Financial Services Professional Team
01-Nov-2020 By - team

Is a business consultant what you need?

From small to large businesses, business consultants are hired regularly for various reasons. Business consultants may be hired to manage employee benefits, like healthcare, or they may be hired to simply hire other employees.

One of the biggest money-makers for consulting firms is providing customized training programs and assets to improve employee productivity. Paying for speakers to come and rally up your employees is an entire industry of its own.

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This is because many great businessmen and women know their respective niches and market, they know what needs to be done, but they don’t always know how to sell that vision to their employees. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes from a 3rd party can pinpoint the disconnect between a CEO’s vision and what’s really happening on the ground.

Businesses also hire consultants to manage finances, employee safety, advertising and promotions.

What is a business consultant?

A business consultant is simply a contractor who advises your business, contributing knowledge, skills and experience without becoming a full-time employee.

For example, a contractor might be brought on board to solve a specific problem, implement the expansion, set up procedures or help establish a sales and marketing strategy.

Some consultants might work for your business for just a few hours. Others, such as financial or IT consultants, may continue assisting business for many years.

Five categories of consultants

Strategy and Management Consultants

These firms or individuals will have a deep understanding of your specific market and know best practices of your industry. They can offer help in enlarging your market footprint, expand your product offerings, help you reorganize for efficiency and cost savings, increase your company’s capabilities or help you make a large equipment purchase or even buyout another company.

Operations Consultants

These companies focus on increasing your process quality and efficiencies. You might use them when you are looking to map out existing processes, analyze them and get suggestions/advice to improve quality, reduce steps or mistakes and increase margins and decrease costs.

IT Consultants

Probably the biggest growth area in consulting right now. With the rapid pace of technology and tech support needed, most companies have hired a consultant at some point to help integrate and improve their computer or phone systems or storage space, upgrade servers, etc.

Human Resources Consultants

These businesses are used to work specifically on employee needs. You might use them to recruit top talent, improve employee retention and determine compensation to align with your company goals. You might use them for leadership and communication development.

Sales & Marketing Consultants

Firms in this area are used to create marketing plans, work on positioning statements, develop a brand, launch advertising campaigns, establish social media strategies, initiate sales process and improvement, or design sales training and coaching.

Why would you ever hire a consultant?

Expertise

You might not have the internal resources or skill set within your company to tackle your project, goal or what you want to accomplish. Using a consultant or power player within your industry might pay big rewards.

Seasoned change agent

Navigating office politics and taking the blame for reducing headcount or other cost-cutting measures, consultants are change agent experts. They can act as that outside voice to break up the roadblocks and make things happen.

Process improvement

Your consultant will be an expert or even a leading expert in their field and have years of experience in what you are attempting to solve for the first time. Why try to invent a best practice when a consultant has probably already implemented it multiple times?

Idea generator

A consultant can bring a fresh perspective to your business that you might not have. They can see the bigger picture of the market and where your company fits into it by being an outsider. The insights they have can boost your internal team to new ways of thinking and approaching problems.

Trainer

By the nature of the job a consultant does, they are natural trainers. Their job is to share their knowledge, insight, and experience. They would be a good choice to do a training course, presentation or do one-on-one or team coaching.

Consultants are a good resource, but one of the biggest drawbacks can be making sure the use of one results in actionable, observable outcomes that you can clearly see the impact in your profits and bottom line.

Too many times a consultant might give you a strategy and blueprint on how to make it happen, but there is no follow through on making sure it’s implemented, followed and that results are tracked. This isn’t necessarily the consultant’s fault. They may have been hired only to do the setup and certain tasks. Consulting can also be very expensive and take a long time. Large companies can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and have nothing to show for it after nearly a year.

How do you know when to hire a business consultant?

Hiring a business consultant means committing to a large investment of time and money.

If you hire at the right time, though, your investment can return significant benefits for your company’s revenue, reputation, and long-term growth.

As such, understanding when it’s a good time to hire a consultant is essential. Consider the following needs as indications that your team should hire a consultant.

Lack of in-house resources

Looking to launch a Facebook marketing campaign but have no idea how? That’s a good reason to hire a contractor or consultant to teach you the ropes and get you set up properly.

Expert Insight

When you’re making major decisions that will affect the future of your company, such as changing from a C corporation to an S corporation, a professional CPA can give you some valuable advice.

Having a specialist who understands the nuances of a decision such as bringing on an investor or improving performance on a project can save you from improperly focusing your money and time, and can help you avoid failure.

Maintaining effective business processes and operations is crucial for maintaining your company’s success or failure.

Often, businesses lack the time or ability to examine their core operations critically and need an objective party to diagnose the health of their processes.

For example, think about your sales outreach campaigns: When was the last time you actually read every word of what’s contained in your outreach to prospective clients? Do you know where you tend to put your call to action? Do you know what it even looks like?

Many times, even sales and marketing people involved in creating and sending those messages to do not. This isn’t because they are incompetent or lack motivation, it’s because it’s what they do all day. Instead, they may be lost in the weeds of their own processes and either lack the time or the ability to reflect on the process they are responsible for critically.

Hiring a consultant can optimize and develop your core processes, which gives your business an objective set of eyes that can help your company operate more efficiently.

How do you measure the ROI of a business consultant?

Measuring the ROI of a business consultant poses a challenge since they often help in several areas, many of which are measured in long-term growth.

The Predictive Index Consultant Report found that more than one-fourth (27%) of companies choose not to hire consultants because the ROI is too difficult to measure.

To help you gauge the benefits of hiring a business consultant, approach the relationship with a few actions in mind:

  • Set specific, measurable goals at the outset of your relationship
  • Look for ways to measure the intangible benefits of their work.

Use your scope of work with your consultant to determine how to measure their success. For example, if you hired a consultant to help with your business communications, use metrics such as:

  • Click rate
  • Open rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Unsubscribes
  • Response rate
  • Leads & conversions

To measure intangible benefits, think about the difference in your team’s confidence before and after your partnership. Run an internal survey or reference feedback that led to you to hire a consultant in the first place with feedback that you receive during and after your partnership.

You Should Hire a Small Business Consultant if…

You Lack a Solid Marketing Strategy

A lot of marketing problems and frustrations come back to strategy.

If you don’t really know who your ideal client is, why they buy from you, and what separates your company from the competition, then your marketing will not be as effective as it could be.

You need a real and effective marketing strategy to build momentum.

A great small business marketing consultant will spend enough time building a marketing strategy FIRST and then implement tactics to execute on that strategy.

Remember, strategy always comes before tactics.accountant bookkeeping people

You Don’t Have Enough Time for Marketing

If you want to grow your business, then you must focus on marketing. You will not create sustainable growth without marketing your business consistently. There is no way around it!

But, what if you don’t have enough time for marketing?

Not having enough time for marketing really isn’t a problem, as long as you are willing to do something about it.

Hiring a small business marketing consultant can ensure you have your marketing dialled in and allow you to leverage your time so you can focus on what you are best at and most enjoy.

You Have Resource Gaps

Resource gaps come in many forms: time, people, knowledge, budget, and desire are a few.

There are many small business owners who prefer doing things themselves. Going this route is not easy. You might get things right today and commit mistakes tomorrow.

It’s perfectly fine to seek help from marketing consultants to not only improve what already works but also help you bridge the gaps you may have in your marketing.

Marketing consultants know the toughest small business marketing challenges and how to overcome them. They also know how to use all available marketing tools to leverage time and be more productive.

When you hire a small business marketing consultant, you get a subject matter expert who can help guide your business in the right direction.

You hire an attorney for legal advice, right? Why not treat your marketing the same way? Marketing is changing so quickly; it’s nearly impossible for a small business owner to have the knowledge a marketing consultant will.

You Aren’t Generating Enough Leads

Not generating enough leads is one of the most common challenges small businesses face.

Without enough leads, it is impossible to grow your business and thrive. A small business marketing consultant can help you identify why this is happening, and what needs to change in your business, so you start swimming in leads.

You Aren’t Converting Enough Leads into Sales

Not converting leads into sales can signal a number of different issues: low-quality leads, poor lead conversion/sales process, etc.

A small business marketing consultant can help identify where things are breaking down and what needs to be done to fix them.

A lot of times, businesses don’t need to generate more leads; they simply need to convert more of the leads they already receive!

You Can’t Stay Focused

Most small business owners wear a lot of different hats. They take care of sales, marketing, human resources, and they also have personal lives to come home to at the end of every business day.

Given all these tasks, it’s difficult to focus and give marketing the attention it really deserves.

A small business marketing consultant can put a MARKETING SYSTEM in place to ensure you can focus on other important parts of your business and know your marketing is on the right track.

You Are Struggling to Differentiate Your Business From the Competition

Businesses that struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition often end up competing on price, and this is a losing battle.

A small business marketing consultant can help you implement a solid marketing strategy that will allow you to define your difference clearly and why customers should buy from you.

DO NOT Hire a Small Business Consultant if…

You Think They Are Magicians

If achieving success in marketing were as easy as pulling a rabbit out of a hat, then everyone would be rich. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

Marketing consultants are subject matter experts. For example, they may be an expert in driving traffic to websites, converting leads, or growing a social media following.

Having said that, they don’t really have the power to catapult a business to the top instantly. Experienced consultants don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts may help you see results in the short term, but they will always come back to bite you.

If you think a small business marketing consultant will miraculously turn your business around in weeks, then you should not hire one because you will be very disappointed.

Any marketing consultant you work with should take the time to create a strong marketing strategy FIRST and then apply impeccable tactics to meet your business goals.

 

You’re Not Willing to Invest in Other Parts of Your Business

Investing in a small business marketing consultant will pay dividends for your business, but it may also put strains on other aspects of your business.

As your business grows, you may experience challenges with things like customer service or human resources. If you aren’t willing to invest in addressing the challenges that come up, then you should not hire a small business marketing consultant.

Your business must be able to handle the new volume of leads and the fulfilment requirements of the additional business.

This is a high-class problem, but it’s still a problem you must be committed to solving because breakdowns in other parts of your business will impact the return on investment you see in your marketing.

You’re Not Willing to Commit to Your Marketing

Marketing is not a single event; it is an ongoing process. It’s not something you can do once and reap the benefits for eternity.

Deep down, most of us already know this, but many business owners have unrealistic expectations of their marketing. If you aren’t willing to invest in your marketing long term, I would suggest you spend the money elsewhere.

Your small business is alive and well, providing enough for you and your family. What’s next? The most natural question that will come to your head is how to grow your business to the next level.

However, we should remember that scaling or expansion is not an easy task. Overexpansion is known to be one of the most common (and dangerous) reasons for small business failures. As tempting as the opportunity to scale and expand a business is, when not managed carefully, it is doomed to fail.

Is it the right time to get outside help? As much as you want to control over your business, you should remember that your best interest should be the future and growth of your company.

 

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