Types of Business Consultants
When it comes to managing your business, one thing you might consider is hiring a business consultant to help you. Since there are countless numbers of consultants who are willing to offer their services, you might be thinking, “How do I know how to hire a business consultant and which is right for me?” While there are no hard or fast rules, one thing is to consider your specific needs, as well as the types of consultants available.
Consultants usually fall into one of two categories: Industry-specific and Skill-specific. These two types of business consultants are described below.
Industry-specific consultants are consultants that know the ins and outs of a particular industry and can help you with nearly every step of implementing your business plan.
For example, if you are starting a restaurant, then an industry-specific consultant can help you determine how much kitchen and dining space you need, how much inventory to order and keep on hand, what sizes of refrigerators and freezers you need to store perishable goods, how much you should charge for menu items, and how best to hire and train your staff, among other decisions specific to that industry.
Because these industry-specific consultants are typically more “hands-on” than skill-specific consultants, they usually require more hours to provide their services and do so on a more ongoing basis. As a result, their services can be considerably pricey.
Skill-specific consultants are consultants that specialize in a particular skill (or possibly two or a few) that can be applied across a multitude of industries.
If you plan to hire a business consultant to write a business plan that will help you open a restaurant, then you will most likely hire a business plan consultant which is a skill-specific consultant who, if they are experienced in business plan writing, has written business plans for other restaurants and fitness centers and pet groomers and trucking companies and semiconductor manufacturers, among many other industries.
Accountants and tax consultants are also examples of skill-specific consultants because they can help businesses across a multitude of industries with one area of managing their business. However, they would not be able to coach you through every step of the business process like an industry-specific consultant would.
If you are business-oriented and tax-savvy, but you want to turn your passion for music into starting your own record label without having ever worked for a record label before, then you might consider hiring a business consultant which is industry-specific who can walk you step-by-step through the process to start and grow your label. If you have ample experience in restaurant management and now want to start your own, but you are clueless about corporate taxes, then you are probably better off hiring a tax professional.
You may find a consultant that fits into both categories, but they would be the proverbial needle in a haystack, and they may charge a much higher rate for their services. Assuming you do not find the needle, you should try to discern which areas you are looking for help, as well as how much you are able and willing to spend for consulting services, and then decide whether you need an industry-specific consultant, a skill-specific consultant, or both.