Gaining experience is not a solo adventure, and learning from the best is a shortcut that many people underuse.
For business owners and executives who are wise enough to seek help, work with and learn from a reliable business consultant. Those who are much wiser take hints from how consultants work and what business advisor skills make them highly valuable to a company so they can benefit from adopting such skills.
Key Reasons to Hire Advisors
Employing external help can be a valuable experience for any organization.
Advisors and consultants work with a portfolio of clients, manage multiple companies, and/or sit on boards. Their broad overview of the business ecosystem provides insights into what works and what doesn’t.
Tech businesses can benefit from non-tech consultants. Running a business is rarely about tech alone. There’s recruitment, branding, marketing, sales, business development, positioning, pricing, building successful funnels, PR, networking, legal, and finances among many others.
Others discredit consultants for not owning an actual business (or any business at all), In some cases, consulting a company with 1,000 employees would otherwise require a similar background as a business founder. It is extremely complicated and just a handful of people have ever done that.
Top Business Advisor Skills
Here are the top 10 business advisor skills that your company can benefit from:
- Creative Thinking Skills
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Communication Skills
- Negotiation Skills
- Sales and Marketing Skills
- Financial Management Skills
- Strategic Planning Skills
- Management Skills
- Time Management Skills
- Public Relations Skills
How can your company benefit from these consultancy skills?
1. Creative Thinking Skills
Lots of unique business problems come up for growing companies. Some hit a plateau at some point and need external advice to approve these problems creatively and keep scaling.
These problems, unique as they are, need to be viewed from a creative perspective because most of them lack existing data or studies that will guide you in making decisions.
Your creative thinking skills will help you:
- analyze your situations and problems at hand.
- structure a plan with clear goals
- explore out-of-the-box ideas
- come up with relevant solutions to a specific problem
- communicate solutions effectively
What consultants do is that they lean on their intuition for out-of-the-box ideas and innovations. They also gather up a think-tank from the different departments of a company so you can get a fresh perspective and an inclusive approach.
2. Problem-Solving Skills
The ability to handle difficult situations that are usually unexpected and complex in nature is what problem solvers have.
What makes most business advisors effective is their inherent penchant for solving problems that others would keep away from as much as possible.
To be great at problem-solving, you will need an analytical mind that is good at critical thinking, organizing ideas, and identifying patterns, as well as noting details. This is one trait consultants and business people share in common because most of the time, those who have decided to run or start a company are those that thought of a problem they wanted to solve.
According to Lifehack, you can take the following steps to enhance your problem-solving skills:
- Focus on the solution, not the problem
- Adapt ways to clearly define the problem
- Simplify things
- List out as many solutions as possible
- Think laterally
- Use language that creates a possibility
By cultivating your problem-solving skills and encouraging it among your core group in the workplace, you can address your own client concerns more effectively.
3. Communication Skills
According to Workforce, 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy in place for their internal communications. Business operations falter when communication channels are broken or ineffective. When all of a company’s stakeholders value proper communication, it results in the following:
- stronger relationships
- more innovations
- efficient team processes
- better customer experience
- growth and transparency
Consultants must be excellent communicators to successfully land a client. The job requires that they manage teams, deliver presentations, and coordinate. Failure to do so may cause a project to stagnate or the client to leave.
4. Negotiation Skills
While you can learn how to negotiate overtime, the most successful deals often happen when you involve a great negotiator. What separates a great negotiator from the rest is experience.
You may have found yourself more than once on the receiving end of the negotiation table, being subjected to hard-bargaining tactics such as the following:
- extreme demands from aggressive opponents
- “my hands are tied”
- “take it or leave it”
- good cop, bad cop
- bluffs and lies
Having effective negotiation skills has a lot to do with a person’s communication skills. Those who are experienced at negotiating know how to say the right words at the right time. One must know how to package an offer in a way that is appealing to all parties, but actually more favorable to you.
5. Sales and Marketing Skills
Learning about sales and marketing became a need for me when several of those I had worked with in the past failed to deliver their basic commitments. Consultants I have talked with via Clarity were the most helpful during that time. I also got a lot of help from other business and agency owners who went through a similar ordeal.
In another article, I have enumerated 4 ways a business executive can become a better marketer:
- Read and learn
- Explore different marketing channels
- Work closely with your marketing team
- Find a freelance client in need of marketing
Although selling is a different activity from marketing, your sales skills and marketing skills often get intertwined because they both revolve around convincing prospects to get so interested in the products and services that you offer to the point wherein they would actually make a purchase.
- Product Knowledge
- Communication skills
- Prospecting Skills
- Relationship-Building Skills
6. Financial Management Skills
Allocating resources for operational expenses without neglecting overhead costs and potential risks requires serious financial management skills. Not all businesses have the luxury of hiring a team of financial experts who can handle this aspect of the business.
Financial consultants review past data and study future projections as well as create investment plans. According to Investopedia, successful financial advisors share the following qualities.
- Passion for Financial Planning and Wealth Management
- Deep Analytical Ability
- Professional Salesmanship
- A Belief That Interests Must Be Aligned
Navigating around financial challenges usually have the same qualities and some detective work on the part of the business owner or executive.
7. Strategic Planning Skills
Solopreneurs must think like a 10-person team from the start. Strategically planning this way positions the business for success.
Studies show that 95% of a typical workforce doesn’t understand their organizational strategy. Several organizations fail to employ a strategic approach in their future direction resulting in problematic transitions and misalignment among team members.
You can use a strategy map as a graphic representation of the strategies you have discussed with your planning teams in consideration of the following four perspectives:
- Internal Processes
- Organizational Capacity
Here’s what a typical strategy map looks like:
Note that the more stakeholders or teams involved, the more encompassing your strategic plan development will be.
8. Management Skills
According to research conducted by Gallup among 7,272 U.S. adults, 50% of employees leave their companies because of their managers or supervisors. Although there is more to the stories of these employees, one cannot just disregard the necessity of ensuring that those who own a business or run one must have management skills.
According to American psychologist Robert Katz, there are three basic types of management skills and these are:
- Technical skills
- Conceptual skills
- Human or interpersonal skills
Technical skills or technical leadership refer to the manager’s ability to use machines and software, production tools, and other equipment but also the skills necessary to help the other aspects of managing a business.
Managers who can see the bigger picture and design solutions accordingly have what we call conceptual skills.
Last but not least, interpersonal skills are very important in relating with and motivating your employees. This particular type of management skill maximizes the value of a company’s human resources when honed properly.
Interpersonal skills are what enable managers to relate with their employees effectively. If managers have a healthy relationship with their employees, then the employees become highly motivated to work.
9. Time Management Skills
Your time management skills will help you select among several time management strategies and productivity frameworks that you can use to manage your time effectively.
These time management strategies normally include the following steps:
Developing your time management skills may take time for some but great managers often grow within a business promotion after promotion. This will set you even further apart from the other business owners or managers because you will become more productive, achieve goals faster, and do your job more efficiently.
10. Public Relations Skills
Several business consultants work as the company PR with the following tasks:
- Written Communication
- Organizing Events
- Media Relations
- Developing Promotional Strategies
All of the tasks mentioned require that a consultant has excellent written and oral communication skills, among others.
Marketing teams and PR teams often overlap without proper directives. The primary tasks of the Public Relations experts include communicating news and stories to the different media channels and ultimately create a buzz about your new products or services.
Most of the time, PR strategies include events hosting like product launching or merger announcements. No matter the company’s size, it can leverage media mileage, especially in the long run.
Public relations skills are skills that you can acquire with proper research and immersion.
As a top executive or manager of a company, big or small, you could be the face of your organization. Every time your customers, the media, and the other company stakeholders look at you, they see what you represent.
Bonus: 16 Must-Have Soft Skills
Apart from the 10 business advisor skills that you can leverage, these 16 must-have soft skills can be extremely useful as well not only in advancing your career and professional development but also in running a business. As a business owner, you may be dealing not only with technical problems but also with other business challenges sprouting every now and then.
Running or managing a business also has a lot to do with working on activities such as risk management, sales, marketing, negotiations, project management, legal, and accounting, among many others.
With several activities and a heavy workload (most of the time), you have to be able to plan, delegate, and communicate with your clients and partners, while juggling multiple tasks at the same time. Being skillful in so many aspects can help you handle these tasks efficiently and deliver high-quality work without burning out.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should be on your own. You can always employ the consulting services of a reliable business advisor or consultant who can help provide insights and assistance especially in areas where you need extra focus. After all, it is wise to ensure you still have time for research and development that can help innovate and scale your business and constantly explore opportunities and ideas.