11 tips from industry experts for anyone starting a career in sports consulting

A few weeks ago, I received an email from someone planning to start a career consulting in the sports industry, and he asked me if I could give him any advice. 

Instead of giving him just one piece of advice, I decided to ask some of the most accomplished professionals in the business what insights they could give. Big thank you to everyone who replied and contributed with this article. That was immensely appreciated.

Here is a compilation of some of the best advice they shared:


This seems obvious, but we will start with it nonetheless. It is very unlikely that anyone will want to hire your consultancy services – never mind pay for them – if you don’t have a proven track record showing that you’re an expert on a given topic. So before you think about starting a consultancy business, make sure you already have some experience in the field in which you want to provide a consultancy service.

Michael Payne, the first Marketing Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and one of the most renowned sports consultants in the world, says that before you offer your services as a consultant, “you must have clear proof that you know what you are talking about. When clients look for the help of a consultant, they don’t want to hear just general headlines, that anyone can spout, but real detailed insights, that can then be explained in a logical, simple, methodical way.”

Therefore, if you have no experience, you probably shouldn’t start a consultancy business. Maybe join another established consultancy and acquire some experience first.


As you start to gather experience in the field that you chose, you will also start to build your network. That is one of the most valuable assets you will have.

Frank Persyn, Founder and Director at Team Persyn Sports Consulting, says: “Over the years, I have built a widespread network in and outside the sports industry. From grassroots to C-suite. From the day I started to work in the sports industry, I have never let an opportunity pass to meet new people, to gain knowledge or to chase business opportunities. When it comes to building a network, it’s better to build a diverse one. I always try to stay in close touch with the next generation of sports enthusiasts and sports fans, as I try to understand how the new generations engage with sports, how they engage with certain technologies and which new social media channels they are using.”

Siri Wallenius recently left the European Club Association to launch Club Affairs, an independent advisory firm focused on football strategies, with her co-founder Olivier Jarosz. She stresses the importance of building a strong professional network before launching a consultancy business. “That network will give you not only clients, but potentially collaborators and even a business partner.”

Nick Lau, a Partner at Gilani & Lau International, says "Generating new business can be one of the hardest - if not the hardest - aspects of running a consulting firm, especially in the beginning. It is therefore helpful to line-up one or two key clients from within your network for the first year or so, in order to establish your company’s track record, to generate revenue, and create some important momentum in general."


There is no such thing as an “Expert in Everything”, so you must be clear about the services that you will provide and areas of expertise that you will cover.

Saam Momen, Founder of The Sports Executive Path, says: “It is still incredible that some consultancies don’t understand what their strengths are and promise work which they can’t deliver.  If your consultancy expertise is, say, in marketing or operations, be straight with your clients and ONLY offer this delivery expertise. Do not enter other fields since this will show your weaknesses and most likely will hurt your relations with the clients.”

Michael Payne also stresses the importance of defining what your real specialty is. “It’s no longer enough to be general. There needs to be real focused insights, in order for you to be able to make a difference to the clients. Those focused insights may be in a given sport, a specific country or region, a certain specialist filed, such as law, etc.”

Frank Persyn says: “In any market, it’s important to clearly define your value proposition. Have a clear service offering that sets you apart from your competition, or that at least makes you known in the market. Know what your client needs and be clear how your services answer their needs.”

Nick Lau notes: “There are a lot of consulting companies and even more freelance consultants on the market. Make sure you review your business model and value proposition as critically and as honestly as possible to ensure that you offer something truly unique and/or needed.”