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Tired of Doing the Same Boring Thing, Become a Business Consultant

Every day, small businesses and companies grapple with all sorts of problems. Business owners and executives sometimes have no clue as to how to handle these challenges which make their jobs more difficult, or cost the businesses to lose money.

These people need help.

And if you’re the type of person who can help these companies come up with solutions to their problems, you can have a successful career as a business consultant.

I’ve enjoyed the life of a business consultant for the last 8 years, and I can tell you that businesses of all sizes, and in all industries respect business consultants, and rely on them a great deal to help their businesses succeed.

What exact types of problems do business consultants help clients solve?

Any type of business problem:

  • Reputation Management
  • Increasing sales
  • Improving productivity and performance
  • Improving communication
  • Team building
  • Improving operational efficiency
  • Financial Audits
  • Risk Assessment
  • Insurance
  • And the list goes on and on

I know consultants who specialize in working with businesses in particular industries like manufacturing, health care, or waste management. There are other consultants who work with clients in a variety of industries, but concentrate on specific business functions, such as marketing, human resources, or information technology. and then there are those who specialize in certain industries and functions.

In my own case, I currently work as a high performance coach and marketing consultant focusing on Africa. With many western companies expanding to Africa, I get to help them reduce turnover and maximize performance through the implementation of high performance leadership and marketing principles.

There are many consultants who go on to work for large consulting firms; but there is huge opportunity for those who want to have their own business or work as freelance consultants.

If you have a decent amount of knowledge in your area of expertise, you can become a consultant helping businesses solve their problems, and earning a decent living for yourself.

And you can do all of this without any large start-up costs. In fact, you probably already have all that you need – a computer and phone – and much of your business is likely to come through low-cost marketing such as networking. This is what I do.

You can also start on a part-time basis, while keeping your current job as your primary source of income. Then as the demand for your services grows, you can commit to consulting fulltime if you so desire.

While many consultants do have Master’s degree, it is not a prerequisite. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need a degree to become a consultant. There are many independent consultants who don’t have degrees.

But they have education. And there’s a difference.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 28% of consultants do not have a degree of any kind. When I first started consulting, I did not even have a bachelor’s degree.

Those who succeed in this field of independent consulting are the ones who are constantly learning and improving themselves so they are able to serve their clients better.

The bottom line here is, if you have the ability to solve a business problem, and are confident enough to sell your services to senior management, you will get projects.

If you want to know if consulting is the career for you, here are some questions you need to be asking yourself:

  • Do people frequently ask for your advice?
  • Do you enjoy finding solutions to problems?
  • Are you a critical thinker?
  • Do you know a variety of problem-solving techniques?
  • Do you enjoy doing research?
  • Do you have a good vocabulary?
  • Do you avoid using jargon or technical terms that others may not understand?
  • Do people consider you to be a good listener?
  • Do you understand non-verbal communication such as body language?
  • Do you have excellent written communication skills?
  • Are you comfortable speaking in front of a group?
  • Do you have project management experience?
  • Can you see the big picture and break it down into manageable components?
  • Are you well-organized?
  • Do you meet deadlines?
  • Do you have experience leading teams?
  • Are you ethical in all your business practices?

The need for business consultants continues to grow especially as economies become though globally. There’s no better time to position yourself as an expert consultant in your field.

Services Offered By Business Consultancy Firms

Every businessperson must make new strategies to run business processes smoothly. They hire business consultants, as that perspective outside the box can be useful. Many businesses today hire companies providing services like small business management consulting to improve internal management and operations.

As not all entrepreneurs have the needed educational background to know exactly how the business runs, advice from an experienced and knowledgeable party expert can be useful. If you look at websites offering consulting services, you can find many professionals who can help with specific aspects of your business.

If you are a small business proprietor, hiring the services of a third party may pose a challenge. You may not have enough funds to spend for outside help. This applies even more if you are just getting started with your business. It is a good thing there are business consultancy firms that focus on small businesses. With their expertise and guidance, you can save a good amount of funds and be sure you get specialized counsel.

What kind of Business Consultant Should You Get?

Before getting a company offering small business management consulting, think about the tenure of the company. This can reflect how long they have been practicing their expertise. Most consultants have degrees from prestigious business schools. Some may even be business executives themselves. If you want to make sure about your consultant’s expertise, find one with a consulting company.

Another factor you should think about when looking for a business consulting company is experience. While it is true a degree from a top business school may be impressive, nothing beats firsthand experience. Some successful business executives and entrepreneurs provide consultation on the side.

Business consultancy firms may have a specialized niche of business scale or industry. Some business strategies may work well in defined industries for companies with a certain size. If it is possible, look for a consultant with expertise of at least experience handling a business with the same model as yours.

Look at your consultants’ record of accomplishment. See if their business consulting services were effective in the past. Look for an advisor or consultant with a high success rate. This might be the only thing you need for your business to take off.

One thing you should look into is the kind of field your consultant is in. There are those who are efficient in organizing systems and improving employee productivity while other consultants are better off proposing ideas for expansion and other ways of implementation. Hire a consultant who specializes on the aspect in your business you need improvement on.

Consultants will still refer to other companies. Though this may give a general viewpoint and help you understand your business, there might be cases where there is conflict of interest. They may not be as focused to your case as they are with other clients. Make sure you get a loyal consultant.

Small business management consulting does not reduce the risk of launching your own business. They also do not help eliminate your competitors. The best thing they can do is provide noteworthy counsel. In the end, tough business decisions still depend on you.

What Can You Expect From the Business Consulting Process?

Consulting firms are getting popular now. Top dollars are being paid to these firms to come up with business recommendations and suggestions to prop up and improve the business management styles and decision-making processes. The role of the business consulting firm varies depending on the real needs and requirements of the company. But there’s one link that connects all these services and this link is common to all providers of these services- all these providers will get to know and understand the business.

Though there’s market for this kind of business and a number of businesses that tap the services of the professionals, still there are some people and businesses that don’t get the process and principle behind business consulting for best business practices. Getting confused with the services of a consulting firm is understandable but if you are in the business sector whether as a business owner or as a manager, it’s best to be aware of what business consulting is and the typical process that gets into the picture. The common understanding is that a consulting firm will take a look at the business and from there recommendations are forwarded. Though this is true, still it should be kept in mind that there are four more major steps that come in between these two. Here’s one look at consulting using a six-step process.

Step one is learning about the business. This is a given and a must for consulting. The consultant should have a good understanding of the business, from its operations to needs before recommendations can be drafted. Different consulting firms will have different approaches in doing this step. One approach is to take survey the business and interview key people in the organization. A survey will involve a tour of the office or plant to learn about the business. Interviews will be given as well to understand the products or services and to learn about management styles and the decision-making process.

Step two is to find the problems of the business. The problems that will be listed are not just the ones that are seen and observed by the business owners or employees rather the consultant will also find these problems from the consultant’s perspective.

Step three is the identification of opportunities. The principle behind consulting is that for every identified problem, there’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped. These opportunities should be discovered not just by the consultant but by the business owner as well.

Step four in business consulting is analysis. This step calls for the consulting company to analyze and study. This is the part where the problems and opportunities will be reviewed, and a listing will be made stating the problems and opportunities that will be prioritized. Future problems will be identified a well by the consultant. The analysis that can be provided by the consultant will also result to delivery of conclusions and these are all based on verifiable facts and figures.

Step five is the provision of solutions based on the problems and the facts provided. A good business consultant should offer a game plan to the business owner or managers that they can follow. The recommendations that can be made by the consultant will definitely help the company change the business management direction or improve on it.

Step six is the receipt of the feedback and adjusting the plan or strategies if necessary. Right after the submission of recommendations and conclusions to the business, the next step considered by many consultants is to let the business grow and see from a distance while the company makes use of the designed plan. By observation, the consultant should note some changes or issues that may have crop up along the way. This is also the time when the business owner or manager will also offer some feed back about the plan. Based on the feedback provided, the business consultant can do the necessary adjustment to improve or change the game plan.

Different consulting firms will have their own ways of undertaking the consulting business, but you can be sure that some of these steps will be reflected in their own approaches as well. At the end of the day, business consulting is about knowing the business and recommending solutions.

Dany Cooper