Career Spotlight: Business Consultant

Use Your Business Degree to Work for Yourself as a Business Consultant

What Is a Business Consultant?

Do you enjoy offering people advice? As a business consultant, you work with business professionals on projects to help them succeed. Business consultants analyze organizational practices, identify weaknesses, and recommend solutions. Learn how to become a business consultant and what area to specialize in.

What Do Business Consultants Do?

Business consultants are professional advisors who help companies achieve certain goals. Most consultants work with leadership teams to do the following:

  • Increase sales and revenue
  • Improve employee performance
  • Develop business plans
  • Facilitate new system trainings
  • Improve organizational efficiency
  • Implement organizational changes, which can include hiring and firing staff
  • Increase employee morale
  • Improve customer service and customer satisfaction
  • Responsibilities vary depending on the industry you are working in and the goals of the company. Most of the time, business consultants are hired when something isn’t going as planned. As a business leader, if your company isn’t producing enough products or making enough money, or morale is extremely low and causing high turnover among employees, it may be time to hire a consultant.

    What Types of Business Consultants Are There?

    Business consultants often specialize in specific areas such as marketing, human resources, management, engineering, or finance, and provide expert advice on that topic. Furthermore, business consultants tend to work with similar businesses. Whether you consider yourself an expert in small business consulting, human resources consulting, or IT consulting, the main goal is to improve the overall business. Furthermore, most business consultants previously worked in the field that they now consult in.

    Small Business Consultants

    Small business consultants usually give new or experienced business owners advice on problem solving, strategy, and developing skills. Since many small business owners tend to be experts in the product they sell, rather than in running a business, it is common to work with a business consultant. Some responsibilities can include:

  • Design business plans
  • Create sales and marketing strategies
  • Gather data and analytics, and provide reports for business owners
  • Ultimately, business owners hire business consultants who are experts in a field they need the most help with.

    Operations Consultants

    Operations consultants are hired to improve a company’s internal operations. Operations consultants support implementation of a company’s target operating model, management systems, functional business processes, and culture throughout the life cycle of a business’s products.

    HR Consultants

    Human resource consultants offer a variety of services, including professional consulting, education, training, and human resource advice. Most companies hire a HR consultant when they aren’t satisfied with its current employees or their management. An HR consultant observes employees and upper leadership to seek out weaknesses. They then develop plans that will benefit the client. In some cases, HR consultants will assist with the hiring of new employees or firing of current ones.

    Risk Management Consultants

    A risk management consultant assesses the various risks faced by a particular organization. This can include cyber risk assessments, governance, risk and compliance, incident response planning, and IT. Most organizations hire a risk management consultant when things might not be going as planned within the organization, or the industry is changing. The goal of hiring a risk management consultant is to get ahead of big challenges. They help forecast the future of the organization and industry so upper leadership can better prepare.

    IT Consultants

    IT consultants manage just what the title suggests: technological issues. Most of the time, organizations hire IT consultants when there are issues with their current system or network or when they implement a new system or network. IT consultants handle anything from computer repairs to management and maintenance of large networks, depending on the client’s needs.

    How to Become a Business Consultant

    There is no direct path to becoming a business consultant. Many begin with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing, management, leadership, or a related field. A good consultant has work experience in the field they wish to consult in. That can be anything from an internship for a few months, to working in the field for years, and becoming a consultant later in life.

    Skills Needed to Become a Business Consultant

    In addition to a bachelor’s degree and work experience, successful business consultants have these skills:

  • Effective Communication. As a consultant, you must have strong communication skills to work with your clients. You must transmit your ideas and interpret data in a way that is clear to your clients.
  • Strategic Thinker. A business consultant looks for weaknesses within an organization. The ability to understand business situations, other peoples’ perspectives, and practical business applications will set you up as a successful business consultant.
  • Strong Leader. Your job is to keep conversation productive and ensure the client is closer to their business goals. You need to take initiative and steer the conversations to lead to the most effective and efficient solutions. In some cases, you may work for yourself. Strong leadership skills are necessary.
  • Adaptability. Working with different businesses, you never know what you will find. Being able to adapt and be flexible is key to a successful business consultant.
  • Lastly, successful business consultants must have strategic consulting skills. You must be able to identify problems, find solutions, create long-term plans that companies can realistically execute, and always be listening and observing. A certificate in leadership from Excelsior University will help you strengthen your skills and set you up to be a successful business consultant.