It wasn’t until the 1950s that consultants began to emerge in the business world. Until then, consultants could be found mainly in the legal, finance and employment fields. Then in the early 1960s, the economy changed from production- to service-oriented, which proved to be the perfect incubator for a new comprehensive consulting industry.
Happily, by positioning themselves as experts in their particular fields, consultants found themselves in great demand by companies that needed help but couldn’t justify increasing their payroll to get it.
The top 10 reasons organisations hire consultants
According to industry experts, here are the top 10 reasons organisations hire consultants today:
1. To obtain specific expertise
Clients typically hire people who have the skills and expertise their own staff lacks, so it really pays to have a track record that speaks for itself.
2. To identify problems
Sometimes employees are too close to a problem inside an organisation to recognise it. That’s when a consultant rides in on his or her white horse to save the day.
3. To supplement a company’s internal staff
Sometimes business executives discover they can save thousands of dollars a week by hiring consultants when needed rather than hiring full-time employees. They also can save additional money because consultants don’t need benefits. So even though a consultant’s fees are generally higher than an employee’s salary, over the long haul, a consultant tends to be a less expensive option.
4. To act as a catalyst for change
No one likes change, especially corporate America. But when change is needed, a consultant generally can do things without worrying about the corporate culture, employee morale, or other issues that tend to elicit high emotions and distension in the ranks.
5. To be an objective onlooker
Besides seeing problems from a different perspective than internal staff does, a good consultant provides a fresh, objective viewpoint, then delivers results without being concerned about what workers in the organisation might think about the results and how they were achieved.
6. To teach
If you have special skills and knowledge, someone will pay you to pass on that knowledge. As a result, it’s very important for you to stay abreast of advances and developments in your chosen field so information can be passed on to clients knowledgeably and authoritatively.
7. To do a company’s “dirty work”
Let’s face it: No one wants to be the person who has to make staff or program cuts. An impartial outside consultant is the perfect person to handle such unpleasant tasks.
8. To bring new life to an organisation
Many consultants are retained as idea starters and innovative thinkers. If you’re a subject matter expert who can think on your feet, you can help a company retool or reinvent itself.
9. To assist with a business launch
Business development consultants are in high demand by entrepreneurs and visionaries who wish to leave the groundwork – and grunt work – to someone else. In this role, a consultant may also assist with the day-to-day operations of the new venture.
10. To share contacts
If you know the movers and shakers in business, or have big business or manufacturing contacts abroad, someone will probably want to tap into that knowledge.
Although you can consult in just about any field these days, business consulting firm Attard Communications says that the types of consulting businesses that are thriving today include:
- Accounting. Businesses of all sizes – and especially small businesses – need everything from bookkeeping to tax preparation, making this a solid career choice for a new consultant.
- Advertising. An advertising consultant may be needed to develop strategic ad campaigns, write copy and make ad buys.
- Career. Widespread corporate downsizing has created a need for consultants who can help job seekers reinvent themselves, polish their resumes, and otherwise make themselves irresistible to employers.
- Computer consulting. Consultants who are well versed in web page and blog development, software and hardware installation and troubleshooting, internet marketing, and other things cyber-based can build a viable business.
- Education. From finding scholarship money and advising kids who are writing their college applications to assisting school districts with budgetary issues and other matters, an education consultant may find themselves in great demand these days.
- Executive search. No matter whether the economy is in recession or booming, headhunters (aka executive search consultants) are always in demand.
- Human resources. Corporations often need help with personnel issues like conflict resolution, violence in the workplace, sexual harassment awareness and other people matters–not to mention those downsizing issues mentioned earlier.
- Insurance. Advising people about their insurance needs and finding the best policies at the best price remains a field with strong opportunities for new consultants.
- Management. Fresh ideas on how to manage a business better are always in demand, especially when a company is facing challenging economic times.
- Public relations. Companies thrive on press coverage that puts them in the best possible light, and the consultant who has the tools and contacts to get such coverage can be invaluable.
Other fields with strong possibilities for fledgling consultants include corporate communications, graphic design, editorial writing, marketing, motivational speaking, payroll management, strategic planning and tax advising.
What You Need To Know When Starting A Tech Business
For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications.
Protecting and managing your intellectual capital starts with finding, identifying and classifying your most important human and intellectual assets. Once you know what you are looking for, you can then determine whether you have the rights you need over those assets. If you don’t, you can then go about securing those rights and then select the best methods of protecting them.
Intellectual capital, intellectual assets and intellectual property
In the industrial and manufacturing industries, the conventional forms of capital needed to start and grow a business were real estate, factories, plant and equipment. But in today’s knowledge economy, these physical assets have largely been replaced by ideas, knowledge and creativity as the new drivers of value.
This new type of information and knowledge-based capital is known as intellectual capital. Your intellectual capital is basically all the knowledge, skills, capabilities and work product that you and your team have to offer, together with the relationships, reputation and brand equity that your business is able to attract and maintain in the marketplace.
Intellectual capital is made up of the following:
- Your ideas, insights, knowledge and creativity (intellectual assets)
- The talent, skills and capabilities of your team (human capital)
- Your contractual relationships and connections with investors, customers and other stakeholders (relationship assets)
- Your unique brand and the reputation and goodwill you have built around it (brand assets)
In the same way as we as individuals have a whole lot of information and knowledge, some useful, some useless and trivial; your business’s intellectual capital can also be categorised according to its uniqueness, usefulness or value.
Where your intellectual capital displays these additional qualities, it may qualify for statutory legal protection. These special assets, commonly referred to as intellectual property, are bestowed with rights and protections which give the owner a period of time (limited) to commercialise or exploit them without any undue or unfair interference from others. The trade-off is that after that period of time expires, the asset becomes part of the public domain for anyone and everyone to use.
Discovering what intellectual capital you have and need
For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications. Copyright law without the need to register rights or comply with any further formalities automatically protects most of these assets. However, it is still necessary to identify and categorise those assets because the ownership rights and the ways to protect them may differ between the different types of asset.
At the same time, there may also be a wealth of other intellectual assets tucked away in your filing cabinets and hard drives, waiting to be discovered. These may include valuable trade secrets, know-how, methodologies, customer learning, and market research.
Once you have linked the value drivers and competitive advantages in your business with the assets that produce them, list those assets and classify them according to the structure that they take. Are they people-based or embedded in technology or documentation. Do any of them qualify for statutory protection?
The outcome should be an inventory of all your intellectual capital, classified according to the different levels of protection available as well as their importance to your business. You probably don’t have the time, energy or budget to protect everything, so taking the time to do this exercise will ensure that you separate the wheat from the chaff which will save you in the long run.
10 Cheap Businesses You Can Start In South Africa That Offer Uniquely Local Relevance
There are a few businesses that are more likely to thrive in South Africa than others. Here’s a list of 10 that meet the needs of the country’s people.
Brand South Africa believes that despite a slowing global economy, South Africa remains one of the most promising emerging markets in the world. It is also Africa’s most sophisticated and diverse economy, according to the organisation.
This diverse composition of the South African market and consumers discerning tastes, which vary from region to region and province, represents a good opportunity for the entrepreneurially-minded to capitalise on.
So, why not start a business that caters to the particular needs of South African clientele? Here are a few business ideas that can be started with relatively low capital input:
- Bunny Chow and Kota Food Retail Business
- Uniquely South African Clothing Business
- Ready-to-Eat Baby Food Business
- Mathematics Upskilling Business
- Low Sugar Refreshment Business
- Aerial Drone Photography Business
- Small Batch Beer Brewing Business
- Niche Project management Business
- Tax Consulting Specialist for Start-Up Businesses
- Mobile Hair and Beauty Specialist Business
A Step-By-Step Guide To Selling Consulting Services
Do people often ask for your professional advice? It’s time to start charging for your consulting sessions.
Ever since I launched my YouTube channel where I talk about different strategies regarding B2B selling and inbound marketing, I’ve gotten a lot of requests from my audience to hop on a call with them and help them out.
This is how I got started offering consulting services to different companies and entrepreneurs. Based on what I’ve learned, here’s how to structure these consulting calls so you can start selling them on your own.
I usually use a pretty simple email whenever I’m asked a detailed question that requires a decent amount of my time.
This email includes the price for the consulting call, which can vary, but generally starts at $300. Usually, that email is enough to get viewers to buy in.
You want to price your consulting services in a way that it makes you want to work for that amount (even if you’re not in the mood). By charging a certain amount for the consulting call, you make sure that you’re adding value and the other person is also taking your notes more seriously.
For those who are just getting into coaching and consulting, the best way to start is to assume that the person on the other end is going to get good information out of your session.
People usually join a coaching session either because they have a burning problem or they are so close to a solution that only few words are enough to solve it for them.
In some cases, people paying for a consulting session already have an idea or solution to a specific problem, but they want to have your ideas or expertise.
It is important to remember that the person won’t reach out to you for coaching if she didn’t like something about what you’re doing.
To get this meeting on the calendar, I use a tool called Calendly. There are a bunch of alternatives out there, but Calendly is a pretty popular solution.
The tool is free, but I use a version that charges about $10-$15 a month and plugs directly into my Google calendar. There are a lot of similar tools out there that you can choose from if you don’t like Calendly.
I recently discovered and started using Google Wallet. It is a free tool from Google and its pretty similar to Venmo. It allows you to input your credit card info and the amount billed is directly transferred to your account on the same day.
I’ve previously also used Venmo and Paypal, and as a company (Experiment 27) we used Chargebee for a while. With Chargebee, we had a problem where it would mess up our revenue numbers and our churn rate.
A lot of these coaching sessions are one- or two-time purchases for a very small amount of money compared to our main service offerings, so it would mess up our purchase rates.
Setting up a Google Wallet account is pretty simple and it also provides invoices. The last coaching session I did, an invoice was paid within two hours.
It is important to know whether the person purchasing a coaching session is getting value out of it.
I picked up this idea from someone with whom I used to do a bunch of coaching sessions who runs his coaching session using Google docs.
He opens up a blank Google doc at the start of a coaching session and adds notes there. Using that model, my clients and I go over different goals and questions by writing them in a Google doc and I also assign homework.
Here’s an example of a document like that.
And because all of it was done in a Google doc, everyone has easy access to it. At the end of each coaching session, I think it’s necessary to have a homework assignment that would set up the attendees on something to work for the next week.
Bonus: Should your consulting landing page have short or long copy?
There’s been a long debate among the copywriting community about whether short copy or long copy is the best. Some say that you need long landing pages outlining data point after data point in order to make someone take action and buy your services.
But, there’s another group of copywriters who believe that the short copy is more effective because of its to-the-point approach and easier click and buy operation. There are always two sides to all advice, but for us, short copy didn’t work.
Our coaching funnel normally consists of our clients watching a YouTube video and then booking a consulting call directly.
The clients would usually find the consulting page and would be welcomed by the headline, “Want me to help you double, triple or maybe even quadruple your revenue for the next quarter?”
Our landing page was converting about two clients a week who wanted consulting services on how to improve their agency business.Being a fan of testing, I thought we could do better.
My favorite coaching page of all time is one that is literally a picture of the coach’s face along with a description that says “Did you know Neville takes on four different private consulting clients?” along with one paragraph of copy and a “buy now” button – that’s it.
So, we wrote a version of our consulting page based on Neville’s, but we saw our conversions drop from where they were before down to almost zero. We had just one conversion for the entire month that we had this landing page.
Since this approach clearly wasn’t working for us, we changed back to our previous landing page. We kept a few items from the other approach.
For example, we changed the pricing section and began offering consulting packages. Having packages on the copy page increased the revenue dramatically.
The other thing that this experiment taught us is that we needed a more intense email drip to sell people on coaching. We rewrote our email sequence, which is now a five-day drip in which we basically hard sell people on coaching as they sign up for any of our lead magnets on our YouTube channel.
Even though the short copy approach wasn’t right for us, we did gain some valuable insights from the experiment.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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