Many who run small businesses struggle in some area of the business. This is typically because even though they may be experts in the product or service around which their business is built, they are not necessarily experts at running the business, or business management. Many times entrepreneurs don’t think of the issues that come with managing a growing business because they are so focused on getting their business off the ground. Also, it could be that the small business owner is not aware of what lies ahead as their business grows. For whatever reason, there are many areas of “business” that are critical to the success of the business that fall outside the expertise of the small business owner.
Enter the business consultant (aka, management consultant, business coach). Management consulting first appeared as a named discipline in the late 1800s, shortly after the rise of management as a specific field of study. By the 1990s, there were over thirty firms with more than 1,000 consultants worldwide. Those firms typically had large businesses and corporations as their clients. However, the need for the same type of consulting is just as great, if not greater, among small businesses. Many small businesses object to business consulting and the objections are sometimes based on misconceptions about business consulting.
Today, there are a number of business consulting firms that specialize in helping small businesses, but many small businesses are uneasy approaching a business consulting firm for a number of reasons.
One of the objections many have is that business consulting is too expensive. Anything that is valuable can be expensive and it is so true that you “get what you pay for.” This objection is sometimes founded on experience the small business has had with a consultant that sold them a “one size fits all” consulting package. A consulting firm that delivers value will take the time to analyze your business and its needs and then provide you with a proposal that will bring real value, customized to your business and affordable. Many consulting firms have creative ways to help make their services affordable. Be sure and ask!
Another objection some have is the idea of paying a consultant to tell them something they already know. For example, if your small business is struggling with declining sales, you don’t need a consultant to tell you that you “need to reverse your declining sales revenue.” If a consultant tells you this, you don’t have the right consultant – fire them immediately! A consultant that is worth their fee will help you discover why the business struggling, then determine what needs to be fixed and then create a strategy for how to fix it.
Many entrepreneurs who have just started their business think, for that reason alone, they don’t need a business consultant. It seems to make sense because if you’re just starting out, how could you have done something wrong already? But the thinking that is usually behind this is the fact that the small business doesn’t have extra money to spend on business consulting. The truth is, a start-up can use the help of a consultant who has been there and can guide them so they don’t make the same mistakes that many start-ups have made – start-ups that are now defunct and out of business. There are many common pitfalls that start-ups can avoid if they seek the counsel of a business consultant.
Many of the criticisms of management or business consulting firms are a result of firms that have not provided a valuable service. It’s imperative that a small business research a firm and find out what their current and former clients have to say. Once you have established the firm is reputable, engage with them – better days are ahead and greener pastures are waiting on you!