What Can a Small Business Consultant Help With?

There are many reasons why companies choose to hire a small business consultant. Some look for help with a specific area of their business and others want overall assistance and coaching to help them grow their business. Whether a company needs help growing or saving itself from becoming archaic, a consultancy firm could be the start of something wonderful.

Below are some of the things a small business consultant could help you with:


SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the act of making your website search engine friendly. Being found online puts you at a huge advantage and sometimes it’s the thing that will save you from extinction. Doing an SEO campaign can help drive traffic to your company site and give you an opportunity to market to new potential customers. A small business consultant knows how to demystify the confusing world of SEO and can help you learn how to go about analysing your site to make changes that improve the search engine friendliness.

Paid Marketing Campaigns

There are many ways to market online, including: pay per click campaigns with search engines, affiliate marketing programmes, and banner advertising campaigns as well. A consultant can help a company choose a good approach to take with respect to maximising return on investment in paid search engine marketing.

Customer Contact

A consultant can help you turn a customer list into a money making machine. A consultant can help you create a list of qualified customers. And he or she can help you to make sure that all the materials you communicate with (website, emails, newsletters, brochures, etc.) are written in a way that exemplifies your desired branding messaging strategy.

Competitive Analysis

A great way to improve your success is to find out how your competitors are doing. You can contract services that will help you carefully analyse your competition so that you can leave them in the dust in terms of rankings and market share.

Creating Marketing Materials

Some consultancy firms create marketing materials. Some will do website design, banners, and other forms of digital media. Some also do brochures, white papers, and other hard copy marketing materials that can help you launch a great marketing campaign.

Developing New Business Areas

Not only can a good small business consultant help you do what you do today more efficiently and more profitably but they can help you delve into new areas of growth and development as well.

Regardless of why you want to get help with your business, the right small business consultant can help you in many ways.

The Benefits of EDI Consulting

Obtaining EDI consulting for your business gets you consulting services for one of the newest and greatest technologies available to businesses. For businesses new to EDI and even businesses that have begun implementing EDI technology, a consultant can help immensely in getting an EDI system setup and helping to choose the correct system for the business. EDI technologies are fairly new so some businesses are not even sure where to begin.

What is EDI and what does it do?

EDI stands for electronic data interchange. Essentially, EDI technology reduces the reliance on paper-based mail and fax machines by making these things more computer oriented. Instead of sending a fax with a fax machine, a person would send the document virtually using the EDI server. The person receiving the fax, can receive it traditionally, or through their own EDI server.

This flexibility also extends to virtual purchase order systems as well. Instead of manually filling out and mailing a purchase order then waiting for your order and having to verify the accuracy of the order, the process of replenishing inventory becomes automated. Your EDI system works with your POS system to know when an order needs to be placed and what should be put on the order and sends the request electronically to the company. If the company has an EDI system, the order may even go through automatically; if they do not, they receive a fax that is clean and much easier to read than a standard, mailed or faxed, purchase order.

EDI Consulting: What can it do for me?

Simply put, getting a consultant to help with your EDI implementation will make sure that you purchase the right product and get the maximum benefit out of your EDI technology. There are various EDI solutions available and while many strive to be compatible with all other technologies, some have strengths and weaknesses. A consultant will help match EDI services with the existing business and find places where an EDI system can help that the end-user may not think of. A consultant will help maximise the communication between POS systems and the EDI technology or suggest a POS system that has the EDI technology built in.

Implementing the EDI system is where a consultant really earns their keep though. The typical system has various components that all must be integrated as well as EDI software setup on the company’s server system. Between all of these integral parts, making them work together has the potential to be a challenge to someone that is not familiar with the technology.

Finally, a consultant will be able to come in and help the users get up to speed with all the facets of the EDI systems. Many consultants for EDI are excellent at training people as well as implementing the technology. For many companies, this training element is one of the most important; helping employees that created the old systems or are simply concerned about using technology get up to speed with the new systems.

How Small Business Consulting Thrives During Recession

Businesses with smaller budgets for marketing continue to rely on small business consulting professionals for outside help. But in the face of worldwide recession, who are the clients that need small business consulting?

Let’s take a look at some of the recession-proof businesses which may need your services.

Most surveys indicate that the following small businesses continue to thrive and even experience growth during a recession:

Health services

High on the list of businesses that do well during the recession are dental health services, followed by other health professionals and health care specialists. This seems to be consistent with a market trend observed in food industries that experience an increasing demand for healthier foods and those that promote wellness. When disposable income is low, consumers tend to go back to basics, foremost of which is good health.

Accounting and Bookkeeping services

Maintaining financial records remains a necessity regardless of the business climate. All businesses, big or small, need to keep a good accounting of cash flow and revenues that constitute the lifeblood of a company.

Legal services

The role of legal professionals and paralegals is increasingly important during economic downtimes as businesses and individuals need the services of lawyers to provide legal advice, enforce contracts that may have been breached, collect unpaid obligations or draft contracts.

Financial investment services

Investors nowadays are looking for safe vehicles to invest and grow their wealth so they turn to financial advisors to help preserve wealth and create multiple passive income streams for them.

Equipment rental and leasing

Capital purchases may have been put on hold with slashed budgets but companies turn to equipment rentals and leases instead of acquiring new equipment for business.

Other services

Service professionals in the following fields also experience continuous demand and growth during the recession.

* architectural and engineering services * vocational schools * instruction services (dance, music and sports instructors, driving schools and martial arts studios) * personal care services * other professional and technical services ( veterinary services, photography services, and translation services)

Services you can provide

Many of these businesses are still offline and are seriously considering getting a website for marketing and advertising. As a business consultant, your role will be diverse: helping them get a domain name, setting up a website and getting a hosting provider, supplying content, creating sales copies, optimizing their web pages and maintaining their websites.

These are huge opportunities with lots of growth potential. There are businesses that remain profitable during the recession and one of them is small business consulting.

Writing Coach Vs Writing Consultant – Know the Differences

When I was studying my BA in Business, I thought it would be cool to be a management consultant. I could travel around, snooping, determining client problems, recommending solutions, and leaving. The client would do the boring implementation part.

When I became an adjunct/associate professor of English, teaching writing courses, my natural ways of dealing with students emerged, which involved a lot of one-on-one handholding and advising.

I’ve now decided to focus more fully on working with clients, something I’ve done over the years but rarely with much focus. However, I didn’t know the title of my services. Was I coach or a consultant?

After a bit of research, I discovered the following:

For a Coach:

1. A coach helps the client define, plan, and achieve her (or his) goals, whether relating to life goals or project goals.

2. A coach guides the client through all of the processes to achieve that goal, which often involves some or a lot of handholding: daily emails, daily to weekly phone calls, and other close contacts.

3. The coach teaches the client the steps to accomplishing the goal. And the coach has the client actually do the steps while supervised by the coach. Often the client is involved in self-discovery through this relationship. The Coach asks the right questions, prods and encourages the client to see beyond blocks, assumptions, and narrow views to new possibilities.

4. The coach works one-on-one with the client throughout the entire project. Sometimes small group gatherings are useful, but most of the work is one-on-one. The Coach can help with any part of the process but will not do the actual work.

5. A coach might work with a client for months or years, so the relationship is often a long-term one.

For a Consultant:

1. The Consultant is hired to solve a specific problem for the client.

2. The Consultant investigates the problem and determines solutions, sometimes doing the actual work, but often the client will do the work.

3. The consultant works independently, outside of the client’s workflow. When the problem is solved, the Consultant leaves.

Of course, the same person can offer both coaching and consulting services. Clients should know the differences so they can ask for the services they most need at the time. And Coaches and Consultants should know the differences so as not to confuse the clients.

Small Business Marketing Consultant Needed

A question often asked by those wanting to start a consulting business is this: “Can a newcomer become a small business marketing consultant without experience?”

With the right tools, resources and guidance, the answer is a resounding “YES!”

A consultant is paid by the results he brings to a client. This means that you don’t have to be an expert in Internet marketing to be a consultant, but you do need to know a few basic terms and techniques to get things done.

Here are some of the services you can provide which don’t require any prior experience:

Website creation

Formerly an area dominated by computer programmers and designers, website creation can be anybody’s forte these days. You can learn how to create simple web pages from tutorials that come with web developing software, experiment with blog creation applications online or take the express approach by passing on the task to a freelance web designer.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO may not be an exact science but Internet marketing experts who have been testing their systems for a few years can teach you how to improve your client’s search rankings. You can sign up for a quick course in SEO, read up on it online, get a mentor or join forums where people discuss techniques and share tips.

Article writing

Perhaps the easiest way to generate cash flow is to provide articles or web content for clients. All you need is a good command of the English language to start writing for a wide market that includes those with existing websites and businesses that are about to go online. Writing is also a source of recurring income as websites need fresh content regularly. You can learn how to leverage this skill from seasoned web content providers as well.

Online marketing

Business owners tend to focus on operations and have little or no knowledge when it comes to Internet marketing. Whatever minor exposure you may have in Internet marketing puts you at a slight advantage which you could develop further by following proven techniques, learning systems or getting expert advice.

Other services that an small business marketing consultant can provide include setting up social media marketing, copywriting, and even Internet business coaching. Your next step after planning your consulting business is to take action immediately. Experience is built over time and with activity. Plunging right in the business is the best way to gain experience while getting paid for it.

Consultants – How to Become a Consultant

Do you want to become a wedding, travel, marketing, or business consultant? Then, this article is for you. Here’s what you need to do to jumpstart a career in consulting:

1. Educational background. Although some fields of consulting do not require a bachelor degree like wedding and travel consulting, there are those that require a college diploma. Make sure that you have the required educational background before you sink your teeth into this field.

2. Be an expert. Obviously, you need to be an expert to become a consultant. You need to know the ins and outs of the field that you are targeting so you can offer your clients with expert advice. Aside from attending proper schooling, it will also help if you take advantage of relevant trainings and seminars, read online and offline resources, and if you work closely with other experts that can help you boost your knowledge.

3. Communication skills. If you are struggling to articulate your thoughts or if you simply can’t get your grammar right, consulting is really not the perfect job for you. You see, you will constantly communicate with your clients as you need to share with them your knowledge and expertise and this will not happen if your simply don’t know what to say or how to say it. However, there is no need to fret. Communication skill, just like any other skills, is something that you can learn and master overtime. Attend relevant trainings and practice on a regular basis and I am pretty sure that it won’t take long until you become a great communicator.

Debt Consultants of America – Should You Become a Client of Debt Consultants of America?

Debt Consultants of America (DCOA) seemed to just pop on the scene and become somewhat of a major player in the debt settlement industry. They have a professional looking website and regularly run advertisements in the Texas region where their offices are located. But irate clients are starting to post complaints about this company on various consumer advocate websites. We decided to look at why. This will help you answer the question, “Should I Become a Client of Debt Consultants of America?”

DO NOT skip over this step or take this warning lightly; read over the Debt Consultants of America’s contract from top to bottom, line upon line. DO NOT lightly glance over one single solitary line or paragraph. After you read the entire contract, get two other people to read it; if at all possible, one of those persons should be an attorney.

Why do we strongly suggest this step? People who signed that contract and later cancelled essentially stated in their opinion that it contained a full page of client obligations and rights that serve only to benefit DCOA. Here are some basic components of that contract…

#1) Apparently No Creditor Gets Paid Until Debt Consultants of America Gets all their money – People who sign up for debt settlement programs administered by third party companies don’t realize that this is a standard policy. Once you sign up for most of these programs and start making payments, the assumption is – the debt settlement company starts paying your creditors. NOT SO! They don’t start paying your creditors until you have paid their administrative processing fee in full. That’s why you hear of horror stories of people getting sued by creditors while they are signed up with certain debt settlement companies.

Be advised, VERY FEW if any of these companies will make any payment to creditors until their initial administrative start up fees are paid in full. That means, although you are making payments to the debt settlement company, NONE of those payments are going to ANY of your creditors. It also means you are getting further behind and additional penalties and fees are being tacked on.

#2) Debt Consultants of America Charges a $299.00 Cancellation Fee – BE ADVISED: after you sign up as a client and later decide this was a bad mistake, you MUST pay them $299.00 to cancel your contract. Once you become a client, you have to pay your way out of the contract. Even if the company doesn’t deliver as promised and even if you are not satisfied with their service, you are still going to pay that FEE.

Although the cancellation fee information is evidently placed somewhere on their contract, past clients are saying they weren’t aware of the fee until they decided they wanted out. If you don’t have money to burn, don’t sign that contract. If can’t afford to lose three hundred dollars, don’t sign that contract. If the thought of paying $300.00 to cancel a service you decided you were displeased with ruffles your feathers, don’t sign that contract.

#3) If You Have OK or Good Credit Then You May Want To Find Another Option! – If you have OK or good credit, it’s probably best to find another option other than Debt Consultants of America. Some consumers are great financial planners and when they see trouble on the horizon, they take preemptive measures to insure that their financial outlook won’t be terribly impacted by such things as a downsizing or a layoff. They might move to consolidate their debts or push their creditors for debt settlement.

This way they don’t have to go through the pain of facing late payments or watch their credit score drop dramatically. Some choose the (DIY) Do It Yourself Debt Management, while others choose to have a third party debt settlement company to handle their issue. If they end up becoming clients with companies like Debt Consultants of America, there is a huge problem.

The problem being this; their debt settlement systems are set up to negotiate with creditors only after a person is behind on their payments. So why would these companies sign contracts with clients who have good credit and who are not behind on their payments knowing their system is for people who are behind on their payments? Especially since the client would have to pay a cancellation fee?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. Remember the initial question, Should You Become a Client of Debt Consultants of America?” To help you make an informed decision, we’ve provided you with the basics on what to expect. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but at least you won’t go into this type of contract not knowing the reality of what you are signing for.

Consultant Time Tracking and Its Many Uses

For every project management, a nonpayment, a value-added application, and an attendance and time tracking tool is essential in your business. For extremely large companies, it is really important for these companies to be managed efficiently. By efficient management, we mean a management with minimal errors in the processes and an accurate approach of your consultants to the transactions at hand. Moreover, one way to ensure this is by using a consultant time tracking tool. You should, however, not limit it to consultants if you can. Instead, make this time tracking tool available to all the workers you have in your company.

In the business world, the definition of the word tracking is close to the word defined as a means of making sure jobs and tasks are completed in a desired frame of time and to be able to archive important data for future use and scrutiny. Tracking is a cost-effective tool that serves to lessen human work. The human work we are talking about here include dispatch jobs, inventory checks, and employee performance analysis. Specialized electronic clocks are available for the implementation of time tracking of your employees.

If a company wants a report on the workers and how they are utilizing their time while at work in the office, attendance and time tracking is necessary. There are elaborate time-keeping tools that can serve as time trackers that can actually compute and separate inclusive times when your workers are going out to lunch and those 15-minute or 30-minute breaks from the time they are really working. After the collection of data, it would be then very easy to calculate the efficiency of your employees by directly applying the time consumed by your employees while at work (minus the time while they are out at lunch, break, and the like) against the quality of the job they are doing.

For office functions, such as timesheet reporting, expense reporting, resource allocation, management and budgeting of projects, and invoicing, a time tracker also comes in very useful. The reporting of time and expense more accurately is a direct benefit a company gets with the use of time trackers for their employees. If your company is still in the phase where part of your workforce relies on outsourced skills or strategists, you can make use of them by getting insight as to how they view and make use of time trackers.

You may be expecting answers from these questions to be already a public knowledge in your office. What you are after, anyway, are the possible answers your company as a whole does not know yet. Root for these answers and be quick to develop your own new uses and functionalities of the time trackers. And so, you are able to make good use of your outsourced consultants by directly engaging them and subjecting them to your newly-developed time tracker. In the end, you will be using a tool you have developed through your consultants. This means more effective consultant time tracking that comes straight from them – the consultants themselves.

Benefits of Business Consulting Services

If you own a small business or are thinking about starting one, then whether you know it or not, you probably can make use of business consulting services. Business consulting will help you sort through the unknown, manage risk, get more efficient and profitable, sidestep legal trouble, and much more. Take a look at some of the benefits of business consultation to see if it would be a good match for you.

As mentioned above, there are many different and specific benefits to these kinds of services. There are so many different factors that you have to manage when you own a business. You have your core product or service itself, whatever it is you are offering or trying to sell. You have the logistics behind that, whether it’s a storefront, a door-to-door service, an eCommerce site, or anything else. You have marketing costs, and you have employees which come with their own costs, and also need to be managed effectively.

There are administrative and financial sides to the business, legal considerations and concerns, and much more. That only scratches the surface and already it’s a lot to deal with. Business consulting services will help you to sort through all of that noise, steer clear of trouble, and make yourself more efficient and successful.

Of course, don’t forget that simply having a sounding board can be very valuable to a business. Talking things over will help to eliminate potential trouble spots before they pop up down the road, and will help you to separate good ideas from bad ideas right from the start. A logical voice offering you advice or asking you questions is more than often for most business owners to make the right decisions.

For example, let’s say you live in Miami, and you’re looking to start a small business in Florida. A checklist of the legal steps and requirements which you need to follow, and a guide to the dos and don’ts of the process will be crucial in your success. It’s the only way to ensure that you get things done the right way, and don’t end up having to go back, or find yourself in trouble, at a later point in time.

That’s what working with a provider of business consulting services is all about. You will be working with an experienced professional who knows all of the ins and outs of what you’re trying to do, and will be able to soundly advise you on the best way to proceed. You’ll save yourself frustration and time, and give yourself peace of mind knowing you did the best thing for yourself and your business.

Whether you want to start a new business, make your business more efficient, deploy a new business model, or anything else, turn to someone who provides business consulting services to help guide you on your journey.

Should Your Practice Be Billing Codes For Telephone Consultations?

It seems these days as if practices are doing more and more patient consultations over the phone. A lot of this may be due to the current economic conditions and the fact that patients are trying to avoid having to come in and be seen and be charged a co-pay.

What ever the reason physicians are spending more time on the phone these days and are asking whether or not they can bill CPT codes for telephone consultations and get reimbursed.

Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for patient consultations performed over the phone. In terms of other payers, you will have to check with them on a case by case basis.

If this issue has become a big problem for your practice and is absorbing a lot of your time, you may want to consider billing your patients for this service.

Telephone services are typically billed using two sets of codes added to the CPT index in 2008: codes 99441 – 99443 are for phone services by physicians, while 98966 – 98968 are for services by “qualified non-physician healthcare professionals.” Again, none of these codes are covered by Medicare but more and more private payers are starting to reimburse for this code so it is certainly worth checking with them to see if they will pay.

If you do decide to bill patients for these codes, here are five things you must know about these codes:

  • They may be billed only for “medical discussion” that IS NOT related to an E&M service that was provided within the last seven days and DOES NOT lead to an in-office visit within the next 24 hours or earliest possible date.
  • The phone conversation must be documented by the provider that took the call.
  • Though Medicare does not pay for these codes, both sets of codes have relative value units (RVU’s) assigned to them that you can use to help determine what fee you will charge your patients for these codes.
  • The patient must initiate the call in order for you to bill the service.
  • The codes are valid for established patients ONLY, according to the CPT guidelines.
  • If your practice is performing a significant amount of phone consultations, that revenue can add up over the course of a year and make a difference in your practice’s earnings.
  • If you are considering billing for phone consultations, here are some tips that should help you get paid:
  • Negotiate with private payers – The key is to document every instance over the course of a year that you provided a telephone consultation. The amount of consultations could be significant and show your physicians and other providers provided the service 120 times over a year. When you renegotiate your managed care contract, you can show the provider relations department of that payer the documentation supporting your 120 phone consultations and explain to them this is what you did. You can then ask the provider relations for an allowance from the payer for these consultations. If one payer agrees to pay for the phone consultations, take an EOB showing payment and show that to another payer and ask them if they would be willing to match it.
  • Discourage patients from lengthy phone calls and ask them to come in for an office visit – Most of your patients aren’t going to like the idea of you billing them for phone calls in general, much less ones that only take five minutes. If it appears that a phone call is going to be a long one, go ahead and encourage the patient to come in for an office visit and explain to them that way your insurance will pay for it instead of you having to bill them for the lengthy phone consultation.
  • Get paid for a growing practice expense – The CPT codes for telephone E&M services were established for a reason. If the codes are in the CPT book, you have every right to code them and bill for them. The key is to decide at what point you will bill for the phone consultation (i.e. 15 minutes, etc.) and to see how your patients react as you don’t want to run patients off but they have to understand your time is valuable.

This is a billable service that is definitely worth your practice looking into. You’d be surprised at how many of your private payers may reimburse you for these codes. In addition, if patients know they have to pay for lengthy phone consultations, they may just decide to come in and have a face to face visit.