10 Reasons Your Small Business Might Need a Consultant
Small businesses are always in a vulnerable position. One misstep, wrong guess or bad idea can send an otherwise healthy and thriving business off the deep end of risks into a plummet of losses. Not everyone who starts their own business, or joins a small upcoming business to manage it, will know what they are doing. The inspiration and drive to start a small business isn’t always coupled with the knowledge of how they work in the real world. This is why small business owners fail: they aren’t immediately experts in owning a small business. And that’s why they hire consultants.
I have consulted with many businesses of every size. From the single person entrepreneurs looking to work their way into a market place and legacy companies that have been around for decades looking for avenues to stay strong in a shifting marketplace. Small businesses too, I’ve counseled for many of them to start innovative projects, develop plans for crises and even restructuring debts. Small businesses can often underestimate the importance of hiring a financial advisor or will overestimate how much one costs as a means of putting it off. However, a professional consultant is always an investment, capable of providing unique solutions that the existing team can’t handle.
Here are 10 of the reasons why your small business needs a consultant.
1. Identify Unseen Problems
When you’re working day to day, certain things can become routine. Little issues can get ignored or folded into the usual run of work. Creaky doors can lead to drafts and weather damage. Small problems that get passed over or put off for too long can impact work in ways you don’t even realize. You may not notice these problems, but a customer might, or an employee, and sooner or later it will become a breaking point between them and you that you can’t ignore. A consultant will see these problems, from the most immediate to the most ignored, and highlight them, as well as offer the fixes to keep them from impacting the daily work any longer. Bringing in a consultant is a great way of finding the things you can’t even see that are going wrong.
2. Gain Specific Expert Knowledge
It is usually the case that small businesses are started by people highly knowledgeable or skilled in a field of their comfort. They want to offer their service or their product to customers because they have faith in it and want to succeed doing it. But being an expert in fabrication or IT assistance doesn’t make you a financial expert, or a time management expert, or a personal relations expert. Even a small business needs a large set of skills to stay up and running. Hiring a consultant can help fill in the missing pieces of the business puzzle. Consultants come with their own default set of knowledge in managing and running small businesses with them. This includes all the legal work required, the financial assessment and statistic skills that help them recognize success and prevent failure. They can pass these skills and teachings on to a willing learner — even if it’s not the owner — and they can be the in-house expert on how to run the business.
3. Start the Process of Change
Change can be a great thing for a small business, unless the change is bad. Change, in any case, means shifting priorities and doing something that isn’t part of the schedule. Any change, even a small one, can deeply impact the workflow and how everyone in the business performs. Making these changes is sometimes necessary, in order to get rid of a failing system or to try something new that you heard works great for your type of business. But before making these decisions, it’s best to get a consultation with someone who has seen what these changes can do. A professional business consultant can track the course of where a business might go if they make certain changes, and help an owner decide on what changes would be best to take. They can also suggest new changes or push for less, whichever would improve the business from that point on.
4. An Objective Opinion
When you ask a friend for their opinion, you’ll usually get a positive answer. They are your friend, after all, they want to make you feel better and more comfortable. They aren’t great for asking questions pertaining to how well your business is run. Neither are your customers, who will usually direct their grievances to things out of your control, or unchangeable things. If you want an opinion on how your business is going, who can you trust to give you a straight, honest answer? A consultant. But you’re paying them, so they’ll be biased, right? A consultant’s job is to be unbiased, and to assess a business in the most honest way possible. That means delivering bad news without any nice wrappings. They work with strict numbers and contextual examples of proven success — and failure — that came before you to help you get on a good track. If you’re someone who can’t take bad news, they’ll also offer a solution to that and work with you to approach the problems your business is facing and work towards solutions to fix them.
5. Promotional Outreach
Most businesses will know the value of getting a professional consultant already and will have hired one in the past. You might even see the results of that improvement in their business, which could motivate you to hire the same consultant as them. Not only is this a great way to market the success for individual consultants, it’s a way for businesses to interact with one another in a competitive yet constructive way. By taking on a professional consultant who has worked with many businesses, you will get to share a place with their names as a successful part of that consultant’s work history. Future businesses will see that you are among a network of businesses who have all sought consultation and gained success from it. The more credibility the consultant has, the more businesses you can reach out to and network with using your consultation experience as a stepping stone. You might end up finding a future collaborator or partner in your consultant’s contact list.
6. Assisting with Early Setup or Pre-Launch Work
Some say the hardest part of owning a small business is starting it. That’s because there are many “first steps” that have to be taken. You need an idea. Before that, you need motivation. You need skill. Having all of that, what’s next? A location? A name? Planning the first day of a business can take months, everything after the grand opening just becomes work. A consultant can help get you to that grand opening, from whatever step you think is first to the actual launch of the business proper. They know everything a business needs to get started and can help you fill in with what you’ve forgotten. The list can be endless, or surprisingly short, and if you plan for the wrong things it can get in the way of your future business plans.
7. To Help Make Hard Decisions
Owning a small business isn’t all profits and high performance. Sometimes the problem is obvious. It might even come with a name tag and a foul attitude. But if you pull the pin too early on making human resource adjustments you might end up regretting it. Termination is a strong medicine to apply to what might amount to a minor, or even unrelated, issue. A consultant can help you come to grips with these hard decisions to make sure it’s the definite right thing to do. Even more than that, they can be the reason. No one likes getting the exit interview from the boss, but if you have someone else to point to they won’t go blaming you as much. You can leave some of that blame with the consultant and they’ll take it away from your workplace. You avoid stoking the fear of your employees, and they can continue work knowing you’re on their side — until the next consultation has to happen.
8. Stay In Touch with a Developing Market
Markets are constantly evolving and reinventing themselves to keep up with trends. Nowadays, those trends move fast. Viral meme culture means something that takes over social media one day can completely vanish before the week is out. What’s popular today is uncool, uncouth or avoidable tomorrow. Cultural adhesion is extremely volatile and spending the time to stay in touch with how the market acts is a full-time job. A job better left to a consultant. Consultants know how patterns work and how to recognize the trends of a market before, during or after a major shift. You won’t have to study up on the latest zeitgeist and take time away from running the actual, fundamental business you’ve developed to do it.
9. Absolve Burnout
Sometimes a problem with small business isn’t that things are going badly or heading into a downward spiral. Sometimes the problem is that things are just okay, perfectly fine, steady and average and nothing is changing. The work becomes dull, the motivation dissolves. New ideas dry up because why bother when everything can stay just the same as it ever was? Professional consultants have heard that whole story before. Business owners let things get too complacent and can make their operation vulnerable to a crisis. A consultant can help by going over emergency procedures, drafting up plans, and directing the owner to reevaluate their position to not focus on what stays the same, but what can be improved instead.
10. Inspire Business Growth
A business never stops growing. Whether in terms of profits or scale or complexity, a business should always aim higher and work harder to achieve a better standing overall. There are things that need improving and the world is constantly changing from when the business first started. It’s a lot of work to do, and takes a certain level of motivation and inspiration to accomplish it all. You don’t need to hire a motivational speaker, though. What works better is a consultant. Business consultants that have worked with a wide variety of business sizes and types have seen where small businesses turn big or big businesses fold down and reduce their operations. They can help you achieve your goal, whether it’s growing to fill the full scope of a niche or, indeed, scaling down safely to refocus on a smaller goal and market share. Consultants aren’t out to make every business they work with exactly the same. They work to make your business yours, exactly the way you want it to be. If you need help getting there, you can trust your vision with a professional business consultant.