What is Business Consulting?
Business consulting generally involves bringing outside expertise into your business to give you advice on a particular issue.
Business & Marketing Consulting
In terms of business & marketing strategy, where I have good experience, small businesses often don’t have the time to think ahead and set long term objectives. They are often managed on the axiom that if you don’t have a short term you sure as hell don’t have a long term which means the tyranny of the everyday takes over!
Little time is spent thinking about for instance where the owners/directors want the business to be in five or ten years’ time; who might be interested in acquiring the business in the future and the best way to achieve that sale; or what skills people in the business need now and in the future. Many businesses have not thought about their own source of competitive advantage and what makes them different (and better) than their competition. If they have a business plan it is probably years out of date and was written to secure some funding from investors (or the bank) at start up.
Too often businesses spend time trying to get the customer to buy what the Company offers rather than providing the customer with what he wants. The ultimate aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The idea is to know and understand your customer to such a degree that the product or service fits their needs and sells itself! How well do you do this?
It is really critical that I gain a good understanding of your business, your people and your competitors & customers in order to be able to provide useful advice & reflection in this area. I start by talking about where you came from, where you are and where you want to be. I need to understand what you do well (your competencies and skills) and what makes you different & better than the competition (your unique selling points and your sources of competitive advantage). When we drive from London to Leeds we know something has most likely gone wrong if we see road signs to Cornwall. In the same way with your business it is important to know in which direction you want to go. So much of this is common sense but often overlooked. Defining your strategy involves choosing what you want to do but also what you don’t want to do. Your strategy cannot be everything for everybody! As part of the process we investigate different alternatives so that we can make choices.
The outcome of this strategy work might be a written plan with clear assumptions and objectives, investment priorities, action plans, performance measures & a cash flow/profit & loss forecast. We’ll discuss your key partners & resources as well as your value proposition and customer relationships. The core of such a plan needs to be a clearly articulated well defined vision.
What Makes Me Different?
I appreciate that entrepreneurs need to be fast, flexible & innovative in terms of building their business. If something isn’t working then you need to do something different. Experimentation is key and reflecting on what worked and what didn’t is critical. I find that many business owners have boundless optimism, incredible self-belief and confidence. This can be both an advantage and disadvantage!
However the ability to step back from the business or, in my terms ‘helicopter above it’ is incredibly valuable. I’m experienced in helping business owners take this ‘flight’ and I bring marketing and business strategy expertise from working in large companies together with top level business school training to small businesses and start-ups.