Business Consulting 101


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  • 15
    Lessons
  • 23
    Exams &
    Assignments
  • 439
    Students
    have taken this course
  • 11
    Hours
    average time
  • 1.1
    CEUs
 
 
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Course Description

Business consulting is a growing sector of the employment and business industry. There has been no better time to join the consulting industry, based on industry growth statistics. More importantly, as businesses strive to develop their positions in the market place, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and optimize operations, consultants are used on an increasingly larger basis. If you have the burning desire think you have the necessary skills and the mindset to be a consultant this course will show you how.

In this course we look at a number of the key topics you need to know. Whether you are consulting by yourself, as a partnership, as a small team, or with a large company, we will provide you with all of the information you need to be a successful consultant. This includes consulting in any industry regardless of your level of experience. We also provide you the tools and understanding to develop strategy to deploy and be successful in your own consulting business. From choosing a business model, to determining your pricing, to managing overhead costs, then we cover the more complex tasks like developing a great marketing strategy, developing the best proposals, tips for consulting success, and implementing your recommendations. Best of all, we discuss consulting lessons learned and problems you can avoid; and end with consulting "Best Practices".

Consultants serve several purposes for their clients. They provide solutions to specific problems and resolve challenges that the organization cannot address itself. The consultant may be brought in to resolve a specific situation, or to be an independent neutral party in circumstances where emotions run high, or bias may exist. The client may not have expertise in the area of need, and the consultant may be used to fill that role. 

Consultants provide a specialized level of competence in their field, and also must have the skills to run their own business, serving as its:
  • Client relations manager

  • Marketing executive

  • Office manager

  • Accountant

  • Customer service manager

As the client relations manager for your consulting business, you will be responsible for nurturing customer relationships to ensure client satisfaction. In this capacity, you will also have the opportunity to sell clients additional services they may not know they need.

As the marketing executive, you will use your creativity to determine the best marketing strategy for your company, whether it is printed materials, radio or television advertising, or an Internet website.

As the office manager, you are responsible for all business and administrative activities, including all necessary support services, such as billing, hiring employees, and ordering office supplies.

As the accountant for your company, you will be in charge of keeping records for all financial matters.

As the customer service manager, you are responsible for providing clients the desired service for continued business.

There are a number of complementary skills that you will need. A good consultant must display a combination of humility, competence, confidence, and also be a good communicator.

  • Humility is important, because clients want to feel comfortable with the person they are working with. They need a consultant who is realistic and down to earth, not someone who thinks they can fix everything as soon as they walk in the door, without discussion.

  • Confidence is another key trait. As a consultant, you want to show confidence in your abilities and your ideas, without being arrogant. You want to be competent but not overbearing with your clients.

  • Competence is the ability to convey to your client that you are proficient, and knowledgeable.

  • An articulator or narrator is an individual who is able to communicate effectively, and persuade their clients to take action. Quite often, a good consultant is required to be a storyteller. You want to tell a story to your clients about the possibilities, if they take action on your recommendations.

Still another role of the consultant is to show that you add value to the organization through knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Clients are seeking the consultant's ability to problem solve and apply critical thinking. It is your experience that is key.

So what exactly does a consultant do, and how do they do this?

Consulting actually flows along a continuum of services you are able to offer a client over time. As you structure your consulting business, you will be faced with the challenges of any other business, as you determine how it will grow. Whether you want to operate as a single individual, a team, or manage a company with a group of hundreds of consultants, you have to determine the size of the company you want to develop. The consulting continuum is similar to a business life cycle. There are a number of steps related to the services you will provide, which also offer opportunity for future growth.
 
Consulting objectives include:
  • Providing the client with requested information
  • Conducting an analysis to diagnose the client's problem
  • Developing a solution to their problem
  • Providing the client recommendations, based on your findings
  • Assisting the client with implementation of your recommendations
  • Helping facilitate consensus building within the company
  • Helping the client improve organizational effectiveness
 
The chart that follows will delineate your overall objectives. Some of these are short-term activities, as you initiate consulting, while others can become a longer-term relationship with your client. Building consensus, facilitating learning, and improving the overall organizational effectiveness may be long-term endeavors, as they require a cultural shift and change.

As a consultant, you are able to review the company from a high level, through its strategic plan, as well as its mission, vision, and values. Although you perform the initial required analysis for a project in a broader sense, you facilitate learning, and in the future may also improve organizational effectiveness. You have the opportunity to become an integral part of a company's improvement efforts. As long as you can show them a return on investment, clients may continue to use your services in the future.

Your role is to provide your clients with expertise on an as-needed basis to solve problems. Your goal should be to solve a problem only once, and to develop a reputation for quality and excellence.

Additional consulting activities

  • Improving organizational communications

  • Improving operational performance

  • Increasing employee oration and morale

  • Improving customer satisfaction

  • Developing management and supervisory skills

  • Identifying operational needs

  • Increasing market base

  • Reducing costs

  • Providing advice on gaps between present situation and the desired state

  • Diagnosing problems

  • Coaching and training employees

  • Act on behalf of the client with integrity

In addition to consulting expertise, the consultant will help the client develop some business parameters. For instance, the client may not understand the full extent of the problem, and may not want to acknowledge the problem. They may be aware of the problem, but do not understand how to seek your assistance. They may ask a consultant for a proposal based on the perception of their needs, but not fully be aware of all the complementary factors. They may not understand what type of a budget to allocate for improvements. This may be based on their understanding of issues at the time of requesting a proposal, but there may be significant issues requiring improvement.

that you have the right expertise to solve the problem and accomplish the necessary improvements. Never stretch your expertise. This could be disastrous for your reputation. You may lose the client's respect and wind up hiring additional consultants to pick up the areas where you have weaknesses. As a consultant, you will conduct your business in a confidential manner. Clients expect confidentiality and integrity as the highest weighted priorities when interacting with you as a consultant. Some clients will expect a signed nondisclosure agreement.
 

One of the primary roles you will serve as a consultant is to conduct a needs assessment, based on the current state of operations for the company. This may include your review of several key components:

  • The company's mission, vision, and values

  • Its organizational structure

  • Analysis of the employees and human capital, which includes staffing levels and employee turnover

  • Analysis of competition within the market, including comparison and contrast

  • The company's performance records in terms of revenue, sales, and profit

  • Employee reward and bonus programs

  • Information on training and development programs

  • Marketing information

  • Any types of surveys or feedback from customers, employees, and any other stakeholders -- internal or external to the organization

As a consultant, you will use this information to develop a needs assessment for your client. The needs assessment will focus on the current state, and develop the future, or desired, state of operations, based on your recommendations.

As a consultant, you are expected to be a problem solver, coach, and mentor for the organization -- to enhance its operational performance, stop immediate problems, and develop a strategic plan for the future.

The client will be looking for you to have the right combination of these skills:

  • Integrity and confidentiality

  • Technical expertise

  • The ability to lead, guide, and coach

  • The ability to mediate

  • Good communication skills

  • The ability to analyze and summarize activities

  • Good people skills

The consultant is expected to analyze the issues within the company, synthesize them, and use creativity and innovation to test and refine ideas for the ultimate presentation to the company. As you enter these roles, these are the types of questions client companies will consider:

  • How does the performance of our company look at the present?

  • Does this consultant look like they have the necessary knowledge to provide the right level of consulting?

  • Do they appear to have the right level of integrity, and are they confidential in their interactions with us?

  • Does the consultant appear to ask the right types of probing questions?

  • Does the consultant appear to provide clear, distinct answers to specific questions?

  • Does the consultant's proposal seem tailored to our company and our needs, or are they presenting a generic off-the-shelf template?

  • Does the consultant have a respectful demeanor?

  • Does this consultant portray the ability to work with your employees in a collaborative environment to make the improvements that are necessary?

  • Does the consultant ask about past performance of the company?

  • Does the consultant have my best interest at heart, or are they more concerned about money?

Consultants may offer a wide array of services. Your role is to provide expertise based on your area of specialty.

These are some of the most common types of consultants:

  • Financial consultants, who are typically licensed, such as certified public accountants, tax specialists, or financial brokers. These types of consultants help companies make good decisions or resolve problems on financial matters.

  • Strategy consultants assist companies by reviewing their operations and develop strategies to enhance performance.

  • Technology consultants help their clients integrate and implement new technology.

  • Legal consultants resolve legal issues, such as contracts, intellectual property, employment, or trusts.

  • Social media consultants help companies increase business through branding and developing a strong marketing presence, particularly with search engine optimization.

  • Public relations consultants assist companies with the flow of information to the public and may be hired in instances where an adverse event has happened and a company is working to salvage its reputation. Public relations consultants are also hired to help develop the image customers have toward your company.

  • Human resource consultants assist with a number of human capital strategies, such as succession planning, labor relations, and mergers and acquisitions.

  • Marketing and advertising consultants assist clients with brand name recognition, and developing innovative and creative techniques to improve their position in the marketplace.

To help frame some of the types of issues you may be consulting for, here are some examples of the activities you may encounter:

  • How do I build a new product launch strategy if I want to expand my business in Ohio? Or, overseas?

  • How do I improve employee morale and build a better performance management system?

  • How do I determine the most profitable option if I want to build an additional two factories?

  • How do I keep up with the times in terms of marketing and my brand positioning?

  • How do I develop the right marketing strategy for an Internet presence?

  • Should our company merge with a smaller, less profitable company?

  • I'm spending a fortune on marketing. How can I reduce my cost?

  • How do I improve my search engine optimization and increase presence on Facebook and twitter?

  • I want build the right data repository for hundreds of remote location employees. How?

 

Other roles and benefits of hiring a consultant

  • They help clients to clearly define their needs and requirements.

  • They provide an independent and objective view.

  • They help prepare companies for the introduction of change.

  • They provide technical skills that are currently nonexistent, or in short supply.

  • They implement recommendations.

  • They provide a level of speed in reaction.

  • They provide outside exposure to other industries and best practices.

Summary Reminders and Takeaways

The consultant provides a specialized level of competence and expertise in the field in which they are consulting. Consultants provide solutions to their clients' specific problems, or challenges that they cannot resolve themselves. The consultant may be brought in to resolve a specific challenge, or to be an independent neutral party for situations where emotions run high or bias may exist. Consultants serve as client relations managers, marketing executives, entrepreneurs, office managers, customer service managers, accountants and business owners. It is important to conduct your business with humility, competence, and confidence. You are the narrator of the story your clients want to hear about improvements. Consulting businesses have a number of objectives, which include providing clients information, diagnosing the problems, providing recommendations, facilitating learning within the organization, and improving overall organizational effectiveness. The primary role you will perform as a consultant is to conduct a needs assessment. The needs assessment is developed by taking internal client information, such as the organizational structure, employee staffing, market competition, reward programs, and information on training and development, and synthesizing this information to develop the future state of desired operations for the client.

Consultants are expected to be problem solvers, coaches, and mentors, who work with integrity, confidentiality, and technical expertise. Consultants may work in an endless number of industries.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider
 
 

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
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"Extraordinarily Helpful"
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Lesson 1: The Role of the Consultant

Consultants provide solutions to their client's specific problems, or challenges that the company cannot resolve itself. 12 Total Points
  • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Exam 1

Lesson 2: Making the Decision to Become a Consultant

The consulting industry has seen significant growth in recent years. Is it right for you? 11 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: How to Become a Business Consultant; Is Consulting Right for You?
  • Complete: Exam 2

Lesson 3: Choosing a Business Model

Choosing the correct business model helps you mitigate risk. 22 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BUSINESS MODEL FOR YOUR START-UP; The 5 Essentials of Choosing a Consultant
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 3

Lesson 4: Consulting as a Business

By developing a business plan, you provide a formal framework to build the business from the ground up, and into future expansion. 12 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: 7 Lessons Learned From Running a Consulting Company; Small Consulting Projects and Clients: Are They Really Worthwhile?
  • Complete: Exam 4

Lesson 5: Understanding the Economic Realities of Independent Consulting

During this lesson, we take the opportunity to elaborate on some of the economic realities of independent consulting. 19 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Independent Contractor Tests; DOL Says Most Independent Contractors Actually Employees
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 5

Lesson 6: Consulting Tips

This lesson will discuss consulting topics that don't necessarily fall under business operations but are activities you need to know. 9 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Consulting Skills, Tools, and Tips; 11 tips for new consultants to hit the ground running
  • Complete: Exam 6

Lesson 7: How to Establish and Improve Your Firm's Presence / Marketing Strategy

Marketing management is the art and science of choosing target markets and keeping, getting, and growing customers through creating, delivering, and communicating superior customer value. 19 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: 4 Principles of Marketing Strategy In The Digital Age; How to Promote Your Consulting Business
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 7

Lesson 8: Consulting Methodology

By definition, a methodology is a frame, structure, or set of tasks completed in a logical order. There are several business improvement methodologies that are commonly used in the business world. 10 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Management Consulting Methodology; The consulting process models
  • Complete: Exam 8

Lesson 9: Implementing Consulting Methodologies

Your consulting methodology is the system, process, and overall approach you use to develop the solutions to your client's problems. 18 Total Points
  • Review Article: Tools and methods
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 9

Lesson 10: Consulting Success

In this lesson, we will discuss issues that affect your consulting success. 10 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Ten Secrets to Consulting Success; Success Stories
  • Complete: Exam 10

Lesson 11: Delivering Results

The ability to deliver great results is what separates successful consulting companies from those that simply fade away. Delivering results is what you are hired to do. 20 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: 5 BEST PRACTICES TO DELIVER SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS; Results Delivery Example
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 11

Lesson 12: Philosophies and Strategies on the Factors That Require Action

Each consultant develops their own processes to meet their clients' needs. There are a number of strategies that you can use to focus on issues that require action. 18 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Aligning your total rewards strategy with your business goals; Planning and Design: What is a compensation philosophy? What should be included in a compensation philosophy?
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 12

Lesson 13: Making Sure Your Recommendations Are Implemented

Business consultants have a responsibility to ensure that their recommendations are implemented. 10 Total Points
  • Review Article: 7 Tips to Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations
  • Complete: Exam 13

Lesson 14: Consulting Lessons Learned and Things You Should Avoid

This lesson is designed to help you avoid some of the common mistakes consultants have made. 10 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Personal Branding: Lessons to avoid from consultants; Secrets of Successful Consultants Revealed
  • Complete: Exam 14

Lesson 15: How to Be the Best Consultant / Consultant Best Practices

The key consultant characteristics include professionalism, reputation, judgment, good listening, time management skills, and effective communication. 100 Total Points
  • Take Poll: Final Course Poll - Your Opinion
  • Take Survey: Course Comments
  • Complete: Exam 15
  • Complete: The Final Exam
300
Total Course Points
 

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the role of the consultant.
  • Describe what to consider when making the decision to become a consultant.
  • Summarize choosing a business model.
  • Describe understanding the economic realities of independent consulting.
  • Summarize how to establish and improve your firm's presence / marketing strategy.
  • Describe consulting methodologies and how to implement them.
  • Summarize philosophies and strategies on the factors that require action.
  • Describe consulting lessons learned and things you should avoid.
  • Summarize consultant best practices, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.
 

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
 
Course Title: Business Consulting 101
Course Number: 8900365
Lessons Rating: 4.8 / 5 Stars (695 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Category:
Course Type: Professional Development (Self-Paced, Online Class)
CEU Value: 1.1 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: John Chouinard
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $70.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $95.00

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Student Testimonials

  • "All parts were very helpful....All parts of the course were very helpful. The feedback from Instructor is very helpful, let's you know the areas you have missed." -- Catherine M.
  • "The instructor was very prompt with feedback - and he is good at making positive comments." -- Austin M.
  • "The instructor is a very good man who is always available when needed." -- Bontle M.
  • "Great Class and Good Job!" -- Daryl S.
  • "He's just great! Very inspiring. One of the main reasons for studying under this system! I'm not a consultant, but I truly enjoyed learning about their duties and responsibilities!" -- Levander K.
  • "Great, Great. Thank You...It gave me structure, because I already consult with businesses, and it helped with today's economy....Great, Great. Thank You." -- Joann B.

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