Whether to hire a business consultant or not is a huge decision almost every business will have to make at one point or another. This decision alone can end up costing a company lots of money. But with the right consultant and execution plan, a business can thrive by improving work productivity or increasing profit, which can outweigh the costs of hiring one in the first place. So what do they do exactly during the “consulting” process of the job? Let’s dig a bit deeper into the business consultant job description, as well as what services he or she can provide for a business.
Why Hire Business Consultants?
Business consultants are brought in by a company to primarily do these three things:
1. To detect problems – Whether there’s a decrease in sales, cash-flow issues, or internal management problems, there are issues within a company that need to be fixed. Sometimes it’s difficult to find these problems and it’s better to hire a professional who can assess everything with a different perspective. A business consultant can come in and detect these problems by conducting tests and doing research.
2. Provide solutions – Detecting the problem is only half the battle. A good consultant will sit down with the owner, and provide an efficient course of action in order to fix the problems. The initial cost to hire a consultant may be high, but in the long run it is saving the company a lot of time and money.
3. Optimization – Some companies do not even realize how inefficient some of their work practices can be. Or they are aware of it, but they don’ t know how to fix it. Hiring a consultant can help provide the company with a fresh outlook on new ideas, evaluate the business as a whole, and determine the best approach towards increasing productivity levels.
Most consultants typically possess a bachelor’s degree in business management or business administration. This can include other business related fields such as marketing, accounting or finance. Obtaining an advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in consulting, maybe improve career possibilities and annual salary. There is also a Certified management Consultant certification that is offered to anyone who passes a series of written and oral exams. This certification lasts for three years and can be renewed.
General Duties Of A Business Consultant:
- Consulting, advising, and creating programs to fill the gaps between actual situations and desired ones
- Developing management and supervisory skills
- Assessing the actual situation
- Improving work performance and organizational communication
- Increasing employee motivation and morale
- Defining the company’s mission, goals and objectives
- Achieving customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
- Coaching, guiding and training employees
- Raising the company’s customer base and market segment
The Consulting Process:
There are generally three steps that a business consultant goes through with a company during his or her tenure. They are:
Pre-consulting – Before any work actually gets done, it’s mandatory that the owner and consultant set out the terms, parameters, and agree on a “consulting agreement”.
Consulting period – This is when the consultant really gets to work. There are 3 stages involved during this period; discovery, research, and a recommendation presentation.
Post-consulting – Both parties may choose to extend the agreement, or move towards implementation on their own.
What Do They Do Exactly?
The first step for any business consultant is to learn their client’s business, which is also called the discovery stage. It’s important that he or she takes the time to learn as much as possible from the owner and employees. This involves meeting with the board of directors, employees, touring the office, reviewing finances, and analyzing other work material. This is the stage when the consultant will reveal any details of a company’s mission and what operations are taking place.
Once an understanding has been developed, the consultant will need to identify where change is needed. This means identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and any foreseeable problems. It’s the consultant’s job also to provide any opportunities to grow business, increase profits and boost worker productivity.
Identifying these problems and solutions is just one of the many tasks that are assigned for a business consultant. The next stage is the research stage. This is when the consultant will provide solutions to problems and plans on capitalizing on opportunities when they are available. For example, say a certain company has a strong marketing department but a weak sales department. This is also when the consultant can step in and request that the company increases sales resources and capitalize on the marketing staff. When these changes occur, it’s important that the consultant and the company’s employees communicate openly to avoid any problems.
The owner of a business must take the advice of the consultant as constructive criticism, and not as criticism to how the owner has been doing so far. Since the owner of the business is tied to the company closely and on a personal level, having a fresh “out of the box” viewpoint from a consultant can be extremely helpful. Alternatively, the owner should also have feedback and opinions for the consultant in regards to revision plans and such.
Once both of them are able to come to an agreement on a course of action, it’s time to implement the plan. The consultant will build on company assets while eliminating any liabilities affecting progress. This last stage, also referred to as the recommendation presentation, is when everything is laid out on the table and the changes start to be implemented.
Business consultants don’t come on the cheap, so it’s the company’s job to do the research necessary and make sure they are hiring the right person for their needs. This means asking for good referrals, reading testimonials, and looking up their past projects.
Does this sound like the right career move for you? Learn to be a consultant today!