How To Find A Consulting Firm That Fits Your Needs
Sherri H. Allgood | October 2, 2021
Firms say they can offer you one-stop solutions. But what does this mean? Here’s your guide to the most important services these consultants offer, including pros and cons of each kind of service.
Do you need help marketing your firm or developing business strategies? Do you want to grow but just don’t know how? If so, you may want to consider consulting with a business development firm.
There are many different types of firms out there that offer business consulting services for professional service firms. They will usually say they can help you attract more clients, increase your billings and profits, reach higher goals, benchmark against other companies in your industry, create new growth strategies, plan for succession, and more.
Many of these firms offer one-stop shopping. They will say they can provide you with all the necessary advice needed to grow your business in one fell swoop. This is great if it’s true, but how do you know which services are legitimate? How do you compare different offerings? What should you do if a certain firm you are considering does not fully cover all the services needed?
This article will explain what business development or growth firms do, the types of services they offer, and what they mean for your firm.
Services offered by growth consulting firms
Business Development Firms provide a wide range of business consulting services that pertain to increasing your business. How they do this can include one or more of the following:
Marketing Strategy – They will tell you how to reach your target audiences and connect with them through marketing messages, advertising, media relations, social media, speaking opportunities and more so that clients understand what you do and seek you out as a result. Marketing strategies focus on generating or identifying sales leads.
Strategic Imperatives – This usually means business development coaching, with an emphasis on improving your people skills with respect to networking, client relationships, leadership, planning for the future of the firm, succession planning/talent management, and more. It could be thought of as personal training in business building.
Business Growth – While marketing focuses on acquiring clients, business growth focuses on increasing fees and profits as a result of those clients. This area can include coaching as well as developmental services such as benchmarking against the competition, assessment of best practices in the industry, assessment of your firm’s brand awareness and more.
Business Development – These are services that focus on finding new clients or increasing billable hours. These services typically include executive search, business development training programs for your team, PR coaching and other lead generation initiatives. This area can also include succession planning for key people in the firm who may be considering early retirement.
Sales Training – Business development and growth firms will often offer services that focus on improving your team’s selling skills. You will learn how to increase your closing ratios, understand client resistance and concerns, discover how to work with internal teams at the client organization more effectively, and learn proven selling techniques. Some business development firms include account management training as well, which can mean how to work with key clients over the long term.
Another service that’s sometimes offered is helping you re-brand your firm to make it more attractive to new clients and increase the value of the business overall. This can include changing a dated name, logo, website, tagline or other aspects of your brand that need updating.
What services should I expect from a Business Development or Growth firm?
As mentioned earlier, what you will get from a business development or growth consulting firm depends on your specific needs. For some small businesses it may be limited to coaching so they receive top-notch training in how to sell their services or products. Others might need help with branding and marketing their company so they can attract and retain new clients, and they may need assistance with hiring a coach and trainer to work with their team. Others might hire these business development firms for strategic planning and implement some of the recommendations they offer.
What does all this cost?
The amount you will pay for consulting services varies greatly – it depends on your specific needs, your financial situation, the type of services you want to receive, whether your business is located in a large urban area with greater costs or if it’s in a remote rural location that has lower costs. As an example of relative rates, expect to pay more for marketing strategies than you would for hiring a coach to help with sales training. However, most consultants will work with you to determine a budget and help you stay within those limits.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #1:
Your business development or growth consulting engagement should be at least six months in length, but longer engagements result in more benefits for your business. To put it simply, the longer you work with a consultant, the better they can tailor their services to meet your specific needs, which will lead to greater increases in revenue and profits.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #2:
Maximize your investment by including teammates in the process. Involving people from every department in the firm ensures you get a complete picture of how all aspects of the company can benefit from working with a consulting firm. Some firms have found that when the entire company participates in a project, it increases buy-in and allows for complete customization of the recommendations.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #3:
The best business development and growth consulting firms come from referrals. Do your own research, ask co-workers for recommendations and talk to people in the industry you want to work with. The top consultants in these areas take pride in their work and will respect your process of researching them before deciding who to work with.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #4:
Be wary of consultants that try to pressure you into quickly signing a contract before you have had time to review the details and discuss the engagement in depth with your team. The best firms will give you sufficient time and information so you can look at them objectively and make the best decision possible.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #5:
Don’t let your guard down once you have hired them! Keep in mind that a consulting firm is there to help you improve your business, so they will always be presenting ideas on how you can do better. This is why choosing a reputable firm that you trust is so important. You will want to consistently ask questions and make sure they are putting your needs first.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #6:
It’s common for business owners to hire consultants without discussing the project with their team members who do the actual work in the company. Be cognizant of this fact and make sure you are transparent about working with a consulting firm, because if your employees suspect it will lead to layoffs or other negative consequences they might resist the idea.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #7:
Your business development strategies should not be limited to outside consultants. Look internally for people who can help develop your business too. You may find that you already have talented individuals within your organization who only need the right training and guidance to become top performers.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #8:
Don’t be afraid to ask for support when hiring outside consultants! For example, you can hire one firm for business development strategies and a different firm for sales training to ensure all your bases are taken care of.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #9:
Your business development and growth consulting engagement should be a joint effort between you and your consultant, so make sure you both feel comfortable with each other before moving forward. The best way to accomplish this is to first meet and talk face-to-face at a networking event or some other venue that allows both of you to get to know each other.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #10:
Make the most of your consulting engagement by setting up as many meetings as possible with your consultant before they leave so as not to waste time reinventing the wheel. You can schedule informal breakfasts or lunches, conduct an hour-long phone call every few weeks or set up a regular meeting on your calendar. The bottom line is that you want to talk with them as much as possible because it will lead to better results and fewer mistakes down the road.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #11:
Don’t forget to update your records! Your business development and growth consulting project should have a timeline, so it’s important to track the initiatives that are being worked on to ensure you stay within budget. You can do this by setting up a shared document or holding regular meetings with your consultant where you can go over the progress that’s been made.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #12:
Your consulting agreement should set the stage for how you’ll interact with your consultant and ensure he or she follows industry standards. The best way to do this is to create a detailed project plan including all of the parameters such as deliverables, deadlines and expectations. This will help you make better use of your time and money because you’ll be able to tell if they are meeting their commitments.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #13:
Consulting projects can take anywhere from a few days to several months depending on what needs to be done, but it’s not always easy to determine where you should spend your time and dollars. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your consulting project, create a list of at least three different options for each initiative including an A, B and C choice. Present this list to your consultant so they can then prioritize what needs to be done first.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #14:
Don’t get too excited if your consultant comes up with a good idea–it’s not the end of the road. Remember that you’re going to have continuing responsibilities after they leave, so make sure it’s a good fit before moving forward.
Tips4Biz Business Builder’s Tip #15:
Remember that the key to success is asking questions and listening. Make sure you’re taking it all in by asking your consultant what could be improved and what worked well. They’ll appreciate the fact that you want their feedback even if it means hearing something that they might not want to say.
In the modern business world, it’s not enough to have a good product- you need great people too. That’s where consulting firms come in with their expertise and years of experience. Consulting is an investment that will pay dividends for your company because they can do everything from developing new strategies to training employees on how to succeed at sales. The key lies in finding the right firm who has what you need and then
10 Tips To Overcome Entrepreneurial Obstacles
Sherri H. Allgood | September 8, 2021
Entrepreneurship is on the rise. With more and more people opting out of the nine to five lifestyle, becoming an entrepreneur has become a popular option for those wanting more control over their lives. To learn more about the potential of entrepreneurship, read this piece!
However, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. If you’re thinking of starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur, there are a couple of things you should know. The following article highlights potential challenges that could cause problems for entrepreneurs and how you can best approach them.
Every business would have to face competition. In a market already saturated with several entrepreneurs, running a successful startup might pose a challenge. While you could have the best product or service in the market, having a business idea that’s either too common or just plain similar to your competitors would put your company at risk of being taken over by them.
One of the best things you could do to beat your competitors is by researching the market and finding out what’s already available. This way, you would avoid creating a similar product or service that people might find unappealing, thus saving time and money from developing something that wouldn’t work.
Aside from researching the market, another effective way of defeating competition is by being better than your competitors. Ensure that you have a more efficient business model, better marketing scheme, or anything that would make your company more appealing to customers than the other businesses in the same industry.
- Struggles with self-discipline
Starting up your own business requires discipline and hard work. Many people find this hard to do, especially when you have other priorities to take care of.
For instance, your office life might be more conducive to being productive since several people could hold you accountable for not coming in late or taking time off without prior approval. This would be different when you’re out on your own, having to plan your schedule and make sure you get the work done.
To make things easier for yourself, come up with a strict schedule that would allow you to divide your time between different essential tasks. This way, you won’t have trouble dealing with procrastination or other habits that could derail your focus towards accomplishing your goals.
- Handling your finances on your own
If you’re going through a ton of paperwork, this is a sure sign that you need to hire a bookkeeper. Because as an entrepreneur, it would be impossible for you to track all the changes in accounts continuously and how much money you have left after expenses. If you don’t know where exactly your money is going, this could lead to you spending more than you should.
To make sure you use your money the right way, hire a bookkeeper to help you manage your stocks and business finances. This would give you more time to focus on getting new clients or growing your company instead of worrying about how much money is left in the bank.
- An overload of work
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is setting your working hours and completing tasks on your terms. But while this would seem like a life-changing experience for some, others find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do. Work that looks too easy or too basic could leave you feeling demotivated, especially if you’re putting in more effort compared to the money you’re earning.
To address this problem, try breaking down your overall tasks into several smaller tasks that would take less time to complete. For instance, consider doing one a day until you’re done with all of them instead of working on all five ongoing projects at once.
- Difficulties in building a team
While having a small company filled with fewer co-workers would work well for some entrepreneurs, others find this too exhausting and frustrating to handle. In their eyes, maintaining a positive relationship with other employees while attempting to make your company run smoothly could be a real challenge.
But working on your leadership skills and strengthening your team-building abilities could put you in a better position to succeed as an entrepreneur. This way, instead of being weighed down by the difficulties that come with leading a group of people, you’ll have more time to focus on using your leadership abilities to achieve better results.
- Procrastination and lack of discipline
Starting up your own business would require you to submit reports regularly, maintain existing clientele, fix bugs, and fix other problems within the company. If you’re not diligent in doing these things regularly, it could lead to some issues further down the road.
To ensure you don’t neglect your work, create a timetable for yourself and include the tasks that need to be completed regularly. If your schedule is packed from start to finish with meetings, appointments, or business-related activities, then you could easily forget about deadlines and working hours. To avoid this problem, try breaking down your schedule and planning for breaks in between.
- No time for marketing
One of the most common problems that would commonly plague entrepreneurs is the lack of marketing skills that come with experience in business management. And while you could easily delegate this task to a hired consultant who knows what they’re doing, it could also appear to be a significant obstacle in your journey towards being a productive and profitable business owner.
You could easily avoid this problem by setting aside a specific time every day for marketing purposes. Try looking for someone experienced with online marketing or do your research on internet marketing strategies that could help you grow your company further while staying within the confines of your budget.
- Unrealistic expectations
It’s easy to get carried away by the success stories that you read on the internet about self-made millionaires, but knowing when to stop and take a break for some introspection could be something entrepreneurs often forget about. This could lead to overconfidence in your abilities, which would only mean trouble for your business.
To avoid this problem, set aside some time every day to analyze your overall progress and focus on improving the areas where you’re lacking. This way, you’ll be able to grow with your company without feeling overwhelmed by all of the work that comes with owning an enterprise.
- No mentors or support system
While you could quickly learn everything that you need to know about having your own business through books, the internet, and other forms of educational resources, it could prove to be ineffective in building connections. If you don’t have mentors or support systems willing to offer their guidance on growing your business, it could prove difficult for you to drive it forward.
- Not enough time for personal life
Starting up your own business would mean spending most of your time working on it, but without having too much time for yourself could cause some severe problems in the long run. While you’d have more time to spend with your family and friends, it could lead to lower motivation and a lack of desire to work on your business.
The best way to avoid this problem is by delegating tasks that you could easily outsource for money while spending most of your time working on the areas that are more important for your business growth. You could also create a schedule that would outline when it’s time for you to work and when it’s time for you to relax.
Having your own business would be a goal that everyone who wishes to become self-employed longs for, but knowing how to overcome the obstacles of owning an enterprise could sometimes prove challenging. If you’re looking forward to working on your own company, try keeping these problems in mind and finding ways to get around them.
Great Ways to Use Social Media For Your Small Business
Sherri H. Allgood | September 7, 2021
Social media has been a revolutionary way for businesses to market their products and services. Creating an online presence in this age can be challenging because there are so many websites competing for users’ attention. Still, social media allows small businesses to establish themselves among giants like Facebook and Twitter. Social media marketing is considered one of the fastest forms of marketing because it provides a platform that allows businesses or individuals alike to connect with their audience. Here’s what you need to know about social media marketing:
1) Hashtags – When you use hashtags, not only does it allow people to find your content more accessible, but it also enables you to share with your community. A hashtag is simply what you place before different keywords related to the content that you’re sharing.
2) Engagement Rate – When you use social media marketing, your engagement rate is one of the most important things to keep in mind. You can find this by dividing the number of people who like, comment, and share your content by the number of followers you have. This should be between 10-15% for optimal results.
3) Quality Over Quantity – It’s essential to keep your posts as relevant as possible, whether from a promotional or conversational standpoint. When you post too much content that doesn’t provide value, over time, your audience will begin to see you as spammy and unfollow you altogether. This is a significant mistake that many people make when they’re trying to promote their business. The best thing you can do is post high-quality content that your audience will find valuable and not just focus on getting as many likes, shares or retweets as possible.
4) Facebook – As a central social media platform, Facebook has an advantage over other outlets because it allows businesses to engage with their audience directly. You can easily set up your page by putting your business name, description, and website link, which will allow you to create a presence for your brand online.
5) Twitter – Twitter is one of the most popular social media outlets to use if you’re looking to promote your small business. With over 300 million active users, Twitter can connect you with a large audience that’s ready and willing to receive your content. It’s important to use relevant hashtags when marketing on Twitter because it allows people searching for similar topics to find you easier.
6) LinkedIn – This is one of the best social media sites if you’re trying to connect with other professionals in your industry. You can easily set up your profile by including a name, description, and link to your business so that you can establish yourself as an expert in the field.
8) Pinterest – Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing social media outlets, and it’s a handy platform for showcasing your products or services. When you create aboard, it will allow you to upload different images representing your brand or business.
9) Google for Small Businesses – A lot of small businesses are overlooking the power of Google+. With over 400 million active users, this is an outlet that can potentially put your website in front of an audience that’s ready and willing to consume your content.
10) YouTube – As one of the top video-sharing sites online, YouTube is a powerful outlet if you’re trying to reach new users. Posting videos on your page will allow people to quickly and easily learn more about what your company has to offer and can potentially convert them into paying customers.
11) Yelp – Yelp is one of the most popular and influential review sites online, but it’s often overlooked as a valuable resource for small businesses. You can create an account by including your business name, address, and website link so that users can find you easier.
12) Instagram – This is one of the most popular social media outlets because it’s solely dedicated to sharing photos online. If you’re trying to market your small business, you can create an account by including your business name, website link, and images representing what you have to offer.
13) Flickr – If you’re looking to upload images online, Flickr is one of the best outlets because it’s specifically designed for sharing pictures. This platform is entirely free and easy to use, which is why many small businesses are making the mistake of overlooking it.
14) SlideShare – This social media site lets you upload presentations that people can then share or even embed on their website. If you’re trying to reach new users interested in what your business has to offer, SlideShare is a valuable resource that you shouldn’t ignore.
15) Tumblr – You can create a blog on Tumblr that allows you to upload text, photos, and videos regularly. This site is free to use and has over 90 million active users, making it an outlet where small businesses should promote their content.
16) Reddit – There are various subreddits of all different topics, and you can create your board that caters to what your company is all about. You can then upload text, links, or photos that users will see based on their interests.
17) MeetUp – Local meetups contain a ton of potential for marketing your small business online because it puts you in front of real people who are interested in what you have to offer. You can create an account that shows people where your business is located, contact information, and even special deals available for members or first-time users.
If you’re looking for innovative ways to market your small business, the above list is a great place to start. Although many people overlook these outlets because they are either too busy or simply don’t know about them, it’s time to change that mindset and take advantage of what each outlet has to offer. We hope this blog post has helped open up some new possibilities for marketing your company online!