Are you struggling to grow your business?
Or maybe you’re not as productive as you’d like and want to be as a business?
Business consultants can help with all of these problems – and many, many more. Essentially, they are advisers who come into a company and help them sort out their problems, whether it’s helping them increase their revenue overall, grow their business or even to deal with specific challenges that they’re facing as a business.
In other words, they can help your business both when you’re doing well and when you’re struggling.
But what types of business consultants are there? When should you hire one? And perhaps most importantly, how do you pick the right business consultant for your needs?
In this ultimate business consulting guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about hiring and working with consultants: from what business consulting is and the different types of consultants to why you would need consultant and how to find the right consultant for your business.
What is business consulting and what does a business consultant do?
A business consultant is a professional who is a hired by a company to help them by coming in, taking a close look at their business and their challenges, so that they can then advise them on how to overcome those challenges, increase their revenue and/or grow their company. In other words, a business consultant is an outside expert that a company hires to help them solve an internal problem.
This however, is just a broad description of what a business consultant does; in actuality, there are numerous different types of business consultants, each specialized in a highly specific area.
It’s also important to understand that business consultants are outside experts and are therefore not your employees; they usually have multiple clients at the same time and are only hired on a project-basis.
In many cases, they work alone but some might bring in an entire team of people to help them identify your company’s problems and, of course, provide solutions.
These are some of the most popular types of business consultants you can hire for your business:
Management consultants are consultants that work with companies in order to increase their profitability and/or their efficiency/productivity. Basically, they take a deep look at your current processes, strategies and operations to figure out the best way to improve your businesses’ output and overall performance.
This is done by identifying and analysing any issues that are hindering your business and developing new plans and strategies that you can then implement for your businesses.
When to hire a management consultant: when you want to improve your overall efficiency as a business, optimize your costs, increase profitability
Marketing and online marketing consultants
Marketing and online marketing consultants are specialized business consultants that can help you develop and improve your marketing strategies. They can figure out what problems your current strategy has, what and where your target audience is, and how to improve the ROI of your marketing campaigns.
When to hire a marketing or online marketing consultants: when you want to increase your profitability, improve your marketing campaigns’ return on investment, when your marketing campaigns are not performing at a good enough level, or when you’re not sure what marketing strategies to use for your business
HR (human resources) consultants
HR consultants focus on a very specific area of your business: your employees. Essentially, they help you understand what types of employees to hire for maximum results, help you generate better performances from your employees and even keeping your employees happy and productive.
When to hire an HR consultant: when you’re starting a business and don’t know who to hire, when you want to hire better-performing employees, when you want to increase the performance of your existing employees and motivate them
PR (public relations) consultant
A PR consultant essentially helps you manage and improve the way you present yourself either to your investors or the general public (i.e. your customers and target audience).
When to hire an PR consultant: when you find it difficult to manage the information that is getting to your target audience and consumers; most notably, getting bad press for different issues
If you want to optimize your spending and cashflow, a financial advisor can make a world of difference; they can help you better, smarter financial decisions for your business so that you can ultimately increase your profitability.
When to hire a finance consultant: when you’re struggling to manage your businesses’ finances and taxes, when you’re spending too much money and not getting enough return, when you have any financial problems and when you’re struggling financially because of the economic climate
When starting and managing a business, you encounter a lot of legal issues – and that’s where legal consultants come into help.
They can help with any legal issue related to employing people, corporate laws, contracts, intellectual property and so on. They can also identify any legal issues within your company, handle any disputes and basically handle most law-related issues that you might face as a business.
When to hire a legal consultant: whenever you have any legal issues or queries, including when starting your company, as well as when you want to prevent any legal issues from happening
How can a business consultant help my business?
As you can see, there are multiple types of business consultants, each with their unique set of skills that can help different areas of your business, from marketing to management and to overall productivity.
Business consultants can help your business:
- Increase profitability: if your business is struggling to make enough money to be profitable or you simply want to increase your profitability but you’re not sure how to do that, then you should look hiring a management consultant
- Grow and scale: another big reason why businesses hire consultants is to help them grow and scale their business
- Become more productive and efficient: consultants can also help increase the productivity of your business as a whole, by looking at your current processes and improving them for better efficiency across the board
- Increase marketing ROI (return on investment): a marketing or digital marketing consultant will evaluate your current marketing strategy and help you put together a better performing strategy that will increase your company’s return on investment
- Find problems: sometimes, it can be difficult as a business to identify what exactly is holding you back from growing; or, it can be that you’re encountering a new problem, such as a decrease in your overall sales, but you’re not sure what the cause and solution are. A business consultant can come in and identify these problems for you, find the source and determine the best solution for solving these issues
When should you call in a business consultant to help your business?
A business can really benefit from working with the right business consultant; in fact, it can completely transform your business, whether you’re in a place of struggle – or even when you’re doing well for yourself but want even better results.
In other words, it’s not just in times of trouble when you should call in a business consultant; if you can afford it and want your business to keep growing then you can still consider hiring one.
However, the most important times when you should call in a business consultant to help is when you have specific issues you want to resolve or better said, specific goals you want to achieve. Here are some of the most common ones:
- When you’re struggling to identify the problems that are keeping your business and success back: if your business isn’t running as it should or you don’t know why your results are decreasing or not growing, that’s a perfect time to call an outsider in to take a (professional) look at your business and identify the issues that are keeping you from achieving the results you want
- When you have any specific issue you can’t resolve yourself: whatever business-related issue you have, whether it’s something to do with marketing your business, to human resources, to finances, and so on, you should bring in a business consultant that has the skills and know-how to help you solve this particular problem
- When you want to scale your business: scaling a business is not as easy as it might seem from the outside; in fact, scaling without a good plan and strategy in place can easily lead to huge problems for your business (it’s not uncommon for a business that scales too quickly and without a good plan, to fail). That’s why it’s a good idea to hire a consultant at this stage, to help you identify the best ways to grow and scale your business
- When you’re struggling with productivity and efficiency: if you’re not generating enough output as a business, then you need to look into it as soon as possible as your return on investment will suffer as a result. If you can’t identify the issues holding you back, it’s best to hire a business consultant that can take a closer look at all of your processes and suggest better solutions that will help you become more productive as a whole
- When you’re lacking confidence, motivation and inspiration: sometimes, your problems as a business owner can be a bit more abstract than having a specific problem (like struggling to make sales, losing money or getting results from your marketing campaign) – it can be a case of not having the inspiration anymore to get your business to grow. A business consultant can help with this by identifying problems and giving you specific solutions that you can use
- When your marketing isn’t getting a good ROI: a business marketing consultant can help you put together better performing marketing plans based on their extensive knowledge and skills – which is especially useful when you don’t have an in-house marketing specialist to develop marketing campaigns
- When you want to enter a new market: if you’re thinking of expanding your business into a new market, it can get very overwhelming, very quick: it’s a different audience, which means your approach should be completely different too. In that case, you should hire a consultant that knows that field and can guide you through this transitional period
In other words, there are 3 big situations when you should call in a specialized business consultant to help your business:
- When you have a specific problem that you don’t know how to solve
- When you’re a having a problem but you don’t know what the root of that problem is or how to solve it
- When you want to improve specific results or grow and scale your business
The benefits of using business consultants for your business
There are numerous benefits to using business consultants for your business, depending a lot on what you want to achieve by working with one; however, here’s an overview of the biggest reasons why you should consider hiring a consultant:
- Because they’re experts in their fields: as an entrepreneur or business owner, you can’t expect yourself to know everything about every aspect of managing and growing a business. There are a lot of important areas of your business, from hiring the right people to developing the right marketing campaigns, that you simply can’t be an expert on. And that’s why you bring in a specialist – they know exactly what they’re doing, they’ve got the experience and the know-how and therefore, can help you get better results, faster
- Because you sometimes need an impartial outsider: a business consultant is not employee so they can come in to your business with a fresh eye and bring in a completely new perspective. Couple that with their knowledge and they’re often better equipped as outsiders to find out what is working and what isn’t working for your business, as well as how to improve it
- Because they can help your business grow and scale: scaling a business is hard work. It’s difficult to figure out how to scale and how to actually do it – but a business consultant can help you identify the best ways
- Because it’s highly effective: a good business consultant can make a world of difference to your business and you don’t have to hire them full-time. Just by coming in for a few months and identifying your problems and providing you with the right solutions, it can help you increase your businesses’ results without having to hire new people
- Because they already have proven processes: an experienced business consultant will have worked with a number of businesses over the years and put together proven processes in place that they can then implement for your business as well. This is something that is very difficult to replicate because it’s simply impossible to have the same experience as a consultant who has worked with enough businesses over the years and therefore, managed to test different processes and find the best solutions
The disadvantages of using business consultants for your business
I wouldn’t say that there are any specific disadvantages to hiring consultants for your business; rather, the disadvantages present themselves when you don’t hire the right consultant.
What does that mean, exactly?
- They’re not that knowledgeable about your specific problem: you need someone with both experience and knowledge
- You’re not clicking well with them: that’s another big problem; you should always hire a consultant that you click well with and that you actually like as a person (not that you need to get to know them that well, but rather, that you should trust your gut instinct when hiring a professional business consultant)
It’s also important to understand that you can’t expect results if you’re not willing to put in the work and implement the changes, strategies and processes that the business consultant recommends you.
This is actually a common problem, whether it’s because you don’t completely trust the consultant or because you’re not ready to implement their suggestions. So, before you actually hire a consultant, make sure you’re ready to get to work transforming your business.
How to find and pick the right business consultant for your needs
Type in “business consultant” and you’ll probably find yourself overwhelmed by the huge amount of choices. So, it’s not really a question of finding business consultants…rather, it’s all about finding the right consultant.
So when you do find a consultant that you’re thinking of working with, here are some tips to help you pick the right person:
- Past experience: who else have they worked with in the past? Where are those businesses now?
- What testimonials and references do they have: this is probably one of the best and easiest ways to vet a potential business consultant. Ask for some testimonials and references to see who they worked with and what they had to say about them
- Their niche: do they have enough experience working in your niche/how knowledgeable are they about your niche? This is particularly important for areas like marketing; for others, such as increasing your business productivity, their niche doesn’t matter as much
Another very important thing you’ll need to consider is how you feel about them personally:
- Do you feel like you can trust them? It’s difficult – practically impossible, in fact! – to start trusting someone when you don’t really know them but at the same time, you need to hire a consultant that you feel like you can trust. Because that’s why you’re hiring them after all – to hear what they have to say. If you don’t trust what they are saying or their suggestions, then there’s no point in working together. So, basically, you need to meet with them, spend a little time talking and getting to know each other on a more personal level so that you can make a decision based on your gut instinct
- Do your personalities work well together? If you’re constantly clashing with them because of your respective personalities, this can have a negative effect on your results as well
- Their communication skills: communication skills are a big part of a good consultant because they need to be able to convey their suggestions and insights in a straightforward manner; not only that, but with some issues, consultants will have to speak to entire departments or even your entire team of people and get them to understand and implement certain strategies – and without great communication skills, that simply won’t work
All of these things can only really be discovered when you actually speak with the consultant directly – whether it’s meeting with them face-to-face or having a conversation with them online. So, before you hire a consultant, make sure you speak with them first so that you can make the right decision.
Working with business consultants can truly transform your business – if, and only if:
- You hire the right person for the job, both in terms of their experience, knowledge and skills
- You trust that person and you’re ready to implement all of the ideas and strategies that they suggest you use
With a good business consultant on your side, you can scale your business, increase your profitability, enter new markets successfully, handle internal issues and PR problems, as well as improve your marketing ROI, just to name a few of the benefits.
In this ultimate guide, we’ve gone through all of the most important aspects of business consulting and hiring the right consultant – hopefully, with this knowledge, you’ll have everything you need to make the right decision for your business and grow it to new heights of success.
Get in touch today and book a free strategy call here. This complimentary call will be an opportunity to gain clarity around your vision and goals, inspire action and reduce any stress you may be experiencing