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What’s In It For Me When Hiring A Business Consultant?

Each day in the controlled chaos which is a small business, owners rely on what they know in making decisions that change their future, for better or worse. They are unaware of potential problems or issues that arise from these decisions until results start to appear. This is The Consulting Advantagea crisis that many business managers choose to ignore and avoid thinking about by staying busy – to be busy. I always ask myself, why? Is it because staying in the comfort zone is easier than pushing for more information or perhaps it comes down to fear of the unknown. Regardless, business decisions made with partial information create solutions that cost time, energy, and money and don’t produce RESULTS!

Now that the problem is identified what are the options for an open-minded, entrepreneurial business owner to address the constant state of change which is today’s small business environment? Prior to discussing the options let’s talk about the market forces that affect small business and how they create the tipping points which lead to forced change. They include change in technology, infrastructure optimization, human capital issues, and costs related to production, business development, marketing and sales.

Change In Technology

Small businesses are just now benefiting from sweeping change in availability of affordable software platforms and applications designed to put them on a level playing field with larger competitors. Sales enablement tools, project management software, mobile applications, and online subscription marketing platforms are examples of technology that can support steady growth and  business optimization without bankrupting a struggling company. Issues arise in selection, implementation, and management of these tools which opens the door for third party support or yours truly- a business consultant.  Consultants assist in making the right decisions based on their immediate knowledge and experience leading to faster conversion to profit and lower risk exposure.


Even now, in many small businesses. “what worked for dad works for me” is still a common thread. This trend leads to conducting daily activity in the same way as before, ignoring change in the marketplace. So what happens? The business falters, fails, is sold, or is forced to adapt rapidly leading to negative shifts in personnel, culture, and operations. Changing orientation of the business model to focus on a proactive approach to the market compels a company to find better ways to compete or optimize by doing more with less. A great example of this is the financial flexibility provided by online financial services companies like Kabbage, that offer a dynamic approach to funding everyday expenses and business emergencies through a working capital loan. Customers can obtain and manage business loans to address the constant change represented in their target market. Managing this type of change requires more knowledge than many business owners possess or have access to. Once again, a consultant can be the first step to finding a solution.

Human Capital

There is an art to managing people and most of us don’t understand the necessary components to successfully build and manage an empowered, entrepreneurial  work force. Owners lean on friends, relatives, and gut instinct rather than studying how to make human capitalization work for their business. Human capital is the total value brought to a business by the combined education, experience, and knowledge of various employees, supervisors, managers, and executives. Growing it will lead to happier employees, better products, greater revenues, and a strong bottom line. Ignoring it will cause a slow spiral to lost market share, weakened product mix, and an unproductive business culture. Examples of success are Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and Microsoft who sponsor employee-led innovation and growth to make daily activities more profitable and efficient.

Change In Cost Structure

Businesses have always struggled with supply and demand particularly small businesses who don’t possess the asset pool sometimes necessary to support large complex deals or market initiatives. A simple shift in raw material costs can effectively eliminate a business from offering a competitive product or service.  Higher production and distribution costs simply price the product out of the market. The answer lies in constant awareness of change in production costs, effective relationships with vendors, and application of industry best practices to daily operations. Managing costs can lead to a more profitable relationship with marketing and sales as well as the final buyer and revenue growth based on value not discounting or sales.

Sales And Marketing As Part Of Business Development

Although business development is considered part of the marketing camp, we can lump it together with sales and marketing for the purpose of discussing how all three are affected by decision-making in daily operations. In many businesses short-term focus is always on revenue production stemming from financial pressures rather than linked to long-term strategy and initiatives. The adage cash flow is king creates an artificial reality that sucks you in and won’t allow open-minded behavior. Knee jerk reaction rather than careful planning become the strategy each day.  This mindset can lead to higher expenses, bad deals, and lower profits not to mention inability to leverage assets, partnerships, or liabilities. By bringing in a consultant to evaluate the situation, create an action plan, and execute, a company will become more efficient and achieve higher margins. Sales training, marketing support, and sales enablement should be the norm not the exception.

Back To The Options

Now that we have discussed some of the forces that may influence daily decisions, how  can a business manager become more knowledgeable and effective? Doing nothing and staying with the norm leads to paralysis and slow or no growth. Adding to the workforce might be an option if the accompanied costs are justified in comparison to output. In my opinion, the best option is to hire a consultant who can facilitate change, provide immediate knowledge, assist in avoiding expensive mistakes, and provide a sounding board prior to making decisions leading to sweeping change. I suspect in your business, it’s your call… Just be sure to make the right one.

Spend Your Money On – “Perfect” Lead Building

Let’s face as small business owners, we have to spend a lot more time on the front end rather than the back end of the lead generation/customer building process. Larger companies can afford to “test” the market through third parties, expensive inbound campaigns, and software-enhanced prospect nurturing programs. In small business budgets are tight and the window of opportunity closes fast. For me, the best advice of where to spend your money – lead development.

Lead Versus Prospect

When does a lead become a prospect? By nature leads are generally interested in your specific product or service and are open to more education, monetary stimulation (sales/discoDeveloping Leads Is A Daily Processunts), and potential relationships. On the other hand, a prospect is identified by his conversion to – ready to buy. The true sales process begins when the matrix of [desire-product mix-budget] are matched effectively and competition is addressed. The only challenge becomes timing and delivery. It is very common to see old marketers focused on leads and not prospects because it is much easier to describe leads by demographics, buying styles, finances, personal interests, etc. than trying to define prospects. True prospects are generated AFTER conversion and can’t be counted before. This is why so many sales funnels are littered with “could-be prospects” with no real value as opposed to defined opportunity. How many times do you or your sales people extend the closing date until next week or month to show activity? In my experience, the closer the business owner is to the sales process the smaller the funnel and higher the closing percentage. Small businesses can’t waste the time on pipe dreams.

Business Development Or Product Evangelism

Understanding the difference between business development and product selling is one of the most important components of lead generation strategy. Is the small business building a product to fit a need or is the need an obvious fit Generate Interest In Your Companyto existing product? In many small businesses owners opt for the “field of dreams” philosophy – build it and they will come rather than go out, find them, and bring them to the game. Simply put, if no one knows about your company, then no one knows about your company. This is why lead generation is essential to growth and should be part of every strategy regardless of focus.

Best practice:  know that future customers are always built-TODAY.

Where To Begin Constructing Leads?

Now that you understand the difference between leads and prospects, sales funnel and pipe dreams, and the basic mechanism of search out rather than wait for, you are ready to generate leads. Leads come from a comparison of a company’s core competencies to market condition and buyer desire. With desire being defined as the value a customer will pay for your product or service and the potential of referring this to others in a target market. The best place to start is with your competition particularly those who market as the lions in your niche market. Big players in a target market have to give up specialization and speed to enable standardization of the product platform and messaging of value. Enter small business!  Resplendent with low overhead, targeted skill sets, and local exposure, small business can capitalize on what the “big guys” can’t or don’t do for immediate profit. As in personal life unhappiness and disappointment will fuel desire for change. Many businesses are started because of inefficiencies found in large established firms. Take advantage of a bigger player’s struggling market share, unstable marketing message, and operational weaknesses to stimulate a fertile field of leads for your company.

Do your homework, compare offerings, and establish your target niche. Sharper vision and clear messaging will equate to higher possibility that specific buyers will have interest in you. For help with this process, drop me a line or contact through either facebook or this website.

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