Entrepreneurship and small business ownership are sometimes over glamorized in the media or promoted as easy, almost guaranteed ways to gain independence and wealth. While success stories are plentiful, two important facts remain: 1. Start-ups and small businesses require diligent and consistent work in many areas (research, finance, operations, etc.) beyond the core product/idea over time to be successful; 2. Many efforts are unsuccessful from the start or don't generate enough cash flow to remain viable.
There are a variety of reasons why a business may struggle, and one is that no single person, or even small group of people, can have the time, resources, or expertise to do everything. For instance, market research and financial modeling are important but require a great deal of time and energy, not to mention vastly different tools, skills, and knowledge sets. Being able to partner with a trusted consultant can greatly improve a company's chance of success. Business consultants seem to be able to support small businesses through three roles:
1. Project partner: Work with a point person from the company to take on a specific part of the growth process or a project that allows the leadership to continue other core functions.
2. Expert partner: Provide background knowledge or context to a situation and possible methodologies and resources for problem-solving. While there is no single playbook that could cover all businesses and their opportunities or challenges, consultants who have seen a large enough sample of the business world will develop certain generalizable approaches and tools.
3. Management partner: Provide a perspective that is outside the company and maybe even the sector. Being a leader can be lonely and a consultant can be an open active listener and honest source for feedback. Tunnel vision can affect all business-owners as they dig further into their work and knowledge base, so getting candid and knowledgeable insights from someone who is working for your long-term success can be vital.
As a VERGE intern and new business consultant, my goal is to be able to apply what I've learned from UConn's Full-Time MBA program, our Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) and CT Small Business Development Center (SBDC) mentors, and professional background to the first role to effectively help the companies I'm working with. Handling 8-9 company projects has already taught me a great deal about the importance of communication, research, and listening. After observing experienced consultants apply all three roles, I've also learned how vital a trusted consultant can be in supporting a business's success.
It has also been inspiring to learn from the leaders of these companies and the innovations they add to their sector and business world. Their patents, pitch decks, research reports, and prototypes can lead to further opportunities for their companies, their teams, and themselves. Furthermore, the amount of intellectual and physical energy these leaders put in, the number of hats they have to wear, and the belief they have to have in their product, team, and, most of all, themselves is infectious. Their journey's makes the VERGE internship part of an exciting and vital ecosystem of creativity and knowledge between companies and consultants in Connecticut.
And it is only Week 4!
By: Jasdeep Singh UConn CT
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Business Consulting - Four Weeks In...Non-Fiction
I had been consulting with small businesses since January. In June, I began my internship as a start-up/small business consultant and have found that being thrown in the deep end of the pool is both illuminating as well as overwhelming. Jasdeep Sing...