Small business consultants are professionals who seek to assist small businesses in reaching their goals in terms of being successful. This type of business consultant often evaluates every aspect of the small business, including such areas as the accounting process, inventory control, general costs, and marketing processes. Small business owners often benefit from engaging the services of a small business consultant, since the process can often focus attention on problem areas that the owner may not have previously recognized.
In many cases, the small business consultant has a background in business administration. Along with educational credentials related to the various aspects of running a small business, the consultant is often well-versed in business models related to a wide range of industries. This type of background allows the consultant to effectively support a client who operates a local vitamin store as easily as a client with a lawn and garden service.
The ultimate purpose of any small business consultant is to assist the client in making the business the very best it can be. This usually involves assessing the current status of the business, setting both long-term and short-term goals related to the operation and continued success of the entity, and implementing the changes necessary to reach those goals in a timely manner. Within this capacity, the consultant may participate to any degree that is a good fit with the company culture. This may involve nothing more than arranging training for key employees or setting up a timeline for tasks to be accomplished. However, it is not unusual for a small business consultant to become a temporary but integral part of the daily operation of the business.
An effective small business consultant has a clear grasp of the type of business practices that will make it possible for the small company to function as efficiently as possible on all levels. To this end, the consultant may function as a business coach, motivating owners and salespeople with training sessions to enhance their marketing and sales efforts. Consultants may also fill the role of business brokers, especially if acquiring another small business would result in both companies becoming stronger and more competitive. The business consulting may even involve upgrading software programs, such as changing the accounting or customer tracking software that is used as a normal part of operations.
Hiring a small business consultant usually involves defining the scope of his or her responsibilities. The consultation may be nothing more than evaluating the general operation over the course of a few days and rendering a detailed critique of the business, along with suggestions on how to improve or enhance certain parts of the operation. At other times, the working agreement may provide the consultant with authority to reorganize different areas of the company, thus making better use of available resources and possibly increasing the bottom line. Depending on the circumstances, the consultant may work with a given client for a short time or over an extended period of several years.