The beauty of the American economy is the fact that any individual with a good idea can, with hard work and determination, start a business of their own that can grow exponentially throughout their life. However, many individuals often overlook the true difficulty in launching their own business and managing it successfully. No matter how good an idea is it will fail without the proper implementation and tools within the business to support the product. This is where consulting firms can be a lifesaver as they offer small business advice that can mean the difference between failure and success.
Consulting is a decades old industry in itself, but the rise of small businesses in America has led to a need for more specialized consulting designed to help provide small business advice to new businesses, small businesses, and start-up companies.
As mentioned earlier, a great idea is nothing without the proper tools to implement and support the production and distribution of said product. Small business advice from consultants provides industry know-how to those who are unclear on the direction to take their company. Consultants can provide small business advice on topics pertinent to small businesses or start-up businesses. Consulting processes usually follow this pattern:
- Get to know the business
- Consult the owner/s, management, and key employees regarding problems and opportunities
- Develop a plan of attack to overcome hurdles and prepare to take advantage of opportunities
- Implement, supervise, and adjust the business plan as necessary
Small business advice can and should differ from that which is provided to multinational corporations and massive conglomerates. These companies have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of employees, multiple products and/or services, and a huge bottom line. Small businesses, on the other hand, rarely have more than 100 employees, work local markets, and tend to have sales numbers listed in the millions rather than billions. These companies, as well as start-up companies, need small business advice tailored to their situations and needs.
A good consultant should have years of experience to back up the small business advice they are providing. A typical consultant boasts a resume that includes the following:
- 20 or more years of experience in the field
- Master of Business Administration degree or better
- Experience in a variety of fields including sales, marketing, finance, and operations
- Experience with a variety of companies at different stages of growth, including start-up, growth, and maturity
Basic small business advice will tell owners and those looking to launch a new business how to survive the initial stages of their businesses growth, while also being prepared to tackle the next stage of growth. Some of the best basic small business advice includes:
- Establish a goal: what target do you want your product or service to meet?
- Develop a business structure: decide which business structure (S-corporation or Limited Liability Corporation for example) you would like your company to have.
- Build an internet presence: if you aren’t using the internet you are missing millions of potential customers
Consultants and firms offering small business advice should be able to provide business owners, and prospective owners, with information above and beyond just the basics of starting a new corporation. Some of the top small business advice should include the following:
- Business Plan Preparation
- Marketing Plan
- Website Design
- Website Promotion / Search Engine Optimization
- Business Analysis
- Business Operations Consulting
- Lean Manufacturing
Preparing a business plan is perhaps the most vital step in any company’s growth. A business plan details for potential investors how you plan to start-up or grow your business and a professionally developed plan speaks volumes to the credibility of your business. Without investment your company can become stagnant, so presenting a well-oiled plan is a must to help secure investment dollars.
Marketing, website design, and website promotion are all essential as well to the growth and success of a business. If no one knows about your product or service, they aren’t going to know what they are missing! Small business advice in these categories can help companies identify market segments, competitors, and customers, as well as provide them with the knowledge to develop a user friendly website that draws customers to their product.
A business analysis will help struggling small businesses in particular to identify and eliminate problem areas that are stunting the businesses growth. Additionally, an analysis can help show the business where potential opportunities exist in the future to ensure sustained growth.
The manner in which a small business operates is perhaps one of the most overlooked factors for any starry-eyed new business owner. Small business advice can help them develop a strategic plan, cash flow plan, wage and compensation system, and even how to control production costs.
Lastly, the manner in which a product is manufactured can have a huge impact on its success. Lean manufacturing is a critical piece of small business advice because it can help a business produce a product that falls below or meets target costs, meets quality requirements, and is delivered to the customer on time.
For more small business advice, or for help finding business loans and news pertinent to your company, visit SBSC.org. It’s a one stop shop for small business owners and those looking to launch the business of their dreams.