Business Consultant vs. Management Consultant

Updated June 30, 2023

Consultants provide great value to businesses and help to bring about transformative change and more efficient workflows. To gain these benefits, companies often hire either a business consultant or a management consultant. Learning the differences between these two roles may help you decide between them.

In this article, we explain what the role of business and management consultants is and explore differences and similarities in their skills, requirements, clients and salary expectations.

Key takeaways:

  • Business consultants are specialists who offer short-term support and advice to new and emerging companies to help them grow, while management consultants train managers or leaders one-to-one or in teams at all levels of a company.

  • Similarities between the two roles include their duties, work environments, clients and employers, along with similar salaries and job outlooks.

  • Common requirements for both consultant positions include a bachelor's degree in business, management or another relevant program, work experience in management or business and skills including communication, collaboration, troubleshooting and research.

What is a business consultant?

Business consultants are professionals who provide expert advice and assistance to companies on a short-term basis. While they can work with businesses at any stage of development, they often use their expertise to help startups and young companies pursue success. These consultants can evaluate every area and facet of the business, finding ways to streamline operations, enhance technology use, recruit talented staff and cut costs wherever possible. These are some common responsibilities for business consultants:

  • Assisting with budgeting: Business consultants often take a lead role in reviewing a company's finances and improving its practices. They may audit accounting practices, determine costs, create budgets and ensure compliance with legal regulations.

  • Recruiting: Finding talented staff is an important consideration for companies, especially startups. Business consultants often review and improve company hiring practices, identify possible candidates and work to attract them to the business.

  • Identifying obstacles: One of a business consultant's primary tasks is to identify and remove obstacles affecting a business' success. They may review company operations, assess funding, work to improve company culture or monitor the business' use of resources.

  • Providing training: Business managers often use their experience and expertise to provide training to the leaders of companies. They may provide guidance on leadership, marketing, budgeting product development and other topics.

  • Identifying ways to grow: Business consultants are often responsible for increasing innovation and expanding their client's market share. They may help marketing teams enhance their operations, identify target customers or help companies develop new product ideas.

  • Locating partners: Businesses often require help from a wide variety of partners, such as suppliers, vendors, financial services and others. Business consultants often use their knowledge to help companies locate partners and build strong relationships with them.

  • Securing funding: Business consultants often help their clients secure the funding that they need to complete daily operations and pursue growth. This may include finding venture capital and angel investors, securing loans or coordinating with the Small Business Administration.

  • Developing marketing strategies: Many business consultants use their experience to help their clients develop more successful marketing strategies. This often includes working with marketing teams to develop brand image and messaging, monitor metrics and create advertising campaigns.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Related: 14 Types of Business Consultant Careers

What is a management consultant?

Management consultants focus on building and instilling a specific workplace culture throughout every level of a business. Management consultants work on developing managers and leaders on a one-on-one or team basis in a variety of organizations. Management consultants may also work to help a corporation effectively manage its risks over the duration of a specific situation. These are some of a management consultant's primary tasks:

  • Providing leadership advice: One of a management consultant's primary duties is to review the management of a company and to improve it. This often includes providing leadership and management advice, which consultants may provide to individuals or groups.

  • Defining obstacles: Management consultants often take a lead role in locating obstacles that affect success in their client's business. This may include finding obstacles regarding recruiting, productivity, growth, company culture and operational success.

  • Proposing solutions: After identifying the challenges that their client faces, management consultants often develop proposals to overcome them. Consultants often create written reports or presentations that they can deliver to business leaders or the entire staff.

  • Interviewing employees: While management consultants often focus on company leadership and management, they may also interview employees. This can help them understand their client's challenges from a different perspective and develop new solutions.

  • Analyzing finances: Like business consultants, management consultants often work to improve the financial status of their clients. This can include reviewing financial statements and auditing a company's reporting and funding operations.

  • Collecting data: Management consultants often require extensive data to locate challenges and propose solutions. To gather data, they may monitor metrics and KPIs, review financial data, conduct market research, create models or collect business intelligence.

Related: How To Become a Management Consultant

Business consultant vs. management consultant

While business and management consultants have some of the same duties, each role has unique strengths and focuses that can help companies in different ways. Differentiating these areas of focus can help businesses identify what type of consultant they might need. Here are some of the similarities and differences between the two roles:


Business and management consultants have many of the same duties, including auditing processes, identifying challenges, presenting solutions, reviewing finances and collecting data. While these tasks can be very similar, business and management consultants often have different goals. Business consultants offer high-level operational analysis and betterment that a business can use immediately. Management consultants work on a longer-term basis to create positive change in workplace culture, risk management system and more.

Related: Learn About Being a Business Consultant

Work environment

Business and management consultants often work in similar work environments. Either type of consultant may work in-house for a business directly or work as a larger part of a consultancy firm. Alternatively, they may work remotely from a home office setting. Both roles may travel to key stakeholder offices or events with their clients, depending on the industry that the business serves. Consultants usually work in collaborative atmospheres and interact with many coworkers and clients daily.

Clients and employers

Both management and business consultants work for corporate clients in a variety of sectors. Hiring consultants is the responsibility of executive-level individuals in most companies. This may be CEOs, CMOs, or other leaders who want to improve their companies' processes. If the consultant works for a firm, then they may receive assignments from their supervisors. While these consultants may work for companies of every size, business consultants may be more likely to work with young companies and startups.

Salary and job outlook

Management and business consultants often earn similar wages, which may vary based on their employer, experience, location and clients. According to Indeed, the national average salary for management consultants is $73,246 per year, while the national average salary for business consultants is $71,772 per year. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't collect for business and management consultants, it projects a growth of 14% in demand for management analysts between 2020 and 2030. This category includes management consultants and some business consultants.


Business and management consultants often have similar requirements for employment. These are the most common requirements for these positions:

  • A bachelor's degree in a field such as business, finance, marketing, accounting, finance or economics

  • Work experience in the business field, especially management, leadership or project direction experience

  • A skill set that includes strong written and verbal communication, an ability to learn, data analysis, collaboration, problem-solving skills and a talent for research

Some companies and consulting firms prefer their candidates to have the following qualifications:

  • A master's degree, such as an MBA

  • A business or management consulting certification

  • Experience in a particular field of expertise, such as finance, consumer products or shared services

Related: 12 Examples of Management Consultant Skills

Skills to succeed in a business or management consultant role

There are many skills that consultants require to achieve success. These are some skills that both management and business consultants often use in their work:

  • Operational development: Operational development is the ability to analyze and improve a business' processes and workflows. It can help consultants identify the challenges that their clients face and find ways to overcome them.

  • Systems creation: Systems creation includes developing and implementing new systems within a business. This skill is especially important for consultants who work with startups and other young businesses with undeveloped systems.

  • Knowledge management: Knowledge management refers to the process of attaining company goals through compiling and sharing information. Consultants can use this skill to ensure that every employee in their company has the information they need to succeed.

  • Resource management: Resource management involves effectively developing and distributing company resources to reach business goals. Many consultants use their skills in resource management to ensure that their clients procure the resources they need and make good use of them.

  • Financial expertise: Many business and management consultants help their clients analyze and improve their financial performance. Financial expertise can help them analyze reports, identify challenges and develop solutions for their clients.

  • Project management: Project management is the ability to direct people, resources and technologies toward the completion of a company project. Consultants may use this skill to improve company processes and to train their client's managers.

  • Communication: Consultants often work in a collaborative atmosphere and develop reports and presentations for their clients. The ability to communicate verbally and in writing can help them complete their tasks more effectively.

  • Collaboration: Consultants often work with business leaders, managers and employees at multiple companies. The ability to work as part of a team can help them succeed when working with others.

  • Flexibility: Consultants often work with many different businesses in different sectors and face new challenges daily. The ability to adapt and stay flexible can help them work in a variety of environments and find solutions to new challenges.

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