In this article you will learn:
- what is business consulting about;
- in what situations is it worth using professional advisory services;
- what the advisory process looks like;
- what to consider when choosing a consulting company.
What is business consulting?
Business consulting is specialized advice aimed at implementing solutions that will bring the company economic benefits. In practice, it covers many services with a very wide scope, from marketing through HR to capital transactions or the implementation of new technological solutions. Therefore, it is quite difficult to define unequivocally. It requires a lot of experience, expert knowledge and commitment of both parties – the client and the company providing consulting services.
Business consulting is a sector that is developing very dynamically. New technologies, high competitiveness and a constantly changing market force entrepreneurs to react quickly and efficiently take important strategic decisions. In such a situation, many years of experience of consulting companies is an invaluable help for small and medium-sized companies that want to develop in these uncertain conditions. You can also start other business.
What services does business consulting include?
Advisory services can take various forms and their scope is practically unlimited. They cover all aspects related to running a business. Entrepreneurs from the SME sector most often use services related to:
- financial advice (e.g. tax advice, legal advice);
- operational consulting (e.g. development of marketing strategies, process management, outsourcing);
- IT consulting (e.g. data security, implementation of new systems);
- strategic consulting (e.g. creating business models).
What can you gain by using business consulting services?
The list of benefits is open and largely depends on the problems faced by a given company. Ultimately, business consulting should help us improve any process in the company. The benefits include:
- increasing the operating profit while minimizing costs;
- improving the quality of the work environment and, consequently, lowering employee turnover;
- limiting the occurrence of crisis situations;
- relieving the management staff from operational tasks in favor of strategic ones;
- increasing the level of customer satisfaction;
- improvement of sales results;
- facilitating the introduction of organizational changes;
- increasing the company’s competitiveness;
- optimization of any processes in the enterprise.
When is it worth using business consulting services?
Advisory services can be used in virtually any situation which, in the opinion of the entrepreneur, generates problems or constitutes a kind of challenge for the company. Business consulting can be especially useful:
- when opening a new business;
- when problems of any nature arise in an existing enterprise;
- during the reorganization of internal processes;
- before a strategically important decision (e.g. a large investment or signing an important contract);
- before changing the ownership structure of the enterprise;
- when implementing unusual projects;
- when choosing the optimal form of accounting;
- when obtaining external funds;
- for problems with risk management.
Step by step business consulting
Advisory services assume an individual approach to each client. The process will therefore vary depending on a given company, its specific problems, challenges it faces, market environment, etc. In some cases, a brief consultation with the owner of the company is sufficient. For larger projects, it can be even several months of change management by an external company. However, the goal of business consulting will always be the same: getting to know and understand the problems in the company and the implementation of durable and effective solutions. To achieve this, there are 3 main areas to focus on:
- identifying problems (present and future);
- setting goals (real and measurable);
- finding reserves (unused change opportunities).
During business consultations, the advisor should first of all focus on identifying the problems faced by the company. A thorough analysis will allow for a factual assessment of the current situation and determining which areas of the company’s activity require intervention. It will also help to discover what resources the company does not fully use, and to define a space within which beneficial changes can be introduced relatively easily. On this basis, it is already possible to set realistic goals, both short-term and long-term. The next step is to develop and implement specific solutions. The last stage of advisory services should be the monitoring of the effects of the introduced changes and a report presenting the obtained results.
How to choose professional business consulting?
The Big Four, i.e. the four most famous companies providing advisory and auditing services, include:
It is worth knowing them, despite the fact that the offer of the Big Four is addressed primarily to large companies. Entrepreneurs from the SME sector who decide to use business consulting services usually have to choose from among smaller entities. However, finding an effective consulting company is not an easy task. What should distinguish professional business consulting?
- Clearly defined goals for the advisory service
The goals should result directly from the client’s needs, be achievable, measurable and defined in time. The recipient must know what to expect and what conditions must be met to achieve this. It is also important to precisely define the indicators by which the effects will be measured. This is the only way to check whether the actions taken have been effective.
- High level of expert knowledge of a consulting company
The preparation of a consulting company is directly related to its previous experience. The easiest way to verify this is by checking the references of previous customers. To some extent, professionalism can also be judged from the website of the service provider. If the scope and program of consultancy services provided are clearly described there, along with indicators used to measure progress, the probability that the firm is properly qualified increases.
- Appropriate preparation of business advisors
Before choosing a consulting company, it is worth checking the opinions about the consultants employed by it. An effective business advisor should not only have appropriate professional experience, but also appropriate soft skills. He must also follow professional ethics. It is good if, in addition, it can boast of certificates confirming the right to provide consulting services in a given field, even if they are not legally required.
There are a lot of various consulting companies and independent consultants on the market, but the lack of unambiguous standards does not have a positive effect on the quality of services provided. Therefore, before establishing cooperation with a consulting company, it is worth taking a moment to thoroughly check whether we are dealing with professionals.
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