Executive Consultant: Four Signs Your Company Needs One

From the outside, executive leadership can look easy. But on the inside, its difficulties lead many executives to seek advice from a business consultant. Consultants who advise executives focus on improving executive insight, which improves business performance. The problem, of course, is realizing that consultation is needed when you aren’t receiving consultation. If you feel that consultation could improve your company’s performance (and your individual performance), but you remain unsure, below are four signs that it could.

Problems with Project Management

Project management issues such as poor task delegation, poor progress oversight, and lack of technical insight (e.g. an inability to generate strategic reports) are common at companies whose project management isn’t tailored to their project needs.

At many companies, poor project management results from technical and managerial deficiencies-a scenario that requires a new management system (e.g. project management software) and leadership training for project managers.

If your company delivers quality results at the expense of project deadlines, or timely results at the expense of project quality, it should pursue consulting for project management.

Difficulty Retaining Top Performers

As good as your company’s philosophy and business plans may be, it needs the right people to uphold and execute them, hence the emphasis on obtaining and retaining “top talent.”

The loss of top performers is devastating in three ways: you lose the training you invest in them, the income potential they brought, and you potentially lose them to your competitors.

Losing top performers seldom makes companies close their doors, but it can saddle them with mediocre results, which defeats the purpose of being in business.

Poor Assessment of Financial Interest

Almost everything a business does is a type of investment. If your company’s investments aren’t paying off, it’s time to reconsider your financial assessment strategies. Far from requiring complex financial analysis, many companies’ financial problems stem from leadership issues, such as investing too much money in projects that had minor profit potential to begin with.

If your companies’ market investments are performing poorly, however, calling on financial experts is the obvious choice.

Difficulty Retaining Customers

If you sell products or services on a business-to-business (B2B) model, the time and money you invest in nurturing potential customers and retaining established ones could be significant. In fact, depending on the size and duration of their accounts, the defection of even a few customers could mean financial trouble.

At some companies, more effort is put toward nurturing new customers than retaining existing ones. When a company fails to nurture its existing customer base, this means it could lack the incentives to make those customers stay instead of stray. The same applies to companies that sell on a business-to-consumer (B2C) model.

If your company has difficulty retaining customers, it isn’t realizing its full income potential and should seek an executive consultant who specializes in customer acquisition and retainment.

For businesses in the Atlanta area, finding a consultant through Atlanta Vistage, the Atlanta chapter of Vistage International-a peer-to-peer membership organization that focuses on business leadership-is the best option.

How You Can Become a Microsoft Excel Consultant

If you want to be an Excel consultant, but you do not know how to use Excel past the beginner level you need to determine where your current skills set is, and based on that you need to determine where to start. Once that has been achieved you need to get a few things in order before you can begin to learn Microsoft Excel at the intermediate level. To start you need to buy a copy of Microsoft Excel 2010 (Windows) or 2011 (Mac). Both Excel 2007 and 2010 will both work, but 2010 has some new features that are very powerful and that should be used. As such, stick with the newest version. 2011 will work on the Mac, 2008 for the Mac does not have VBA, and so you will need to work in Office 2011.

The next step is to buy one or more books on how to use Excel. You will want beginner level books to start and intermediate level books once you have made some progress. Many books cover both. You will also want to get a book or two on Excel VBA, once again, a beginner book and an intermediate book. John Walkenbach, Michael Alexander, and Bill Jelen write some of the better books. You should stick with those for now..

You will also want to join LinkedIn.Com. They have free Excel and Excel VBA user groups so that you can post questions. You can also go to MrExcel, Experts-Exchange, or VBA Express to use their forums. Experts-Exchange does charge a fee, but it is the best of the three groups..

You will also want to locate sites that have videos for your learning experience. You-Tube is a great resource to learn Excel. Learning via video is a great way to quickly grasp a concept.

The next step is for you to grab your beginner level Excel books and to take a seat in front of your computer with Microsoft Excel running. Open the first book and go to page one. Repeat as needed.

On your journey to being an Excel Consultant you will undoubtedly come to a stopping point where you have a question. This will happen a lot. So now you need to find the best way to get answers for your pending questions. Generally, if you cannot find the answer in any of your Excel books, log into Google. Once in Google, type your question using the key words that pertain to your problem, such as how to create a PivotTable. Google will return 10 results per page, but the results may not have the answer you are looking for. If not, rephrase your question and submit again. Give this up to 5 or 6 tries before giving up on Google.

If you are unable to find the answer via Google go to Experts-Exchange and search for your question there. Most likely the answer has been answered before and so you may find your solution right then. If no, post your question on their site. While you wait for your answer to be provided go to LinkedIn.Com and check the Excel groups there, once again searching for an answer to your question. If that also does not work, go to MrExcel and check the forums there. Once again, giving it 5 or 6 tries before you give-up. Check back with the sites until your answer is posted on one of them. You should give this a few hours. If you have done this you should get an answer if you can post your question correctly.

Basically you will repeat this process until you have decided to stop learning. If you know others that use Excel you can also ask them question along the way. Speaking with people at work for help is a great way to learn how to become a Microsoft Excel consultant.

Learning how to become an Excel Consultant is not hard, but it takes time. And you will have many questions along the way. If you use the advice above, you will learn Excel well enough to be a n Excel consultant. It typically takes years, many years, but you will get there. Just exactly how many years depend on you, how quickly you learn, and how much time you commit to learning.

Your Management Consulting Internship – 6 Ways to Make the Most of It

Summer internships are a rite of passage for aspiring management consultants. They are a chance to get some real experience, increase your exposure with a firm, and see if you even like consulting. Whether your ultimate goal is a job offer or just to try before you buy, here are six ways to make the most of your time as an intern.

Establish a strong track record.Internships are a tryout for the real deal. If you expect to get an offer at the end of your summer stint, make sure you nail whatever assignment you get. If the request is unclear, ask questions until it is. There is no better way to ensure you get hired than to actually demonstrate that you can do the job and do it well!

Start defining your brand.Your brand is what you will be known for by your colleagues and clients. It’s your values, strengths, experiences and skills that others will associate with you. With a clear vision of the work you want to do, you can shape this brand with the projects and work you pursue. If your career vision is still a bit hazy, use this time to sharpen your focus. A good place to start is to figure out what types of work activities really excite you and which ones are just big yawns.

Ask for feedback… more than once.Feedback, especially constructive feedback, will be the most valuable tool to inform your career development for years to come. So, start asking for it now. Requesting specific feedback will accomplish two things. First, it will foster your relationship with senior team members who will be valuable connections for you should you officially be hired. Second, it will tell you places you may need to make course corrections to increase the likelihood of landing an offer at the end of the summer. Check in at least two to three times to see how others perceive the work you are doing. Don’t wait until the end to find out if they think you’re doing what it takes to make the cut.

Expand your network.As a consultant, your network will be your most valuable asset. Your internship is a great chance to get to know a lot of people and build rapport with them. There are three things you’ll want to find out (and track) that will help you down the road. First, where does their expertise lie? Second, what type of work do they do? Third, what is one thing you have in common? These tidbits will come in handy for getting staffed on projects once hired, finding expertise when you need it and having topics to start future conversations. Don’t forget to stay in touch with them after your internship ends and add them to your network on LinkedIn.

Make an impression.In addition to making new connections, you also want to grab the attention of key individuals that have influence over the decision to hire you. Senior managers and partners running your client engagement are the best place to start. Share opinions, present something you worked on, volunteer to work with them on a special project – anything that can highlight your skills and shed light on the great work you’re doing.

Make sure you and the firm fit.An internship is a trial period for the firm, but for you as well. It’s one of your best opportunities to get a real insider’s view of the company culture and the work they do. If you find out it’s not your dream job, congrats! You’ve ruled out one option and can go on to explore the next!
With these simple steps, by the end of the summer, you’ll be poised to start off strong as a new hire or you’ll have great experience to use to market yourself to other firms that are a better fit for you.

Achieve Project Success With Project Management Consulting Services

Different organizations often require their managers and employees to possess specific skills needed to complete the projects and assignment on time and within a defined budget and scope. However, not all of these companies have someone who embodies all these qualities and has the ability to manage all aspects of the task, underscoring the need for project management consulting.

These services can help clients fulfill their company’s respective strategic and tactical objectives as well as measure the cost and time required to complete assignments successfully. Furthermore, firms that offer this service also promote and implement best practices, which can also help clients comply with certain industry standards.

Most of the firms that offer consulting services for project management normally employ highly trained, certified Project Managers (PMs) who are able to apply specific knowledge, skills, tools, and methods that effectively manage the activities needed to ensure successful task completion. These people will be the ones initiating, assessing, executing, and controlling all the aspects of a client’s project from the time it is conceived through completion.

The best PMs are those who are experienced and knowledgeable in the fields of communications and employee relations – people skills. This experience ensures their ability to implement a streamlined approach in the integration of methods and ensure smooth interaction with project stakeholders.

Capable PMs are also in charge of defining a project’s scope and developing time and cost estimates and plans. They also assess and mitigate risks or potential problems before they can occur. At the end of the assessment process, PMs usually propose a new, more effective and streamlined model that outlines the critical tools and necessary employee training and processes that need to be implemented.

Organizations seeking project management consulting services need to make sure that they can benefit from the expertise of PMs who are certified in Project Management. Individuals who have a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification have the essential skills to effectively manage available resources to successfully complete a project, regardless of their current industry or sector.

Whether companies or organizations need the expertise of an IT-trained PM, or require someone capable of managing all aspects of a project, they can rely on the services provided by established project management consulting firms. This can help ensure the effective and economical use of a company’s resources, the effective interaction between team members and clients, and the successful and timely completion of projects.

Profile of a Search Engine Consultant

What SEO is about

If you find that your business gains one tough competitor within the market where you offer your services, you would be surprised to know that you’ll get way more competitors online.

You not only compete with businesses within your area, you start competing with businesses all over the world. If you are not able to reach the top rank in search engine listings, it is more likely that you will lose business, regardless of how well you serve your customers.

This is why a Search engine consultant is necessary to provide you with a search engine optimization strategy that should be applied from the very start of website planning.

SEO consultant services have the expertise of working with the best search engines as well as web directories that could help generate targeted traffic towards your website, despite of the hundreds of search engines online.

By saying targeted traffic, this means that the traffic that SEO consultation would help generate is not just any kind of traffic that might just clog your web servers.

It means quality traffic that is sure to cover 80% of the web marketing strategy offered to business owners.

A Search engine consultant can help with website analysis, valuable traffic sources identification, and optimization strategies.

SEO Consultant Services

SEO consultants have a range of expertise that they can provide website owners and each of these strategies is a sure-fire way to make your website more visible and successful.

One is competition analysis wherein the consultant would help you identify your competitors. It also involves observing your competitor’s advertising methods and marketing strategies. The information gathered will now be used to develop a plan on how to get your business out there.

Search engine submission is the submission of website directly to search engines. This is a way to promote your site online. Although it may seem unnecessary, it still helps with the marketing plan.

Inbound link building is the techniques used to help generate inbound links to a certain website. This is usually done to help generate relevant traffic and increase the popularity rate of a website or an online business.

Social bookmarking is a strategy used by websites to help with the organization, storage, management, and the search for bookmarks or relevant resources online.

However, the main resources are not shared; bookmarks are there only to reference them. Users do this by saving links that interests them on web pages to help them remember and to make it easier to share.

Bookmarks are public but it can also be saved privately, disabling the option to share them with anyone but specific people or a specific group within a network.

These bookmarks are viewed through categories or tags, or through search engine advertising.

Content writing is also another method to help promote a website. This service is usually offered to website owners as well as businesses. These articles can help direct customers to a certain website that contains the article or its bookmark.

Sale through websites that focus in individual product is a more effective sales promotion method than maintaining a lot of products under one hub alone.

Other search engine consultants’ priorities include the recommendation of unique product selling propositions, the setup of certain conversion points within a website, campaigns with regards to inbound link building, search engine sitemap designs, competition analysis, keyword list tool, social media marketing strategies that include social networks like Twitter and Face book.

All these methods will not be applied on all websites. Only those methods that they think are necessary or beneficial to the progress of the website will be applied.

Consulting Industry – Latest 4 Incredible Secrets to Dominate the Consulting Industry

More and more people are now moving their cheese and trying their luck in the consulting industry. Aside from the fact that this is such a rewarding and relatively easy job, it’s also very lucrative. Depending on the niche that you are targeting and the kind of consulting service that you are offering, you can charge your clients as much as $12,000 per project.

Here’s how your can dominate the consulting industry:

1. Learn from the experts. Don’t simply sink your teeth into this endeavor. If you want to increase your chances of making it big in this field, you will need to find ways as to how you can get in-depth information or better yet, insider tips as to how consulting really works. Good thing there are successful consultants from all points of the globe who are now offering what they know through their coaching programs or online classes. Although you will need to shell out thousands of dollars to take advantage of these information base products, you can be assured that they’ll help you get started on the right foot.

2. Know your clients. This is one of the keys to succeed in this field. Even before you work with your clients, I recommend that you do your research and get as much information about them. These information can help you make your consulting services more focused and highly targeted. You may opt to have personal conversation with them by calling them up or you can encourage them to maintain an ongoing communication with you either through your blog or through your website.

3. Active listening. Keep in mind that the words of your clients are much important than yours. Be willing to give these people ample time to talk and practice active listening. You can jot down notes and ask questions from time to time but do not interrupt them frequently so they can focus. Acknowledge the ideas that they raise to make them feel valued.

4. Probe. If you think that your clients are not really giving you a clear picture about their problems or the things that they are going through, feel free to probe. The key here is asking questions that will get these people to really open up. Use open-ended questions all the time. Also, make sure that your questions are really short, succinct, and easy to understand. You wouldn’t want to cause confusion, would you?

Success Skills For Managers – Consulting With Your Boss

If you are are a manager in industry or government, your employer may be hiring more and more outside consultants as planning or project advisors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Employment of management analysts is expected to grow 22 percent over the 2006-16 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations, as industry and government increasingly rely on outside expertise to improve the performance of their organizations.”

When your boss needs expert advice in your field, would he or she turn to you first?

Becoming the Internal Consultant of Choice for your boss has many benefits:

Benefits to You:

As you participate in organizational fact finding, definition of desired results, and planning, you give your department or team a voice in deciding whether and how outside consultants are assigned to tasks or projects that affect your work. This encourages effective coordination of inside and outside resources.

As you investigate what your Bass wants to achieve, you gain a broader perspective of the organization’s strategy, current situation, and resources. You become familiar with the Big Picture of organizational challenges as the context for mapping the way ahead. This is the viewpoint of a leader.

As you consult with your Boss on upcoming challenges, you can identify his or her expectations of your department (and you!). This “early warning” can help you organize to meet new needs, and communicate the leadership rationale for change to those you supervise.

Taking the initiative to discover your Boss’s outcomes, and to discuss options for action can build your credibility, lay the foundation for mutual trust, and demonstrate your value as a partner in planning and performance management.

Benefits to Your Boss:

As an internal consultant, you already know and understand your organization. At first, external consultants do not. They must spend the initial phase of their work gaining insights that you already have. You can save your Boss time and money as you provide an “inside-out” view of resources and realities that may influence current performance and new initiatives.

Your understanding of and access to staff on the front line can help the Boss consider and align their interests with overall strategy as plans develop. Representing staff interests well, and keeping staff informed of plans can boost morale and encourage execution of strategy.

Your familiarity with customer concerns and priorities can ensure that solutions are aligned with what the market wants.

Producing results is the bottom line for your organization and your Boss. If you want to be part of the solutions that your Boss is seeking, it may be time to promote yourself to Internal Consultant.

Catering Advice – Working with a Catering Consultant

Having worked in the Catering trade for some years, within that time I would have never thought of calling for help from a consultant. Why you ask well its very simple really, I thought they would be very expensive, take up to much of my time, I had loads of good ideas of my own and the main reason would be I had my pride.

However that’s not the case with a catering consultant, it’s certainly not the case with Complete Catering Advice the company I set up over 4 years ago in France. I would visit friends within the trade and help them where I could, friends within the UK and France. I enjoyed helping them and seeing their profits increase was even better, it should be said we had great fun, and that’s just how it should be.

When hiring a Consultant try and get the first meeting FREE, we offer this to all our clients no matter how far away. You should know that they can help you and that you have a good working relationship with the consultant. You should also try and make sure that the person you are meeting will be your consultant, there is no point in meeting and bonding with someone that’s not going to be doing the work with you. Try and find out a little about the company they work for ask them if you can contact past clients to get references. Introduce them to the staff and see how the consultant handles the staff, if they spend time with them then your on to a winner that person cares, if they are more interested in you then that person is selling not caring. Try and remember that the consultant is there to help you make more money and give you more time to do the things you want to do in life, like holidays etc.

Once you’ve had that meeting give it a few days and see if they follow up on the meeting, take note that if it’s the person you had the meeting with. If it is and they were interested with the staff then they care if it’s not that person well you guessed it their selling. You want someone that is going to care about the out come of the contract and will be there on the phone at any time with a helping hand. We always spend a day working within your business, trying to work in most areas.

You should try and remember that the consultant isn’t there solely to make you more money, they are also there to streamline your working practice, setting operations into place that will save you money over time. Try not to think of the pound signs that you are going to make a consultant isn’t a miracle worker, they are a person just like you. However they should have the ability to see an opportunity and market it also see where things can be streamlined.

So it’s not as scary as you think and it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, over the scale of time. I hope that you can now feel a little more comfortable picking up that phone and getting some answers that will take your business to the next level, your business can never stop growing there is always room for growth.

Wishing you all success.

Complete Catering Advice
Here to make your life easier.

It Takes A Village to Build a Successful Human Resource Consultancy

Remember the rush you felt as you opened that first box of business cards announcing that you were your own boss, an independent human resource (HR) consultant? Sometime later, maybe weeks, maybe months, reality set in as you realized that being an independent HR consultant meant that there was only you to do all that work — everything from HR compliance to photocopying. Maybe that is why big companies have all those different departments.

All That Non-HR Work: Speaking of all that work, I bet that while you were dreaming of being an independent HR consultant, it did not occur to you that you would also have to do the back office stuff (sales, marketing, billing/invoicing, collections, travel planning, photocopying, telephone answering/returning calls, mailing/shipping, email reading and responding, appointment scheduling, correspondence, graphic design (business cards and other marketing collateral), website design, social media, business and marketing planning, networking, bookkeeping etc. too. Although the back office stuff seems like just annoying stuff, it is also necessary stuff — the stuff needed to keep any business running.

The reality of how much time and work is involved in operating a successful HR consultancy can be overwhelming and that can seriously impact productivity and forward momentum, but there are options for dealing with all that non-HR work:

  • Work harder
  • Work longer
  • Hire employee(s)
  • Throw in the towel
  • Interns
  • Outsource

Looking at the Options: Let us take a closer look at those options. Working harder or longer is not a viable option. After all, if you could work more than you are already working, you would be doing it. Throwing in the towel isn’t a good option. Hiring an employee is an option, albeit, not a great one. As an independent HR consultant knows, employees come with a built-in set of compliance/regulatory issues, and if you’re operating your consultancy from your home, you can add local regulations to that list of issues. Interns are an interesting option, but the amount of time you would spend on teaching them how to do things and supervising them is a continued drain on your time and productivity, and after the internship is done, you are back to square one.

Outsourcing is a good option for the independent human resource consultant. Outsourcing provides you with targeted expertise (a web designer to design a website, a graphic artist to design marketing collateral, etc.), as well as help only when you need it. Outsourcing eliminates all of the expenses and headaches that come with hiring an employee, and provides you with yet another contact for your virtual Rolodex (you never know who might need you down the road). Although outsourced workers are independent contractors, under IRS rules, you will need to keep a loose eye on the work you have assigned to them to make sure that they are meeting deadlines and quality standards.

Back to All that Work: Remember that list of back office activities needed to operate a successful HR consultancy? That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and unless you want to spend your time ‘keeping a loose eye’ on 17+ independent contractors, you will want to combine as many of those back office activities as you possibly can so you can dwindle down the number of independent contractors you need to keep an eye on. You can combine bookkeeping, billing/invoicing and collections into one activity, thereby eliminating the need for two independent contractors. You may even be able to combine website design with graphic design, thereby eliminating the need for another independent contractor.

What would you say, however, if I told you that there is one outsourcing marvel that you can use to handle all that back office work? That outsourcing marvel is a Human Resource Virtual Assistant (HRVA). A HRVA provides targeted expertise in handling back office functions, as well as experience in working in human resources. An independent contractor in the eyes of the IRS, a HRVA is actually a self-employed administrative expert who specializes in human resources.

Although a HRVA cannot be all and do all, she can do the legwork needed to find other independent contractors who can do the things she does not or cannot do (and that’s surprisingly little), and a HRVA has the project management skills needed to keep an eye on those other independent contractors for you, making sure they meet deadlines and quality standards.

Stop working long hours in your HR consultancy trying to get everything done. Talk to a HRVA now, and find out how she can help you divest yourself of all those back office activities that don’t require your time or human resource expertise. Move your HR consultancy toward greater success and yourself toward a better life. Connect with a HRVA now!

Save Money and Get Better Results by Letting a Print or Media Consultant Handle All Your Needs

Although the internet is a booming success for marketing a business it still isn’t the only form of marketing a business should utilize to ensure success.  Printed communications still plays a vital role in the success of a business.  However, not just any printed communications, poorly done advertisement can cause a company to lose business.  A consultant can help you both gain a broader customer base and save you a lot of money doing so by ensuring that the right forms of print and media marketing are being utilized. 

Printed communications are still an important aspect in a business as long as critical factors are given appropriate attention.  A consultant can ensure that your business brochures, pamphlets, postcards, catalogues, and mailers all meet the demands of today’s consumers.  Details such as the initial design, artwork, print production, and mailing all factor into making your printed communications a successful part of your marketing strategy.  It will make the difference between if what you are trying to communicate to the consumers is relayed effectively, and sales are stimulated, because of it or if it is ignored. 

Costly mistakes can be saved by using a print media consultant, things such as simple oversights that can be caught by a trained professional in the field whose only desire is to see you succeed in the business world.  A print media consultant is different then simply going through a printing company for your advertising and marketing needs.  They will consult with you on what is effective in the marketing world, give you insight to new avenues that you may not otherwise known.  They are innovative and give you the cutting edge of the best marketing strategies available.  What this means to you is a highly increased vendor base which in turn equals savings of money. 

The internet alone holds so many possibilities for marketing your business.  A typical business owner hasn’t the time to keep up on all the latest trends in marketing possibilities little lone marketing styles.  A print and media consultant brings to the table all the expertise needed to tap into various forms of print and media marketing. 

A consultant will maximize the effectiveness of your marketing by giving you suggestions in ways that can reduce cost while using the most innovative marketing tools available.  If your current marketing strategies are not working as well as you wished then an objective view will give you direction, more beneficial to your business; or start a brand new marketing strategy using innovative media and print campaigns. 

Ask yourself if you want to make the most of your print and media marketing communications and if your response is yes, then a print and media consultant is what you need.  Ask yourself if you want to use the latest innovative ways in your print and media marketing and still save money.  Stop throwing good money away, tap into what all your business is missing in your marketing communications, check with a print media consultant, and see what all they can do for you and your business.  You will be glad you did.