In recent years, with the advent of self-entrepreneurship, the illusion that it was enough to have some knowledge or experience to improve as a business consultant has slowly surfaced. However, a business consultant is a complex profession that not everyone necessarily can do. Follow the guide to know all the aspects!
The consulting market in France has grown rapidly over the past 10 years. According to Syntec Conseil, the area actually doubled in size between 2009 and 2019, and will double in size again by 2031.
Some statistics on business consulting
- More than 15,000 companies in France
- 120,000 employees, 80% of whom are managers
- 20 billion euros in business in 2021
In May 2021, 77% of consulting firms believe their activity is satisfactory, or even exceeds the forecast budget. Consulting firms describe good growth prospects, with +11% activity compared to 2020 and +3% compared to 2019.
The profession of an independent consultant may be similar to that of a medical doctor in the sense that, being the company patient, a dysfunction must be diagnosed and a solution proposed to the manager. The latter usually becomes aware of a problem, either directly or internally or externally through information feedback (clients, chartered accountants, trade unions, etc.). So he is in the patient’s position and feels “symptoms” without defining the cause. So he seeks outside help from specialized consultants (HRM, profitability, financial management, law, digital, etc.), such as specialized doctors.
Two categories of consultants
You don’t find yourself improving as a consultant. There remains a need for knowledge accumulation and acquisition of analytical and synthesis tools to practice this profession. These are capital, in the sense that they will be the basis of the process of solving the problem or problems facing the leader.
Schematically, there are two categories of consultants. The first is based on university knowledge and is usually made up of young men and women who, often after a brief period in employment, decide to form their own activity. The second category is made up of former employees who have held positions of responsibility or who have extensive experience in a particular area of the company.
A few points of caution before you start
Before diving into the deep end of counseling, it’s important to be aware of three important points.
• Experience gained within multiple companies is not always transferable to the entire field of activity. Every company has its own culture and it is essential to get immersed in it before giving any advice.
• As a consultant, due to lack of adequate academic knowledge, you may be faced with situations for which you do not necessarily have answers. Remember to look at training organizations or sites that offer MOOCs (University Courses on the Internet), this will allow you to fill in some of the gaps.
• Lastly, don’t forget that an open mind and adaptability are essential ingredients for professional success in the consulting field. Setting goals in everyday life, it is necessary to work on them on their own.
work on your business vision
It is useless to have an incomparable experience, full of diplomas and knowledge, if you are not able to sell yourself through a planned and built business approach. Sometimes, although the quality of service is unchangeable, the business growth of the consulting company is reduced due to turnover and lack of sufficient clients.
The only way to address this deficit is to undertake a genuine commercial approach that relies on all the support and means to finance the company. Often, hiring a salesperson can be very profitable. This allows the consultant to focus entirely on his core business. Note that if you do not have the finances to hire an employee, it is quite possible for you to call a commercial agent (liberal profession), who will only be paid on commission.
mistakes to avoid
“Words fly away, writing lasts”, This adage can apply to the consulting business. If you sell a consulting activity, it is an intangible element, the end result of which is only really conceivable in the long run. That is why it is imperative for the client to establish the diagnosis and proposed solutions in a completely clear and detailed manner in the file generated. Be careful getting your performance down to paper.
Second tip: don’t lose control of your performance. Sometimes, the client takes precedence over the advisor’s proposals, asking him to always put in more effort. This is why it is essential to state in writing the objectives of the service, the means to be implemented and the time frame for execution. The contract should be closed to provide peace of mind to the consultant.
Finally, and although this is obvious, the activity area the advisor is attacking must be “bankable”. There is no need to waste your time and money in areas of activity or for companies with which the financial return for your services will be minimal.