Many of the great inventions, discoveries and even business ventures of our times have their origins in the opportunities that presented themselves after the Industrial Revolution. It was in the late 1890s that two American chemists started what was probably the first management consultancy firm ever. Called Arthur D.Little. Since then consultancy has come a way long way, so much so that it has become a viable career option for those who want to do their own thing.
The internet has opened up many newer avenues for consultants. Avenues that make use of their websites effecively for business and as a result do not require huge investments either. All you need to have good knowledge of the subject at hand and once you register your business you are all set. And obviously if you hail from a management background (a degree or a masters would be ideal) it would be an ace up your sleeve. Enlisted below are some of the best consultancy startup options.
WEDDING : Also referred to as wedding planners, of all the consultancies that find mention here one of the trickier ones is wedding consultancy. Firstly organising weddings requires impeccable planning and coordination. Because of the nature of the business, inter personal & man management skills matter too. Even more than a managment degree does, in fact. For at the end of the day you will have manage a variety of vendors & suppliers. Food & beverage to stage decor, flower arrangements to videography these guys are the ones who provide all of it. Wedding consultancy is a natural progression for those who have had prior experience in organising parties or had a catering & delivery business. These folks usually have good contacts which is essential in this line and like it or not contacts are not made overnight. The good part is that the new generation is ready to experiment. And if you can come up with innovative themes & creative ideas for the weddings you will be the talk of town. In no time at all.
MAN POWER : A man power consultant is a person who can also be referred to as the middleman in layman terms. And this is purely due to the nature of their job. Typically a man power consultant is the link that connects a company that has job openings with individuals who are in need of such jobs. Or a promotional or marketing campaign that requires people to help spread the word about it. In such cases the man power consultants take care of whatever specific requirements that there might be. To be able to provide manpower that has different skillsets requires one to have access to such a user database in the first place. To cite better using an example, if you are a modelling coordinator and an international brand comes to you for models they can use for their latest campaign you must have a veritable list of model’s portfolios for them to choose from. Bottomline manpower consultancy is something that will need you to be patient as you build the network that can be leveraged for your business. There is no short cut here.
MARKETING : Perhaps the most challenging of all consultancies is marketing. Simply because of the tremendous responsibilities that such a job brings. More often than not people turn to a marketing consultant when they are looking to build, expand or diversify their existing business. To be able to look at an existing business model and see what can be done to better it requires not just skill and knowledge only. To work with a company to come up with innovative marketing strategies requires a sound understanding of the market. Thus experience also counts a lot in this regard. Not surprisingly many multi national companies and large corporations swear by these marketing experts. A good break for marketing consultants today is the burgeoning online business. Be it compiling data or analysing it, thanks to technology there are enough tools and Apps out there that do all the hard work for you. From creating a brand to making it world class, running out of the box marketing campaigns (offline and on the social media) making sense of customer trends and bucking them…all of this is just another day at the office. For a marketing consultant.
PR Consultant : Business is about many things but if it is one above all others, it is about forging a relationship with the paying public. And nobody knows about building public relations better than a PR Consultant. And it is not just restricted to business alone. Even individuals who are constantly in the public eye (like celebrities) are very particular about their public image which is why they spend several thousands of dollars on PR exercises run by equally expensive-to-hire PR managers. Which is why many companies, big & small hire these PR consultants to spruce up their public image. But look beyond that and you will see that PR consultants are complete professionals who understand what drives a person and what really is the vision of a company. So that the public image that is sought to be created is in line with that vision. Which is what promotion entails. An additional requirement is to have good relations with the media (including social media online) After all nothing is quite as bad for PR as bad press.
Accounting : A common presumption among many is that accounting consultancy has to do with book keeping. That it does but these consultants are not mere book keepers. If anything their job profile goes way beyond. In many ways they are like marketing consultants for they look at your existing accounting practice and see which part of it needs revisiting and what new ones need to be put in place. So that your business is able to utilise it’s financial resources optimally, save money where it is being spent without returns and even plan the future finances better. This might involve streamlining several processes and if there is something that is simply not working then the need of the hour might be to come with comprehensive plan of action to stem the tide. This is one category of consultancy where a degree (or even two) is considered a must. After all making sense of complex financial statements is not a skill that you can pick up on the job. It is a specialised one. Not to mention running audits or filing taxes that is all the exclusive domain of a professional.
Financial : What do you need more for your business? A consultant whose expertise is with accounting or a financial expert (read planner) Which one is better? Well that is a very wrong way of looking at things. Because though both accounting & finance consultants might sound similar they are both two different specialised fields. That must complement each other if your business has to do well. While accounting consultants are usually the ones to lend you a helping hand with your taxes financial consultants are the ones who help you plan your future investments wisely. Should you be scaling up your business at this stage? When is a good time to make investments in the market? What is the best way to get out of debts? How does one maximise savings? Do I need insurance? These are just some of the finance related questions that a financial consultant is best placed to answer.
Interior design : There are many people who have impeccable taste when it comes to using decor like furniture, color (read paints) fabrics and textiles. These are what one would call interior decorators and anyone can become one. An interior designer on the other hand is someone who has an education to back the innate passion for aesthetics. An interior design consultant is someone who is a specialist when it comes to all kinds of design, be it interior designing, fashion or even graphic designing. The challenge for any design consultant is to strike the right balance between form and function. While interior designers need adequate knowledge of architecture, fashion designers excel in creating fabrics that stand out. And graphic designers help create a visual imagery for any business. Interior designers usually need a license apart from a degree to operate. Above and beyond this is a highly creative job that requires the consultant to understand what a client needs and deliver that much more.
Real estate : Let us clear the air first. A broker who works with properties on a commission basis (that he takes from both the buyer and the seller) is just an agent. To call this person as a real estate consultant would be a mistake. It is important to also understand that a broker only gets paid if and when the outcome is achieved (property gets sold/rented out) whereas a real estate consultant gets paid for the advice he dispenses. Which can be regardless of whatever the results. A real estate consultant is someone you go to, if you are looking for a second opinion or should one say professional opinion. If you are looking to make an investment in real estate which location is likely to give good returns in a few years down the line. Or if you are looking to sell your property but are not sure if this is the right time to do so. When in doubt, turn to your real estate consultant.
Legal : Many business owners know the importance of investing wisely. Others know how best to market the services that they offer and there are enough entrepreneurs who understand the pulse of their target audience. But nearly all of them draw a blank when it comes to understanding the legal implications that come with running business, offline or the internet. That is where a legal consultant plays a vital role. This consultant can provide solutions to legal complications concerning ownership, trademark, copyright and breach of trust. He can put in place contracts with clearly spelt out terms and conditions that are designed to protect the interests of a business. Goes without saying that such a person must be extremely well informed when it comes to legal matters and in the present scenario he needs to be up to speed with the latest cyber laws that govern the internet as well. Legal consultants have their own areas of speciality like those who are experts in corporate affairs while others are better at handling civil/criminal cases. So make your choice carefully.
Travel : A travel consultant does not necessarily need to have a degree. What this person must have is loads of experience. For it is only through experience that one is able to understand the smallest of details that go into planning a great travel package. Interpersonal & man management skills are crucial as well because a travel consultant is dependent on other vendors & suppliers for the travel arrangements. From hotels where the travellers will stay to the food that they eat and even the mode of transport that is provided, the travel consultant will have to coordinate efforts with many others to make it all come together. If you are someone who yourself loves to travel it can be a plus though one can do pretty well without it. It is important to listen intently to customer feedback, both good and bad. It helps you plan your future travel packages better.
Research : There are several firms that specialise in conducting research and studies in order to get insights into current trends. As well as to forecast future numbers. Likewise there are a number of analytical tools available that do just the same. Compile data specific to the purpose (scientific, market or customer trends) analyse this data in depth and put out the numbers in a way that is easy to understand. So why do we need a research consultant? Because analyzing data and arriving at a conclusion is easier said than done. There are several factors that need to be taken into account while interpreting the data at hand. Any one factor that is left out may result in a totally different conclusion that might defeat the entire purpose behind the research done. Which is perhaps why it is individuals with PhDs to their name who conduct this research. In addition researchers with impressive credentials (like having submitted their previous researched works) and many years of experience are given preference. Like professors and scholars.
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