A consultant (from Latin: consultare "to discuss") is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as security (electronic or ...
Editor's note: This article was excerpted from our Consulting Business start-up guide, available from the Entrepreneur Bookstore. The dictionary defines a ...
Feb 1, 2013 ... In my early years as a consultant and business coach, I would often sit in rooms where a highly paid guru from Bain or McKinsey or Accenture ...
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Business consulting is one of the key professions that have emerged over the last few decades. With the rapid economic growth, technological advancements, and globalization of markets, the need for professional business consultants has increased significantly. Many business organizations are not fully equipped, on their own, to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment or to exploit the newly emerging opportunities to the fullest extent. This makes it an excellent business strategy to employ the services of a professional consulting firm to identify corporate weaknesses and build upon the inherent strengths to take the business forward.
Business consultancy services are available for almost every aspect of business, from new market development to product positioning and from brand promotion to human resource planning. Technology is another critical area where many businesses do not have a natural strength. Businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of adopting new technologies in order to survive in a competitive environment and deliver cutting-edge products and services to consumers. Business consulting experts in this area can help a company plan and implement critical technological changes.
Entering New Markets
A business with a strong product or service may consider expanding into new markets that have a large latent demand waiting to be fulfilled. In such cases, professional business consultants with local contacts and cultural understanding of those markets can assist the company in establishing a foothold in a new territory. They can advise the business about the local tastes and preferences, general socio-economic climate, and local laws and regulations in order to protect it against the inherent risks of entering a new market.
Marketing and Brand Positioning
In a highly competitive business environment, most businesses find it difficult to create a strong brand identity and positioning that can attract the attention of consumers. Professional business consulting experts specializing in the area of marketing and brand promotion can help the business develop innovative marketing and advertising strategies. This can help increase the product’s market share and build superior brand loyalty from consumers.
Human resource development and training constitutes one of the most crucial tasks for any business organization. Most companies may not be fully geared towards training their employees in the latest management methods and techniques or towards using innovative technological tools and business processes to improve business efficiencies. Professional business consultants with experience in management training, motivation, and development can be hired to support this challenging task.
Technology Planning and Implementation
According to a survey report released by the Information Technology Association of America, more than 87 percent of all companies report improvement in their cost management after implementing IT systems in their organization. Technology planning and implementation is a critical area to consider to survive in a highly competitive environment. Companies can hire business consultants with expertise in the latest technological tools and systems.
Conflicts between Executives and Consultants
Interpersonal conflict between professional consultants and company executives is commonly seen in many business organizations. Unless conflicts are resolved and a healthy consensus is reached, such situations can be detrimental to the group goals. It can lead to reduced motivation of the company’s key executives or to half-hearted implementation of the proposed management changes throughout the organization.
Contradiction of Core Business Values
One of the challenges faced by organizations that hire business consulting firms to implement large-scale changes is that the consultants may not have an intimate understanding of the company’s core values and principles. They may propose new strategies that contradict the very foundation principles and practices of the organization. It may disappoint customers and business associates who identify the company with those core values.
Highly Risky Strategies
A business consultant may not have an overriding concern for the safety and preservation of the company’s business. Sometimes professional consultants may suggest highly radical or untested strategies that could expose the business to large financial risks. A conservative organization must choose the moderate path between risk and reward for its long-term survival and growth.
Access to Sensitive Information
It is advisable for any business organization to hire only recognized and reputed business consulting firms that honor the code of confidentiality between the client and the consultant. The consultant will usually get access to sensitive price, production, technology, and marketing data of the organization, which increases the risk of crucial information being leaked to the business competitors.
Business consultants may charge a fixed fee or a percentage of the new investments, buyout, or media spending, depending on the nature of the consultancy services received. The cost of hiring top consultants in the business may be quite high, but the returns on investment can also be equally high with reliable and experienced consultants. A business organization must conduct its own cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether it is worthwhile to hire the services of a business consulting firm.
In an extremely competitive market environment, most businesses can substantially benefit from hiring professional consultants for specific tasks or general business consultancy. Sometimes this can give the business a crucial edge over competitors and help the company achieve market leadership in its field.
Whether you are a new business or one that has been around for the last 20 years, there may come a time when you will require the services from an outside source. As times change, so do the needs of business around the world and this is where the expertise of business consulting can come into play. You may be wondering, what exactly can a business consultant do for your business? There are many things that these professionals can do for your business and they generally start at looking and identifying problems that you may not even see. Having a neutral pair of eyes can really make a world of difference, in many respects.
Business consulting will also help to find solutions to the problems as well as come up with new ideas and ways for your business to improve. These professionals will take their time to learn the in's and out's of your business, devise ways to improve, implement and help put into action the newly devised plans. If you think that your business could be use a 2nd pair of eyes, why not consider having a consultant come in and spend time with you? Take a look at the links on the left to learn more about business consultants can help you.
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