Starting and running a business might not always work as planned and often requires consultancy services to handle difficulties, improve performance and efficiency.
Consultancy services play a role to assist in creating solutions to the problems in a business, maximise the company’s productivity and help to achieve target goals.
In an interview with Himanshu Arvind Kapadia, a Consultancy Partner at JALI Partners Ltd, Kigali, he highlights the essence of consultancy services as far as managing businesses is concerned;
Can’t businesses operate without consultancy services?
There are various reasons why management should consider hiring a consultant. When it comes to increasing knowledge, adding value and program support for products and services that increase value of available resources and assets, a consultant will play an important role.
Consultancy has its field expertise which enables giving precise advice, suggestions and opinions for the specific challenges or difficulties. A consultant service by default is a special and comprehensive approach to solve business problems. A consultant assists in identifying problems, initiate change, revives organization and creates a new business. They also assist in supplementing existing staff, teaching and training employees and will also do the most unpleasant work like “eliminating staff”.
What are the tell-tale signs that one might be in need of consultancy services?
In most cases, administrative or management loopholes are the main reasons for the organization’s negative performance. This is because managements are so busy in handling day to day tasks, and ignore movement in key performance indicators. This becomes a major obstacle to positive growth and change.
Sharing managerial role with a consultant, guides business operators throughout and creates a constructive criticism which ultimately leads to positive growth and success.
For instance, what do you tell firms that have been incurring year on year losses?
Someone once said, “Business never goes exactly as planned and that’s because outside forces are constantly changing and creating roadblocks in the way.” Sometimes even internal forces create hiccups.
If these are not focused on time, business will suffer losses. It is painful watching a system fail, but then, it is not the end. It is rather, the time to reconstruct and get expert advice from a consultant.
Never take business failure as a personal failure. A lot of times, business owners drown in self-bashing, instead of working out what went wrong. It’s time to analysis and not to play a blame game.
Talk to your team, consultants and partners to figure out what exactly went wrong. Try to talk to the expert within the field to know how others are operating.
If in any case, failures affect your client or customers, assure them that you are working round the clock to figure out on how to improve. This is very important so you don’t lose your clients while you return with new a strategy. Learn from the mistakes that happened in the past and don’t focus more on failures. Start working normally and take every task, one after another.
How about financial management when the business seems to be collapsing?
Monitor your finance. Cash flow planning is a crucial at this stage. Keep expenses at minimum and see which expenses can be cut off. Prioritize the task which leads to change and try to move outside the comfort zone.
Take one step at a time, focus on every activity and follow up. Remember it’s a journey and one has to learn every day. There is no thump rule that applies to all situations.
Increasingly, competition is getting stiff in the market place, how does one stay relevant?
The market belongs to those who know how to get more business without dropping prices. This is to outperform competition and to ensure customers always think of you before even they think of your competitors.
One of the most common mistakes marketing people do is talking more about their emotions. “We are happy to introduce” this is a most common phrase used by sales people. However, customers are not interested about how you feel but keener to know how they feel after getting your product. To nutshell, try to match your products’ feature and how it will fulfill customers’ requirements.
Another common mistake marketing people do is following up with regular customers. Arrange meetings with customers who don’t buy your product. This will give you a reason to work on why people don’t buy your product.
Compare your product features with another on the market. Try to accommodate one or more features in your product. This will give you an edge with another similar product on the market.
What are the common mistakes in marketing that you have noted in the local scene?
Marketing is like playing chess. Think, analysis and focus on future requirements. You have to keep yourself a few steps ahead as compared to your competitors. Focus on customers’ needs and after sales. Remember the phrase, “The customer is the king” and a loyal customer, is a happy customer. If possible, try to support your customers in their business. Finding customers for your customers will change the relations forever. You and your customer will become a team, rather than just business colleagues.
Having worked with businesses across the country, what’s a one course you think everyone should take?
With all my experience, I can assure you that entrepreneurship is a tough game. No Universities or colleges will educate you enough to be a successful entrepreneur. I always suggest new comers to go in the field in which they have passion. Passion will work as fuel and assist you in every step on the way forward. Without passion, your job will be tiresome and boring. Below are the steps to assist new business owners;
Work on value proposition very well. Have a clear idea about what customers’ problems you will solve and why potential customers will pay you for your products and services. It is all about uniqueness of your product and services.
Do research and understand the markets. Focus on customer and their buying habits. This enables you to understand your competitors, their strategy, strength, weaknesses and everything that can assist you to know people within the same market.
Understand services you may need at initial stage. This includes accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, website developer, marketing specialist and other professional. Analysis your strengths, skills and availability of time. Make sure you surround yourself with experts, advisors and mentors who can guide you throughout your journey.