While managers are about continuity, consultants are about improvement (small change) or change in response to problems. There are three situations when a small business can legitimately use a management consultant:
Entrepreneurs make the future; their ability, confidence, commitment and willingness to accept responsibility are essential to creating wealth, employment and change. I am a big admirer. (Can you hear the ‘But’ coming?). There are a few human beings who possess all the different abilities to take a start-up all the way through to large corporation, but not many. It is sometimes tough for entrepreneurs to admit, but their business’s success is heavily dependent on their preferences and skills and at various stages may be limiting the business’s success. The downside (here comes the ‘But’!) is that an entrepreneur may find it hard to recognise this and even harder to allow someone else to provide a specific skill, to drive through a specific project or just listen to the advice of someone who knows more about a situation.
Large companies need structure, systems, roles and responsibilities, procedures, policies and standards; all these things make up the “business model” and are intended to produce consistent performance, stability and low risk results for the shareholders. Big Company Consultants help big businesses to change their business model and in turn, have their own business model to do so ! They have the skills to see what needs doing, approaches to gather the supporting evidence, convince their clients and then help the clients put the new “business model” in place.
If small businesses have a business model, it is rarely written down. Most of it is in the head of the owner who will (sometimes) pass on relevant bits of it to colleagues. This business model changes continually, usually in response to “incidents with unwanted outcomes”. Essentially, as the organisation grows, the entrepreneur’s guiding presence will have to be spread thinner and eventually be replaced with a more formal business model.
Just as small businesses work with a less formal business model, so small business management consultants must adopt a less formal approach. Small businesses often do not have the resources to invest in lots of compliance and assurance people. That is not to say that consultants should abandon their tried and tested consultancy frameworks, but that they need to recommend approaches that resonate with the less formal approach of their clients.
What does a small business management consultant do ? Assess the client’s goals and objectives, assess the market situation, review the company’s competitive position and recommend changes to the often rather informal business model (or goals) in a structured approach which ensures nothing is forgotten.
Some small business marketing consultant specialise in B2B marketing