Small Businesses, like their mid-size and large counter parts, encounter changes in the market place and business challenges as they grow. These challenges can encompass a variety of areas from marketing to sales, industry or product expertise, importing to exporting and more. A growing number of consultants and business coaches are available across the USA and beyond to assist business owners and managers in dealing with these challenges.
A small business consultant is usually a subject-matter expert who is brought in to assess the situation. After looking at various angles and speaking with multiple people in the organization, the consultant usually provides a plan of action to improve the situation. In some cases the consultant may assist in the implementation of systems, etc. while in others their job is done after they provide the plan.
Jon Denney, a fellow business coach and president of the Professional Business Coaching Alliance, explains business consulting as follows: "In traditional consulting, the consultant is hired to either fix a specific problem (IT consulting, for example) or to go through a business and identify problems and/or unmet opportunities and to provide their findings to the business owner." Jon also indicates that the consultant's purpose "is generally project-based and therefore, transactional in nature".
Another type of consultant may actually be brought into a small to mid-size company on an on-going part time basis. This may happen if the company needs to fill an upper level management position, e.g. CFO, but doesn't have the need or budget for a full-time person. In cases like this a small business may turn to an outsource CFO service or similar option for other functions (engineering, marketing etc.). With such an arrangement the business consultant may work on premises a few hours or days per week or per month, though off site arrangements are also an option.
In short, a consultant for small or mid-sized businesses will often be "the expert" on a particular topic and either provide expert services or recommendations for improvement for a limited period of time.
A small business consultant has a different function than a small business coach. For more information about Business Coaching see the blog posts archived in October 2013.
Heike Heemann, business coach and advisor, brings over 20 years of business experience to her blog.