Sunday, March 4, 2012

What You Need to Consider When Investing in a Business Consulting Franchise

What Experience Do You Have?

You will have a major advantage if you already have experience of running, or working within, a successful business; or in sales and marketing; or in lecturing in business studies and marketing; or in business or marketing consulting.

Having the right kind of business experience, expertise, and knowledge already, puts you in a strong position to enjoy early success as a business consultant working within the legal framework of your franchise agreement, and the support structure available within the organization. You have all that expertise already, but now you also have the trusted brand behind you, a collection of marketing and analytical tools, and ongoing training resources and support for when you need it.

If you don't have the appropriate experience, all is not lost. You can attend various business and marketing courses at community colleges and universities, and online courses are also now available to you. A good franchisor should also be providing a comprehensive training course when you first invest in the franchise, along with ongoing professional development, so if you have a strong desire to become a business consultant then you can still do so. Just take into account the time it will take for you to acquire the appropriate expertise to get started successfully.

What You Need To Run Your Consultancy Business

You will need premises, but a room in your home will be suitable, or you can rent a small office somewhere. You can even use the services of an online virtual office (internet based) if you do not need to meet clients on your own premises. Normally, you will be meeting clients where their own business is located.

You need internet access, maybe your own web site, you need a telephone, computer and printing equipment, stationery supplies including letterheads and business cards, travelling expenses, maybe a car, marketing materials and resources, and possibly personal and professional training in addition to what your franchise company supplies.

All in all, your expenditure can be kept to a minimum, and is nothing like what would be required to operate a normal business.

The Cost of Your Consultant Franchise

Your big financial consideration, of course, is the franchise fee. Just like starting any kind of business you will have a relatively high up front capital investment. You won't, however, have to pay for expensive premises, equipment, manufacturing, stock, and staffing.

Instead, you are paying a franchise fee to buy into the franchise, with all the benefits that brings to you. Franchise fees vary greatly so you need to do a lot of research to compare what you get for your money. Like anything, you get what you pay for. What seems like a good deal might prove a disastrous investment if you don't receive the support and resources you expect, or if there is not enough business available for you, or there is too much competition.

Many banks are happy to lend money for a franchise business they approve of, provided you satisfy their credit rating requirements, so if you don't have the capital needed to invest in a really good business consultancy franchise, this can be the way for you to go.

What You Need to Check Before Investing in a Consulting Franchise

* Speak to some business consultants for advice

Ask one or two franchise consultants to recommend a reputable business consultancy franchise in your country.

* Do your market research

What kind of businesses will you be expected to consult with? How many such businesses are in your area? What competition can you expect from other business consultants in your region? What prospects are there for future growth? If your franchise agreement does not restrict you to a specific area then you have the advantage of consulting with businesses in other areas.

You need to be satisfied that you will have access to plenty of business consulting opportunities and that the potential market for you is extensive enough to keep you in business for a long time.

* Speak to some current franchisees

Speak to some current franchise owners already working with the business to find out first hand what their own experiences are. You are trying to find out if the amount of work required, the running expenses, and the income being earned, matches up with what the franchise company is promising you. The head office staff will always paint a rosy picture but this may be very different to what consultants in the field are finding.

Of course, if you are considering a newly launched franchise operation, then you will be unable to speak with active consultants because there won't be any! There lies a big advantage, possibly, if you are one of the first to purchase a franchise and help get the business launched. There may well be a discount on the franchise fee during the initial launch period.

* Read the prospectus and franchise agreement several times

You need to read very carefully all these documents to get a complete understanding of every aspect of the business. You need to know all your rights and responsibilities, what you can and cannot do.

It is highly advisable to ask a fully qualified franchise lawyer to check the franchise agreement which is a legal document. It is no good asking a general lawyer because he will not understand many of the terms of the contract. You MUST go to a lawyer who specializes in franchise agreements because he can properly advise you. It's worth spending a little money at this stage to check there is nothing in the agreement that could cause you a big problem later on, after you have invested a lot of money in purchasing the franchise.

* Find out all the ongoing costs before you invest

You will know the initial investment required to purchase the franchise. You must also find out what other costs are involved, apart from the normal day-to-day running costs.

There is normally a monthly charge payable to the franchisor (the franchise company) that pays for the ongoing support and backup. This will be either a flat fee, or a percentage of your profits. There is usually, also, a fee to be paid to renew your franchise every few years or so, and this will vary according to the type of consultancy.

* Investigate the level of income you can expect

The Company should be able to provide you with income projections based on different levels of commitment on your part. No level of income can be guaranteed, of course, because there are so many variables, but you should be given spreadsheets with examples of what you can expect to earn based on certain conditions.

* Will you be provided with operating manuals and other essential resources?

How much information and guidance will you be given to help you run your consultancy business? The whole purpose of a franchise business is it provides you with a proven system to follow, and if you follow the system, then you should be successful. So how detailed is the system you will be following, and do you feel confident you can do so?

* What kind of training and support can you expect?

You are paying a substantial sum of money for your franchise. Find out as much as you can about the training you will be given when you start, and about the ongoing training and support you can expect. Speak with the management team, meet them if you can. Are they people you can work with? Are they approachable and supportive? Do you trust them? You will be part of a team so make sure it is a team you want to be part of!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Business Consultants - How They Can Help?

Many people have a different and incorrect interpretation of a business consultant. To them, business consultants are troubleshooters who only come into the picture when the company is facing a financial dilemma or a crisis. In point of fact, business consultants specialize in dealing with all types of company matters. They provide oversight into a company's activities and are instrumental in advising companies and even government institutions in making correct, efficient and profitable decisions.

Business Consultants offer a Broader Perspective

Business consultants are hired specifically to look at company issues from a different and broader perspective. These consultants are experts in their relative fields and offer sound advice and guidance to companies as to how to proceed ahead with an issue at hand. They have no direct relation to the company and are hence outsiders working on the inside. However this works perfectly for the company itself. Being a third party, businesses consultants can see things top management may fail to see. This enables them to weigh the pros and cons of the strategy more efficiently and helps them achieve the best solution.

Types of Business Consultants

Business consultants often specialize in specific fields in order to meet the varying demands of today's companies. Management consultants advise on various aspects of corporate operations such as marketing, finance and corporate strategy. However their role also extends into assembly line or other manufacturing processes, information systems and computer networks, data processing, e-commerce, and human resources.

Some firms offer technical consultants who provide technical advice relating to non-management activities. These include monitoring compliance with various safety and health regulations, an in-depth analysis of technology applications and scientific knowledge in fields like physics and biology. There are consultants available for every almost every field. Another good example is environmental consultants. Companies hire them in order to determine whether they are meeting government emission standards. This allows the companies to keep themselves in check and correct the problem beforehand and avoid hefty penalties.

How Startups Benefit from Business Consultancy

Startup businesses often hire business consultants to ensure they stay on track with the company vision. They help make business plans and formulate marketing strategies. In addition they provide legal consulting services to familiarize firms with all the legal aspects of their business that they may not be aware of.

Business Consultancy is Not just for Big Corporations

Contrary to the popular belief, business consultancy is not just for large high profile corporations. People base this belief on the notion that hiring all these extra consultants is only going to add to their expenses. Smaller companies simply cannot afford business management consultants regardless of the increase in revenue they bring to the table.

Business consultants are no longer an option, rather a requirement for businesses to survive in today's competitive market. Depending on the nature of the business and the type of consultancy they require, they should hire appropriate type of consultants to assist them in their business endeavors.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Business Consultants Boost Practices

Business consulting boosts revenue and businesses. Hiring them in this day and age has become indispensable to ensuring that a certain business succeeds. There are many consultants out there who can offer alternatives in situations other than their area of expertise. A business is sure to operate effectively when consultants like accountants and CPAs are hired for it. A consultant immediately recognizes the contours of the business by discovering its weaknesses and strengths.

There are many benefits you can reap by hiring a business consultant. Consultants keep an eye out for situations and circumstances that usually escape the notice of the regular staff. Consultants for businesses are usually very well-informed about the market situation and therefore, they easily enhance the experience of the staff while remaining oriented towards a positive result for the company they are helping. Most businesses, these days no longer possess the capability to analyze past failures and successes to base future plans upon.

A business consultant possesses considerable analytical skills that enable her to discover ideas and solutions for business growth and maintenance of a healthy relationship with customers and clients. This way, the businesses that consultants support usually stay ahead of the competition. Professional experts offer comprehensive information on different aspects of managing a business effectively. It's as if their presence and absence makes the difference between success and potential failure for a given business.

Business consulting gives business owners more time to think over core activities that are critical to the business's long term goals without having to think about faults in the system that could harm the enterprise if left unnoticed. Business owners are like captains of a ship while business consultants are the engineers discovering and immediately sealing minor cracks that may grow to sink the ship if left unattended. In addition to working on a short term basis, business consultants can act as a practice manager's long term aid. With the help of a business consultant, employee productivity and performance are dramatically improved.

Business consulting is an indispensable ingredient for new businesses. Two things are mainly required for a new business: a business plan and funds for its proper management. A plan that is thoroughly prepared will convince financial institutions and others to invest. Not only do professional business consultants greatly contribute to the development of such a plan, but they also free entrepreneurs from the stress associated with the process. Once the business is established, its owners or providers will want to increase sales or productivity. Business consulting services make possible the development of a strong marketing plan to increase sales. What go into a strong marketing plan are the analysis of growth, competitors and customer behavior.

Business consultants must be able to understand the business they will provide guidance for. This almost guarantees the success of that business. Therefore, business owners and practice managers must recognize their own objectives before consulting a business professional. That way, the consultant will know exactly what to focus on so that the company may be able to achieve those targets.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can a Business Consultant Make a Difference in Your Company's Success?

A business consultant has many roles and can help an old company re-new itself and find itself again; help founders start and develop a new venture or project; help to turn around a company fraught with problems; help a company identify new opportunities and markets; or help a company develop a business success plan.

A good business consultant has experience working in and with a broad range of businesses. An experienced business consultant has broad and narrow stroke experience and typically, twenty years or more of accumulated business experience. Having an MBA from a good business school isn't enough. The consultant must have solid real world experience with many types of companies to be an effective consultant.

So what does a business consultant do? First and foremost, a consultant gets to know and understand your business. As the business owner, you know more about your business than anyone else. For this reason, a good business consultant will take the time to learn from you, your department heads and key employees the ins and outs of your business.

The consultant then goes to work identifying problems and opportunities. Those may be certain problems and opportunities you point out to the consultant, but also a good consultant will have a process to identify problems and opportunities which a business owner has not identified. A consultant brings fresh eyes, fresh experience and an open mind to your business enterprise, providing a completely different perspective than that of someone who has been running the company for some time or someone looking to start a new venture.

A business consultant will then analyze this gathered information in order to provide solid solutions and plans for the future. Often business ownership is so focused on working "in" the business that short term and long term outlooks and strategies are overlooked and neglected. The consultant re-focuses a company's strategies in order to solve immediate problems, while taking advantage of future opportunities. Steps taken in a good consulting process include: learn about the business; identify problems; identify future opportunities; perform analysis; provide solutions through a concrete plan; listen to feedback and adjust the plan; and implement and track the plan.

The consultant considers all company input to develop a business plan that will be effective. The consultant listens to the opinions of the company's advisors (accountants, lawyers, bankers and other advisers). The consultant can use Delphi sessions and red teams which contain industry experts and competitive viewpoints. The consultant also listens carefully to the view points of the company's ownership, founders, board, top management and key employees. A final business plan is agreed upon and signed off on by the company with the consultant helping to implement, track and re-work the plan as necessary over time.

When an entrepreneur is thinking about starting up a new business, a business consultant can apply a start-up analysis to determine if it is a feasible opportunity, which includes: analyze and evaluate the opportunity; develop a business strategy and model; resource audit; acquiring and leveraging needed resources; venture deployment; and getting and distributing value.

When considering an existing business acquisition, a business consultant can employ an business analysis, such as: products and services analysis; management team appraisal; operational analysis; market position; competitive factors; SWOT analysis; analyze financials; valuations; and risk assessment.

A business consultant's derived value pays for itself. What you pay in fees for a good consultant will pale in comparison to the profitability the consultant's strategies will create. A business consultant is an investment in the future success of your company.