Why do I need a Consultant?

“I’ve got this, and believe that we are doing what needs to be done in order to be successful.” These are quickly becoming my favorite business last words, yet I hear them each and every day.

 

 

The Era we live inDeathtoStock_Creative Community3 (800x533)

We live in a new era. We live in the information era. An era where information is at our finger tips at any moment. We live in an era where my 4 year old cannot tie his shoes, but can operate an IPad to find his train videos on YouTube. Information is more available than it has ever been. This is changing the game. The game is changing throughout business, but especially in the mid-sized business sector.

In business it is crucial that we are highly informed of new technology, financial trends, products, customers, employment trends, changes in sales and marketing, and a plethora of other critical areas. The challenge business owners’ face is that without extensive resources both human  and financial it is nearly impossible to keep up with all the information that we need to be successful for the sustainable future.

This is compounded by the fact that our business to business clients and end user customers do not face the same challenges when it comes to reviewing our products. This is no more obvious than in the car industry. For example, 25 years ago when it was time for you to buy a car you would ask friends and family for insight, but in most cases you would go to the lot, new or used, and ask the car sales person for information on the latest model. Those days are long gone. In this day and age the car buyer is armed with more information than we ever thought possible. They know the MSRP, avg. cost by region, car history, every perk, every rebate option, financing options and this same information for 10 equivalent models within a 100 mile radius. This changes the game!
As business owners we must adapt to this or we are bound to die a slow death or in some cases a very quick one. It is crucial that we catch up with the information at our disposal regardless of our business sector. However where a client only has one specific product or dynamic to research we have all them, while still being needed to managing the other components of our companies.

This is where we have to make the hard choices. What areas of business will personal interest and effort produce the greatest reward, and where do leaders need to look to leverage other resources? Never forget that hiring a value-add consultant will almost always cost less than bringing on an employee. So where does the business need to leverage consultants or contractors to allow the business leader the freedom to operate in profit and success generating practices?

Before we can answer this question we must first provide one additional item of clarification. What is the difference between a consultant and a coach? While the truth is we need both if we are going to be extraordinarily successful. The coach is fairly simple to define. The role of a coach is to work on the business leader…not the business itself. While over time discussions may include components of the business the primary focus is to develop and equip the leader to lead the organization through the calms and storms of business. The description of the business consultant is different. The business consultant is plain and simple an expert. This is someone who has taken the time to know the in and out of a segment or variety of segments in your business. This can be in a variety of areas. The big four focus on Finance and Markets, Accounting, Technology, Engineering, and others. While the boutique firms focus on all these fields as well as Training, Organizational Change Management, Project Management, Sales Development, Marketing, and countless other specialty areas. Still other consulting firms will focus on particular areas of organizational maturity or size. For example my firm focuses a variety of specialties in companies in the early to middle stages of growth with revenues under $50 million. For the purpose of this article we will focus on the role of Consultant.
Now we come back to the critical question that business leaders must ask, where does the business need to leverage consultants or contractors to allow the business leader the freedom to operate in profit and success, or culture generating practices? The answer is not as simple as it may appear but you can define the process of discovery through a few simple steps. Before doing so we must recognize that every organization is unique, yet while the solution may vary the process does not. So, here we go. Answer the following questions to uncover what type of consultant will best serve your organization.

Organization Optimization Questionnaire
Step 1: What is the greatest profit, success, or culture generating behavior that you do?
Daily:
Weekly:
Monthly:
Annually:
Step 2: What percentage of my time do I spend on these tasks?
Daily:
Weekly:
Monthly:
Annually:
Step 3: If I am spending less than 70% of my time on the aforementioned tasks, what am I spending my time working on that is preventing me from working on my value adding tasks?
Daily:
Weekly:
Monthly:
Annually:
Step 4: What are the specific tasks in Step 3 that can be completed by a third party (Sales Prospecting, Marketing, Organizational Health Assessments, Change Management, Project Management, Accounting, Succession Planning, Recruiting and Hiring, Employee and Leadership Development, Product review, Quality Assurance, etc.)
Daily:
Weekly:
Monthly:
Annually:

Now that the business leader has clearly defined how they spend their time and specific what actions are pulling them away from priority tasks it is time to capture the list of tasks from step 4 that are eligible for consultant support. The key to this step is to ensure that a quality cost and value assessment is done to ensure that the organization is receiving an equal or greater level of value. Be sure to include in your assessment the value derived from the business leader’s focused time. Based on this evaluation the organization is now prepared to enhance value and save time and money to enhance organizational success.

The greatest challenge in the process listed above is the willingness of the business leader to dig deep inside and evaluate themselves. If a business leader is willing to do this they may just find the profit, success and business culture that can keep up with the changes that are so prevalent in the information era. Dig deep, get intentional, stop doing everything on your own, and you will find what you are looking for in business.

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