A business consultant has many roles and can help an old company re-new itself and find itself again; help founders start and develop a new venture or project; help to turn around a company fraught with problems; help a company identify new opportunities and markets; or help a company develop a business success plan.
A good business consultant has experience working in and with a broad range of businesses. An experienced business consultant has broad and narrow stroke experience and typically, twenty years or more of accumulated business experience. Having an MBA from a good business school isn’t enough. The consultant must have solid real world experience with many types of companies to be an effective consultant.
So what does a business consultant do? First and foremost, a consultant gets to know and understand your business. As the business owner, you know more about your business than anyone else. For this reason, a good business consultant will take the time to learn from you, your department heads and key employees the ins and outs of your business.
The consultant then goes to work identifying problems and opportunities. Those may be certain problems and opportunities you point out to the consultant, but also a good consultant will have a process to identify problems and opportunities which a business owner has not identified. A consultant brings fresh eyes, fresh experience and an open mind to your business enterprise, providing a completely different perspective than that of someone who has been running the company for some time or someone looking to start a new venture.
A business consultant will then analyze this gathered information in order to provide solid solutions and plans for the future. Often business ownership is so focused on working “in” the business that short term and long term outlooks and strategies are overlooked and neglected. The consultant re-focuses a company’s strategies in order to solve immediate problems, while taking advantage of future opportunities. Steps taken in a good consulting process include: learn about the business; identify problems; identify future opportunities; perform analysis; provide solutions through a concrete plan; listen to feedback and adjust the plan; and implement and track the plan.
The consultant considers all company input to develop a business plan that will be effective. The consultant listens to the opinions of the company’s advisors (accountants, lawyers, bankers and other advisers). The consultant can use Delphi sessions and red teams which contain industry experts and competitive viewpoints. The consultant also listens carefully to the view points of the company’s ownership, founders, board, top management and key employees. A final business plan is agreed upon and signed off on by the company with the consultant helping to implement, track and re-work the plan as necessary over time.
When an entrepreneur is thinking about starting up a new business, a business consultant can apply a start-up analysis to determine if it is a feasible opportunity, which includes: analyze and evaluate the opportunity; develop a business strategy and model; resource audit; acquiring and leveraging needed resources; venture deployment; and getting and distributing value.
When considering an existing business acquisition, a business consultant can employ an business analysis, such as: products and services analysis; management team appraisal; operational analysis; market position; competitive factors; SWOT analysis; analyze financials; valuations; and risk assessment.