The Many Benefits of Hiring a Business Consultant
Author: Compass Operations
Whether you’re just launching a business or you’ve been in operation for years, the many tasks and responsibilities you face every day can quickly become a significant drain on your time, money and energy. You may have a good plan and a solid core of skilled and dedicated professionals on your team, but still find yourself constantly scrambling to keep up with everything that needs your attention. Furthermore, with all the hats you have to wear, there are bound to be tasks for which you lack the knowledge or experience.
Unfortunately, there’s a general reluctance among top management at many American companies to seek the services of an experienced business consultant. That often stems from a fear that it may suggest a lack of control or the requisite skills to successfully run the company. On the contrary, an effective manager understands his or her strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and confidently seeks guidance when doing so is in the best interests of the organization. The best way to do that—hire a professional business advisor to help keep you on track.
Business advisors come in all shapes and sizes—some focus on very specific needs, such as marketing, production or financial management. Others offer comprehensive services, helping you integrate all aspects of your business. Here are some of the benefits of working with an experienced business advisor.
The Company Can Take Advantage of (and Learn) New Skills
Growth and improvement rarely come from staying in the same place and doing the same thing over and over. Innovation and new ideas are the lifeblood of successful companies (when appropriately managed). Business advisors, who typically focus on more general strategies, trends and methodologies, often can offer input into new strategies that have proven effective for other businesses. There are two concrete advantages to this approach:
- Your company will have access to the new methodologies and ideas without the investment in time and dollars that would be required to explore them internally
- Your management can work side-by-side with business consultants, learning the intricacies of the new strategies and methodologies
Your Company Will Benefit from a Different Perspective
It’s a given in life—familiarity often causes people to miss key needs or changes. When you are too close to a problem, you can easily misinterpret or fail to see cause and effect. The longer you spend engaged in a particular process, the harder it can be to objectively assess its effectiveness or efficiency. In addition, if you’ve been integrally involved with establishing or maintaining a process or program, your bias can blind you to issues that can have a long-term impact on the success of your business. An outside business advisor can offer a fresh set of eyes, unbiased by past involvement.
A Business Advisor Can Allow You to Focus on What You Do Well
We all tend to perform at a higher level when we are working within our areas of expertise. With the assistance of an experienced business advisor, you can spend more of your time doing those things that you already know how to do well. You’ll have more confidence and you’ll most likely inspire all of your employees in the process.
You’ll Create a Better Business Plan and Have the Tools to Follow It
An effective business plan is often the difference between the success and failure of an enterprise. But putting together a business plan is not likely to be within your area of expertise. You can probably provide all the relevant data to create a powerful and effective strategy for success, but it’s not what you do for a living. A business consultant will have prepared a number of effective business plans for other companies. Not only can the consultant more efficiently construct the plan and help you implement it, but can monitor your overall progress following and meeting the directives set forth in the plan.
Finding the Right Business Advisor
There are many independent business consultants in practice, so it’s important to take a methodical approach to ensure that the person or company you retain is right for you. Look for someone whose style and approach to business is complementary to yours. Be willing to interview a number of potential candidates, and ask them (and yourself) basic questions.
Confirm with the business consultant both the amount and the type of experience they will bring to your company. Clarify how you will be billed and how much the consultant charges for different types of services. A word of caution—don’t bargain shop for a business consultant—there’s usually a correlation between the cost and the expertise you’ll receive.
After each interview, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the consultant seem genuinely interested in and excited about helping your business?
- Has the consultant helped other businesses like yours? If so, ask for a reference and talk to some of the other businesses.
- How confident are you that the consultant can help you meet your goals?
The Keys to a Successful Relationship with a Business Advisor
If you choose to hire a business advisor, you want to take all the right steps to ensure that you get maximum benefit from the relationship. Here are some suggestions for accomplishing that objective:
- Establish clear expectations at the beginning of your relationship. Be willing to take a few sessions to carefully identify your objectives, as well as the precise functions you expect the consultant to perform. Get it all in writing, if possible.
- Be willing to contact the consultant when necessary. One of the principal goals of hiring a business advisor is to free you to focus on what you do well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—the only bad question is the one you don’t ask.
- Be willing to meet as often as necessary to establish goals, develop and implement programs and processes, and monitor progress.
- Keep your appointments with the business consultant
Help Your Business Move Forward
There are times when nearly every business needs guidance from an outside expert. An independent business advisor can cost-effectively help you make more productive use of your time, money and energy.