Many small business owners are used to doing everything for themselves – from sales and marketing, buying and logistics, IT and finance – switching hats at will as they address each task that arises. However, because they are so used to multi-tasking, they don’t realise they are wasting valuable time on complex tasks that are outside their natural area of expertise. Better to engage a consultant to handle some of these tasks, so the owner can concentrate on what they do best – growing the business.
Engaging a business consultant can create value for a small business in a number of ways.
- Saves time and money
Many small business owners waste valuable time doing complex tasks – such as VAT returns and bookkeeping – which are outside their area of expertise. It is better to delegate such jobs to an expert, freeing the business owner to concentrate on more valuable tasks – such as growing the business itself. Furthermore, an experienced consultant can offer advice and strategies on key business issues such as controlling costs, increasing efficiency and cash flow management, often a major challenge for any small business.
- Provides expert advice when needed
By engaging a suitably qualified consultant, a small business owner can get the benefit of their expertise and knowledge immediately. Whilst the consultant may not know your industry or sector in detail, it is likely that they have experience of similar firms in similar sectors, and will be able to bring you their insights and judgments, and practical suggestions for improvements with minimal briefing required from you.
A consultant can also provide an objective, third-party view on business challenges or issues that you face, and offer a valuable sounding board for new ideas. Small business owners are often mired in the daily challenges of running their business, and having an outside voice can provide a much-needed sense of perspective, and an alternative viewpoint as to the way forward.
A small business consultant can also provide help in assessing and evaluating your business strategy, processes, exposure to risk and much more.
- Offers flexibility and avoids the expense of hiring
With a business consultant, you may only need their advice or assistance for a short period of time, or for a specific assignment. In such a case, you can conclude their engagement and you no longer need to pay for the service. Contrast this with the cost and time involved in hiring staff on a full-time basis. Staff are usually the largest expense item for any business, and the hardest to cut if times get tough. Not only are you required to pay staff salaries and related costs – tax, social security, health insurance, pensions etc. – when you hire them, you are also committing to managing, training and developing them, as well as increasing your bureaucratic burden with additional payroll reporting.
Terminating your contractual relationship with a consultant is usually easy and straightforward. Getting rid of a staff member, however, can be expensive, take time, and, depending on the circumstances, legally and emotionally, painful.
Even if you decide to hire a consultant for an extended period of time – as an interim manager, for example -it still gives you more flexibility than making a permanent staff appointment.
- Allows you to meet changing workloads
As discussed above, hiring full-time staff should be avoided until you can be sure that your business can sustain the cost. But, if you find that demand suddenly increases, or you want to offer new products or services, could you deliver given your existing resources and manpower?
Bringing in a small business consultant is an easy way of meeting such challenges and responding to fluctuations in supply and demand, ensuring you can respond to the opportunities that arise, without increasing your business risk in terms of your fixed cost base.
Consultants can offer a range of solutions for small business owners, from short-term assignments to longer-term interim managers, with services ranging from technical tasks such as the completion of VAT returns and accounting, to advice on how to improve business processes and efficiency, through to more strategic roles such as business development, or preparation for a business sale or IPO.
Whatever your needs, an experienced business consultant can meet them, giving expert advice and skills when required, providing flexibility whilst avoiding the expense and burdens associated with hiring full-time staff, and enabling you to meet changing workloads and demand. Above all, using a consultant can give you back valuable time, which can then be devoted to what you do best – growing your business.
For more information on how AJD Consultants can help grow your business, please contact us for an informal discussion.