Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Consultants vary wildly. Finding the right type of consultant is the first step. Are you looking for a coach-type? A specialist to work within a narrow area of the business? A strategist to help you get off the ground or to help you improve sales? Or are you needing someone that can tighten up your systems and operations? (I am a strategic consultant, a generalist.)
The second step is finding someone that is suited to working with you/your company, the way that will be most effective. This doesn’t always mean this person is the best personality fit for you. What you want is their expertise. You should be looking for someone that has the experience to help you specifically where you need help.
Third, it is wise to not get stuck price shopping. You can work with a less experienced consultant with a lower rate, at a slower pace, with less of an overall impact. Time wasted does usually equal money wasted. With consulting, the rate does often reflect the level of experience and ability to affect change. The the right consultant will ultimately save you money. Often a lot of money.
With that aside let’s move in to an overview of common areas of a strategic start-up consultant’s areas of involvement:
Providing an independent and educated perspective on your business idea. Often and preferably, this comes from real-life experience, both from their own path as well from helping many others in theirs.
Assessing you as a business owner- this step is often glossed over though it should be taken very seriously. Being self-aware and creating a business structure that factors in your strengths and weaknesses is crucial to your success and long-term satisfaction with your role.
Crafting a role for you where you are poised for success. This may include helping you to upskill, partner, or make some tweaks.
Create a balanced support structure around you e.g. the right balance of employees, memberships, a mentor...
Assessing your company’s capabilities for a better understanding of possible opportunities and gaps in growing your business. This work can require being very creative in order to identify opportunities or even create them.
Mapping out a realistic budget for building and launching your product/service. Your budget should have a large contingency and a Plan B.
Guiding you through performing or obtaining in-depth market research to obtain knowledge about your competition, target audience, and marketing strategy.
Assisting with plans to solidify the offering of products, services, or solutions. This typically includes planning marketing activities, creating a brand identity, determining how to reach potential customers, and defining a path to business expansion.
Setting up a management framework regarding the day-to-day running of the organization, including cash-flow management, HR policies, vendor management, and other internal factors.
Mentoring and training your team in different areas such as sales, customer service, and marketing to speed up business processes and help your company achieve its goals.
Last and possibly most importantly in my opinion, help keep you motivated, accountable, and on-track.