Professionals seeking increased work-schedule flexibility and more professional autonomy are often drawn to consulting. With so many business consultants in the marketplace, it can be hard to narrow down a specific niche. One specialty area that is growing in demand is business analysis. Being able to interpret current business trends into strategic company goals is a powerful skill to utilize amid a constantly changing and ever-expanding global economy. If you are considering a career move into the area of business consulting, consider the following:
1. Skills and Education
While consultants often have a diversified background, identifying a niche and setting yourself apart from competitors is a popular way to gain word-of-mouth referrals and build brand recognition. For professionals with a four-year baccalaureate degree in a business-related field,
professional mentoring in a specific area
of expertise can augment other professional experience and/or internships. There are a number of reputable professional organizations that offer a variety of career development opportunities. In addition to networking, busy professionals can also build an area of expertise through rigorous online business analyst training. Respectable online courses are often taught by industry leaders who bring their own experiences and practical knowledge to the virtual classroom. The go-at-your-own pace of online education makes it a popular choice among working professionals with busy family lives.
2. Soft Skills
In order to be a successful and popular consultant, clients need to like you, trust your services and be willing to refer you to others. Mastering a wide range of successful communication skills goes beyond just writing effective business letters. Understanding the needs and expectations of clients also involves anticipating the amount of communication necessary, as well as understanding when to pick up a phone vs. sending an email. Personality and tone of inter-personal interactions make a big difference in consulting relationships.
3. Understanding a Company’s Basic Need
An executive or company is going to bring a consultant on board anticipating a positive ROI. Consultants who bring a creative problem-solving style to the table can leverage team cooperation. Consultants trained in business analysis understand that streamlining processes, improving inter-department communication and strengthening the IT tools that track profitability all play a key role in securing an aggressive success strategy. Setting goals and bringing all key stakeholders together in the day-to-day shift that needs to happen to secure the ROI takes knowledge, skill, experience and patience. For this reason, the top business analysts are generally well-seasoned professionals who continually invest in professional development to maintain the competitive edge.
4. Other Considerations
Business analyst training is one way to secure the knowledge needed to become a successful business consultant. Seeking professional mentoring through a formal career-related organization is another popular way to gain the nuances of the field. For young professionals who know that consulting is their ultimate career goal, seeking internships while in college at larger consulting firms may open the door to an entry-level job where shadowing the best of the best becomes one of the most rewarding perks of the job.
Many mid-career business managers are enticed into consulting for greater flexibility and enjoy the process of establishing a niche or specialty area through additional education in areas like business analysis. Seeking partnership with another consultant with complementary skills may also be a great strategy to increase initial client pool. With the growing demands on business to do more with less while increasing triple bottom-line effectiveness, consultants with expertise in business analysis are well aligned to meet the current needs of businesses across industry. Corporate leaders seek top consultants to offer the skills, guidance and strategies to secure the competitive edge in today’s global marketplace; being well-prepared with a success strategy of your own is the best way to secure notoriety in your niche.