If you are looking forward to become a small business consultant, then there are certain skills that you should acquire in growing your small business. These essential skills have time and again proved to be of immense help for consultants looking to grow their business. The basic responsibility would be to work with clients when it comes to strategy, planning and finding resolutions so as to help the clients with enhanced business skills as well as knowledge. As a business consultant, you will be coordinating with clients in making them aware about how projects are planned and implemented. Designing of a business model, marketing plan and identifying the marketing techniques that has to be used should be among the important responsibilities as a consultant. They provide advice to the clients and teach them the skills in producing practical results that complements the new strategy being developed.
For small business consultants who are looking forward to start or grow their small business practice, the following checklist will definitely prove to be very helpful.
Build your own skills
This is one thing that an effective business consultant should have. You should never shy away from creating your own skill development efforts. The more knowledge and expertise you gain, the more you will be in demand as a business consultant and furthermore you will be able to charge higher fees to your clients too.
Keep a check on experience you have
You can never expect a small business owner who want to grow their business to consult small business consultants like you, especially if you do not have sufficient industry expertise in the specific area or if you have never owned or managed a business before on your own. Therefore industry experience and professional experience matters a lot for consultants. You will be in a position to call yourself expert if you have atleast 5 years of full-time work experience working as an efficient business consultant in the industry. Therefore it is desirable that you gain sufficient experience before you consider yourself as an expert in that particular field.
Understand ‘Why’ you want to become a Small Business Consultant
This may prove to be very useful whenever you are going through a challenging phase in your career. If you have a vision or ambition in your mind and are clear about why you want to become a business consultant and help a specific target audience, then nothing can stop you from becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Identify what success means to you
For each business consultants, success could mean different things. The success of one consultant will not be the success factor of another consultant. You will have to visualize yourself about how being a business consultant is more likely to change your life personally as well as professionally.
Create an effective business plan
You should have your own unique business model in place before you work with your clients. You should be clearly aware of certain aspects such as the legal format that has to be used, mission, vision, services, pricing and profit models etc. Identify the resources that would be required for you such as time, skills, knowledge, money, equipments and professionals etc. You should have certain milestones that have to be set in a timely manner namely for 1 year, 3 year and 5 year etc.
Prepare a Marketing Plan
You should create an effective marketing plan that will make you stand out of the crowd compared to other small business consultants. You should be clearly aware about how you plan to connect with the audience and establish good relationship with them including getting their trust. Similarly you should be clearly aware of whether you are going to make use of traditional marketing techniques or internet marketing techniques followed by the marketing goals and how far you are going to invest in marketing etc.
Be a good Listener
You will be working with clients who will have their own requirements, strength as well as weaknesses. You should be a good listener and you should be able to ask questions that make sense to the client so as to get more clarity about their requirements and thereby offer enhanced focus on their needs. Similarly you should be able to deal with clients during difficult situations.
Select a specific niche
Check whether your niche demands a license or certification and whether you will be a business consultant who will be able to offer expert assistance to clients in most of their challenges or projects and whether you will focus on only a small topic area. How you are planning to work with clients? This means whether you will be working with them based on the number of employees or based on the revenue you get.
Whether you are going to be an advisor for clients
Check what is your role as a business consultant which includes being an advisor for clients by offering them with better planning and strategy work or are you going to work for them as a sub-contractor.
Identify the common problems of the clients
List some of the most common issues that are faced by small business owners and then keep readily available strategies, tools and assessments for resolving the problems that are faced commonly by those clients.
Make them aware of the business model
Coordinate with clients in understanding the areas that are causing severe damage to the businesses of small business owners and how the change suggested by a business consultant could get best return on investment for the clients.
Gain Maximum Efficiency
Make use of automation, templates and sales scripts as a means to systemize your own business so as to achieve maximum efficiency as a business consultant. This helps you to focus more on the tasks that are considered to be very important. Similarly if you think that you need more assistance in administrative as well as marketing work, then you could consider outsourcing the tasks to professionals that have the expertise to help you with administrative and marketing work.
Business Consultants have to serve clients
Your responsibility is to advise clients and make them aware about the benefits and drawbacks before they take their own business decisions as a small business owner. However you do not deserve the right to stop them from taking the business decisions or preventing them from any implementation plan for their business that might not be based on your opinion. You should initiate a successful client engagement and should praise the client when your advice actually works out in favour of them even though you will also get the praise for the success.
Analyze your own drawbacks
No one is perfect. Similarly you will also have your own weaknesses. You should analyze those weaknesses and should overcome it by hiring staffs that are skilled enough in managing efficiently the areas of weakness that you might have as a business consultant.
Select the right marketing techniques
Identify the marketing techniques that are able to bring qualified leads and thus leads to better sales conversions for your business. However you should make it a point that you do not choose marketing techniques on the basis of whether the marketing technique is the latest trend or just for creating a good brand reputation or simply because of the reason that you are not getting leads as expected.
Learn from the Experts
As a small business consultant, you should be always open to learn from the leading consultants in your industry. You will have to focus on key aspects such as how they ran their businesses and how they worked with clients or what were their offerings to the clients and the marketing methods they followed for achieving success. You should also learn four most important skills namely decision making skills, problem solving skills, time management skills and project management skills that is considered as some of the most essential skills in offering enhanced assistance to clients and thereby helping you to run your own business successfully.