Why and when to hire a business consultant
Why or when to call in a business consultant can be a difficult decision for business owners. What they do know is that it takes a lot, sometimes too much, to stay on top. If we’re brutally honest, we know that you can’t always do it all by yourself. Certain situations call for certain skills. Nobody can be a specialist in everything and in business it’s no different.
Business Consultants are Professionals too
Much as you will call a legal professional to help you with a legal matter, or see a specialist to discuss a medical problem, so business consultants are there to offer you a wide range of specialised services to assist you in dealing with issues pertaining to areas of business for which you lack the time, manpower, specific knowledge or experience.
It can never be too soon.
Just as time is of the essence in dealing with legal and health issues before they become too complex and costly, difficult or risky, so one shouldn’t wait to call in a business consultant when faced with a business challenge or potential opportunity waiting to be explored.
The sooner a consultant can step in to assist, the less costly the intervention and greater the benefit.
Making a difference in good times and bad times.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that business consultants can only help you in time of need. Like going to the doctor for regular check-ups to make sure all is well, so bringing in a consultant from time to time to review your business can prevent bad situations from developing or help spot opportunities early.
Consultants, like other professionals, can offer assistance on a host of business matters. They can bring innovation and new ideas, pre-empt threats and identify opportunities outside and inside the organisation. They can run special projects for which your management team lacks the competence or the time. And of course, companies that do well can always do better. A consultant is the ideal person to make it happen when the organisation is just too busy with its current operations and management can’t be saddled up with more responsibilities.
Breaking the mould.
Sometimes businesses run out of ideas. Doing the same, achieving the same. There’s nothing like a fresh look from an objective outsider to breathe new life into an organisation! In short, the advantages of bringing in a business consultant early are many fold.
It’s about adding Value.
A word on costs. This requires a bit of a mind shift. For all of us. Consulting fees are often frowned upon and seen as additional expenditure. With that view, the key prerogative of calling in a consultant is overlooked. A consultant’s contribution to either growth or curbing losses, increasing productivity or mapping out a new business strategy that ensures a company’s sustainability in the long term, is often immeasurable in value. Business consultants wouldn’t be around for long if they didn’t deliver excellent value for their clients. What value do you put on a specialist’s intervention that makes you healthy again or a good attorney that wins an important case for you? Consulting fees must always be viewed against the value that’s being delivered, not as an additional expense.
Sunk cost or lost opportunity?
Rather, when thinking about calling in a consultant, the cost of lost opportunity or the consequences of not getting professional assistance should be considered. It’s of critical importance that when a client considers hiring a consultant, the expected outcomes from the assignment are clearly stipulated and that the client puts a value against those so that a consulting fee can be put in a proper perspective. It’s not just about the time spent on an assignment that determines the fee. It’s the value the assignment brings to the client. By the way, unlike seeing a doctor or an attorney, most business consultants won’t charge for an initial discussion to see if and how they can help you.
I remember two incidences well that put value versus cost in perspective.
During an assignment which focused on developing a new business strategy it came to light during my due diligence that the client’s contract with his key supplier put him at unacceptable high levels of business risk. Through my intervention a new contract was negotiated and the mid-long term interests of my client were secured. Value? Immeasurable.
Profit opportunity almost missed.
Another client had been in difficult, protracted price negotiations on a very large order with a new client. Although it wasn’t directly part of my assignment, I offered my input. The client allowed me to sit in on a deciding meeting with the client. In just under half an hour I had the client agree to a new price. It improved the profit on the order for my client by 25%. In money terms, it covered my entire assignment fee a hundred times over.
Frank Vos. Passionate about people. Passionate about business.
About the writer:
Frank Vos describes himself as a business, management and people consultant. He firmly believes that if a business’ fundamentals are not in place, no intervention can be successful. He describes these pillars as being You, Your People and Your Organisational Structures. He is currently working on a book called ‘The Enemy Within’ in which he lays bare the destructive power that stress has on these 3 very foundations.