This week’s guest blog is co-written with one of our partners, Rich Insight.

Running a business certainly has its fair share of ups and downs. One minute you can be on cloud nine, meeting and exceeding your margins, and the next you can be scraping the bottom of the barrel, trying to make ends meet. These are common occurrences every business owner goes through at one point, but having set objectives means you’re less likely to get distracted by tactical events impeding your strategic plans.

This is where consultancy can enter into the equation; having a third party with a whole host of experience to guide you as your business grows and expands can be incredibly useful. Especially when you’re fresh into business and need that expert experience to get the ball rolling and keep you on course. They can validate your ideas, help you find new targets, or steer you away from wasted energy and time.

5 factors in which consultancy can help you transform your business:

1) Saves mistakes in the future by producing a formulated business plan with a registered, licensed and knowledgeable consultant
2) Identify issues in business processes and current working style, increasing scale and efficiency
3) Get the ball rolling on change to meet the industry trends that only a consultant would see from their birds eye vantage point
4) Provide objectivity to your goals, systems, procedures and expectations
5) Train employees on what to focus on that secures a better bottom line, not what merely keeps them busy

How to decide when you need consultancy:

There are a number of reasons a business may want to work with a consultant. You could be at the beginning of your journey and need guidance on objective setting and other business processes. Consultants live and breathe their industries, so they can help you avoid common mistakes. Or, you could be further along in your business development, knee deep in complications and wanting that expert touch to elevate your company standing. Consultants know their craft, complex or simple, and a good one will help take the complexity out of your business model and give you clarity on what is truly needed to continue expansion.

You may need business consultancy when:

• You’re making mistakes that you know could be easily avoided, mistakes your competitors aren’t making.
• You’re struggling to get your staff motivated or are finding the overhaul of training to be too big of a challenge alongside other business undertakings
• Your business objectives are now moot and you’re having trouble developing new ones that are suitable and realistic within a set timescale
• You’re looking to expand internationally, or perhaps horizontally into a venture you have little experience in, and need an actionable plan to guide you through expansion
• You feel you’ve outgrown your knowledge and experience. Successful companies hire for their deficiencies and are not afraid of outsider opinions.
• You have plateaued on scale – the more you grow, the more work and overhead you seem to need to absorb. You need scale.
• You can no longer grow. A host of opportunities are passing you by, because all your week is spent keeping things going, not growing.

For the majority of businesses, it will be a mixture of some or all of the above.

How a consultancy can work with your ERP solution:

Your ERP solution will give you all the things you need to grow your business; it gives you control of your stock, CRM, orders, couriers, accounting, all in one place. Looking for the right ERP solution for you? Take a look at Khaos Control Cloud, a business management software that powers your business from anywhere. Leveraging Khaos Control Cloud correctly should increase your scale and efficiency to grow sales and the bottom line, without growing the overhead.

However, using an ERP system doesn’t provide things like objectives, and you must have a vision and a drive for an ERP solution to work in your favour. An ERP system is an important tool for scale and efficiency, but if you set it up incorrectly, or do not fully leverage it in your entire workflows, it may not help you. Far too many sellers adopt the right systems with the wrong set up and procedures to follow.
A knowledgeable consultant supporting you can make all the difference, because you and your consultant can really harness your ERP system to get the best results for your business.

But, which consultancy firm should I go for?

We recommend doing adequate research into which consultancy company or firm to go for; there are a wide range of choices and so research is key. Many consultants who know their craft well will specialise in one area of the industry.

There are companies that focus on certain niches, for example if you’re an ecommerce seller, finding a firm specialising in ecommerce would be more appropriate than a generic firm. But ecommerce is a very broad topic. Do you need help with website SEO? Or social media traffic generation? Or your marketplace channel sales?

Many agencies have different consultants for different needs. The first visit is fact finding, often lead by experienced consultants with broad knowledge and big-picture thinking. Based on their notes and experience, a specialist may then be tagged into matters and offer more focused attention on one key area of your wider needs.

First identify an area you need support in. Don’t worry about knowing what you need in any detail – that’s the consultant’s eventual job. Identify the general industry or area in your company where you feel experience, scale or direction is questionable. Tally a basic list of what you would ideally want improved. Then, simply call a few agencies and run the general idea by them. Good agencies will help you figure out what you do need, and what you can skip entirely.

For multi-channel marketplace management and scale, Rich Insight is a good consultant to speak with. They work with retailers and brands to get the most scale and profitability from their online channels and marketing strategies. With a combination of analysis, strategic support, implementation, marketing, best practice and ongoing day-to-day services, there is something for any seller at any stage of their journey. You can check them out here.