What Is a Business Consultant? Skills, Qualifications and More

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

You’re looking for a flexible and rewarding career that offers a competitive salary and solid growth potential. If you’re nodding along and you’re a problem-solver at heart, a career as a business consultant could be a fantastic match.

Business consulting is an exciting sector full of new challenges and the chance to positively impact others’ work lives.

It’s a bit hard to pinpoint the precise definition of a business consultant because they adapt to meet the needs of each industry. But in essence, business consultants collaborate with businesses of every size.

Not only that, but business consulting also allows you to follow your passions by specializing in various fields, such as marketing, finance, operations, human resources, or technology.

If pursuing a career as a business consultant sounds like a great fit for you, it’s time to dig deeper.

What Is a Business Consultant? Definition & Meaning

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A business consultant is an expert in one specific area of business operations and offers advice to clients or employers in that area.

Companies need business consultants for a fresh perspective when dealing with complex challenges. Consultants generally examine data and observe processes to find underlying causes of concern and provide advice on the best way forward.

What Does a Business Consultant Do?

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Day-to-day tasks handled by business consultants are diverse. They could involve streamlining a company’s operations, enhancing its financial health, or supporting the implementation of new technology.

For example, an IT consultant might manage a company’s network security or data management. Larger corporations might hire a full-time business consultant to tackle issues as they arise or to implement new technologies.

How Much Education Do Business Consultants Need?

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The most effective route to success as a business consultant starts with a solid education.

The educational prerequisites can differ significantly depending on your field and the expectations of potential clients or employers.

Start With a Bachelor’s Degree

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Many business consultants kickstart their career journey with a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, management, or a related field, providing a broad understanding of how industries operate.

On the other hand, a specialized degree in your target industry, like information technology, marketing, human resources, or finance, can give you an edge.

It allows you to dive deeper into the complex aspects of that field, lending a significant advantage when offering specialized advice.

Add Management Consulting Certifications

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Adding certifications to your skill set showcases your commitment and expertise. As you progress in your career, consider the most common certifications relevant to business consulting and your goals:

The Job Outlook for Business Consultants

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Ready to dive into the opportunities a consulting career provides? It’s a great choice when you consider the numbers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that business consultant careers will grow by 11% in the next decade, which is faster than average. Additionally, the median salaries are expected to be approximately $93,000 annually.

If the idea of business consulting appeals to you, let’s outline a step-by-step plan to land a job as a business consultant.

How To Become a Consultant

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Consider the following steps to hit the ground running in your search for a business consulting job.

1. Conduct Thorough Research

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Before diving into a business consultant job search, thorough research is essential. Ask yourself:

  • Who are my ideal clients? Are they small businesses, larger corporations, or government entities?
  • What services do they need?

Furthermore, look into certifications and the services other business consultants offer. Lastly, dive into potential employers, exploring their websites and social media to understand the company culture.

2. Analyze Required Qualifications

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Pursuing certifications that help you stand out is critical. For instance, if you’re aiming for a career as a sales consultant, specializing in Salesforce or HubSpot can be a game-changer.

You can leverage those qualifications to help businesses enhance their customer relationship management (CRM).

Look into software-specific classes that will highlight your mastery of the tool.

3. Set Achievable Goals and Establish Milestones

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After mapping out the requirements of your career move, convert them into tangible goals.

Create a realistic timeline for your business consulting career. Include certifications and a strategic job search. Decide if you’ll freelance or pursue traditional employment. Define your ideal work environment. For example, what level of flexibility do you need?

Next, establish financial goals and devise a backup plan to meet your monetary needs while you’re building your career.

4. Recognize the Needed Resources

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Take a moment to consider what resources you’ll need to become a business consultant.

If you’re going the freelance route, you could hire a virtual assistant or an SEO specialist to optimize your website and content. Feel free to outsource tasks outside your area of expertise so you can focus on what you do best.

Also, consider finding a mentor to help guide you as you grow your business.

5. Network and Make Connections

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Like most careers, your success is often determined by your communication skills and ability to gain referrals.

Building a solid network with quality relationships can make or break your success. Along with your communication skills, hone your sales pitch. After all, companies are looking for consulting services, and you’ll need to convince employers you’re the ideal fit.

Attend both in-person and virtual industry events. Join relevant groups on social media and LinkedIn.

Have a solid follow-up plan when attending events and conferences related to your field. Leverage referrals from current clients to gain additional business.

Companies That Hire Remote Business Consultants

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One of the significant perks of a career as a business consultant is the flexibility provided by technology. Building a thriving career as a remote business consultant with work-life balance in a field you love is easier than ever.

Launch your research with the following companies that post remote business consulting jobs:

Build Your Career as a Remote Business Consultant

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By leveraging the right resources, networking, and creating a compelling portfolio, you can set the stage for a successful career as a remote business consultant.

With dedication and a clear plan, you’ll be on your way to a successful career.

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