Also referred to as management consulting, business consulting is a big business that generates enormous sums of money with millions of these firms around the globe. For companies needing assistance, employing the right business consultant can offer huge returns on investment.
Who Is A Business Consultant?
A business consultant is an expert who assists entrepreneurs achieve their goals by streamlining operations in a particular area of business, whether in finance, marketing, recruitment, operations, security, IT, engineering, or supply chain management.
What Are The Roles Of A Business Consultant?
A business consultant mainly collaborates with management to improve business operations. Some of their roles include:
- Implement organizational changes, including streamlining work processes, hiring or firing staff, or introducing new technology.
- Give an objective opinion on processes.
- Offer guidance on problem-solving or expertise to difficult-to-fill positions in technology.
- Developing business plans, financial statements, and forecasting for the future.
- Audit preparation
- Boosting employee morale
- Improve customer care services
- Improving organizational efficiency.
- Oversee and track outcomes.
How Much Do Business Consultants Make?
Business consultant paychecks vary depending on academic qualifications, work experience, consulting area, industry, and employer. On average, business consultants earn between $50,000 to $140,000 per year. Consulting is experiencing impressive growth, with many new positions opening up. Still, some workers shift in their career paths and change jobs while others retire, creating opportunities in the industry. Many experienced consultants make a six-figure salary by charging either by project, hourly, or a monthly retainer fee.
Critical Skills For A Business Consultant
A business consultant needs to be an effective communicator due to the nature of the job, which involves close interaction with their clients. You must clearly express your ideas to your client, identify their pain points, and determine the best action to take. Some of the complexities entrepreneurs experience in running their businesses that may need the intervention of a consultant include:
- Workflow challenges
- Disruptive trends
- Public relations
- Financial challenges
- Dwindling sales
- Legal challenges
- Production inefficiencies
Regardless of the industry, there are vital tasks that a consultant must excel in, and they include:
- Ability to collaborate with stakeholders
- Ability to quickly grasp concepts to learn existing organizational processes or systems.
- Identify and diagnose issues.
- Pick and interpret data.
- Effective communication with multiple stakeholders.
Furthermore, it would help if you had an in-depth knowledge of the industry you’re working in, creative thinking skills, and the ability to solve arising business-related problems. A firm grasp of analytical and problem-solving skills will allow you to make sound suggestions and recommendations to help your client’s business remain competitive.
Other abilities to help you excel in business consultancy include:
- Excellent written and verbal skills
- Organizational skills
Pointers On Becoming A Business Consultant
1. Determine Your Area Of Specialization
Business consulting needs one to have extensive knowledge that will help in problem-solving, data analysis, research, project management, and strategy implementation. To gain the relevant academic qualifications, you must determine the kind of consulting you intend to offer. Select a specialty that aligns with your interests, skills, and personality type. If you’re an extrovert, you may enjoy specializing in marketing, human resource, or sales. But, if you prefer working independently, you may consider finance, IT consulting, or data analysis.
Types Of Consultants
Business consultancy is broad, allowing you to choose which area you would like to specialize in. Here are examples of the market’s different types and most common options today.
A management consultant collaborates with leadership to address arising issues by collecting information and finding appropriate solutions. Their responsibilities include offering growth advice, strategy development, and data collection for analysis. To thrive in this role, you must make PowerPoint presentations, pitch clients with practical ideas, and chair meetings.
An accounting consultant needs extensive experience working in high-performing accounting departments of established organizations. They help analyze the books of accounts and advise leadership on sound financial decisions. They examine financial statements and offer practical solutions for leadership teams to adopt and implement.
A consultant in this sector helps streamline sales processes by identifying ways of improving performance, introducing new technology, and training sales teams. They also develop well-researched strategies that help increase sales and generate more revenue for the company.
Legal consultancy requires the services of a lawyer or legal professional to advise the organization on legal matters. These specialists use their legal expertise to support a customer’s legal compliance, risk mitigation, and profitability. Apart from offering advice, this expert is also responsible for drafting contracts, negotiating deals, and creating legal documents for the company.
A marketing consultant is mainly responsible for conducting in-depth research and using their findings to develop an effective marketing plan. They work alongside a client’s marketing team to create and incorporate effective marketing tactics into their operating processes. They also devise ways of developing product visibility in the market by targeting potential clients.
An entrepreneurial consultant must demonstrate business understanding and have a proven record of optimizing company strategies. These consultants help prepare pitch strategies, generate new business, design business plans, and implement processes that help revive collapsing industries.
A tech or IT consultant helps organizations adopt and install technology to improve operations and performance efficiency. They analyze a client’s workflow and suggest appropriate software systems to help the company reach its objectives. They also analyze existing software and propose improvements to support information security, onboarding processes, and business operations.
Public Relations Consultant
A PR consultant improves communication between an organization and the general public. The ideal candidate must possess excellent communication skills as they must draft press releases on behalf of the organization, write and edit communication collateral and use their expertise to guard the company’s public image.
Operations consultants help businesses in organizing and improve business operations. Their duties will depend on the specialty and the job description.
HR consultants help organize everything about employees and their welfare, including hiring or firing, talent development, terms of employment, and retirement.
2. Set Goals
Setting goals helps you focus on what you’re working towards. Whether you’re targeting a high-ranking consultancy job or thinking of starting your own, it is possible to start small. Do you intend to hire employees someday? Answering these critical questions will help you to strategize and forge the way forward.
Once you’ve identified your goals, make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based (SMART).
3. Acquire Relevant Academic Qualifications
Once you’re clear about which area of specialization you want to focus on, it becomes easier to plan toward achieving that goal. A bachelor’s degree in business management, accounting, public relations, law, finance, marketing, economics, or any relevant area presents the first step to becoming a business consultant. Degrees in engineering, social sciences, or construction are excellent options, especially if a student plans to offer consultancy in an area they major in.
If you’re a graduate, you may further your academic qualifications by joining an accredited college that offers certificate programs or master’s degree programs in business management. Online training platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or HubSpot Academy allow you to take short online courses related to your area of specialization.
Although an MBA program isn’t a requirement, completing the program can open better and higher-paying job opportunities in consulting firms. Higher education will broaden your knowledge and speed up career advancement if you intend to start your own consulting business or apply for jobs with more significant responsibilities.
It is critical to select a degree program that will help you learn core concepts in consulting that include:
- Project management
- Public speaking
4. Get Accreditation
Earning certification from an industry association is one fundamental way of demonstrating your expertise in business consulting. Depending on the place you reside in, there are many professional certifications that you can acquire to become an authority in your industry. Some of these include:
- Institute of Financial Consultants,
- Institute of Certified Business Consultants,
- Institute of Project Management,
- Certified Management Consultant Certificate.
- Project Management Professional
5. Be Well-Versed In Tools And Technology
Most companies utilize technology and modern software applications for their work processes, including planning, customer relations, and collaborative or marketing software. Plenty of online tutorials can help you perfect your skills and learn how to leverage these tools.
6. Get Relevant Experience
Most companies prefer working with experienced business consultants who have been tried and tested. Work-related experience makes it easier to gauge your capabilities because you have a proven track record that customers can trust. If you’re fresh from college and have no work experience, look for internship opportunities in accounting, management, or business, in exchange for recommendations and a chance to sharpen your skills. If you’re employed but not practicing, volunteer to take on additional projects that align with your area of specialization.
7. Refine Your Presentation Skills
Regardless of the kind of business consultancy you want to practice, you’ll likely need to polish your presentation skills. Practice speaking during family gatherings to help you improve your presentation skills. Watching helpful video clips or using PowerPoint or Google Slides to prepare your presentations can help you learn how to engage with your audience.
Networking with like-minded professionals in your area of specialization can help you to land clients and seal lucrative deals. Whether you’re looking for consultancy job opportunities or intend to offer services independently, you must have a strategy for building professional relationships. Your network is more than a source of potential clients since many consultancy firms ask for referrals from your networks, which include partners, mentors, and colleagues.
Purpose to attend workshops, conferences, or seminars to help you connect with experts in your field. You’ll not only get mentorship opportunities in such meetings but also an opportunity to get direct contacts. Successful people are extremely busy, so they may not have time for interactions. However, getting their contact allows you to call them later to schedule a meeting.
Accessing industry-related social media groups on LinkedIn or Facebook will help you connect with like-minded individuals with whom you can share experiences and learn from each other. Joining business groupings in your area can present an excellent place to interact with management and consultant professionals.
One good thing about networking and interacting with like-minded professionals is that it gives you an excellent opportunity to become an authority in your industry. You could start by building an online presence for your consultancy services by participating in virtual discussions and sharing invaluable resources. You could also create a blog where you share tips or be an active LinkedIn member.
9. Decide Where You’ll Operate From
As you prepare to launch your consultancy startup, you need to decide where you’ll operate. If you’re planning on becoming a full-time consultant, you may need an office. But before you start looking for strategic locations, you must first ensure that you’ll be able to raise the rent and know your reasons for renting-Will you meet with clients, or do you intend to hire a helping hand?
Once you decide that having an office will enhance your business, decide on the kind of space best suited for your needs. Since you’re starting, opt for cheaper options like shared co-working spaces that are more affordable than traditional office spaces.
The typical work environment of a business consultant is usually divided between time spent in the office and time spent with clients at their premises. A business consultancy also involves much travel, especially if the client lives in a different state or country. You can also minimize overheads by traveling to customers and providing on-site services or meeting them virtually.
10. Setting Your Rates
One of the most complex parts of starting a consultancy is determining how much to charge clients. You could charge less because you have no tangible track record. To solve this dilemma, research what your competition charges and get an idea of what to charge.
To make it easier and give your clients a more flexible payment system, consider creating different packages and payment options to let them choose how they prefer making their payments. Set up an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or one-time payment system with different payment options, such as cash or credit card options. You can also set fees by project or use data from previous interactions with a client to make improvements.
Once you’ve developed a charging system, consider how you will bill your clients and accept payment. Some apps can help you organize the process of automating billing cycles, tracking invoices, making payments, and creating weekly, monthly or quarterly financial reports.
11. Market Yourself
A website for your brand is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Many consumers use websites to find local businesses. With a business website, Google gives your business more authority in local rankings. A professional website with domain authority, backlinks, and views will encourage Google to display your website in relevant online searches.
There are other cost-effective ways that you can market your consultancy business. Leveraging social media to inform your friends about your new startup can help you land your first few clients. Boosting your ads can help you reach a wider audience with a minimal marketing budget.
Decide what sets you apart from the competition. You may offer additional value, affordable options, a unique experience, customized services, or a different experience that will help you stand out from your competition.
Example of a business consultant job description
If you’re grooming yourself to join the consultancy job market, you may come across a job description which may look something like this:
We are looking for an experienced business consultant to join our marketing team. This expert will collaborate with our marketing team to identify workflow and production challenges and develop solutions to improve sales. They must have a degree in business, marketing, sales, finance, or any other relevant field and be certified by an accredited institution. The candidate must have a five-year proven track record in a similar position. Must possess vast experience in online marketing, print advertising, sales, financial management, public relations, and project management. Experience working in a manufacturing firm is an added advantage but not a requirement.
12. Get Insurance
Even the most skilled experts make mistakes, and sometimes things get out of control. Therefore, a business consultancy insurance cover can shield you from any eventualities. Having the right cover means that your business is protected from the beginning if something is to go wrong. Depending on your needs, you can get public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, or employee liability insurance.
Offering consultancy services is an exciting way of growing your career. You can map out a rewarding consultancy career by focusing on critical skills and building robust relationships with the right clients. Suppose your business struggles with financial planning, human resource, operations, business strategizing, or compliance and regulations. In that case, it is a good idea to seek out the services of a certified business consultant to offer professional assistance. The problem could also be unexplained losses, declining profits, or a demotivated workforce. Whatever the case, a business consultant may be the remedy you need to revive your struggling business.