Why business owners hire consultants; some practical thoughts to consider

Dave Cottrell - Friday, September 30, 2011

A business owner’s best asset is to keep focused on what has made their businesses successful.  However, there are a multitude of other business issues that can prove distracting or very stressful to an owner’s mission; that is where the value of a consultant comes into play.

A good consultant should have acted any initial communications and done their homework in advance of any major discussions with you, and during the initial process, they ask numerous questions and consider all possibilities, including what is important to you personally and your business as well as considering the business climate in your industry and locale.  They should also disclose any relationships with vendors that they might recommend to you for services, especially if they might receive any type of referral compensation.

Sometimes bringing in someone completely independent of who you have used in the past brings surprising results as they are not tied to tradition of always having done it a certain way and offer a fresh perspective that has not been considered.

Any consultant should be looked at as a trusted advisor; they should have your interests as their key focus.  They should respect your decisions, even though your decisions might differ from their recommendations.  Age doesn’t matter, choose the consultant with the wisdom, but still has the timeless and open mind, without the ego, to continuously reconsider choices and opportunities to explore and recommend to you.  Experience is great, but the ability to tailor it to your specific needs along with potentially adding something new and innovative to respond to a fast changing business climate is paramount.

Their recommendations to you are just that; question presentations from those who present their findings as “if I were you” or “you should do this.”  It is your business, and if you feel uncomfortable with what has been presented, it is the consultant’s responsibility to further educate or suggest alternatives.  If your decision does not work out well, a good consultant simply resumes where they left off, without any “I told you so” attitude.  This situation is particularly critical, as it provides a good opportunity for positive dialogue to understand what went wrong and how best the next move can be executed.

Lastly, a valuable consultant is priced accordingly.  Just like you, they want to offer a service at a fair price, so negotiating the best possible or lowest price, just may set the bar accordingly.  Commit the time to their services and timeline to achieve the best possible result. 

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