When we’re making big decisions in our personal lives—what color to paint the living room, which vacation spot to visit, what breed of dog makes a great pet for kids—we often go to our friends, families, and co-workers for advice. It’s helpful to hear from objective parties and get their opinions. We barely think twice about asking for advice in the private sector. So why, then, do we hesitate to ask for it in our business lives?
No one knows everything about anything, including managing a growing and thriving business. It’s not only smart to hire an outside consultant, but oftentimes it’s actually necessary to help your company become the best version of itself. But when seeking out input from an outside consultant, you want to make sure that they are the right fit for you and your business. Below we offer some tips about how to find the best outside consulting help. After all, a consultant worth their fee will be giving you much more than advice.
Identify Your Needs
Before you reach out to any consultants, first pinpoint what you want success to look like. The consultant should have your final success in mind before even talking next steps. Many times you will have an idea of what success looks like initially, but after assessing the situation, the success barometer may change, but have an initial idea. Ask yourself: what do I really need done? Maybe you’re looking for someone to “fix” a team situation, or you need your team players to be more open to a changing environment, or maybe you just need help pulling together a strategy. Once you’ve figured out what you need, finding a consultant will be easier and more effective.
Find a consultant that is familiar with your desired outcome or industry sector opportunities. The consultants should understand the challenges, opportunities, and pitfalls that face your specific business. Maybe they don’t know your specific company—not yet, anyway!—but should comprehend the intricacies and minutiae of your industry. This experience will be important in the consultant giving you the best insight possible.
The best way to test this out is to call the consultant’s references and see where, how, and what their experience specifically is.
Honesty, Integrity, Communication
The most important thing about choosing a consultant is to make sure they will conduct themselves with honesty and integrity. You don’t want to end up with someone who will put their personal interests ahead of your own. For instance, be wary of “yes” people. These consultants will tell you only what you want to hear. You want to work with someone who will tell you everything they see happening in the day-to-day running of your company: the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. If they’re too concerned with keeping business over effectively doing their job as a consultant, then they are not the right fit for you.
It’s cheesy, but consultants are brought in to consult. You want someone articulate, someone who can communicate clearly and professionally both in speaking and writing. But even more pressing is their ability to listen to you, your needs, and your expectations in regards to their consultation.
As with testing out a consultant’s experience, the most straightforward way to get a glimpse of their honesty, integrity, and communication skills is to contact their references and see how their consulting work has been conducted in the past. If you work with a consulting firm, they will have vetted all consultants for you. If you decide on an independent consultant, it will take a little more leg work on your part, but it might save you money in the end.
Looking to get started on an outside point of view of your business? We can guide and support you and your team! Leadership Delta has the experience and integrity to help you put your best foot forward this March. Contact us today!