Why hiring a consultant can help SMEs boost performance

31 March 2020 Consultancy.uk 6 min. read

Establishing and maintaining a high level of productivity is crucial for any business. Running business processes that are inefficient or have not been updated can lead to a lot of wasted time and effort. Marieta Bencheva, co-founder of Consulthon, outlines how external consulting support can help SMEs boost their business performance.

Doing particular work and day to day tasks in a certain way because this is how they have always been done doesn't always mean that they are the most productive way of doing things. Over time as the business grows and expands, what may have worked for you as a start-up SME may not be nearly as efficient or productive in today's more fast-paced and interconnected world.

The risk of developing a skills gap

It could be that you have missed a lot of technological advancements that you could be making good use of, leaving your staff performing time-consuming and frustrating procedures that can seriously affect their morale and impact on their well-being at work.

This, in turn, can lead to your employees becoming more discontented with their role in the business and will encourage them to seek employment elsewhere. This means you could develop a skills gap in your system when you start to lose valuable staff members with a great deal of knowledge and experience that you may struggle to replace.

How consultants can help SMEs boost business performance

If you haven't had a serious review of your working practices for a few years, inefficiencies can start to creep in that can drag down your business productivity levels and create a negative impact on your bottom line. Combined with the risk of losing valuable staff with a wealth of expertise in the field, your business performance can take a nose-dive.

Further struggles facing SMEs

To improve productivity and efficiencies, you first need to review your business system from top to bottom and identify weak procedures and processes that can be updated or improved to combat inefficiency. There may be many steps in your business procedures that are now no longer necessary through being able to consolidate IT software or automating complete systems.

A major struggle that most SMEs face is being able to access the right type of help and support that can help sort out and bring calm to what can sometimes be a chaotic system that has been allowed to get out of control.

In most SMEs staff are too busy keeping on top of their day to day duties to maintain the business to even be able to spare the time to dedicate to a proper review or overhaul of their business processes. Sometimes the management team lacks the necessary talent, expertise and experience to be able to take a critical look at the business structure to see where they can make efficiency savings.

Shaking off the start-up mentality

Most SMEs will continue to work with a 'start-up mentality' for many years. This can lead them to hire staff with needed skills to plug a gap when they appear. This is often a stop-gap solution to something that was never planned for or even expected. This doesn't mean that plugging gaps like this is the most effective way forward.

You only need to hit a serious road bump for your business to fall apart because it isn't being run on a strong framework using an interconnected structure. Your business processes also need to grow and evolve over time in response to changing internal and external pressures.

While the business may have a wide range of skills to allow it to keep ticking over, you may find yourself lacking the knowledge and skills to overcome major hurdles.

What can you do if you can't afford a full-time specialist?

While the most obvious solution would be to employ a full-time member of staff with the right skills to help analyse your business procedures and draw up a plan of action for a successful overhaul, most SMEs cannot afford to hire a specialist with such knowledge.

Your business processes are about more than simply defining what your staff should do, how they do it and in what order they do it. It goes much deeper than this. Your business structure and processes are a part of your company culture, how your employees interact with management and each other and unify your staff over your values and why you are doing what you do.

This is why hiring in a professional business consultant to help you can be the most cost-effective and practical way to get your business back on the right track and to raise productivity levels and business performance.

Hiring a business consultant

In today's modern world, technological advances, higher customer expectations and global competition have increased the need for higher efficiency and productivity. A lot of SMEs are now having to compete with worldwide rivals that they weren't 10 to 15 years ago.

To keep your company competitive you need to keep your productivity high and consistent. Every detail needs to be looked at from labour, source materials, machinery, IT, working capital, service delivery and output.

Improving your business performance doesn't mean you need to work harder or longer. It means you need to be working smarter. You can do this by hiring in a business consultant from a trusted company to look at ways to eliminate inefficiencies and improve productivity in just about every part of your company from the bottom up.

The consultant will take a look at your overall objective and vision for your business, analyse your practices and then recommend a plan of action to ensure your processes meet your goals and add value to boost your business performance.

About the author: Marieta Bencheva is managing director of Consulthon, an online community of consultants for SME clients.