Consultants Help Fine Tune Your Business Performance

A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area of expertise such as IT, management, marketing, or finance etc. Consultants identify companies’ marketing or business needs, and they help companies improve their performance and profitability by analyzing existing business problems and developing future strategies. They help determine the most effective marketing and business solutions to your business, as well as the best ways to execute these solutions for the betterment of your business. Consultants generally use formal methodologies to analyze problems or to suggest better ways of completing business tasks. Consultants help execute your business plan and strategies, allowing you to focus on other important business issues and business meetings.

Management and business consulting grew rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s with industry growth rates of 20%. Consulting is highly cyclical and is sensitive to general economic conditions. The consulting industry declined between 2001 to 2003, but has been experiencing some growth since.

Nowadays there are three major types of consulting firms. One type is the larger consulting firm that offers a wide variety of consulting services, ranging from IT consulting to management consulting. Another type is the established management and strategic consulting firms that focus mainly on management consulting that covers any specific industry. Yet another type is the smaller boutique consulting firms with consulting focus and expertise on specific industries or technologies.

The more established consulting firms today include Arthur D. Little, a general management consulting firm; Booz Allen Hamilton was the first consulting firm to serve clients in both the government and the industry; McKinsey & Company, was one of the first pure management consulting firm and currently leads the field. It was also one of the first consulting firms to hire graduates of top MBA schools rather than hiring experienced industry personnel. Boston Consulting Group brought an analytical approach to the study of strategy and management. Bain & Company introduced its focus on shareholder wealth. Traditional accounting companies such as Arthur Andersen and global IT services firms such as IBM also set up consulting departments.

Businesses or companies can engage a business or management consulting firm or an individual business consultant who will draw up suitable business plans and strategies and implement them. Consultants are generally well paid with some business consultants charging $150 per hour, and sometimes even as high as $2,000 per day for their services.

When to Use a Certified Public Accountant

A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, can help you make sure that your small business accounting or individual taxes are accurate and complete. Some businesses are small enough, such as home based businesses, that a Certified Public Accountant is not needed for most accounting tasks. However, there are times when a business or individual should use a Certified Public Accountant.

If you have a small business, and you have discovered that an error in your bookkeeping exists, it can often be difficult to locate where and when the error was made to correct the mistake. A Certified Public Accountant has special training and education to find these errors through an external audit process. It is vital that these errors be corrected, because the books you use in your business are used to determine taxes and business decisions.

These records also allow investors to see how well your business is doing so that you can get more backing to help your business grow. A Certified Public Accountant can find and correct any errors in your bookkeeping, and help you organize your bookkeeping so that you or the Certified Public Accountant can easily generate financial statements and reports. These financial statements and reports prepared by a Certified Public Accountant are the documents that most banks and investors want to see before making any financing decisions.

If you are starting up a home based or small business, you should seek the guidance of a Certified Public Accountant. The Certified Public Accountant can help you set up a double entry method of accounting with a journal and ledger, as well as a chart of accounts to help you use these tools effectively in your business. The Certified Public Accountant can also advise you as to what taxes you will be responsible for paying throughout the year. Quarterly taxes are often required of businesses and self-employed individuals. To avoid penalties, late fees, and a large tax bill at the end of the year, you should contact a Certified Public Accountant for this information.

Any individual that is self-employed should seek out the services of a Certified Public Accountant when it is time for tax return preparation. Tax laws change every year, and a Certified Public Accountant can help you make sure that you are receiving all of the deductions you have available as a self-employed individual.

Any individual with children, who is separated or newly divorced, or who may wish to itemize deductions based on mortgages, medical expenses, and charitable contributions should also seek out a Certified Public Accountant for assistance in income tax preparation. This is because the tax laws are very complex, and change often. If you make a mistake and claim a deduction that you could not legally claim, the IRS may audit your return and cause you to pay back the refund amount, with penalties. Additionally, if you make a mistake and do not claim a deduction that you could legally claim, the IRS will not attempt to correct the mistake, causing you to receive a smaller refund. Either way, you lose money. The best way to avoid these and other errors is to have a Certified Public Accountant prepare your income tax return.

Starting A Business – The Three ‘Ps’

There are a lot of factors to consider when starting a business. Primary among these are the three “P”s – Plan, Prepare and Persist.

Plan

After you have selected some ideas from your brainstorming to base your business around, create a plan of attack. List what you’ll need before your business starts. What will your ongoing expenses be? Factors include rent, utilities, permits, licensing, legal fees, inventory, staff, design, marketing collateral, mailing lists, software, advertising and more. Get as much as you can out on paper and set deadlines to get things accomplished. This will allow you to evaluate your pace.

Prepare

Once you have a plan, carry it out. Preparing to start a business can be a lot of work. Tasks include getting an identity designed, creating business cards, brochures, web sites and other marketing material, consulting with CPA’s, lawyers, and HR professionals, in some cases finding and renting or buying a storefront or office, furnishing the business space, getting utilities in place, receiving and organizing inventory, getting a database for your customers and leads and any number of other tasks. By running a home business, some of these steps will already be taken care of, yet opening a business of any kind can be an enormous task. While planning your business make sure to leave plenty of time to get up and running. Better to plan your setup time too long than too short and finding yourself running out of money.

Persist

This is the most important step of running a business. Without persistence, you won’t even be able to finish your business plan. Hang on like a pit-bull. When the going gets tough, get tougher. Have worst case scenario plans to fall back on, as well as best case scenario plans.

Some businesses become over-night successes, while other take year to develop. If you plan, prepare and persist, you’ve got a very good chance of making it.