7 Top Benefits of Small Business Consulting

By Mark Polman

Almost every small business experiences a moment when it seems everything is just stuck in time. It seems like no matter what you do you are stuck where you are and taking the business to the next level appears impossible. Right about then is when you should investigate what’s available to you in the way of small business consulting. Being the boss of a small enterprise can be a lonely job and one where a fresh pair of experienced eyes can provide you with the practical and emotional boost that you need. Here are a few benefits that you can expect to receive.

1. Clarifying your vision

Can you even remember what you had in mind when you started the business? Are you so caught up in the everyday issues of receivables, marketing, sales, financing and all the rest that what you really own is a job and not a business? A qualified consultant can get you back on track. He or she can help you to once again identify what you really want. Having a defined mission and understanding how all those independent functions work towards meeting it, makes the business far more satisfying.

2. Map out the way to your vision

Just knowing what you want to accomplish isn’t enough. You need a business plan that maps out step by step how you are going to get there and how you are going to know you have arrived. It must be measurable and realistically attainable. A consultant who specializes in small business can make this process immeasurably simpler than trying to do it yourself.

3. Build to scale

Your organizational structure has to be scalable if you want to handle growth. In many small businesses, outsourcing functions that are not key core competencies like accounting and human resources can be the difference between a company that can accommodate growth and one that simply collapses under the weight. Your consultant can help you design that organization.

4. Professional marketing

Your consultant can realistically analyze your market and estimate its value and use that information to develop short term and long term marketing goals. Developing marketing strategies, including internet marketing which is particularly attractive for small businesses, is another function of the consultant.

5. Freeing you up from the “job” so you can be the leader

An analysis of your operation will uncover those functions or processes that are eating up your time. A talented consultant will find a way around or through those roadblocks to productivity allowing you to do what you do best..run the company.

6. Build a better you

If your consultant also does business coaching you can look forward to a hands on education in how to be a better manager, problem solver and sales person. By assisting and challenging you through the problem solving process you’ll develop practices that allow you to make faster, and more accurate decisions. You’ll gain confidence and optimism and you’ll be a better leader.

7. Brainstorm on demand

Consulting doesn’t end after an analysis of the business. The relationship that you develop with the business consultant becomes a personal one and he becomes your business buddy. He or she is the one you can pick up the phone and brainstorm new ideas. Because the consultant is intimately knowledgeable of your business, these brainstorming sessions can prove phenomenally successful.

Small business consulting, particularly in these difficult times is almost a necessity for many smaller organizations. Isn’t it worth at least investigating the possibilities to see how you can benefit?

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mark_Polman

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4808676

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Peter DeSmidt

Lean Set-Up in Manufacturing – Cost Saving Answers and Concepts


By Victor Viser, Ph.D.

Where do we in manufacturing find the “edges” that make or break our profit margins? Where do we make the changes in process, the tweaking, that maximize returns on investments (ROI)? More often than not the edges that reach both output and quality goals are found in the efficiencies we make in the manufacturing technique. Today, in many job shops, make-to-order, or mixed mode manufacturers, those efficiencies in production are found in the elimination of waste-a technique commonly referred to as lean. In a lean system the manufacturer seeks maximized ROI by attempting to eliminate the waste of resources commonly found in physical production processes. In effect, the greatest and most fixed resource available to any manufacturer is that of time, and the control of time is something that we in manufacturing are always striving for.

In the performance assessment of any job or work center set-up, we first need to ask ourselves: Does the ROI justify the time, effort, and cost of leaning a particular process? For example, common sense will dictate that it’s not worth the expense of thousands of dollars to fix a process that will take a year or more to recover. Indeed, the ROI in manufacturing set-up improvement is directly related to the expected and/or actual use and output of the process. To truly lean a process, the improvement must be both significant in terms of time and productive in terms of output-a positive ROI. However, as any lean expert will point out, most set-ups can easily be reduced to ten minutes or less.

What, then, are the factors we must consider when looking to lean a set-up? First, as mentioned, volume of output is a key concept in assessing a set-up redevelopment. How many of a particular component do I expect to make in a year? Related is the notion of customer requirements-how often might this process be set-up during this same period? In short, how often will I run the part and in what quantities? It is only in the review of the answers to these questions that we begin to understand the importance of a particular process to our bottom line. With the awareness of value of a process in these terms, we can then begin to look at these cost in longitudinal terms; that is to say, our real costs for a particular set-up over time.

It is true that most shops underestimate real hard set-up costs, leading managers to include “soft costs” (e.g., the value of improved customer satisfaction, etc.) to justify the meager ROI in leaning a process. To truly validate the cost of a set-up, managers should engage a value stream analysis in which every step of the set-up is listed and measured in terms of time spent. Indeed, even the time (and cost) spent in breaking down the set-up on the backend must be included. This data is then compared against the average hours collected in the set-up performance information in the manufacturing database.

Of course, there are several more general steps you can take to help in ensure speedier set-ups-all common sense notions that are, surprisingly, overlooked by many manufacturers. In the world of lean we call it the “low hanging fruit”. For example, have a well organized fixture/tooling area. Always have a dedicated place for each fixture and make sure it is clearly identified. If at all possible, create multiple locations within the plant to store fixtures and store fixtures closest to where they are used.

Another great application is the use of shadow boards to place and store fixtures. Shadow boards provide a simple visual cue in the form of an outline or solid shape that quickly guide the set-up person to where a fixture should always go after breaking down. Some argue that this could be an expensive undertaking, creating dozens of shadow boards to store hundreds, sometimes thousands of fixtures. However, it certainly cannot be as expensive as having a $25 per hour person walking around for an hour looking for a $10 wrench ten times a week-week in and week out. Furthermore, while the set-up person is in search of the wrench the machine needing set-up is not producing parts.

Ultimately, the leaning of a set-up, a process, and even an entire work center involves the simple use of what is often the most basic of common sense observations. Plan and cost the set-up with realistic scenarios in mind. Remember, in leaning a set-up for a truly maximized ROI is to a large degree the controlling of that highly uncontrollable manufacturing resource-time.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Victor_Viser,_Ph.D.

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Thank you,

Peter DeSmidt, BA, MBA, PA

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