The types of consulting businesses you can start or work for are endless, but most fall into categories that encompass specific business functions. Others are more general in scope, providing a variety of services. Understanding the different types of consulting that people offer can help you decide if working as a consultant is a viable career option for you.
Some consultancy firms offer a wide variety of marketing consulting, including in the areas of product development, distribution management, market research, advertising, promotions, graphic design, corporate communications, sales and social media campaigns. If you’re a creative type, you can work for a firm that offers all of these services, offering your specialty expertise in one or two areas, or hang out your own shingle as an expert guru in one discipline.
Many consultants offer financial advice and perform the work once a company accepts their recommendations. This type of consulting work can include developing a financial system for a small business, handling the books for a company, providing tax-planning strategies and year-end tax preparation or handling risk management. Some consultants earn their money by helping businesses learn how to reduce their expenses, taking a commission based on how much savings they find. Business brokers help business owners value their companies and prepare them for sale.
A significant part of the consultancy business involves the human resources arena. HR consultants help create recruiting, training and retention strategies, perform executive searches, offer benefits management, handle payroll, advise on legal compliance, help create company policies, develop wellness programs, review workplace conditions and consult on employee morale building.
Companies that don’t have in-house information technology departments or staff members often rely on IT consultants to manage employee computers, run company networks, build and maintain business websites, manage social media sites and create e-commerce sites. In addition to providing setup and the development of computer systems, these consulting firms provide ongoing data storage and overall security.
Some consulting firms help small business owners with expert knowledge of a product or service but little experience running a business. These consultants help the owner prepare long-term plans the entrepreneur can use as her company grows. These firms provide consulting in all or most major functional areas, such as marketing, HR, IT and finance. A large segment of the consulting profession occurs in process improvement, using techniques such as Lean Six Sigma, a process created by Motorola that helps businesses remove wasteful processes.
Some consulting firms specialize by industry, offering targeted advice to succeed in a specific area. For example, a restaurateur who owns several eateries might start a consulting company helping those who want to launch or improve a restaurant. A tennis professional with management experience might offer facilities help with program design, marketing, court maintenance, pro shop management and staff training. An event planner helps people throw parties, hold weddings and create other functions. Military and security contractors provide advice and personnel worldwide. These consultants offer advice in almost every area of business imaginable.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.