Terri Martin – Flying SoloCEO and Founder, The Business Bunch
6 ways to tell if a consultant will add value to your business.
In times of economic uncertainty, business leaders often turn externally to get impartial advice on the best way to navigate forward. Consultants provide an excellent way of evaluating your business from an external point of view and then mapping out the best way forward based on their experience. They can do this without any emotional or historical bias, which is especially important when business leaders are stuck or perplexed about where to go next, writes Terri Martin, CEO and founder The Business Bunch.
But not all consultants are built the same, and there’s important criteria you need to consider when working out the best type of consultant for your business needs.
Here’s my six top tips of the key criteria you need to consider when engaging a consultant:
Not just experience working with clients like you – have they actually done a job like yours? Have they been a CEO or a GM? If they’ve been in shoes just like yours and been a business leader themselves, they’ll know that running a business is incredibly challenging and that even the best laid plans can go awry when it comes to implementing.
Staff, technology, communication and even processes can mean the difference between whether you can introduce new ways of working into an organisation or not. Only someone who has been a leader will know this and be considerate of recommending the right way forward given all you need to implement to actually drive action.
2. Do the doing
Everyone has ideas and it’s wonderful to hear them, but business leaders like you are time poor and unless you get help with implementation as well, you’re just adding to your to-do list.
Ensure your consultant can action ideas they recommend to make an impact and move your business forward without overburdening you.
Consultants can be expensive; you’re paying for senior experience and that comes at a price.
Ensure you research other models that could give you access to experts in more affordable ways. If your consultant can’t provide costs that suit your budget, ask if they know anyone that can.
Is your consultant willing to open up their black book and introduce you to people in their network who can help your business? For no fee? If they’re not, you might want to think about whether they’re really invested in helping you, or just want to make a sale.
5. Industry experience
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a consultant needs years of experience in your particular industry. Often those with experience in other industries can highlight innovative approaches that drive change and allow you to see things from a new perspective. They will also be keen to unpack your industry quickly and will have no biases.
Industry experience is important, but sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, and other industries can provide fantastic insight into ways forward.
6. Risk free
Talk to your consultant about their continuity options. If you don’t like your consultant or if something happens to them, do they have risk free models and guarantees that ensure business continuity if something was to happen to the consultant? If not, you may need to explore other options to ensure your business is free from risk.
Whether your business is thriving and you need help to scale, or your business is barely surviving and you need support to overcome challenges, getting external help can make all difference to how your business moves forward.
There’s no doubt that investment in consultants is valuable, but not all consultants are built the same, and there are new, innovative and more affordable models out there specifically targeting SME business leaders to empower them to help their business.
Hiring and onboarding the right consultant for your business means this investment provides the greatest ROI.