A business consultant is an expert who can advise a company’s decision makers. Their role is to analyse a business and identify ways it can be improved. They will then offer those suggestions to the business owner.
These consultants are not generally brought on as employees of the business but rather as a consultant with an outside perspective.
There are many different types of business consultant. Some work on specific areas of a company and others offer more generic advice.
The most common types of consultant are as follows:
- Strategy & Management Consultants – Experts who take a wider view of the companies they work with. They look at the overall picture of how a business is run and whether business strategy is correct. Their insights will be towards the growing and developing the business. Often over the longer term.
- HR Consultants – Consultants with a focus on a firm’s HR can be invaluable. They will offer insights into everything to do with a business’s personnel and staffing. That might include suggestions about hiring and firing. It may also cover areas like pay and benefits for different staff members.
- Sales & Marketing Consultants – These experts take a narrower view. They focus on the two connected departments of sales and marketing. They may suggest a new campaign for a firm to adopt or one they should scrap. They might also pinpoint weaknesses with sales techniques. Or even problems with a firm’s current sales staff.
- IT Consultants – Many business owners have something of a blind spot when it comes to IT. Consultants specific to this area help to ease the issues this may cause. They can assess a company’s IT infrastructure and help improve it.
- Operations Consultants – Operations consultants look at a company’s day-to-day processes. Their aims are generally to increase productivity and/or efficiency. This then helps a business to improve their margins and cut costs. These improvements may come through the tweaking of a production line or a change of suppliers.
Your first step when looking for a business consultant, is to decide which of the above best suits you.
It’s essential to check that the advisor suits your particular circumstances. Ideally, you want a consultant who:
- understands your industry
- has worked with businesses your size
- has experience of the particular issues you want to deal with
- holds the necessary qualifications
- is a member of an appropriate professional body or trade association
Once you have collected information about potential advisors, you can draw up a shortlist based on these criteria. You can then ask the candidates to an initial meeting.
Businesses often use consultants when something changes:
- you decide to start exporting
- to upgrade your IT systems
- or to sell the business
Using a consultant is often helpful when you have a temporary requirement for expertise. If you need skills and support longer term, investing in recruiting or training suitable employees may be more cost-effective.
A good consultant must be able to understand your overall vision for your business. They should also be able to help you build plans that can organise short-term business operations in such a way as to work towards that long-term goal.
We recommend sourcing a local consultant for the best results.
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