The Decision to use a Consultant – what a consultant can do for your business
As a business owner why should you seek the advice of an independent advisor? Usually there are several barriers to doing so, time, money, trust. These barriers are not insignificant, especially for a small business, so why make the commitment?
- Provision of Information
Information though is a direct or indirect cost to businesses. There may not be a direct cost however there is certainly the management cost of time to gather the information.
The consultant can offer the small business a service in providing and analysing this information more often than not saving time and money for the small business
Information is valuable to a business. Information on the business’s customers, its products, the market it operates within and its competitors are just some of the areas of information that is vital for a business.
- Provision of specialist expertise
Some important areas of management that can benefit from an external consultant are:
Some managers, particularly those of small businesses, tend to be generalists. The demands of running a small business means that more often than not they cannot specialise in their own area of expertise.
- Business strategy; its development, evaluation and planning
- Marketing strategy development
- Promotional campaign development
- New product or service development
- Developing proposals for financial support either in the format of grants, loans or equity finance
- Provision of a new perspective
The consultant can provide a fresh mind to an issue, a thought or opportunity. Consultants can offer support in helping individuals to change the norm and become more innovative.
Managers, again particularly in small businesses, can suffer from clouded or biased views and this can affect their decision making. This is completely natural. They are bound to be biased towards their own business – they have often spent years developing it. However this clouded or biased thinking can be detrimental to the business.
- Provision of support for internal arguments
Managers do not always agree with each other. A consultant can simply provide an external, impartial and expert viewpoint. This is a difficult area for a consultant but still a valuable one for small businesses.
- Provision of support for gaining a critical resource
A small business must attract various in order to survive and grow. These resources could include:
- Finance from external sources such as investors or public sector grants
- People with particular skills, knowledge or connections
- Specialist equipment, materials or services
The consultant can provide the business with valuable support in obtaining these resources. Key tasks involve identifying who can supply these resources, for example identifying public sector grant opportunities, how they might be contacted and the issues involved in obtaining them.
People are a critical resource for all businesses. Consultants can add much value by advising a business on its people requirements and where the business can obtain these people. Particular power comes from the ability to connect the small business with educational initiatives providing lower cost employment opportunities