If your client is eager to open a business, you may be ready to get started and put everything you can into helping them become successful. While working as a small business consultant, you may find that your client needs or requests all kinds of assistance and advice before moving forward. If you don't set clear guidelines, you can be overwhelmed with helping a particular client get ahead. Consider this list of best practices to consider when helping a client open a business.
Determine Your Level Of Contribution
There are all kinds of small business consultants with varying areas of specialty. The Balance Small Business suggests that clients may need accounting and bookkeeping services, information technology (IT) services, human resource services, marketing services, and legal services when opening a business. However, many clients may attempt to call on you for help in every area that they need something done. Although you want to be of great assistance, remember that you may not be able to handle or are trained to perform every job that a client may need completed before launching their business. Helping clients to outsource specialized, complex tasks that are necessary for launch is essential to focus on what you do best.
Consider Their Level Of Experience
Without a doubt, clients who have very little experience in opening a business, or are starting a business for the first time will need more help than their experienced counterparts. Avoid pressuring mature clients to change their minds when they are set to follow a certain process, but simply present the possibilities if you believe that there is a better route. On the other hand, and do not be afraid to offer amateur business owners additional help to ensure that they are on target and more successful when opening their business.
Set Your Pricing to Communicate Quality
Setting the rates for your consulting business by the hour or project upfront on a contract is necessary to ensure you are compensated fairly and consistently. Forbes suggest that you should inform clients that you are a better option than the big-name consulting agencies, but you are not the cheaper alternative. In some cases, being more expensive speaks higher value to clients who are looking for a hand-on consultant to guide them or complete foundational tasks.
Encourage Clients To Stick to The Plan
Helping clients develop a solid business plan and a strategy for execution is one of the most important tasks of a small business consultant. Helping each client to develop a business plan gives him or her a blueprint to follow that can raise the odds of attaining success. Without one, it is easy for a client to get sidetracked and forget the recommendations and advice that you give them. Help your client to include appropriate goals and milestones as indicators that they are on the right path after they launch.
Gain Their Unique Contributions
Even if you have decided that you will perform certain tasks for clients who are opening a business, it is wise to gain their contribution along the way. Simply telling the client what is best does not constitute as a thorough learning experience. The client must contribute his or her ideas, plans, and other input so that branding and marketing efforts effectively resonate with their target audience. To do so, Entrepreneur suggests that maintaining clear communication channels with clients is key.
Provide Sound Legal Direction
Small business consultants may be aware of many laws that can affect a client preparing to launch a business in an industry, but it is wise to direct clients to an attorney to ensure that they are compliant with all legal standards and regulations. This is extremely important if you take on clients that are not citizens of your city or state, as the laws and ordinances that may affect their operations and finances can vary dramatically by geographic location. As a dedicated small business consultant, you should do preliminary research on your client's intended location of business operations to ensure that you are giving solid advice.
When registering the name of their business with the state, you may want to seek federal registration for the client's well. If your client has an innovative product or invention, it is wise to encourage him or her to patent an original idea for protection. An excellent trademark attorney can help your client to obtain the trademarks that they need so their business obtains professional, unique branding in the marketplace.
Avoid Overloading Clients With Information
It takes time to shape a business and to teach anyone to do anything well, and this is essential when advising clients who are opening a business. For this reason, it is wise to plan for multiple sessions in advance with each client to avoid hurrying the process so that your advice is clearer and has time to sink in. If you are too eager to jump to the next client, you many generate a large sum of unsatisfied business owners who may post and share negative reviews of your consulting service.
Acting as a small business consultant can be a very rewarding and demanding job to undertake. Although you may do everything in your power to help them forge ahead, in the ends it is up to the client to stay focused and thrive in the business world. You also many want to achieve accreditation through the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants (AASBC) and obtain industry degrees to gain higher credibility with clients. Although you cannot guarantee success for any client, helping them to prepare for it and improve their odds is the best hand you can offer.