What is a Business Advisor? (And How To Become One)
Updated 9 July 2022
Business advisors are professionals who help entrepreneurs develop and improve their businesses. This career uses expertise in business management and knowledge of how to run specific business operations so that clients can create more successful companies. Learning how to become a business advisor can help you plan your career path. In this article, we define what a business advisor is, discuss the job duties, provide a step-by-step guide on becoming one, average national salary figures, and what skill set and work environment you can expect in this role.
What is a business advisor?
A business advisor, or consultant, is a professional who provides clients with expertise in various aspects of business, such as development, management or financial security. They often work directly with business owners on developing a business plan, identifying marketing needs and enhancing the skill set necessary for company ownership. Advisors often have a strong background in business management and may have experience in many departments, including finance, sales, operations and marketing.
Related: What is Business Development?
Job duties for a business advisor
A business advisor's primary duty is to consult with business owners to help develop and manage operations at their company. Other job duties include:
Help identify marketing needs and develop strategies to increase brand awareness and customer acquisition
Offer resources to educate clients on information technology, sales and business regulations
Find funding and apply for loans to finance the business
Develop a strategic business plan with short- and long-term business goals
Review the business budget and recommend how to improve it
Create hiring and training practices to attract the best candidates
How to become a business advisor
Professionals recognise business advisors as experts in their industry. They have either worked on a team or managed a successful business previously. They may also have strong connections and useful resources that can benefit the client. The following steps can help you become a business advisor:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
Most employers require professionals to have at least a bachelor's degree. However, professionals who choose to earn a more advanced degree might increase their earning potential. Earning a master's degree can also help expand your client base.
After deciding which degree type to pursue, choose a major that relates to the business consulting field. Most professionals choose to major in business, though other subjects such as economics, management, finance and business technology can also be helpful.
2. Complete an internship
Completing an internship while you earn your bachelor's degree or soon after graduation helps you earn entry-level experience. This can be useful in the development of your professional skills. You can also list this experience on your resume to help you earn more job opportunities. To find internships, check to see if your academic institution offers assistance programs. You also might find these opportunities listed on career search websites or by contacting professionals who work in companies in which you have an interest.
3. Consider a certification
Certification requirements often depend on the field in which you want to work. For more general areas of business, you may not need a certification. However, if you plan on pursuing a specialty, such as working with small businesses, it's helpful to earn a relevant certification. The requirements can change depending on the job in which you're applying. Consider reading job descriptions for the companies you may want to work with for any mention of certifications.
If you're unsure of which certification you should pursue, consider asking your academic advisor for a recommendation, or research the common credentials for your field. Earning a certification can help you increase your credentials and demonstrate your expertise in a certain topic.
4. Apply for advisor positions
Start applying to consultant positions soon after you complete your degree program, internship, and any certification courses you're pursuing. Because many employers value experience in business management and finance fields, consider applying to positions relating to these fields if you can't find job postings specifically for advisor positions. It can also be beneficial to apply to companies you want to work with and gain experience and promotions to earn a position as a business advisor.
When applying for jobs, consider customising your resume and cover letter depending on the specific requirements of each job posting. This practice also allows you to focus on skills the employer mentions in the job description, increasing your chances of earning an interview.
Related: Guide: Using Indeed Job Search
Salary expectations for a business advisor
Business advisors can earn an average salary of $85,832 per year. This salary can depend on your employer, location, and experience level. These positions might also offer additional benefits depending on your employer. In some cases, advancing your education level or earning a certification can increase your earning potential. After you complete a professional achievement, consider speaking with your supervisor to negotiate your salary.
What is the work environment of a business advisor?
A business advisor typically divides their time spent in their office and on-site with clients at their business locations, so the work environment is variable. Business consultants usually spend a lot of time travelling. If a client lives out of state or in a different country, this could mean frequent overnight travel.
Consultants may spend one day analysing the budget and finances of an organisation and spend another day retraining staff at the restaurant or store level. Tight budgets and strict timelines also mean that business consultants are often on a busy schedule in order to meet clients' needs.
What are important business advisor skills?
Business advisors can work in different industries, meaning the skills you may need to succeed in your role can vary. For example, a business advisor in the healthcare industry may need a strong background in health systems and budgeting. A business advisor working in the restaurant industry may have an experienced background in subjects like food costs, labour and restaurant marketing. Here are some general skills that you might develop as an advisor:
As an advisor, you often need to consider all aspects of the business, including the finances. Having strong analytical skills for budgeting and planning is very helpful in creating new business plans for clients. You might also use this skill to improve your problem-solving abilities and recognise areas for improvement within the companies you're advising.
When facing challenges, many business owners call on business advisors to help with new strategies. Advisors use strong problem-solving abilities to identify the source of the problem and come up with a unique solution. Having problem-solving skills might also help you consider and recommend new practices that fit within your client's abilities and desires.
These professionals often work in large team settings. You may work with owners, executive leaders, department managers and staff. Strong teamwork skills are important in coordinating work among these different roles. This requires strong verbal and nonverbal communication abilities.
Consulting skills are important in an advisor role. Different from traditional leadership, consulting requires working directly with the business owner to train and educate them on business practices. Many business advisors aim to improve consulting skills by practising effective communication and focussing on how to provide helpful feedback while collaborating with clients.
Leadership skills are very important for consulting professionals. In addition to leading the business toward success, you need to earn the trust and loyalty of other team members and clients. Strong leadership skills can also help you provide direction to ensure the organisation achieves its goals.
Clients often expect advisors to offer a fresh perspective on an already existing business plan. A sense of creative thinking is useful when working with new businesses or overcoming a business challenge. Try to improve your creativity skills by considering new perspectives and challenging traditional ideas in favour of innovating your own.
Tips for business advisor career advancement
Here are tips that can be helpful in advancing your career and achieving more success:
Build a network
Going to networking events and meeting professionals can help you find potential clients. It's useful to grow your professional contacts to increase career opportunities they may share with you. A network is also a useful source to learn about innovations and news in your industry.
Gain relevant work experience
Before working as an advisor or consultant, it's helpful to gain experience in a business management role. This can help you become more familiar with business operations so that you can better advise your clients. Earning experience in a role before becoming a consultant can also give you more credibility and help you gain the trust of clients.
Maintain current knowledge of the industry
Try to update your knowledge of the industry and business practices regularly. Consider subscribing to business development magazines, attending conferences or taking courses so that your knowledge stays current. Business management and development can be subject to changes because of technology and innovations in the industry.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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