Do You Need A Business Consultant?

All too often, business owners, managers, or supervisors find themselves in a position where growth has slowed, stopped, or reversed. Though these are pressing reasons to consider finding the outside help of a business consultant, they aren’t the only reasons. This article will cover reasons you may need a business consultant, the affordability of a consultant, and what to look for in a consultant and their firm. Companies sometimes look for help when they are having trouble but the best practice is to reach out to a business consultant when your company is stable or in a position of growth.

It is much easier to grow your business if you acquire assistance while your company is stable or growing because you are not trying to recover lost revenue from earlier forecasts. A business consultant is a great resource to improve your company’s sales and growth. They are also an excellent resource when sales have dropped, slowed, or are stagnant. Though business consultants can help in winning or losing situations; the most value or R.O.I. is achieved when a business consultant is hired to move your company to the next stage of business, or improve upon your current sales, marketing, management, web development, and security processes. A good consultant will be able to provide you with a strategic plan for long-term growth while also being able to identify areas that can promote immediate growth. New businesses benefit by having a business plan developed while finding assistance to build a foundation. Loan package preparation is also a benefit of hiring a business consultant, but the most pressing reason to hire a consultant is to plan for long-term success. The aforementioned services will prove to be a great value to the companies with the vision to obtain them. The gain typically overshadows the cost of a business consultant.

Many business owners wonder, ‘Can I afford a business consultant?’ The question that should be asked is ‘Can you not afford to hire a business consultant?’ Business people know that increased marketing efforts, enhanced web development, a good strategic plan, and many other activities will increase their current and long-term revenue. Even knowing that, many of these activities are not aggressively pursued. An additional 20-40 hours a month in focused marketing efforts can bring a company a substantially enhanced amount of revenue dollars. Since the efforts are not made in many cases, the money is essentially lost to the company. Some sound advice to follow is; do not let the initial cost of a business consultant cloud the potential for future gain. The value a business consultant provides long survives the initial payment and contract.

Choosing a good firm to contract with can also be a challenge. The process can be made fairly simple by following the advice below. First, you must speak with the consultant that you are considering conducting business with. A good consultant should be able to understand your needs as you explain them. When dealing with more complex areas of business, a good consultant should be able to explain methods and processes in terms that you are able to understand. The ability to simplify complex processes usually indicates a strong understanding of what they entail. A consulting firm should also have a diverse team of individuals specializing in various segments of business development. Just as many businesses are not able to thrive with one employee, a consulting firm also needs a strong team to provide the best results. The ideal team will at least consist of a business growth expert, a web/graphic designer, a marketing expert, and a financial analyst or expert with good reputations in their industries. Finally, you should always maintain the feel that the consulting firm you decide to contract has your best interest in mind. Following these steps when locating a consultant or consulting firm will increase your chances of receiving a service that continues to benefit your growth for years to come.

Benefits and Tips to Get The Best Out of Business Consulting

When starting a business or if already having a business, you can gain a lot by using business consulting services. There are many benefits of getting consulting services for your business. It helps you remain prepared for the unknown. It teaches you how to manage risks, prevent legal issues and do much more for the success of your business. In addition, there are several more benefits of consulting, as mentioned below.

When you get business consulting services, you would be able to sort out all the noise around you, prevent all the problems and make your business more efficient and successful. When you own a business, there are several factors to be managed. You want to sell your products or services, and then you have to manage the logistics. You have to bear the costs of marketing and your employees will not only be a cost to your company, but you also have to manage the effectively.

A unique benefit of hiring a business consultant service is that you get the chance to view your business from the perspective of another person. The better thing is that that person is a business-efficiency professional. This means that you are going to learn more about your business.

In addition to making the best of these benefits of business consulting, there are a few things you should be concerned about also, you must find a business consultation company that meets your requirements. All businesses are not same, and you would want to get consulting in your own field and your own niche.

There is specialization in the world of consulting. Some consultants specialize in IT services, others in accounting, time management and staff management among others. When you are hiring business teachers, consider their expertise and ethics. The service should be an expert in your field, have sufficient amount of experience and should be well qualified.

Hiring business consulting services is one thing, but implementing the advice is another thing. Most of the rewards that you get from hiring a consulting service are based upon your actions and your company. You, your company and your employees should be willing to adapt and develop, to make your business more efficient and more profitable. It is in the best interest of your business to implement business consulting advice because it is an investment that is going to reap long-term benefits and profits for your business.

How to Make Small Business Consulting Profitable

For a beginning, let’s ask ourselves the question: Is small business consulting profitable? The answer would be a resounding “Yes,” from all corners of the world. So, why are you unable to make it work, and in the process help small consulting with your unique experience and approaches?

You are a business consultant, not the direct worker

The most common mix-up faced by small consultants is that rather than remaining as business advisors, they end up as direct service providers. They end up handling the major workload of the business process where they were expected only to provide advice, and the client ends up with a steep bill. In place of mutual satisfaction, you now have mutual dissatisfaction. The results are unwelcome on both sides – but they happen all too often, where in small business consulting, the consultant fails to maintain the position of a consultant.

There are three possible outcomes in such situations – the client pays up and remains upset with you, the client doesn’t pay your bills and you are upset with the client, or both parties reach an unhappy compromise.

After a few such mix-ups, you become convinced that there is no profitability in consulting. But you know, that’s not true. The reality is your approach needs to be transparent and needs to change case by case.

In certain cases, time-schedule, lack of resources on part of the client, or other exigencies may call for you to provide most of the work as a direct service provider. But in such cases, the client needs to understand from the very beginning that the instant situation needs a service provider with your experience, more than it needs power of consulting. The client needs to have a clear idea of the bills that may be chalked up if you were providing direct service, or the client is free to hire another direct service provider, to save the day. Even providing that little advice is sufficient for you to bill as a consultant, because the client was unable to recognize the situation. What you are doing is business consulting, and not creating a fallible situation.

Why small business consulting mix-ups happen with such regularity

The oldest and most traditional businesses in providing consulting have traditionally modeled themselves as consultant-cum-service providers, take for example, law firms, or Accountant firms. Each of these sectors are used to clients coming to them at the last moment or when the situation is precarious for them, and according to the laws of maximizing business opportunities, they have set up systems to provide service alternatives ready at hand. In fact, in many such traditional firms, service delivery starts first, and then it turns to consulting.

However, in the era of information technology, the number of alternatives available even to small one are hundred times more than the time when CPAs or law firms began establishing their business models. Consequently, with the availability of greater choice of service providers, and ability to compare between alternatives, the chances of client dissatisfaction multiply. This is why, in today’s consulting, it is sufficient to point out the necessity of direct service delivery to a client, without embroiling yourself, or pushing your own agenda of direct service.

In a globalized service providing market, you can never outbid the “I’m cheaper than you can ever be” brigade, and don’t even think of that. To make small business consulting profitable, stick to your guns and be a consultant primarily, and act as direct service provider only when the client asks you, and only when you can afford to do so at the client’s rates.

Can a Business Consultant Make a Difference in Your Company’s Success?

A business consultant has many roles and can help an old company re-new itself and find itself again; help founders start and develop a new venture or project; help to turn around a company fraught with problems; help a company identify new opportunities and markets; or help a company develop a business success plan.

A good business consultant has experience working in and with a broad range of businesses. An experienced business consultant has broad and narrow stroke experience and typically, twenty years or more of accumulated business experience. Having an MBA from a good business school isn’t enough. The consultant must have solid real world experience with many types of companies to be an effective consultant.

So what does a business consultant do? First and foremost, a consultant gets to know and understand your business. As the business owner, you know more about your business than anyone else. For this reason, a good business consultant will take the time to learn from you, your department heads and key employees the ins and outs of your business.

The consultant then goes to work identifying problems and opportunities. Those may be certain problems and opportunities you point out to the consultant, but also a good consultant will have a process to identify problems and opportunities which a business owner has not identified. A consultant brings fresh eyes, fresh experience and an open mind to your business enterprise, providing a completely different perspective than that of someone who has been running the company for some time or someone looking to start a new venture.

A business consultant will then analyze this gathered information in order to provide solid solutions and plans for the future. Often business ownership is so focused on working “in” the business that short term and long term outlooks and strategies are overlooked and neglected. The consultant re-focuses a company’s strategies in order to solve immediate problems, while taking advantage of future opportunities. Steps taken in a good consulting process include: learn about the business; identify problems; identify future opportunities; perform analysis; provide solutions through a concrete plan; listen to feedback and adjust the plan; and implement and track the plan.

The consultant considers all company input to develop a business plan that will be effective. The consultant listens to the opinions of the company’s advisors (accountants, lawyers, bankers and other advisers). The consultant can use Delphi sessions and red teams which contain industry experts and competitive viewpoints. The consultant also listens carefully to the view points of the company’s ownership, founders, board, top management and key employees. A final business plan is agreed upon and signed off on by the company with the consultant helping to implement, track and re-work the plan as necessary over time.

When an entrepreneur is thinking about starting up a new business, a business consultant can apply a start-up analysis to determine if it is a feasible opportunity, which includes: analyze and evaluate the opportunity; develop a business strategy and model; resource audit; acquiring and leveraging needed resources; venture deployment; and getting and distributing value.

When considering an existing business acquisition, a business consultant can employ an business analysis, such as: products and services analysis; management team appraisal; operational analysis; market position; competitive factors; SWOT analysis; analyze financials; valuations; and risk assessment.

A business consultant’s derived value pays for itself. What you pay in fees for a good consultant will pale in comparison to the profitability the consultant’s strategies will create. A business consultant is an investment in the future success of your company.