Business consultants are known for their specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise in helping other businesses become more successful.  In fact, this is what makes them able to solve unknown problems.  But, do business consultants have knowledge of every industry?

Let’s assume, for a moment, that they do.

Is that really all there is to it?  What about the quality of that knowledge?  How does one assess and compare the robustness of a business consultant’s knowledge from one industry to the next?  Does basic knowledge actually count as knowledge for a business consultant?

Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Do Business Consultants Have Knowledge of Every Industry?

Although it’s highly unlikely, it is nonetheless possible for a business consultant to have knowledge of every industry.  But, that diverse knowledge would be mediocre at best.  There simply isn’t enough time in a lifetime to learn enough about each and every industry.  And frankly, that’s not the kind of knowledge that we’re talking about.

According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, that knowledge may be referred to as remembering or understanding.

The kind of knowledge that makes a business consultant unique and sought after, however, is expert knowledge.  This is otherwise known as analysis, evaluation, and creation.  And, this is the kind of knowledge that is most valuable.

Naturally, as a higher level of knowledge is developed for one industry, it takes more time and effort away from studying others.  As a result, it is not possible for anyone, let alone a business consultant, to have true knowledge of every industry.

Must Have Knowledge of Target Industries

It is perfectly normal and okay for a business consultant to not have knowledge of every industry.  Yet, there is something they must have.

Business consultants must have knowledge of target industries.  Target industries are simply industries in which a business consultant desires to practice.  For instance, a business consultant may want to use their knowledge to help retail businesses become more successful.  In this case, they must have expert knowledge of the retail industry.

Business consultants don’t just wake up one day and decide to pick an industry out of a hat.  More often than not, they develop skills and a passion for a few particular industries over time that eventually lead to their becoming a consultant in those spaces.

By this time, they have years of experience and knowledge in that industry under their belt.  However, this doesn’t mean that they can never venture into other industries.  Of course they can, as long as they put in the necessary time and work to become adequately knowledgeable.

Subindustries Matter, but Not as Much

While it’s absolutely crucial for business consultants to have exceptional knowledge of their target industries, it’s different for subindustries.

A subindustry is a smaller and narrower sector of its parent industry.  Continuing with our example from above, clothing stores are a subindustry of the retail industry.

This is where the difference between basic and expert knowledge plays a part.  If a business consultant has only basic industry knowledge, they aren’t going to be able to apply that knowledge to all of the subindustries within it.  On the other hand, if they have the industry knowledge that allows them to analyze, evaluate, and create, then they’ll be able to transfer that knowledge from one subindustry to the next.

Hence, it isn’t necessary for a business consultant to have knowledge of every subindustry within their target industry because the concepts of one subindustry are often applicable to others.  A business consultant that has expert knowledge of the retail industry may be able to help not only clothing stores, but also home furnishing stores, drug stores, discount stores, and even auto retailers.

Creative Input from Other Industries

Having knowledge of multiple target industries, as opposed to just one, is often more favorable and beneficial for a business consultant.  This expands their network and provides them with different perspectives on each of their individual target industries.  Consequentially, they’re able to make connections and generate creative input from other industries.

Business owners are known for getting so engulfed in their own business that they cannot view it objectively.  In fact, that’s one of the primary benefits of having a business consultant.

However, business consultants can find themselves with their heads down in their own target industries, too.  Helping business after business in the same industry or subindustry can make them susceptible to becoming narrow-minded or less creative.

When a business consultant has knowledge of multiple industries, not only are they able to generate creative ideas, but they’re able to keep things fresh and draw from a whole pool of unique experiences.  For instance, a business consultant may find high potential in using a clothing store’s marketing strategy for one of its auto retailer clients.

Whatever the case, a business consultant’s knowledge and experience directly affect their success.  That’s why they need to be researching and educating themselves each and every day.  Remember that it’s not just the breadth of knowledge that’s going to propel a business consultant forward.  What’s important is the quality of the knowledge itself.

For performance-based business consulting, contact The Business Turnaround Group.

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