Small business consulting services for the entrepreneur: small is beautiful!
As a small business consultant, I hear many challenges that owners and managers face. If youâ€™veÂ been running your small business for awhile — maybe 3, 5 or even 10 years or longer — you know theÂ challenges never stop, no matter how successful your business is. Perhaps you’ve had some small businessÂ consulting services or a business coach in the past and had mixed results. At this point, you may question ifÂ these people can really help you. The answer is yes, if you find the right one for you. Consultants andÂ coaches have a variety of backgrounds and styles. Just like finding the best long term employees for yourÂ business takes time and some failures, you have to persevere with finding the best guidance and support forÂ you as you build your business. And just like with employees, the search is well worth the effort.
How a small business consultant can make you money
Keep in mind, a small business consultant has to make you money. It probably wonâ€™t happen right away becauseÂ it takes time for the consultant to get to know you and your business. It also takes time to start
implementing their advice. But over the course of the first six to twelve months, you should see clearÂ benefits. And it may be that you only need a few months of help regarding a certain stage of your business
development, or certain issues you are facing.
Sales versus margins
One thing your consultant can do is help you analyze your profit margins. Most business owners know thatÂ maintaining a healthy margin is important, but, perhaps surprisingly, a huge percentage of business peopleÂ lose track of this key principle and start to think of sales volume as the holy grail. Sales without healthyÂ margins hurt you and have run many a company completely out of business. Itâ€™s always good to review theÂ fundamentals, because that is where many business owners start to slide off the track.
However, making money is about a lot more than margins of course, so read on!
Value based fees and pricing
Another aspect to healthy profits is using value based pricing. For service businesses, your clients andÂ customers can actually be happier with values based pricing using set fees versus hourly rates. And – you canÂ make a lot more money. Your client is happy and you are happy.Â High qualityÂ small business consulting services can help youÂ craft a successful values based pricing approach. One of my clients recently landed her first values basedÂ pricing client. Her fees are higher and the client is excited about working with her firm.
In this era of perpetual recession it can be tempting to undercharge just to â€œget the business.â€ While you doÂ need to make payroll, it is more often than not a losing proposition to try to be the low bid. Better toÂ charge above average prices and do a good job on the sales end with your value proposition. Having a lowerÂ price than anyone else is not better, unless your customers are buying the exact same product or service withÂ the exact same guarantee, delivery terms and everything else. But itâ€™s never exactly the same. You areÂ different and hopefully better in some way, and you have to educate your prospects about this difference.
When the economy is bad, the temptation to slash prices is great. You need to do a thoughtful analysis beforeÂ deciding if that makes sense. Your consultant can help.Â A few years ago, one of my clients was struggling with whether to raise his prices a mere 2%. He hadnâ€™tÂ raised them on his products in over four years. He was really worried about it. In the course of ourÂ conversations, I helped him realize it would be OK and was the right â€“ and necessary for his business â€“ thingÂ to do. And it did work out fine. Sales continued to grow and his bottom line was better.
Making successful strategic decisions â€“ every day
YouÂ probably face the need to make strategic, along with tactical decisions, every day. Many small businessÂ owners are very used to making these decisions quickly and often on the fly. When they work with aÂ consultant, they find that the stress of this decision making decreases and the quality of the outcomesÂ increases. Having a trusted, experienced adviser in your court really helps to decrease the stress ofÂ decision making which is all on your shoulders. Employees, spouses and friends rarely have any idea what itÂ is like to own a business and the responsibility that is on your shoulders. Instead of it being all up toÂ you, with an adviser who has been in business themselves, you ‘ll have someone you know and trust to discussÂ the situations and options and help you make the best decisions for your business.
How business consulting can help you get control of your schedule
These days, we know that the most valuable commodity is time, not money, most of the time, no pun intended!Â Your small business consultant should be able to give you immediate and ongoing tools and help to get controlÂ of your schedule and your to-do list. No one system fits all when it comes to time management, though I doÂ recommend the general principles, strategies and tactics taught by David Allen in his highly regarded book,Â Getting Things Done.
Download your brain â€œRAMâ€ for greater sanity & control
Per Allen’s principles, I encourage my clients to download every single thing in their head into trustedÂ â€œbucketsâ€ or containers/places/lists/software where they can retrieve them when needed. Carrying stuff aroundÂ in your â€œRAMâ€â€“ your brain â€“ is a waste of your talent and energies. Your brain bandwidth should be reservedÂ for solving problems and creating the next steps forward for your business, not for remembering stuff!Â A weekly review of all your projects is also crucial for feeling in control and on top of your business.
So, is small really beautiful?
Despite our cultureâ€™s mantra, bigger is not always better. Michael Gerber, in his famous book, The E-MythÂ Revisited, Â states that the purpose of a business is to grow it and sell it. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong withÂ that, and indeed it has been the path of many successful business owners.
However, itâ€™s not all about money. One of my favoriteÂ books is Small Giants by Bo Burlingham.Â Itâ€™s about how â€œHow maverick companies have passed up theÂ growth treadmill â€” and focused on greatness instead.â€ Companies like Anchor Brewing, Clif Bar, and UnionÂ Square Hospitality Group, which operates 10 of the finest restaurants in New York City.
On April 17, 2000, Gary Erickson, who started Clif Bar in his momâ€™s kitchen in 1991, decided against a $120Â million sale to Quaker Oats, choosing to remain private, in part to keep the focus on its eco-friendlyÂ practices, such as sustainable agriculture and waste reduction. He wrote in his memoir, Raising the Bar:Â Integrity and Passion in Life and Business, â€œI was about to become a very rich manâ€¦.but I felt nauseatedÂ constantly and hadnâ€™t slept well in weeks.â€ He realized he could not sell his company. Clif Bar has continuedÂ to be a highly successful business, but on his terms, not a big corporationâ€™s.
If being a great company with a fantastic culture, happy and productive employees, excellent bottom line andÂ positive impact in your community is what you are after, then a small business consultant can help youÂ achieve that. Whether you have 3 employees, 30, or more, your business needs reflect your values, dreams andÂ mission, and it needs to work for you.
Since 2002, Anne Alexander has been providing small business consulting services and coaching to small business ownersÂ across the U.S. and Europe, helping them grow their businesses profitably, with their sanity intact! CallÂ Anne at 828.348.0474.to discuss your situation. No charge, no pressure, just down to earth, no b.s., businessÂ guidance.
Â© 2018 Anne Alexander. All rights reserved.