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My Role as a Business Consultant

When I get asked to scope out a business problem it’s initially just a matter of grabbing the owner at their place of business for a short discussion. I write a report based on that conversation. That isn’t my assessment; it’s about getting agreement around the parameters for kick-off. This first report defines the problem on a simple first pass.

Usually what would be written in this report should be no surprise to the business owner. In reality they know the shit they’ve found themselves embroiled in. Their problem is that it’s difficult in the trenches to see the whole battlefield. Hiring a business consultant is about getting an educated assessment and strategic advice.

I have no doubt that the business owner, on reading the first report, wonders why they asked me to contribute. And I probably told them something uncomfortable they were trying to avoid. Uncomfortable things are hard to address. Nobody likes pain. Everybody hopes for a simple, painless cure to the problem. A saviour. But without that first pass across their business landscape I’m not sure how the work could begin at solving their problem. First we have to agree on the problem; define it. Poke it in the eye with a stick and look at the puss.

So let’s call that first report Step One. And Step One would come as general advice.

Step Two, if a client asks for more information, is where I say “OK I can’t take your word for all of this… I want to look at your books.” Cash flow. Time value of money decisions. Credit terms. I’ll be looking at your business to free lazy capital tied up in unnecessary assets and stock. I’ll start looking at your supply and distribution. We’ll consider risk management. Break-even point. Short and long term finance. Asset acquisition and depreciation. In short, I’ll start to dig into that problem with some educated direction. And I’ll spend my days following you around to understand your business, staff and culture. This is the step where we redefine what you do.

Step Three. I’ll research your industry. Because, let’s face it, I’m not in your industry. I’ll look at the internal and external business environment to identify opportunities and threats. I’ll discuss your resource profile and the resource profiles of your direct competition. We’ll make live documents, ones that will be edited a little every week or two, that include a realistic business plan and a marketing plan. We’ll discuss integrated marketing strategy and figure out how to stop wasting money on shotgun marketing to the masses and start focusing limited marketing finances toward your real customers. This is the step where we redefine how you compete.

Step Four is where you will be given some cold hard advice on how to solve your business problem. You’ll notice two things. First, I told you all of this along the way. Second, my bill for services. What you’re paying me for is to think. That costs money. But that effort to think also makes you money.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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