Many regards this era as the ‘era of SMEs’. Mainly because, for the first time SMEs are now able to compete with big corporates in ways that were never possible before thanks to factors such as social media, agility and flexibility to sudden changes to business models or market conditions. However, the statistics on the number of startups that fail, is still alarming – Forbes released a statistic that claimed that 66% of fail within the first 3 years of operating. In South Africa, the number is even higher – 70% to 80% fail within the first 5 years of operating, this is a scary fact for any entrepreneur. And therefore, there has never been a more crucial time for small businesses to get the expert knowledge, experience and skills that the right consulting partner can provide in order to circumvent such issues and eventually grow exponentially.
Of all the misconceptions that exist about consulting, that it is only or mainly for big corporates is perhaps the most widespread misconception. In addition to this, there’s the misconception that businesses should only bring in consultants once things go wrong with the business. The reasons behind the misconceptions include the “they are just too expensive” and general lack or warped knowledge about what consultants actually do. The truth is that all businesses, especially small businesses, need the support and guidance that the right consulting agencies can provide in different areas of running their businesses. The right consultant brings in a fresh, unbiased and experienced perspective to the business in key areas such as business planning, operational and performance optimization, growth strategy and innovation, product design and development or even making a small business an investment vehicle through both product and strategic level brand guidance.
The small businesses landscape in Africa is currently at a very unique position, and the need for professional affordable consultants that can also assist in engineering change that is conducive to how dynamic small businesses are, has become more notable. Bianchi describes it as “change in such a way it is seen as a natural strategy of evolution and not born of desperation. Essentially the right consultant agency can help businesses create and sustain a structured approach to managing their own growth.” Ultimately, the right consultant considers the entire context in which a small business operates in and provides an innovative and unique approach to finding problems, creating solutions and optimizing the client’s business; a service that small businesses in South Africa need.