Running a business is so rewarding, but it can also be tremendously stressful and lonely. Business owners get so caught up in the day-to-day of the business that we struggle to see the big picture. We’re not sure why sales have stagnated, why we can’t seem to take a vacation, why we’re still second-guessing every decision, or why things just aren’t progressing as they should.
That’s where getting some outside advice and input makes all the difference. Consultants can help you see what’s going right and what’s going wrong and give you personalized solutions to fix it.
But even once you’ve decided to get some help, there’s still one hurdle to jump: deciding which firm is right for your business. Lucky for you, we’ve done a lot of the research for you.
Here are the top seven boutique Chicago small business consulting firms and the information you need to know to make an informed decision.
Ground Floor Partners
Ground Floor Partners is an all-in-one small business consulting firm in Chicago, helping businesses “fulfill their vision through focused planning, action, and accountability.”
Office location: Chicago Loop
Businesses served: Established small businesses with revenue between $1 million and $10 million, new startups, and nonprofits.
- Strategy Consulting – helping businesses develop a detailed plan for the future
- Management Consulting – finding people to take over many of the managing duties that business owners used to have so that the owner can move into a more strategic role
- Business Plan Consulting – helping clients write a formal business plan
- Marketing Plans – developing and helping to implement a marketing strategy
- Market Research – conducting target market interviews and panels
- Feasibility Studies – determining whether there’s a market for a new product or service
What is it like to work with Ground Floor Partners?
Two core people run Ground Floor Partners, including the founder of the firm. So, working with this firm offers a personalized, small-business-to-small-business experience. All services are customized for your business’ circumstances, rather than applied in a one-size-fits-all way. Ground Floor Partners goes beyond just offering counsel and will assist in actually creating the materials you need to succeed, such as a business plan or procedural manuals.
Midwest Business Consulting
Midwest Business Consulting wants to “bring big-company consulting to the small- and mid-sized business market.” Their goal is to ensure that small businesses have strong and healthy foundations so that they can grow sustainably.
Office location: Bedford Park
Businesses served: Small and medium-sized companies, as well as larger companies that need consulting on a new venture. They primarily work with businesses in the construction, IT and Maintenance/Repair industries but are open to all industries.
- Strategy and Growth – suggesting organizational and management changes and developing a plan for the future
- Operations Management – streamlining accounting and business processes using the six sigma techniques
- Project Management – conducting feasibility studies (and more) for new ventures
- Quality Control – finding opportunities to reduce waste and improve production processes
- Corporate Training – helping companies develop the perfect team and offering prep for the Project Management Professional exam
- Small Business Consulting – writing business plans, analyzing the health of the company, and procuring business licenses.
What is it like to work with Midwest Business Consulting?
This firm is made up of energetic and passionate doers. Their three-person team will do as much as they can to help you see your business with fresh eyes and make the decisions you couldn’t before.
PorteBrown Accountants and Advisors
While PorteBrown offers all the traditional accounting services you’d expect from an accounting firm, they also provide consulting services and technology implementation. This makes this firm a good option for small businesses who are also looking for a new accountant and want to get an accountant and business advisor from the same trusted company.
Office Location: Elk Grove Village
Businesses served: All sizes of companies from all industries, but especially from the construction, grocery, healthcare, manufacturers, non-profits, professional services, and transportation and logistics industries.
Core services (excluding traditional accounting services):
- Managerial Accounting – offering services like cost-cutting analysis and capital budgeting
- Strategy – helping businesses develop and implement a mission statement and business plan
- Technology – implementing software such as Quickbooks or Salesforce, as well as helping to engineer improvements to custom software
What is it like to work with PorteBrown?
PorteBrown is a larger company than many Chicago small business consulting firms are. Its larger size (over 100 employees) means that they may be able to tackle projects that other firms may not be able to, such as serving clients in languages other than English. The company culture is built on positivity. As a bonus, your advisor will meet you at your office, rather than communicating via technology or having you come out to their offices.
Focus HR teaches clients “how to do HR.” They offer to coach and consulting services related to managing your employees and human resources, including training you or an employee to take on HR duties. Focus HR is a great firm to go with if your primary needs revolve around human resources.
Office Location: Barrington
Businesses served: All businesses, but especially those that don’t have in-house HR departments or business owners who need to build an HR department from scratch.
- “Done With You” – hands-on HR training for yourself or an employee
- “Done For You” – completion of an HR project for you, such as an employee handbook or recruitment strategy; or serving as the ongoing, outsourced HR executive for your company
- “Done By You” – courses you can take to learn about how to handle HR in your company (this service is coming soon)
- Helpline 911 – a membership that grants you access to ask Focus HR any questions at any time regarding an HR problem
- People Process Analysis – an analysis of your current HR processes to reveal what you’re doing right and where you should work to improve your human resources
What is it like to work with Focus HR?
Andrea Herran, is the founder of the company, and she is the primary person you’ll interact with. Her passion is people, and it shows in how she treats her clients. She makes a point to be accessible, anticipate the needs of her clients, and share her expertise in an easy-to-understand and engaging way. Herran is bilingual in Spanish, so this firm may be especially ideal for a native Spanish-speaker.
@revenue helps small businesses create systems and strategies for long-term success, with a heavy focus on sales and marketing strategy.
Office location: Horner Park
Businesses served: Small and mid-sized companies, particularly those selling a service rather than a product.
- Sales Coaching – coaching business owners in professional services on how to sell themselves and their services
- Marketing – defining a company’s brand and identity, creating and implementing a marketing strategy, creating an SEO strategy and more
- Leadership Coaching – helping leaders, especially new leaders, make the right decisions for their company
What is it like to work with @revenue?
This firm has a team of nine people, including digital marketers, content creators, copywriters, and graphic designers. Their marketing-focused expertise comes with plenty of in-house implementation of the strategies they create for clients. So, for small businesses that are primarily seeking guidance when it comes to marketing, hiring @revenue is like getting a consulting firm and marketing agency in one.
Launchways is an HR-focused consulting firm that specializes in helping you connect your employee strategy to your company’s long-term goals. Launchways helps you “transform your team into your greatest competitive advantage.”
Office location: West Loop
- Technology Solutions – helping you find and implement the right software for your company’s HR needs
- Payroll Administration – providing complete (beginning with onboarding new hires) payroll management
- Compliance Support – serving as an on-call expert to help you navigate changing state and federal regulations
- Strategic HR Consulting – coaching you how to develop an ideal company culture, train employees and recruit talent
In addition to these core services, Launchways also assists with business insurance and employee benefits.
What is it like to work with Launchways?
Launchways is much more than a place to outsource your human resources duties. The firm pinpoints the problems in your current HR processes, strategizes long-term solutions, and then helps you execute them. You’ll be working with a small team of dedicated professionals who will dive deep with you to figure out what HR problems are holding your company back from succeeding.
Full disclosure: this is our firm! Anchor Advisors is one of the few Chicago small business consulting firms that focuses on helping businesses grow. Our approach is centered around helping business owners develop processes and systems so that the founder, owner, or CEO can leave the day-to-day work behind and spend more time on growth.
Office Location: Oak Park
Businesses served: Established companies with 10-100 employees, in B2B services, especially creative services.
- Purpose – creating a vision for your business and a strategy to reach it
- People – analyzing whether you have the right people in the right positions on your team, as well as finding tools to manage performance
- Process – developing replicable processes for the long-term, so that you can achieve consistent growth
- Performance Measures – pinpointing which data or metrics you should be using to measure success
What is it like to work with Anchor Advisors?
At Anchor Advisors, we help you to grow from $1 million in sales to $5 million in sales. By focusing on one core customer, simplifying your offerings and raising your prices, we help you create a business that can grow without requiring more time and effort from you, the business owner!
Our team of five advisors care about your long-term success and will go above and beyond to help you build a sustainable foundation for growth.
Which Chicago small business consulting firm is right for you?
To choose the firm that’s right for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
Where do I need the most help in my business?
You may need help with managing finances, keeping up with technology, creating and sticking to a plan, choosing the right people to hire, bringing in sales or something else entirely. Whatever the answer, find a consulting firm where they have a demonstrated track record of solving those problems. Look at their case studies and ask about their experience.
What do I value most in my business?
Another way to choose a consulting firm is to determine what you most value when it comes to running your business and then find a firm that has a complementary approach. For example, maybe you value innovation most, so you’ll want to find a firm that also values innovation. Or, it could be that you most value having a business that can practically run on its own. In that case, you should look for a firm that is skilled in helping you, as the owner, take a step back from day-to-day operations.
If you can’t decide which firm is right for you, give two or three a call and explain your situation. The firm will be happy to tell you right away if they’re the best consulting firm for you. And if they’re not, a good consultant will recommend a different firm that is.
Once you find the right consulting partner, we bet you’ll find that it’s the best investment in your business you’ve ever made.