planningBusiness consulting is about knowledge. Firms employ business consultants because they can provide advice, and guidance, that they would not otherwise be able to find, within their own organization. As a result, with this profession, the pressure is always on. It can be a highly lucrative career field as most successful business consultants are well rewarded for their hard word. In order to be successful you need to be willing to spend a lot of time learning about all aspects of business, and how different industries work. You might think it would be difficult to start out, but it really isn’t. This comprehensive course teaches you have to effectively become a consultant in only five steps!

Understand Your Limitations

The first step in becoming a successful business consultant is to understand that you cannot possibly know every aspect of the business you are advising. You are not there to provide every single detail of how your client should run their business, but more to provide guidelines how to make their business more successful.

Examine Your Skills

As a consultant you are selling only one thing, yourself, people are going to hire you because they like you, and trust that you are going to help them. Look at the areas that you have the most knowledge, and experience in. You do not need to know every detail of any particular area, but you need to understand how business works, in the areas that you are consulting on. This means focusing on the things that you do best, in order to use those skills to help someone else.

Get Relevant Education

Business consulting is spit into a myriad of different specializations. Most companies will be looking for someone to advise them, that has the relevant qualifications. Once you have decided what particular niche you want to focus on, you need to find out what kind of education you require. In most cases having a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters in Business, is a good starting place. If you are looking to provide consulting in an area that requires technical knowledge, such as accounting, you will need to get the relevant professional qualification as well.

Learn to Sell Yourself

You are asking someone else to put their business in your hands that means that you have to develop a mutual feeling of trust. In order to do that you have to understand your clients needs, and be able to offer them some value. If you have worked in a particular industry for many years, and as a result received some specialized training, then you need to sell this to your client. Be prepared, when meeting with any potential client, to point out what benefits you can bring to them, and quantitative examples of how you have helped other clients in the past. This can be examples from before you were working as a consultant, but where you helped the company that you worked for to achieve certain goals. It really is all about how you brand yourself. To learn more about selling your skills, check out this online course on branding yourself and your business.

Spend Time in Your Chosen Industry

In most cases, people want to see concrete experience in the area that they need advice in, before they will employ your services. A good rule of thumb is that in order to classify yourself as an expert, in a particular area, you need to have worked in a relevant role, for at least 10,000 hours. This is approximately five years of full time experience in that field. The more real life experience that you can bring to the table, the more valuable your services will be to the client.

Understand Why

Knowing why you want to be a business consultant will help you to focus your efforts in the right way. Think about your own definition of success, and how you can bring that to your client. By knowing what you are trying to achieve, you will be able to help your client much more effectively. It will also help you to stay focused when you encounter obstacles from your client, such as if they are not willing to follow your advice.

Create a Business and Marketing Plan

Having an effective business and marketing plan are essential. Think about elements that will also be important to the clients you are trying to help. What is your mission and vision? How are you going to price your product? Where is your profit? You also need to consider the type of resources you will need to achieve this. Business consulting is a crowded marketplace so you need to be able to stand out from the crowd. Create a cost effective marketing plan that plays to your strengths and shows the kind of value that you can bring to your clients. Of course, there are essentials that every consultant should understand. This straightforward guide shows you the 10 things every consultant should know.

Learn How to Coach People

A lot of the job of a consultant is encouraging them to do things that are difficult. This can be anything from them having to make cuts in staff, to going out, and marketing directly to their customers. Your job, as a consultant, is to offer expertise, and more importantly, to persuade them to do the things that they need to do in order to improve their business.

Decide How You Want to Consult

There are two main ways of providing consulting advice. One way is to be an advisor to the owner or management of a business, the other is when you are providing a specific service such as tax, or legal advice. Knowing which kind of service you want to provide, will help you when pricing your services. Make sure that you have the right kind of resources, to help your clients effectively. You are running your own business, as well as helping your client to run theirs, so be prepared to hire the right amount of staff to support you.businessman hand writing consulting

Think About Your Needs

In order to continue to be effective, you need to be constantly working on your own personal development. It is easy to become complacent in your own skills set and think that your advice will continue to work. The business environment is constantly changing, so it is essential, that you keep on top of the latest developments. Make sure you schedule time every few months, to take a course on something that is relevant to your particular specialty. The more up to date you are, the more you can charge for your services.

Know You Cannot Always Win

As a consultant you try to improve your clients business, but sometimes clients are not going to make the right choices in order to improve their business. Your job is to guide them on the best course of action. Realizing that they are not always going to make the right choice is a part of your job, and you need to understand that being able to persuade them to, at least partially, follow your guidance is also a success. You need to decide for yourself exactly what you consider a successful ‘client engagement’ actually is. Many times, as a consultant you end up being the unsung hero when your efforts result in the clients business improving.

Learn From Others

Every aspect of consulting has people that have been there, and done that. There is no need for you to discover everything fresh. Look at other people who have already successfully built their consultancy business. Look at the way that they market their business, and how they work with their clients. It is essential that you develop your own style, so consider whether the methodologies of your peers will work effectively for you.

Think About Your Marketing

Your main product is yourself, so you need to consider the best way to sell your services. Even though you have created an effective marketing plan, you still need to monitor whether you are making the most out of your brand. Part of being a consultant is to be able to be critical about yourself, as well as your clients. By critically analyzing your own performance, you will quickly discover new ways to help your clients. You will have to also create a compelling name that attracts customers. You can get a few business name ideas through this post.

Being a business consultant is a great job. It is a lot of work, and you will find that you are constantly learning, as every client is different, and has individual needs. The learning part of the job is what can really make it rewarding, because you are constantly adapting to new and different situations. Your job is to discover exactly what their needs are, and the best way to focus your skills to help them. It can be a frustrating job at times, but when you complete a project that completely changes someone’s life, you will truly understand what an amazing job it can be.

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Introduction to Consulting

Last Updated December 2023

  • 4 total hours
  • 84 lectures
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Want to become a consultant? Designed by an experienced industry professional who is also an award winning professor | By David Firth

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