A business consultant is an integral part of a small business. Apart from helping to manage SEO efforts, a business consultant also helps with accounting, content production, asset development and expansion of personnel skills. A business consultant is essentially an external expert who can help solve internal business problems. A good consultant is an indispensable resource for a small business because he/she brings skill, knowledge, experience and process to help an entrepreneur achieve business goals and objectives. This is why it is pertinent to find a business consultant who can serve your needs. Finding the right consultant can be a daunting task that requires thorough research and patience. This article is a brief but detailed guideline that will help you narrow down to two viable candidates in order to find the ideal one.
1. Ascertain the priorities you require your consultant to focus on
When creating a scaleable business there are three main areas to prioritize; team, profit and impact. An entrepreneur needs to ascertain which priority you want your business consultant to focus on. For most small businesses, profit is a top priority. In fact a reliable study showed that 61% of entrepreneurships are unprofitable over the course of their existence. A business consultant can either boost profitability by cutting costs or growing revenue; reducing costs is not a reality for a small business since they lack the economies of scale. What does this mean? Simple! A small business needs a business consultant who has skills and the experience to increase client numbers and get every client to spend more money more often.
2. It is important to determine whether your business requires a generalist or specialist as a business consultant
Since you have already established that a small business needs a business consultant who can help generate leads and sales, a small business owner needs to discern wether their business needs a specialist or a generalist. A small entrepreneur requires a generalist as a business consultant when they have no idea what direction to take, what business strategy to implement and also have no business plan in place. Most small business owners fall in this category; a recent study estimates that 98% of small entrepreneurs have no clear business strategy; most of this business people started their business purely on passion and interest.
On the other hand a specialist is necessary when an enterprenuer is more strategic and knows the direction they want their business to take. Such an entrepreneur has a sales plan and a marketing plan in place and knows which traffic source will generate most revenue. Additionally, such an business-owner has the skill, knowledge and experience to proactively oversee and supervise the actions of the business consultant.
If you deem it fit to hire a specialist, choose an expert whose skills and knowledge base aligns with the goals of your business. Contrary to popular opinion, a financial expert is not the ideal choice for a business consultant; some specialists you should consider include
- Branding experts
- Content Marketers
- Digital Advertisers
- Personal Sales experts
- Public Relations professionals
3. Every small business requires a business consultant that is an expert analyst capable of leveraging data to boost sales and improve profitability
A business consultant for a small business aiming at long-term profitability should be an expert analyst. The ideal consultant should be able to measure data and ascertain the weak points that need to be worked on and the strengths that need to be capitalized on. A consultant who can design, analyze and implement a sales plan then measure the outcome is a business’s best short at long-term profitability. Look for an expert who can analyze data and implement it in the daily running of your business.
4. A small business requires a consultant who is an expert in the industry
Ask yourself whether the candidate you are considering has exhaustive experience in your industry “has the candidate been there and done that?”Hiring a business consultant who has not run a business before is a big risk that can have detrimental consequences. When looking for a consultant for your small business, you should consider candidates who have had experience running and developing a business because they have hands on experience that can come in handy. Ask leading questions such as;
- Have you ever actively participated in running a business prior to consulting work?
- What are some challenges you have faced when running a small business and how did you help overcome those challenges?
5. A good business consultant should be a digital marketing expert and must be conversant with social media marketing
Increasing sales and generating leads that can convert to actual sales requires a marketing strategy that has a wide outreach. The internet has become the easiest, most affordable ad productive way for a small business to market itself and remain relevant. A small business needs a consultant who understands digital marketing and is well acquainted with all the digital marketing strategies that can help a small business enhance its brand, attract new customers and build consumer loyalty. A business consultant for a small entrepreneurship should be able to develop a digital marketing campaign that is detailed and has a great chance of converting clicks to sales.
Apart from digital marketing, a good business consultant must also be conversant with social media marketing. Recent statistics estimate that 3billion people have at least one social media account and log in on a daily basis. This means there is a huge market on social media platforms which every business consultant needs to take advantage of.
6. Settle on a business consultant who understands your brand and also understands your clientele base
An excellent business consultant understands the brand of a small business and its clientele base. This means a great consultant should know which marketing techniques are productive considering the existent and targeted customer base. The consultant you end up hiring must understand which section of your customer base responds to traditional marketing, which percentage responds to direct marketing and which category responds to social media marketing. Additionally, you should settle on a business consultant who knows how to enhance your brand presence so that you have an edge over competitors. Some questions you can ask when gauging how much a candidate understands your clientele base and brand include;
- Which customer retaining techniques can increase the chances of transforming a onetime client into a loyal customer?
- Which content format is most valuable when your clientele base is making purchasing decisions?
- Which marketing techniques go against the brand-image your business is trying to maintain?
7. A good business consultant must be resourceful, creative and detail oriented
A consultant for a small business will be required to overcome challenges and solve problems that may even be new to them; sometimes the problem or challenge might even be new to the industry. When faced with these impossible situations, it is only the resourcefulness and creativity of a consultant that can help a small business remain profitable. As a general rule of thumb a great consultant must have an established network of colleagues, experts and other external resources that can help tackle all manner of problems. A resourceful consultant should demonstrate the ability to be creatively and do whatever it takes to overcome challenges.
8. Settle on a business consultant who is a great team manager
A good business manager should be a perfect blend between a visionary leader and team player who can use team effort to overcome challenges and resolve problems. This is because he/she will be an external force that comes up with strategies that need to be implemented by a business’s internal team. A consultant who is a great leader knows to how to organise and motivate a team to implement and execute plans and strategies.
9. Personal attributes such as good communication skills, friendliness, flexibility and hard work are important
These personal attributes will make the business consultant fit seamlessly in a business although he/she may be an outsider. Furthermore, possession of such attributes is an indication that the consultant will be completely committed and dedicated to making your small business more successful and more profitable. These attributes build an unimpeachable character that adds up to a consummate professional who is easy to work with. Character can easily be ascertained by talking to references and analysing a candidate’s work history.
10. Lastly, meet with the shortlisted applicants for a personal evaluation
A face to face to meeting is extremely important. Organize an unbiased panel and look out for the following;