Careers

Learn About Being a Business Consultant

What does a business consultant do?

A business consultant is involved in the planning, implementation and education of businesses. They work directly with business owners on developing a business plan, identifying marketing needs and developing the necessary skills for business ownership. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Assisting with identifying marketing needs and developing a strategy to increase brand awareness and customer acquisition
  • Educating and offering resources on information technology, sales and business regulations
  • Identifying funding and applying for loans to finance the business
  • Developing a strategic business plan with short and long-term business goals
  • Reviewing accounting and budgeting and making recommendations for improvement
  • Creating hiring and training practices to bring on qualified candidates

Average salary

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $70,114 per year
  • Typical salaries range from $59,689 to $96,174 per year

Business consultant requirements

Business consultants have a strong background in business management. They are experienced in the many departments that make up a successful business, including finance, sales, operations and marketing. The following is often required to obtain a business consultant job:

Education

A bachelor’s degree is often the minimum requirement for a business consultant. In many industries, a master’s degree is preferred. While there are some programs with a specific program in business consulting, you might also choose to pursue a degree in business, economics, management or finance. At the master’s degree level, a Master of Business Administration is often recommended.

Training

Because business consultants are considered experts in their industry, they often receive years of field training. This may be in the form of a business analyst position or another type of business professional. Some business consultants choose to learn important skills by working with other individuals in the same role.

Certifications

While certifications are not always required, they can be a helpful way to demonstrate your expertise in a specific industry. The certifications that you choose will depend on the industry in which you want to work. Here are two common business consultant certifications:

  • Certified Management Consultant: The Institute of Management Consultants USA offers this certification for U.S.-based consultants. In order to earn certification, you must complete all educational requirements, submit a client experience report, complete an interview and pass a test. There are three levels of certifications through the IMC USA, depending on your experience level, which includes basic, experienced and management.

  • Certified Business Consultant: The Certified Business Consultant certification requires the completion of an accredited program. In the program, you can expect information about core business practices, ethical considerations and instruction from some of the top business consultants. After completing the course and successfully passing the exam with at least 80%, you will receive your Certified Business Consultant certification.

Skills

Because business consultants can work in different industries, the necessary skills vary. A business consultant in the healthcare industry will have a strong background in health systems and budgeting. A business consultant working in the restaurant industry will have an experienced background in things like food costs, labor and restaurant marketing. These are some of the skills that a business consultant should develop:

  • Leadership: A business consultant will need to be a good leader. In addition to leading the business toward success, the business consultant must earn the trust and loyalty of other team members. They will also need to provide direction to ensure the organization achieves its goals. 

  • Consulting: Consulting skills are important in a business consultant role. Different than traditional leadership, a consultant works directly with the business owner to train and educate them on business practices.

  • Teamwork: Consultants often work in large team settings. They may work with owners, executive leaders, department managers and staff. Strong teamwork skills are important in coordinating work among these different roles. This requires strong verbal and nonverbal communication abilities.

  • Problem-solving: When facing challenges, many business owners call on business consultants for help with new strategies. Consultants use strong problem-solving abilities to identify the source of the problem and come up with a unique solution.

  • Analytical evaluation: Business consultants are involved with all aspects of the business, including the finances. They must have strong analytical skills for budgeting and planning.

  • Creativity: Business consultants are expected to offer a fresh perspective on an already existing business plan. A sense of creative thinking is useful when working with new businesses or overcoming a business challenge.

Business consultant work environment

The typical work environment of a business consultant is usually divided between time spent in their office and time spent on-site with clients at their business locations. Business consultants will usually have to spend a lot of time traveling. If a client lives out of state or in a different country, this could mean frequent overnight travel. 

Consultants may spend one day analyzing the budget and finances of an organization and spend another day retraining staff at the restaurant or store level. Tight budgets and strict timelines also mean that business consultants are often on a busy schedule in order to meet clients’ needs.

How to become a business consultant

Business consultants are recognized as experts in their industry. They have either worked on a team or managed a successful business previously. They also have strong connections and useful resources that can benefit the client. Follow these steps to become a business consultant:

  1. Attend college. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a business or business management industry is often necessary. Many clients or hiring managers may also require the completion of a master’s degree.

  2. Gain experience with an internship. To earn the trust of your business clients, you will need to demonstrate your experience. An internship can help you develop the skills you need when you are consulting.

  3. Become certified. Certification may or may not be required. Choose a certification in the industry in which you want to work. If you intend on working with small business owners, consider the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants.

  4. Develop important consulting skills. It is important to develop consulting, problem-solving and teamwork skills in your internship or entry-level position. 

  5. Apply for open business consultant positions. After successfully completing your education, internship and certification and you have developed the necessary skills of a business consultant, you can start applying for open positions. 

Business consultant job description example

We are looking for a qualified business consultant to join our marketing team. This individual will work directly with the clients in a small business setting to identify organizational and procedural challenges and to develop solutions to overcome marketing challenges. This candidate will have proven experience in a similar role and be certified with the Small Business Association. Experience in budgeting, digital and print marketing, creating a business plan and outsourcing business services is required.

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