What Does A Business Consultant Do?

There's one question I hear all the time – what does a business consultant do? This can be a loaded question and also is entirely subjective. While I've never surveyed to hear what people think, I am confident I would get a wide range of answers.

Over the years, I've received almost every response imaginable when I tell someone I am a small business consultant. Some people are curious and want to know more about the consulting I do. Other people have a preconceived notion about what consultants do – some of those responses carry a negative connotation.

I choose to focus on the positive and answer the real question: What does a consultant do?

What does a consultant do?

The term consultant is a broad term. There are a wide variety of focuses or areas of practice. Some of those include:

  • Management Consulting
  • Business Growth Consulting
  • Strategic Planning Consulting
  • Exit Strategy and Transition Consulting
  • Business Start-Up Consulting
  • Financial Management Consulting
  • Operational Consulting
  • HR Consulting

While this is not an exhaustive list, it gives an idea of all the different areas where a business consultant may focus. The next time someone says they are a business consultant, feel free to ask what kind of consulting they focus on.

Even though every business consultant has their niche or area of expertise, I believe they all have a common thread. Business consultants are problem solvers. We work with businesses and help them overcome a challenge, so their business runs smoother.

How do I know if my business needs a consultant?

You may be thinking that your business is already running pretty smoothly and that you don't need a consultant to come in and help. Well, that may be the case, but many times, the business owner may not even see the challenge.

Or if they know there is a hurdle, the owner may not know what their specific problem is, or it could be a completely different challenge than they think. This can make a business consultant's job difficult.

How do I find the right business consultant?

When looking for a consultant, you will want to find a good consultant who knows what questions to ask. It’s just as important that they then take the time to listen to the business owner describe the "pain" they are dealing with and what outcome they are destined for if they are unable to resolve the issue.

Consultants will vary in their approach to solving problems. Some have a strategic or patented process that they take clients through, while others choose an approach that focuses on treating the specific symptoms on a case-by-case basis.

I don't necessarily believe there is a right or wrong approach. In my experience, numerous factors determine whether or not a business consultant is the right fit for your situation. Consider these questions:

  • Does their area of expertise fit your situation?
  • Do they have the ability to work on your timeline and within your budget?
  • Is their flavor (style, personality, etc.) the right fit for you?
  • Do they have similar goals or ideals that will mesh well with yours?

While it’s common to jump on any opportunity that may come along, I believe the very best consultants will tell you if they aren’t the right fit for your need. It isn't always easy to say no to a money-making opportunity, but I believe when you put the customer or client's needs first, it will work in everyone's favor in the long run.

If you are searching for help to solve a business problem and would like to speak with a consultant, I’d love to talk to you and see if I am the right fit for you. You can reach me at kent@kentgustafson.com.

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