Recent developments in the consulting industry show an evident transition from traditional consulting, primarily designed to help organisations improve through problem identification, action planning and advice to a more hands-on approach, where management consultants are multi-skilled doers and are seen as an integral part of the business.
As this transition takes place, the business services offered by consulting firms are also re-evaluated to reflect the clients’ needs and wants. Small businesses in particular can only benefit from this, as access to expertise, specialised skills and business support becomes more available and affordable.
There are obvious reasons why companies have and continue to use management consultants. These include the unbiased and objective perspective they bring, the invaluable expertise and industry insight or employee training and development purposes. However, lately, a few traits businesses look for in a consultant have become more and more important.
In our vision, this is what a management consultant should be for you and your business:
1. The one contact point for all your business needs
Anyone who juggles between all these is admirable but at the same time it is not realistic for one single individual to successfully achieve objectives throughout all various aspects of the business. Thus, business owners end up wasting a lot of time working out what running a business fully entails, from legal implications to day to day operations, instead of focusing on their vision for the business.
2. Available when needed
A business professional will not allocate a day a month of their schedule for your business. It’s impractical, non-committal and frankly, once they’re gone, you’re probably still left doing all the work. Instead, they are within reach whenever there is a need for them. Whether you need 5 minutes of their time or need them to help you land you that big contract you want.
Being able to share details of your business and your vision with your consultant is not something to be taken for granted. It requires you building a relationship with them, where compatibility and trust play a major role. If they’re missing, you will not get the best results out of the collaboration.
4. Cost effective and practical
More often than not, to remove an obstacle that your business has come across, you need to rethink, reorganise or increase your resources to allow for a positive change. In such cases, it almost feels very easy for someone outside of your organisation to offer solutions to your problems without fully analysing what you would potentially be sacrificing to implement them. There is indeed a myth that engaging professionals to help with the workload is expensive and pointless, however when you collaborate with a company whose vision is to be a partner for your business, it is your business that becomes the priority.
5. Willing and able to introduce you to new opportunities
A good consultant has a broad network of contacts and knowledge that translates across a range of industries. They are able to open doors for you and introduce you to opportunities which would otherwise remain unexplored.
6. Able to supplement your workforce
Start-ups and small businesses generally work on very limited budgets, which leaves little financial room for additional resources, like hiring more permanent staff. When your business needs short-term cover for different positions, your management consultant should be able to either fill in the role or at least point you in the right direction.
7. Committed to understanding your business and passionate about its success
If you’re going to make the decision of engaging a consultant, you will want to work with someone who knows where your business should be heading, knows how to get it there and is determined to do so.
If you’re flirting with the idea of getting some extra help for your business, make sure you do your due diligence and choose the right consultant.