What does a small business consultant do?
A small business consultant helps you develop and implement strategies to achieve your goals. They work with you to identify and address problems in your business and then provide advice about the best ways to capture missed opportunities. As an Accredited Small Business Consultant®, our focus area at SBG is on making operations profitable and sustainable through strong leadership.
To get a strong return on your investment you want to find a consultant who transfers skills and experience to you. The consultant should work alongside you as you uncover challenges in the business and solve them, but at the end of the engagement you also want to be able to move on from the consultant and use your new business skills yourself. Any consultant who is trying to stretch out the relationship doesn’t have the best interests of your business as their priority. A good consultant should provide you clear definition of where their strengths are and what functional areas of the business they plan to explore to try to either find, or fix, the underlying problems. They should be able to give you a timeline of how long they will need to enable your team to then address those issues on their own.
When should I consider hiring a consultant?
You might want to consider business consulting services if:
- Your business is struggling. A consultant can help you assess your situation and determine whether there are any immediate solutions.
- You need more than one person to solve a problem. If you have several people who could contribute ideas, but you’ve reached a stalemate getting to a decision then a consultant can help you sort through the options and choose which ones make sense for your company.
- You don’t know or aren’t confident which of your business goals or steps in your business plan should be the next number one priority.
- You want to change direction. Some companies start out as startups but grow into large organizations which then realize their strategy needs to be revisited. Consulting can help you decide what kind of growth strategy makes most sense for your organization.
- Your company is experiencing a leadership vacuum. Many companies start with a couple people and a great idea. As they grow they hire new individuals, requiring essential management skills that aren’t at all related to the skillsets of the business owners.
6 Operational Areas Looked At When Consulting For Your Small Business
1. Business planning and strategy
Business ideas are a dime-a-dozen, or maybe a dollar-a-dozen given inflation. Having the business intelligence to plan and create a business focus with real strategy is where you begin to separate yourself. Business consultants should start their approach with updating (or creating) a SWOT analysis of your company. This is a key piece of a business plan that every business owner should keep updated as a living document. From there a strategy for the future takes shape. You can read more about how to turn a SWOT analysis into a strategic action plan in Barry Hansen‘s upcoming book OWT-performing Your Initial Expectations.
2. Organizational structure and processes
This area usually takes the longest to review. It’s important to evaluate everything from product development to customer satisfaction, which sometimes becomes a complex process if there wasn’t a business framework when starting out or processes were developed using custom software systems. The first thing to be looked at though will be the business size, organization chart and distribution of key business functions.
3. Leadership and culture
Next the business consultant will assess your leadership style and strengths and will look at the management skills you need to hone in order to elevate your team. The consultant will try to show you ways to achieve your business objectives by building your people up and creating an unrivaled business culture.
4. Sales and marketing
While SBG is not a marketing consultant, business marketing strategy is a cornerstone to having a successful business. We will evaluate your online presence, how you reach your potential clients through a digital strategy and traditional marketing channels, and how sales to your target audience meld with your marketing plan.
5. Financials and cash flow
This area is probably the most straightforward. A business consulting service will always take a look at the financial reports of the last few years. Some ratio analysis and trends identification is critical to making sure the business strategy is sustainable. Looking at business relationships with suppliers and terms extended to current clients are all part of checking on the cash flow of the business, and trying to uncover ways to fund a little more growth that might not have been seen before.
6. Crisis management and problem-solving
Having a business model and a plan is fine, but things will go wrong. After all 5 areas above have their i’s dotted and t’s crossed, preparation for the unexpected is the final frontier of the consulting engagement. Some forecasting and hypothetical modeling may uncover new opportunities or huge risk areas to the business. Then the hard work begins, solving those problems.
How is Business Leadership Coaching Different?
When you engage SBG for business consulting services, we analyze your business from top to bottom. We want to look at the operations, leadership and profitability of the whole organization and we want to work with not only you but your team as well. After all, the strength of a business depends entirely on the strength of its team. In simple terms, consulting is whole business coaching where leadership coaching is for the individual sole proprietor, business CEO or even a mid-level manager who needs help challenging a larger team. In leadership coaching for businesses the relationship is more personalized. We don’t engage with the team as a whole and instead work with you to hear how you handled situations and what other avenues there were that you could have taken. Our goal in leadership coaching is to make you stronger as a leader and in turn a manager. We will break any bad habits we discover, like if you are micromanaging, and build new ones that lead to a strong company culture with just the right balance of empathy and accountability.
How to schedule an introductory consultation
You should always speak with a consultant about your business concerns and desires, and what you think you need in a consultant before you engage them. Consultants choose specific lanes to specialize in, whether that be business types or sizes, industries, or functional areas like IT or marketing. To make sure SBG is a perfect fit for you and your business we offer complimentary introductions where we’ll uncover at least three things holding your business back in just a 15 minute call.
Average Management Consulting Fee
The fee charged by a consultant to their business clients depends on what services are needed, the size of your company, where you are located and the length of the engagement. Fees typically range from $75 per hour to as high as $1,000 per day. Some business consulting firms charge based on hourly rates while others sell packages. In addition, some companies charge extra for supplies or travel expenses. At SBG Consulting we offer all-inclusive flat rate engagements on a sliding scale based on business annual revenue. You can see our brochure and rate card by entering your email below. We want you to learn and grow with us and be stronger after our engagement, convincing you to overextend your budget just isn’t good business.
SBG is Where Your Small Business Grows™