Small & Medium businesses are brimming with entrepreneurship but are often difficult to manage. They are usually short on time, budget and resources. They don’t enjoy the luxury like large companies that have extra managerial bandwidth and deep pockets.
SMB owners hire consultants as a cost-effective way to bridge a gap in knowledge and skills within their company, or a as a way to bring a fresh, objective, and professional perspective to the company.
Here are ten most common reasons why our clients turn to consultants for help:
- To identify problems
Often companies know that they are lacking something or they have an issue but are not able to formulate where exactly what the problem is! A business may be exhibiting problematic “symptoms”, such as a decrease in sales, or cash-flow issues, and internal management in unable to pinpoint the source of the problem. Sometimes employees are too close to a problem inside an organization to recognize it. Consultants have the knack of using their outside perspective to give an unbiased assessment.
- To create solutions
Consultants work on different projects for various companies and industries. This wide exposure, knowledge of best practice along with their specific expertise allow them to better suggest a strategy which is right for a particular business context. Because they’re not full-time employees, they’re able to be completely objective, and transparent. This enables the management to make improvements where necessary without stepping on toes.
- To obtain specific expertise
Usually companies, especially SMBs, have certain gaps in skills for which they are unable to hire a full-time employee. A consultant can plug in such gaps without having any learning curve. In some cases, a company may have grown very quickly and know there are lots of things that could be doing better, but don’t have the management bandwidth to focus on those things.
- To save time
Whether developing a business strategy or creating a cohesive marketing plan, a plan is crucial to the company’s success. Consultants help stay on scope and on budget, by freeing up other employees’ time so they can focus on doing their job, instead of planning what to do next. This lets companies to quickly increase efficiency, while developing the right business or marketing plan when needed.
- To save money
As a small business, you need to make sure that you’re investing in the right employee, otherwise, it could end up costing you more money in the long-run. The primary reason that companies turn to consulting is to get the expertise right when they need it, and only for as long as they need it. They also can save additional money because consultants don’t need benefits. So even though a consultant’s fees are generally higher than an employee’s salary, over the long haul, a consultant tends to be a less expensive option. Ultimately, investing in a consultant gets them more “bang” for their buck in the long-run.
- Gain information & insights for better decision making
Data is power. He/she who has the (right) data has the power. However, obtaining the right data can be challenging if people are skewing that data. Because consultants are objective parties, they’re able to compile all of the data necessary to make the best informed decisions (skewing not included). By having all of the right data, you’re able to get complete transparency into your business, and how it impacts your role, and bottom-line.
- Short-term and ad-hoc projects
Not every job needs to be full-time. Some jobs are merely one-off projects that need to get done by the right professional. For small businesses finding the right talent can be a challenge, because oftentimes, the right full-time employee is out of your budget range. The greatest advantage to hiring a consultant is that they can help you complete your project(s) as they come up, rather than employing them full-time. So you get the right expertise only when you need it for as long as it takes to complete your project. e.g. Product Launches, Debt raising, Employee Engagement, Issue-specific Public relations
- To supplement a company’s internal staff
Smaller companies that have a roadmap and a strategic direction, but do not have any staff to work on the rest of a product management role: competitive analysis, market sizing, research on potential new, long-term opportunities, and messaging/positioning. Sometimes business executives discover they can save lakhs of rupees a month by hiring consultants when needed rather than hiring full-time employees.
- Get a third-party validation
Many a times, management needs a third-party validation when taking major decisions like entering a new market, introducing a new product, changing org structure etc. It also can be useful to have a third-party’s perspective on matters that require objectivity, or an “extra set of eyes” to verify that no mistakes have been made in a critical process. When an external consultant comes in with the expertise, the management can use him as a sounding board and sometimes also as a shoulder to fire from!
- To do the “dirty work”
Most small businesses would have old-timers or deadwood who they find difficult to get rid of. When a business is growing, such deadwood is not able to scale up and is often a hindrance. Consultants can play a role here to handle the unpleasant tasks.
Every business needs a plan, long-term strategy, and good talent to execute these. Consulting interventions can help businesses fill gaps in expertise for addressing potential market opportunities and achieve long lasting benefits.