The goal of every business is to grow and expand. Expansion can lead to higher profits, more employees and a greater valuation which means more wealth and better financial security for the owner. While the business owner or manager commonly is the most knowledgeable about the business’s operation and the markets it works in, an outside consultant can bring a new perspective to the situation and see opportunities and threats the owner does not. There are a few simple tips to getting the most benefit from business development consultants.
There are many consultants out there but few are probably right for your business. The most obvious suggestion is to choose someone who works in your particular industry. The restaurant, retail, medical and manufacturing industries, for example, all have consultants specializing in those fields. Look for someone not only familiar with your industry, but who is also knowledgeable about the scale at which your business operates. For example, a consultant who specializes in one-location retail outlets, may not be as able to provide assistance to an owner of a small chain of outlets. Most business development consultants will provide references and a complete background of their education and experience in the field as part of the application process.
Work with the Consultant
The business owner will need to spend whatever time the consultant deems necessary explaining the business and any goals the owner hopes to attain. The consultant will also want to review financial records, possibly watch staff in action, explore the business climate in the area and analyze the physical assets of the operation. This is not the time to be shy or withhold information. The consultant needs to know the good, the bad and the ugly about the operation. The consultant commonly presents a list of the information required and what facilities he or she will need to see as part of the preparation for the consultation.
Following the suggestions of the business development consultant may be difficult. This is especially true if the consultation suggests a major change in the operation of the business. It is natural for owners to resist a change to the business plan they have developed. While following the consultant’s suggestions is optional, it should always be seriously considered. Depending on the situation, the business development plan may require the participation of employees within the business. Working with the entire staff of the business may be necessary if the consultant’s plan requires a major change in operations.
Make a Plan, Work the Plan
Consultants don’t commonly write a completely new business plan aimed at developing or expanding the business. The owners and managers need to select the best components from the consultant’s plan and integrate them within the business’s operational plans. Some of the consultant’s suggestions may fix immediate issues while others might be long-term solutions. Integrating both into the business plan offers the best chance of success. In addition, changing financial conditions commonly require updates to business plans. In some cases, this may require another visit from the consultant. Long-term relationships with a business development consultant may save costs as the necessity for background research is reduced with each visit.