What does a consultant do?
There are several reasons business owners should consider hiring a business consultant. Consultants offer a wide range of services, including the following:
- Providing expertise in a specific market
- Identifying problems
- Initiating change
- Providing objectivity
- Reviving an organization
- Creating a new business
The first step for any business consulting service is the discovery phase, where the goal is to learn the client’s business. A good business consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about the business from the owner and employees. This can include touring the facility, meeting with the board of directors and employees, analyzing the finances and reading all company materials. During this process, the business consultant will uncover the details of a company’s mission and what operations are in place.
Once the business consultant has developed an in-depth understanding of the company, they enter the evaluation phase, where the goal is to identify where change is needed. This phase includes identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as current and foreseeable problems. These issues can include problems that ownership and management have already identified, as well as new problems the business consultant discovers as a result of their objectivity. A business consultant should also identify opportunities to grow the business, increase profits and boost efficiency.
In addition to identifying these problems and opportunities, a business consultant should develop solutions to problems and plans for capitalizing on opportunities. Perhaps a company has a particularly strong sales department but a weak marketing department. This is an opportunity for the company to increase marketing resources and capitalize on the sales staff. During this phase, it’s important for the consultant and the company’s employees to maintain open, clear communications.
It’s important for a business owner to take the business consultant’s advice at this stage as constructive criticism. The owner should not take this criticism personally, as the business consultant brings objectivity and a fresh viewpoint. The owner may be personally close to the business, which can be an obstacle to positive change and growth. The owner should have feedback and provide opinions to the business consultant, which the business owner should consider and revise plans as necessary.
Once the owner and the consultant agree on a plan, the consultant should enter the third phase of consulting. This is the restructuring phase, or the implementation of the plan. In this phase, the consultant builds on assets and eliminates liabilities. They also monitor the plan’s progress and adjust it as needed.