Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hiring a Business Consultant - Smart Or Stupid?

This question comes up quite often during company meetings and rightfully so. Business consultants are in great demand and every company should employ one in their arsenal. However many critics argue the financial expense they incur on a company's budget and question the move entirely. Truthfully it all depends on the company and what are their business plans for advancement and growth.

Hiring a Business Consultant

There is no arguing the benefits a good business consultant can provide to a company. Some companies only seek them out when they are facing severe financial or operational difficulties. A safer and more traditional approach is to hire them from the very beginning. This ensures that they keep a track of things from day one. These consultants not only keep a sharp eye on the company but also on their competitors. Their vast knowledge of the company's area of expertise enables them to foresee things beforehand and take appropriate action that is in the company's best interests.

Direct Impact on Sales

Sales are the bread and butter of any business and a business consultant can help ensure that it increases at a steady pace. They analyze the company's entire organization and operational infrastructure in order to seek out problems. Their analysis helps identify problems and provides solutions for them. Furthermore, they are crucial in providing better solutions to the ones already in use by the company.

In other words they fine tune a company's existing infrastructure into a revenue generating system. Such measures directly influence a company's sales.

Watch Out for Competition

Earlier we mentioned that consultants keep a sharp eye out for competition and their activities. Depending on your type of business and relative industry, this could be the most vital feature for your business to survive. Most businesses hire a consult purely for this reason. However the intention is not to spy, but to keep tabs on what they are doing within ethical limits and take the next step before the competitors do. In today's tough market, getting there first is more important than getting there period.

A Realistic Analysis of the Present

Oftentimes, companies expand at an alarming rate and as a result are unable to get a better grasp of how things are overall. Expansion and growth does not always necessarily mean revenue. On the other hand, cutting costs and keeping a tight budget does not necessarily indicate losses. Business consultants put the entire company under a scanner and give an in-depth and accurate picture of what the company's current situation is. This aids company executives in deciding the best course of action for the future.

The only downside supposedly of hiring a business consultant is the extra burden on a company's payroll. However now it is clearly evident that the increase in revenue provided by these consultants is well worth the expense. In light of this, it's not a question of why should you hire a consultant; it's rather why should you not.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When to Use a Turnaround Business Consultant

When a business is in difficulty the directors broadly have three options:

- to fix it, either outside an insolvency process or by taking advantage of the protection some processes offer;

- to sell it, normally to somebody who believes that they can fix it; or

- to shut it.

This article looks at the 'fix it option', and what turnaround firms or an individual turnaround business consultant do?

In essence, turning a business around involves reversing its decline and restoring firstly stability and then secondly to use this as a base from which to re-grow its value. But however good a turnaround consultant or a turnaround firm, while company doctors can try to heal the sick, they cannot raise the dead.

Conditions for a successful turnaround

The starting point for most turnarounds is therefore a brutal assessment as to whether they have the necessary seven factors in place to stand a realistic chance of success which are:

1 A viable core business (or businesses) that is, or can quickly be made, profitable to then act as the base from which future growth can be rebuilt.

2 Time to carry through the turnaround, if they are started too late they will either fail or require the protection of an insolvency process.

3 Funding, as it is usually cash that provides the business with time and it is also true that turnarounds need money to carry out as there are often costs associated with both the initial restructuring (such as redundancy costs) and then with financing the eventual regrowth of the business. This funding will need to be generated from either within the business's trading activities, or by selling surplus assets, or from outside through refinancing or attracting new investors.

4 A goal, a clear vision of what the business will look like once it has been changed to restore success, which then provides management with both a target and motivation.

5 Managers in the business with the belief and willingness to work to achieve the goal, who also have sufficient functional and situational skills to be able to achieve success, or access to external management resources to provide additional support when and where it is needed.

6 Support from the business's key stakeholders, of which the most important in the crisis stage is often the bank, but in truth the business's managers cannot do it on their own and they need to be able to take a wide range of people including suppliers, customers, staff, bankers, shareholders, and others with them.

7 Doing so requires giving these stakeholders confidence in the plan and the process, as they will need to be convinced that the business's management who were in charge as the business got into difficulty have the ability to get it out again, which usually requires a clear and structured plan and an active programme of communication to keep them advised of progress.

An appropriately qualified turnaround consultant, such as a member of the Institute for Turnaround, introduced as a Chief Restructuring Officer will bring critical situational skills to the process from an extensive experience of dealing with such situations before and will focus on leading the business through the restructuring process. They will be able to 'speak the bankers (and if necessary the insolvency practitioner's) language, and help give that vital credibility to the plan by driving communication with the key stakeholders.

Phases of a turnaround

Turnarounds normally go through three distinct phases and whilst finance, people and marketing issues need to be addressed in each phase, priorities usually shift from being financially to marketing orientated as the turnaround progresses.

Turnarounds normally start with a cash crisis, where the management priority focuses on the short-term survival of the business and solving the immediate financial crisis. This often involves slimming the business down to its viable core and reducing its portfolio of products and markets to only those that are clearly profitable. Cutting staff numbers is often needed at this time but it is crucial to ensure you keep the key staff who you want to retain committed to the business while you do so.

A period of stabilisation and preparation usually follows the end of the immediate crisis. This is the time to plan the regrowth of the business as you develop new products and markets. Ensure that you have the right management team in place to take the business forwards and take the steps needed tosecure the finance facilities you will need for increased levels of trading.

Finally, you then need to achieve the regrowth required to return value to the business based on achieving long term sustainable competitive advantage and financial stability.

The key tasks of a turnaround plan

A successful turnaround process therefore involves five key tasks:

1 Recognising the need, as to solve a problem you firstly have to realise you have one, what it is, and that you need to deal with it.

2 Surviving to do it, as to fix the problem you have to avoid being pulled down by the immediate cash crisis, and in doing so get a strong grip on your business's finances and what these tell you about its performance, problems, and potential solutions.

3 Deciding what to do, as you have to take an objective look at your business's internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the external opportunities and threats presented by the environment within which it operates. Only then can you develop an appropriate strategy and short and long term priorities which then become detailed action plans showing who is going to do what, when, and what success looks like.

4 Making the plan happen by locking in the support you need from stakeholders and managing your people, keeping them and the stakeholders informed and motivated; managing the process, continually looking for the next quick win whilst also continually monitoring your plan against reality and changing circumstances; managing the business, keeping an eye on the numbers and the everyday activities of your business; managing the inherent insolvency risks of a turnaround situation; and lastly managing yourself as any turnaround activity will be stressful and challenging.

5 And finally, keep on succeeding as once your business has recovered you need to keep it going that way by using the skills and approaches you have developed during the turnaround to ensure it continues to succeed.

Of course the information contained in an article like this can never be a full statement of the legal position as the relevant laws are complex and liable to change. This article can only therefore be a general guide as to the issues involved and you should always seek appropriate professional advice on your own particular circumstances before taking any action.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Four Benefits of a Business Consulting Franchise

Do you have a lot of business acumen that you want to share with other people? Are you good at handling responsibility and finances? Are you tired of the rat race and making someone else's living for them? If you answered "yes" to all these questions, then you may wish to consider opening your very own business consulting franchise. A business consulting franchise can do you and your clients a world of good. You just need to take that first step. If you're having issues stepping out on your own, then here are four more benefits of a business consulting franchise to entice you:

Help others realize their personal and professional goals: A business consulting franchise gives you the opportunity to help others deal with the difficulties and challenges of running a business. When you are in the position of helping others, you will be surprised at how that can come back to help you down the road. Do a good job, give good consultation, and it could be that your next client will come from your previous. Referrals are a large part of getting ahead with your business consulting franchise, and should not be overlooked in favor of traditional advertising. If you can tell a client is pleased with your assistance, ask them if they know of anyone else who can benefit from your services.

Work your own hours: With a business consulting franchise, you will often get to work and schedule your day on your time. Now to clarify, working your own hours does not give you a license to be lazy. No, if you work for yourself and you are successful at it, you will find that the hours you work are comparable to if not more than a regular full-time job. The advantage: you work on your timetable not another person's, and you work when it's necessary. No more "busy-work."

Achieve financial independence: There are few feelings more rewarding than achieving financial independence by your own means. It's your way of validating your effectiveness as a business person and a human being. A business consulting franchise can be a very lucrative endeavor when the referrals start coming and you get your name out into the community--whether online or brick-and-mortar.

Strengthen your own business by strengthening others: When you help to strengthen other businesses with your business consulting franchise, you find yourself in positions to see what works and what doesn't in other businesses, so you can implement strengths and take out weaknesses on your own. It truly is a win-win situation because you're providing a viable service that businesses need and beefing up your own bottom line in the process.

A business consulting franchise may be the answer you're looking for if you've always wanted to put your business skills to use in a positive way. Take that first step today, and see how working for others is a great way of working for yourself!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why Small Business Owners Need to Hire a Business Consultant

Most small business owners would benefit by electing to hire a business consultant, particularly if they are just starting up or if their business is not doing as well they hoped it would. Consultants can help you in many ways, offering the breadth of their experience in business start-ups and management to enable you to get off to the best possible start or to rescue a failing business that nevertheless has good potential.

Business Consultant Services

When you hire a business consultant you are hiring experience and expertise in a wide range of business elements. They can bring a new perspective to your business in terms of operation analysis, obtaining finance, strategic planning, management consulting and a great deal more.

Very few small owners have much business knowledge or acumen, and even fewer contacts in the business world that can help them with good advice. Business consultancy services can offer you these missing ingredients that can not only turn a failing company round into a successful enterprise, but can also build on the success of a successful firm and enable it to even further dominate its market.

So your small business need not be failing for you to make the best use of a business consultant - successful businesses also employ them to accelerate what may already be a rapid growth rate.

Why Hire a Business Consultant?

  • Have you just started up and are unsure where to go next?
  • Is your business losing money?
  • Do you understand your market but lack some necessary business skills?
  • Is your business growing but you want it to grow faster?
  • Have you reached a point where you need professional help to advance?
  • Have you a need find out more about your customers' needs?

If you can identify with any of these situations then a business consultant can help you. Here are some of the benefits hiring a business consultant can offer:

  • Starting up a new business from scratch
  • Maximizing the profitability of your business
  • Locating areas of your business needing specific attention
  • Identifying potential problems and being proactive in resolving them
  • Helping you to formulate strategic and systematic plans to enable your business to grow
  • Making best use of marketing and the USPs of your products or services
  • Helping you find finance to develop your business
  • Providing you with new ideas and strategies you had never thought of yourself
  • A business consultant provides the knowledge and know-how currently missing in your business

Although you may believe hiring a business consultant to be expensive, they are more affordable than you might believe. They are very cost effective and what you spend in fees you can make many times over in improvement in efficiency and profitability.

There are no doubts that hiring a business consultant can benefit your business, but to make the best use of such as service you should:

a) Hire the best you can afford - with good references and an excellent track record, and

b) Learn from them: how do they operate, what techniques are they using and what third party services, websites or software do they use.

Hiring is fine, but make sure that you learn from them as much as possible. While the major reason why business owners need to hire a business consultant is that they genuinely need help, it doesn't make sense to pay money and fail to learn how to copy their techniques and understand the third party services that they may use.

The Gung Ho Approach: Try it and See What Happens!

Many entrepreneurs use a gung-ho trial-by-fire approach to improving their business - see what happens and if it works, then great, but if not, then start again. Why? Why try to reinvent the wheel and prove what is already known? By employing the services of a business consultant you can get off to a flying start, have any problems you encountered resolved immediately and get on to making more money as quickly as possible.

What you lose in 'learning for yourself' would be better spent on outsourcing your business knowledge and would offer a better return than the cost of learning. So, if you feel that you need a bit more knowledge than you already have, don't wait until you have learned by trial and error, but pay for it and get on with building a successful and profitable business.


Hiring a business consultant can offer a business many benefits - whether that is a new start-up, a failing business or a successful concern. Every business can improve, and if you believe the financial benefit exceeds the outlay, then it's a no-brainer.

So take that burden off your shoulders and pass it on to somebody with the breadth of experience and proven ability to make the changes and improvements that you need to let you sleep easily at night without worry for yourself and your employees. That's why small business owners need to hire a business consultant. To teach them what they don't know!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Benefits of a Business Consulting Franchise

What is a Business Consulting Franchise?

Rather than go into business consultancy on your own, you can invest in a franchise with an established business consulting company that is offering a franchise to practise business consultancy, usually, but not always, in a specific geographical area. In return for the franchise fee, you should receive the backing of their brand name, training, ongoing support, business and analytical tools, marketing resources, and maybe in house expertise to call upon when needed.

The company offering the franchise is called the FRANCHISOR while the person investing in the business consulting franchise is called the FRANCHISEE.

Better Chances of Success and Generating Income Earlier

Getting started in any business of your own can be a huge step. Fear of failure stops many people going ahead with their dream. If you have issues going it alone, then consider investing in a franchise. It vastly increases your chances of success, and tends to generate income much earlier.

If you want to become a business consultant, it can be very difficult acting alone because you cannot have all the expertise required to meet the many challenges of consulting with different kinds of businesses. Even if you specialize in a specific industry or field, there will be many occasions where you just don't know how best to help a client business. A business consulting franchise, by its very nature, can offer a powerful support structure.

All the Support and Resources You Need

For example, a good business consulting franchisor will provide you with training both when you first get started, and on an ongoing basis. They will also be able to offer you advice and help with many specific business growth and marketing strategies that your client businesses may require, whatever line of business they are in.

You should also have the benefit of a selection of marketing materials and reference materials to use on an ongoing basis.

In general, franchisees are better supported, better motivated, better skilled, and better financed, to win new business than new business start-ups on their own. So if you are starting your own business consultancy, and going it alone, you could face an uphill battle.

Being a business consultant on your own can be a very lonely existence. On the other hand, when you are part of a large supportive organization, particularly in these days of online membership forums, you will always have colleagues willing and ready to help you, not just with expertise and possible solutions, but with encouragement and mutual support.

The Backing of a Brand Name - Possibly Well Known

You also have the powerful benefit of a strong brand once the business consultancy company has established itself in the market, and by buying into that brand through your franchise, you have all that credibility and trust behind you. It will be easier to acquire new client businesses to consult with, when you have a strong company brand behind you.

A Proven System

The whole point of investing in a franchise is that you will have access to a proven system that has already been well tested.

You Are Your Own Boss

You will, of course, be your own boss, and you can work when and how you want, and be very flexible. There is nothing like being self-employed and being in control of your own working hours. However, many business owners are just slaves to their businesses, having to be there all the time. As a business consultant, you can probably work from home, or a small office, so overheads and business expenditure can be kept to a minimum, leaving you with a higher income. Also, you have no staffing problems!

Substantial Incomes Can be Earned

As a successful business consultant, you can become financially free, meaning you no longer have any money worries. If you are helping businesses to expand and grow their profits, then there are substantial earnings to be made, especially if your agreement with your client businesses includes them paying you a percentage of the extra profits you helped generate.

Very Worthwhile and Respectable Profession

As a successful business consultant, you will experience the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile with your life, knowing that by helping businesses to grow their profits, you are helping all the people associated with that businesses: owners, management, staff, manufacturers, suppliers, joint venture partners, and all their families. You are helping make the world a better place and that's a very worthwhile cause to attach yourself to.

Helping others realize their personal and business goals by showing them how to successfully deal with the difficulties and challenges of managing a business, also brings more back to you in the future. The more value you give to others, the more you receive in return, and not just the financial rewards from the business you have given value to. You will receive much more in return from other sources. Whenever you work successfully with a client business you can use their own testimonial to help you acquire new businesses to consult with, or the satisfied business itself is happy to recommend your services to other non-competing businesses. So by giving real value through your consultancy services, you should never be short of new business challenges to find solutions for!

If you have a family, then you will be proud to be providing for them the lifestyle you all deserve, and doing so while pursuing a very professional and highly respected business consultancy.

Great Way to Acquire Expertise, Experience and Authority Status

As you gain more and more experience of dealing successfully with different business consulting challenges, you are acquiring valuable expertise, knowledge, and confidence. All this raises you to a much higher level of business consulting competence. In so doing, you will also become a respected business consultant in the field, and possibly acquire expert status, with the backing of the franchisor's brand, so on a professional level, you feel on top of the world.

So, a business consulting franchise may be the perfect way to go, if you would like to put your business skills to use in a positive way, especially if you want a change from running your own business or working in someone else's business, and not getting the rewards you feel you deserve.