience?

In this case and others, could you compete on certifications alone? Probably not. Certifications can’t take the place of demonstrated competence and client successes, but when you’re vying with other companies that may look similar on the surface, certifications can give you an edge.

Some additional examples of professional certifications are listed here:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Data Professional (CDP)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)\
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Key takeaways and actions

  1. Research product, service, and professional competency certifications that pertain to the business that you have started or are thinking about starting.
  2. Look into the certifications that your competitors have obtained.
  3. Consider if a combination of certifications could be compelling to your target audience.
  4. Evaluate the money and time that you’d need to invest to obtain the certifications.
  5. Determine if there are company-level certifications and partner marketing opportunities that could help your business gain traction.
Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

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