No matter what industry you work in, every job has a specific skill set that will enable someone to excel in that role. While some positions have straightforward requirements for which you can train and master, other fields require a combination of appropriate knowledge, training, and soft skills. Working as a Business Consultant is one such field and developing the appropriate skills to succeed in this role will depend on your background and your motivations.
A Business Consultant provides services for businesses to meet their specific needs in a number of different business-related functions. To be someone that businesses turn to for advice and guidance, you need to develop expertise through extensive experience, training, knowledge, and understanding in the fields of interest for that particular business.
Ultimately, a business consultant is a problem solver. To acquire the skills necessary for business consulting, a combination of technical capabilities and an understanding of interpersonal dynamics within specific business models and industries will need to be developed. But knowing and doing are separate entities, so how do you get started?
What do Business Consultants do?
A business consultant's role is to optimise and improve business models of companies they work with. They identify opportunities and solutions to provide value, advice, and expertise in certain areas of the business or on the business as a whole.
A business consultant can be a specialist in any one of a number of different areas such as law, marketing, human resources, finance, management, security, engineering, or specific industries or market sectors. For this reason, the duties and functions of a business consultant are dependent upon why they were hired and what the objectives of the business are.
What Skills Make a Good Business Consultant?
To be a good business consultant, it is imperative to manifest an expert level knowledge of business generally. An in-depth understanding of all the different departments of business functions is crucial. These include but are not limited to marketing, finance, law, human resources, management, security, health and safety, and sales. While this knowledge is essential, it is only the minimum competency required.
Additionally, business consultants need excellent communication and problem solving skills. Other attributes include leadership development skills, team profiling, critical thinking, strategy and development, networking, reporting and analysis, and recruiting.
Business consultants give constructive criticism and implement change strategies. They need to develop relationships with clients and employees to foster trust and understanding so their input is valued and well-received.
How Do I Become an Effective Consultant?
Effectively, a business consultant is a problem solver. If you have the expertise it takes to be able to problem solve on any issue, then you potentially have what it takes to become an effective consultant. Other important attributes include:
Adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset - Some people love the freedom of running their own business, while others prefer the security of working as part of an organisation. More than half of new businesses don’t make it past the first 5 years, so an entrepreneurial mindset requires resourcefulness, resilience, and a good business sense.
Identify Your Optimal Niche - Where do your knowledge and strengths lie? The goal of a consultant is to solve specific problems for specific people. It’s hard to be the best at everything, so by discovering your niche, you can develop your skill set and excel. Using DISC assessments can help you to determine your strengths and how to nurture and complement them.
Identify A Common Problem You Can Solve - Once you’ve identified your niche, ask yourself these questions:
- What kinds of business problems or needs do people in your niche have?
- What obstacles do they face in overcoming these problems?
- What problems do they face that they aren’t aware of?
- What issues are causing them the most stress or frustration?
- What solutions are people investing the most money into?
- Can you offer a tried and tested solution that will improve their business practices and enhance their bottom line?
Create Your Consulting Value Proposition - To be an effective business consultant, you need to be able to successfully communicate the value you provide to your clients. To do this, the first 3 steps to create a pitch are to communicate your niche, the problem you can solve, and how you intend to solve it. Details of your plan and metrics can follow after further engagement.
Build Your Online Hub - Having an online presence will give clients access to your capabilities and experience. A few web pages, properly optimised for search engines and social media, are all you need to start getting noticed.
Create A Repeatable System For Attracting Leads - Lead generation through tested methods such as social media or search engine optimisation, referrals, and networking can lead to a landing page on your website with a clear and engaging pitch to introduce your niche and problem solving method.
Optimise Your Method For Closing Sales - This doesn’t have to be sales calls or emails and may depend on your niche and the kinds of clients you are trying to attract. Online orders, affiliate marketing, and a referral network are all effective ways of attracting and closing clients.
Improve Your Delivery Method - The most important objective is to keep your commitments you make to your clients that you have the solution to solve their problem. Improving your methods and optimising your delivery will increase the effectiveness of your own business and help you gain the trust of more clients.
Build Your Brand - When you’re starting out, there’s nowhere to go but up. Build your brand through social media channels, networking, and other marketing methods to increase the demand for your expertise and expand your client base. This may mean working for in-kind arrangements or referrals, but these investments can pay off in the long term.
Evolve Your Offer - Consulting can come in many forms such as:
- Executing a function - completing a task for a client
- Collaborating on an objective - working with a client
- 1 on 1 coaching - coaching a client
- Group coaching - coaching a client’s team
- Online programs - coaching or direction through technology resources
Some methods may be more lucrative than others, while some clients might prefer alternative learning methods. By evolving and expanding your offerings, you can attract more clients.
DISC assessments can help you determine your behavioural attributes that will integrate well with clients and client teams. Understanding how you work can help you improve your work as a consultant and also improve outcomes for your clients.
What Qualifications do you need to be a Business Consultant?
A Bachelor's degree is often the minimum requirement to become a business consultant, but in most industries, a Master’s degree will be expected. In addition, there are many other certifications to benefit and strengthen specific skills of business consultants depending on your specialisation or expertise.
DISC assessments are instrumental to helping business performance and effectiveness. Business consultants are more commonly becoming qualified in DISC assessments. By being able to conduct these assessments, business consultants can determine behavioural styles and team dynamics of staff which helps to identify problem areas within the workplace and recommend ways to improve on them.
HR Profiling Solutions offers DISC Certification training that equips you with the background knowledge and practical skills to administer profiles, debrief reports, and create positive change in any organisation using DISC profile theory in workplaces. Ultimately, this augments your functions as a business consultant and makes your offerings that much more attractive.