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Services Offered By Business Consultancy Firms

Every businessperson must make new strategies to run business processes smoothly. They hire business consultants, as that perspective outside the box can be useful. Many businesses today hire companies providing services like small business management consulting to improve internal management and operations.

As not all entrepreneurs have the needed educational background to know exactly how the business runs, advice from an experienced and knowledgeable party expert can be useful. If you look at websites offering consulting services, you can find many professionals who can help with specific aspects of your business.

If you are a small business proprietor, hiring the services of a third party may pose a challenge. You may not have enough funds to spend for outside help. This applies even more if you are just getting started with your business. It is a good thing there are business consultancy firms that focus on small businesses. With their expertise and guidance, you can save a good amount of funds and be sure you get specialized counsel.

What kind of Business Consultant Should You Get?

Before getting a company offering small business management consulting, think about the tenure of the company. This can reflect how long they have been practicing their expertise. Most consultants have degrees from prestigious business schools. Some may even be business executives themselves. If you want to make sure about your consultant’s expertise, find one with a consulting company.

Another factor you should think about when looking for a business consulting company is experience. While it is true a degree from a top business school may be impressive, nothing beats firsthand experience. Some successful business executives and entrepreneurs provide consultation on the side.

Business consultancy firms may have a specialized niche of business scale or industry. Some business strategies may work well in defined industries for companies with a certain size. If it is possible, look for a consultant with expertise of at least experience handling a business with the same model as yours.

Look at your consultants’ record of accomplishment. See if their business consulting services were effective in the past. Look for an advisor or consultant with a high success rate. This might be the only thing you need for your business to take off.

One thing you should look into is the kind of field your consultant is in. There are those who are efficient in organizing systems and improving employee productivity while other consultants are better off proposing ideas for expansion and other ways of implementation. Hire a consultant who specializes on the aspect in your business you need improvement on.

Consultants will still refer to other companies. Though this may give a general viewpoint and help you understand your business, there might be cases where there is conflict of interest. They may not be as focused to your case as they are with other clients. Make sure you get a loyal consultant.

Small business management consulting does not reduce the risk of launching your own business. They also do not help eliminate your competitors. The best thing they can do is provide noteworthy counsel. In the end, tough business decisions still depend on you.

The Role Of A Business Analyst

Business Analyst Role Description

A business analyst is a member of a project team who is responsible for analysing a business and gathering requirements to improve business processes.

The IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) defines a business analyst as:

a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.

I think this is a good description of what a BA is. The main things to note from this description are:

  • A liaison among stakeholders – the BA is responsible for being a kind of “middleman” between the business stakeholders (the client, the users) and the technical team (project manager, development and testing teams).
  • Understand the structure, policies and operations – the business analyst should aim to understand and learn how the business operates and how it does what it needs to do.
  • Recommend solutions – the role of the business analyst is to recommend a solution to a business problem, or to improve a business process.

Why Do We Need A Business Analyst?

A simple way to look at IT project is to have two main groups of people – the clients who know what they want, and the developers who build the IT system to provide them with what they want. This is, well, a simple view and not very possible in reality. This is due to a few reasons:

  • Developers can’t gather requirements as effectively. Yes, it’s possible for a developer to determine what a business needs, but they run the risk of having a narrow-minded design. Also, developers are usually (not always, but usually) trained and proficient in their own role and not confident or comfortable communicating with business users to get requirements
  • Business users can’t document their own requirements. Sure, the business users are the best people to be able to determine what they want, because it’s their process or system that they want to be analysed. However, the business users are generally not experienced in this, and don’t have the technical knowledge to know what is available and what can be achieved. Business analysis is all about asking questions, and there are things the analysts can ask that the users are not aware of.

For these reasons, there needs to be someone who is an expert in analysis. Someone who has some technical knowledge, communication skills, and of course the ability to analyse and gather requirements. This is the role of a business analyst.

The Role Of A Business Analyst Is Varied

The BA can be involved in more than just gathering requirements and putting them into a Word document. Many other tasks and areas of a project are involved:

  • Gathering business and system requirements
  • Assistance with user or system acceptance testing at this stage of the project
  • Involvement with implementation of a system
  • Creation or assistance with training documentation and manuals
  • Can be involved in the project management tasks of a project if needed, such as creation of project plans.

The Steps Of A Business Analyst

The tasks of a BA in a project are:

  • Understand what the business or organisation does, and how it performs these operations.
  • Determine how to improve the existing business or system processes
  • Gather requirements for process or system improvement
  • Determine which steps can and should be automated or improved for maximum benefit
  • Document the requirements of the system, both at a high level and a more detail
  • Act as a contact point, or “translation” between technical teams and business users.
  • Assistance with testing, implementation and training, as mentioned above.

I’ve written a recent summary-style post on what a business analyst is, but during this series I’d like to go into more detail on the role of a business analyst and what else is involved.

A Problem With Your Home Based Business Systems: Application of Time Management

By now, everyone has been talking about or has talked about the importance of time management for any small business. It’s one of the integral components of successful home based business systems. But what most home based business systems lack is how to efficiently implement time management when applied to result-producing activities. You know that it’s important to organize your time, organize your activities, and try to minimize the time spent on activities to increase output. However, what I find lacking is that most people are not talking about how to apply those techniques in reference to home based business systems where you have several categories of tasks that need to be accomplished every day. Those categories are prospecting, business execution, and support.

In order to create a time management action plan, you must first decide how much time you set out to devote to your home based business systems.

Prospecting:

When we consider prospecting in home based business systems, we need to understand that prospecting needs to be worked in two pools: customer base and distribution. Now, most people start freaking out when it comes to bringing people in to their businesses, or are up in arms on how to do it right. But isn’t that one of the basic precepts of any business? Think about it: what is the best way for you to increase your reach?

Consider the basic retail business in this regard. Companies like Walmart, Target, Macy’s, or franchises like McDonald’s or Burger King all have exponentially increased their revenues by expanding their number of distribution points. The more stores in strategic geographic areas, the more customer base. When it comes to your home based business systems, the same principle applies. If you identify people that want to achieve their dreams through owning their own business, you can expand your customer base and increase sales revenues through increased distribution.

Anyhow, back to the main focus. 1/2 of your day should be focused on prospecting customers and potential business owners. Business doesn’t grow if you just focus on administration and maintenance. This is especially true of home based business systems because of the fact that you don’t have the large financial budget compared to retail outlets and corporate companies, so you need to create clout and business organically. These methods can be done online and offline, in-person or utilizing social media. However, you must set out specific times in which you go and promote your business to get exposure.

Some examples of how I prospect are that I join local community groups through Meetup and Chamber of Commerce. I keep a schedule of events that are posted and make time to get out and network. You can even prospect through your daily errands. If you are a stay-at-home mom, there are tons of ways to prospect. Whether it’s at the park, grocery store, picking up your kids, PTA meetings, every day that you are out in the world is another opportunity to prospect customers and potential business partners. Study up on how to start and maintain conversations and figure out approaches that will land you names to add to your list. I will write an article on this at a later time.

Executing Business:

A 1/4 of your remaining time should be devoted to administration and business maintenance tasks. Home based business systems all have administrative tasks that need to be completed on a timely basis. Failure to do so can result in penalties and setbacks in your business. It’s no different than the same penalties that traditional businesses suffer when failing to comply with certain regulations. For example, if a restaurant fails to renew their alcohol license or they fail a health inspection, fines are implemented. In your business, tasks can include filling out forms to maintain sales reports for safe taxable reporting, organizing your names list, and answering emails, tweets, comments, and posting new content on your funnels. The list goes on and on, so it’s key to write all your tasks down per week and organize them in to daily lists to organize your time to complete them.

Supporting Your Business:

This is something that I think most home based business systems lack in terms of having their business owners spend time thanking and maintaining customer loyalty. I’ve found that offering to provide your current customers with incentives to refer other customers to you is one of the primary and most effective marketing methods there is. Identify your top 5 customers and personally thank them by sending a note. Also useful is to provide a special promo incentive for them, like a tiered discount structure for the number of customers they refer to you. Just be sure that you don’t harass your customers by sending too much communication. Be smart with your business. Give them incentives to provide reviews and testimonials for the products they love that they purchase from you, so you solidify your sales materials for other potential customers.

Not only do you want to support your customers, but support your team as well. Take time out to call your teammates and make sure you are providing them the support they need. Stabilize your organization and you stabilize your own income as well. Utilize contests to promote friendly competition with your team to boost sales, and set goals with your team and follow-up with them to keep them accountable.

Don’t forget to keep track of your business volume and make sure that you are being rewarded for the result-producing activities you and your team are conducting.