“While lots of people would LOVE to do consulting, most just can’t generate the business”, Susan Kimmel, Ph.D. – Medical Market Researcher.
I happened to be in a meeting with a friend who was in UAE to invest and was looking for opportunity. He had few options but could not decide which was safest and steady. There was another common friend present there who was a middle class man working as a tailor in the city. He was describing the opportunities in taking up a running business. He explained, “There are people here who have built and run a business successfully for decades. When they are old and their children are in US or UK, they prefer to sell their successful business and go back to their native country to live a retired life. Such businesses have a steady growth and a constant inflow of income. Buy them.”
The meeting ran for more than two hours and the tailor was talking like a teacher explaining the trends of businesses in the city. He spoke like an encyclopedia about various small businesses. My friend was glued to his lessons and finally he asked him to look for one such business that was for sale. Two days later, we met him again. There was a running restaurant for sale and the deal clicked. My friend offered this man an envelope of few thousand Dirhams. The man refused to accept it citing that he was merely giving him advice as a friend, but my friend insisted and he took it reluctantly. After he left my friend told me, “I paid his consulting fees. He does not realize that he is a consultant and helped me go through the entire process of choosing and picking and buying a ready to do business. He saved my money, time and therefore he deserves a good payment.” Having worked here for few decades, the so called consultant had acquired a lot of knowledge on business trends and now he had a source of income and a career.
From guiding in small business to assisting in strategies of big corporate houses, consultancy is in its full youth and vigour. Management consulting was an estimated $71.2 billion industry in the United States in 2016, according to analytics firm Statista, and the industry is only growing larger with more than 600,000 consultants in the country claiming to help the companies to improve efficiency and profitability.
Alan Weiss has written a very lively book on consultancy Value-Based Fees: How to Charge and Get What You’re Worth. Alan Weiss is one of the most widely-renowned independent consultant in the US and is also the author of ‘Million Dollar Consulting’. Alan Weiss says, “Consulting fees are actually dependent on only two things – value provided in the perception of the buyer and the intent of the buyer and the consultant to do the right thing by acting ethically. Unfortunately many consultants fail to understand that perceived value is the basis of the fees or that they must translate the importance of the advice into long term gains for the clients in the client’s perception. Some others feel to have the courage and belief system that support the high value delivered to clients thereby reducing their fees at a very low level and bringing his own self esteem to a low level. Therefore consultants are the main causes of low consulting fees and not the clients.”
A Business Consultant is actually a business teacher or a doctor for a healthy business and he is at a higher level than a business coach. He is actually a strategic partner in your business growth as well as in the management sector. That is why they are paid well. Weiss says, “No buyer in my experience has ever said, “We have managed to secure the cheapest consultant that we could find for our self development. He was sitting at home with nothing to do waiting to go to his normal day job but I persuaded him to work with us for $250 a day. We can afford that much so let’s use him as best as we can.” He continues, “Buyers are more apt to say this to his staff, “Listen up, I have heard the finest consultant in the country on sales development and he has agreed to postpone a vacation in order to be with us. He is very expensive but worth every cent, if we use him correctly…pay close attention and plan to work with him closely.”
In every field, consultants have been those people who have compiled knowledge and experience in their few decades full of professional life. While doing that he has also built up a network of experts in the field to get and share updates in the field of his facilities. A civil engineer who has worked for 3 decades in Al-Ain, UAE, retired and started his own consultancy in the field of construction and by the time most of the super juniors to him were now well placed in the decision making positions in the same field. Now he earns capitalizing on his experience of the past.
Brian Tracy began his career as a small salesman in real estate of Canada and using all his decades of experience he is now a Strategic Sales Consultant for companies listed in Forbes. He has consulted for more than 1,000 companies and addressed more than 5,000,000 people throughout the US, Canada and 55 other countries, worldwide, regarding his sales strategies and personal development methods. His book, Advance Selling Strategies happens to be serving as parallel consultant in a book format for sales personnel worldwide.
From beginning or running an institution or a hospital, to recovering a sick unit, apt and efficient consultants are in a good demand. In every field consultants have become the backbone for investors. Shaun Rein is the founder and managing director of the China Market Research Group, a strategic market intelligence consultancy firm. He says, “Consultants and other service providers can offer valuable help to companies seeking to recover from or get ahead in today’s current financial maelstrom. Their solutions can be instrumental in creating revenue growth.”
There are no professional degrees in consulting that teach from scratch but compiling, organising and marketing your experience is actually consultancy and in corporate world it means a lot of risk also. While you may not be CEO (yet!), consulting presents a unique opportunity to exercise your strategy muscle and get exposure to this type of thinking. Whether or not you stay in consulting, knowing what keeps senior leaders up at night – and knowing that you can help them address those issues – is a huge reason to get into the field.
Alex Nuth is a Management Consultant at Accenture and has worked across a number of industries and functional areas helping clients solve some of their largest and most important challenges. She says, “Because consultants often work with many different companies and may have worked through this problem in the past with someone else, they can really provide a perspective based on what they’ve seen work (or not) before. And given this experience, they can often bring new and innovative ideas or possible challenges to the table that clients probably wouldn’t have been able to see on their own.”
Just notice how many consultants are required when a big business grows up -Legal, Accounting, Insurance, Estate, Marketing, Training and Financial Consultant – to name a few. You can even add a website consultant, if the business is conducted online. Most of the above businesses prefer freelancers or professional consultants. On the other side, new trends on consultancy are also available. I was even amused to notice a wedding consultant. His visiting card said that he will help in budgeting the wedding event and offered to save a lot of money for his clients by helping in deciding on the dishes in the buffet and other aspects. Later, I came to know he was an ex-caterer with lots of knowledge and contacts in the wedding business. His fees were only 3% of the total event cost. “But I save around 15 to 20 percent of my clients money too”, he claimed. Another, a retired teacher, is now a consultant for weak students. He does not take up the job of helping to complete school workbooks and journals, but he guides them in improving their studies and overall performance.
If you have vast experience in any of these fields, then you can think of being a consultant:
1. Emergency preparedness
2. Weight loss
6. Public relations
Consultancy is here to stay and will continue to grow and flourish, if a consultant knows how to get a good consultant in planning and promoting his skills.
Author Nisar Nadiadwala is a Public Speaker and Media Consultant, settled in UAE. He has also authored a book Tell-Well: A Workbook Course to upgrade your public speaking and communication skills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org