One day, after taking a harder look at my bank account, I knew that my business was in trouble. We didn't have enough money in the bank to pay our employees, much less handle the rigors of an upcoming merger with another organization. I knew that I needed help, which is why I hired a professional business consultant. She came in, analyzed our business, and made helpful suggestions that really turned things around. It was amazing to see how much of a difference her advice made. This blog is all about using consultants to improve your business, so that you can keep doing what you love.
Everything is marketable, including advice—if you know the right kind to give and who needs it. Learn more about how you can parlay your ability to see the steps that need to be taken to improve an organization's structure, efficiency, and—naturally—profits into a career as a management consultant.
What is management consulting?
Management consultants specialize in looking at a company's problems and providing solutions. Because they are outsiders, they are often able to see things from a new perspective and propose solutions that aren't readily apparent to those who are too close to the situation. They can also make recommendations that remove the "people" factor—interpersonal relationships can make it difficult for management to make cuts or reorganize when they know that someone that works for them could be forced into retirement or put in a position they don't care to take. A consultant is able to make recommendations that are best for the company as a whole, without regard for individual preferences.
What specific areas of business do they help?
Some management consultants focus on a specific industry, like healthcare. The consultants have extra training that helps them synthesize the needs of the patients with the needs of the business—which can be critical when a healthcare organization wants to expand its services. Other consultants focus on a specific aspect of any business, like supply chain management or accounting. They look for new ways to streamline processes and help companies become more innovative and current so that they don't fall behind the times.
Some management consultants focus on the temporary needs of businesses in transition, which is known as change management. They may come in when a company is trying to restructure, add new technology, or undergo a major change in management.
How much need is there for management consultants?
Management consultants, which are also called management analysts, are a growing part of the workforce. In 2012, there were around 700,000 people doing the job in the U.S. alone, and it is estimated that the field will grow by about 22% over the next decade. The salaries for management consultants reflect this need—with bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions, the pay for a consultant ranges from around $54,000 to $175,000 per year.
There aren't a lot of formal degrees in management consulting, but there are companies that offer management consulting training. If you have a strong sense of self-motivation, the ability to think critically and creatively, work well with a wide range of people, and know how to communicate effectively, this might be the career for you.