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How Small Businesses Can Benefit From Strategic Consultancy

No matter how big or small your business, you need to have a plan. The problem is, unless you’ve done a business degree at university (and the majority of business owners haven’t), it’s difficult to know what makes the difference between a successful enterprise and one that folds in its first year.

In exactly the same way that you would take your car to an expert mechanic to get it fixed, sometimes your business can benefit from expert strategic advice. And that’s where business consultants come in.

How can a business consultant help me?

Business consultants are, by their very nature, experts in business. But what exactly does that mean? Well, it means that they apply their training, personal experience and expertise to develop strategic plans for businesses, taking into account a few fundamental principles. Most businesses follow a fairly standard template model – the differences really depend on the details and perhaps a few outside influencing factors, depending on what industry you’re in. Business plans don’t have to be complex – in fact an overly complicated business plan can trip a new enterprise up before it’s even got off the ground.

A consultant who is expert in business strategy can take an objective look at your business and help you pinpoint both your strengths and your weaknesses. Do you know what your USP is? Do you realise what makes you more or less successful than your competitors? A business consultant does, and they can not only give you a report on where you’re going wrong, but how to fix it too. A good consultant should be able to:

• Give you a clear overview of the current state of your business
• Produce accurate predictions of the projected path of the business over a designated period (for example – a five-year plan)
• Look at what your competitors are doing and suggest best practice methods you can employ in your own business
• Create both long and short-term goals that are achievable and realistic
• Help you to develop new products or services
• Create an effective marketing strategy that incorporates both ‘real world’ and virtual (online) platforms

Promoting your business

Business strategy consultants really come into their own when it comes to marketing strategies, and any consultant worth their salt should be able to develop a cohesive and effective marketing strategy for your business. This includes using techniques that really showcase your business, including utilising online platforms.

A business strategy consultant takes an holistic approach to successful business development. It’s not all ‘fluffy’ stuff like marketing and advertising – it includes the grass-roots stuff too, such as ensuring you’re not overspending in some areas to the detriment of the entire business model. But they should always remember that consultancy isn’t about preaching – it’s about working with the client to achieve the best results.

Good consultants develop a symbiotic relationship with their clients, whereby both parties are working for towards the same outcome, a successful and growing business. For the consultant, it adds to their reputation. For the business owner, it’s a chance to get a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to look over the business and help them develop a workable strategy that will encourage future growth.

Why Strategic Planning Is Important for Small Businesses

When a person starts a business whether it be a restaurant, bakery, small manufacturing plant, etc they do not want to always remain a “small fish in a big pond.” They want to become one of the “big fish” and in order to do that requires strategic planning. To increase their businesses revenue the owner needs to not only plan intelligent strategies but they also need to implement them wisely. If not implemented wisely the business is not going to see a profit and they may even be forced to go out of business.

Strategic planning involves formulating business growth strategies and policies over a specific period of time. If your business involves mobile or internet technology the trends in these fields change quite often so you would have to do it more often so formulating a six month to one year business strategy plan would make more sense than doing a five year plan. When doing business strategies or strategic planning you or the management team can concentrate on the entire business or just one aspect of the business.

Writing a business plan deals with the challenges that you are likely to occur when the business is just starting out. The actual strategic planning will deal the opportunities to grow the business and the methods that will be used. Although they are two different things, you do need to make sure that you have a business plan written up so everyone will know just what direction the business is going. If you do not have a business plan which is usually used for strategic planning there is a strong chance your business will not succeed.

In strategic planning there is no definite model that a business can use because each business is different and usually formulates their own model that will work with their particular business. Although the model may vary there are some important compounds that you need to include.

One component is the purpose of the business which is when the business will explain the entire idea of why your business exists. This component is not complicated and will focus just on the businesses objective. Another component is the ultimate goals of the business called organizational objectives which will help you achieve the purpose of the business. You want to make sure that goals you set are achievable within the time period you set up.

The next component is strategy planning for every goal. Having strategies in place will help to insure that you will accomplish each goal that you have set out. You should also make checkpoints so you can see if the strategy is working or not and if you need to make any changes. The last component is monitoring implementation of your strategy plan. If your strategic plan is not monitored you will not know how effective it is and whether it needs to be revised.

As you can see, strategic planning and good business strategies are very important to a business, especially if it is a new business.

3 Easy Ways To Increase Sales For Your Small Business

Having started my business career using the more traditional bricks and mortar business route I know only too well how difficult it can be to increase sales for a small business. Sadly, nowadays it is even harder for local businesses to survive as more and more of us opt for the more convenient route of ordering our goods online… But are there any “tactics” that small businesses can employ to lure more of us to buy their goods or services?

Mobile Marketing-Promoting To The Converted

Many local businesses miss out “big time” as they waste too much valuable time and resources chasing new customers when the real money (and consistent income) comes from marketing to existing customers. After all, people who have already bought from you will already be aware of the quality of your product or service and providing that the buying experience that they had with you was good, then chances are that they will buy from you again and even encourage others to buy from you as well… They just need a little prompt or reminder that you are still open for business.

One of the easiest and most instant ways to promote to existing customers is to use mobile marketing. Let’s be honest most of us now carry our mobiles with us 24 hours a day and more texts are opened straight away than any other form of communication.

Indeed, most of us now provide a mobile phone number as our first point of contact as opposed to the more traditional landline contact number. Therefore all you small business owners out there need to make a point of storing these valuable mobile numbers and start using them to promote your business via a cheap text messages. Don’t worry of you don’t know how to get started as there are affordable training packages out there that will show you step by step how to set a mobile marketing campaign.

The best way to achieve instant results for your business by using this method is to promote an offer or a promotion. Let’s be honest we all like a bargain so simply offering, for example, a free glass of wine to customers who book a table at your restaurant on a quiet evening will help to attract more business. Even though it will cost you a glass of wine, you will more than make up for it by filling empty tables with paying customers.

Mobile marketing can benefit other small businesses too including texting appointment reminders for businesses like dentists or doctors, luring people into car showrooms via Bluetooth messages, promoting special offer up sells for businesses like beauticians or health spas. There are endless benefits that using mobile marketing as part of your local business marketing can offer, not least of all that it’s cheap, quick and offers instant results.

What Is A Business Without A Good Website?

I am amazed by how many local businesses are still not online. Given the ever growing popularity of the internet, small business that are not promoting their business online are losing out on massive income potential and are passing that business onto other business savvy owners instead.

Creating a website for your business does not have to cost a fortune… In fact some websites even offer free templates that you can use. You then simply need to purchase a domain name and some hosting for your website. If you lack the confidence or knowledge to do this yourself, there are websites out there that offer a way of outsourcing this task to others quite cheaply, simply check out outsourcing sites for that offer that type of service. Often you can put a bid on the outsourcing websites that will invite people to bid for the work. This can be a great way of getting the best value for your money.

Again, there are training packages available that offer step by step training on the best ways to create a website for you business together with the cheapest ways to drive traffic to the website including how to get onto page 1 of Google.

Without a doubt, regardless of what small business you own, it is vital to have a good internet presence to ensure consistent sales for your business.

Business Blogs- Seeing The Bigger Picture

It’s often quite challenging to persuade small businesses to start blogging. They fail to realise that writing a blog can significantly increase sales for their business; most sadly fail to see the bigger picture.

Blogging takes time but if you are consistent, your business will begin to see dramatic results. Blogging for your business can help you to connect with people, especially if you are careful to write in a style that is unique to you and that you offer valuable content. If you are careful to offer useful advice within you blog, then you will help to promote yourself as an expert who people can trust, which will result in the reader buying from you rather than your competitor. It doesn’t matter what business you own, whether you’re a dog trainer, a piano teacher, a shop owner or a driving instructor, writing a blog can offer an affordable and fun way of getting your business noticed.

You can then drive traffic to your business blog by sharing the link to your blog on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. There are also opportunities available, (for a small monthly fee) for small businesses to use existing high ranking blogging sites to promote their business.

These are the 3 ways that I personally consider to be the most effective way to increase sales for your small business. They are methods that I have personally used, with success, within all of my businesses as they are affordable and create instant results.