Becoming a business consultant, also popularly known as a management consultant, is the prime choice for many management graduates. The profession has many perks that attract people: a good salary, great colleagues, and a dynamic, fast-paced work environment. You also get to work with the top management of companies and learn directly from them, and few other jobs might offer such an opportunity. So, how can you become a business consultant? Let’s start by understanding what exactly is a business consultant.
What is it?
A business or management consultant is like a company’s temporary employee to manage a specific business function. For example, a company may need help with setting up its finance function. In this case, they will hire a financial consultant who has a lot of knowledge and experience in the economic process. Once the consultant has set up the finance function for the company, their role is over, and they can move on to another project. A business consultant can be hired to set up, streamline, or optimize any business area. They can be employed by a small business that needs help managing the overall functioning or by larger companies requiring assistance with a specific function or project.
What do they do?
A business consultant primarily works with the top management to set up or streamline a process. For example, suppose you are a technology consultant. In that case, you will work directly with the CTO of the company to set up their technology or perhaps streamline and optimize the use of existing technology. Here is a list of some responsibilities you may have as a consultant:
· Be an interim employee: you might have to fill in temporarily for an employee that has left the organization until a replacement is found. You might have to work on a single project, or you could be asked to take on all the responsibilities of the previous employee.
· Optimize processes and oversee the implementation: you will likely share reports with the senior management about how a process is functioning currently and how it can be optimized. You can introduce more efficient operations or systems and oversee them getting implemented. You will be responsible for leading the team step-by-step while implementing the new processes and meeting all project deadlines.
· Bring a fresh perspective: companies may sometimes hire a business consultant to bring a new approach to problem-solving. You must be creative in your system and think out of the box to resolve problems that might have come to a standstill.
· Train the team: you might have to train the company’s internal employees, especially if you’re introducing new processes or technology. You will have to give the employees a clear idea of why the process or technology is introduced, how it impacts the company’s performance and their role in its practical implementation or use.
Depending on which function you handle, some other critical areas of focus for you may be:
· Increasing sales and profits
· Training employees on the new processes, systems, and technology
· Boost employees’ performance by motivating them
· Create sound business plans
· Optimize the organization’s function
· Implement changes across the organization, including hiring new staff or replacing older ones
· Conduct internal audits
· Enhance the customer service practices to boost customer satisfaction
How much do they earn?
Business consultants earn anywhere between $20,000 and $184,000 annually. The amount you make depends on your experience and expertise. The income of consulting business owners might differ as they work on a project-to-project basis and don’t earn a fixed income. However, the average salary of a business consultant in the US is approximately $81,500 per year.
How can you become a business consultant?
Becoming a business consultant is a logical process that you must plan well. You must have extensive knowledge and experience to become a well-paid consultant. It would be best if you also had problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical, project management, strategic planning, and comprehensive people skills. These skills can be inherent but can also be learned and developed. So don’t worry if you’re missing a skill!
Following is a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to do to become a business consultant:
1. Decide the industry you want to work in: as a consultant, you can work in any business function. So, you must choose a position that aligns with your natural skills and preferences. For example, if you love working in a dynamic and people-oriented environment, you thrive as a marketing consultant. But if you’re good with numbers, prefer functioning by yourself, and enjoy conducting in-depth analyses, a finance consultant role would be more suitable for you.
2. Get your bachelor’s degree: depending on the industry you have chosen, you can work towards a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, finance, economics, engineering, or information technology. It might be a good idea to select one major such as business administration and a minor such as engineering if you want to become a technology consultant. While a bachelor’s degree can get you started, most companies often require a master’s degree, so choose your specialization for that, too.
3. Take online classes or go for a master’s degree: you can do this if you already have a bachelor’s degree and are looking to further your education.
4. Gain work experience: get an entry-level job after your bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can use the network you built while completing your degrees to your advantage and see if anyone is looking for an entry-level manager. Most organizations prefer at least two years of work experience while looking for a business consultant.
5. Get your certification: it is not a must to be a certified consultant but can help build additional knowledge and experience.
6. Attend relevant events: attending professional or social events related to your chosen field will help you build a vast network. Professional events will also help you continue learning so that you’re always up to date with the latest in your industry. Seek out workshops, conferences, or even online events that focus on relevant topics. You will be able to provide appropriate, updated, and fresh knowledge to your clients if you are abreast with it.
Once you become a business consultant, you can continue working for firms or start your own consulting business and lend your services to various clients.
Protect your consultant business
Once you become a business consultant and start your business, you must consider insurance for consultants to safeguard yourself and your business against any claims made by unhappy clients. Professional liability insurance, also known as Errors and Omission (E&O) insurance, can protect you against damages claimed by clients for your services or recommendations.
Many kinds of business insurance are available, such as professional liability, general liability, and business owner’s policies. It is crucial to find the one that is best suited to your business. You can visit this website to learn more about the different types of insurance available and decide which one is the right choice. You can also learn more about what a business insurance policy can protect you from and get updated quotes for your requirements.