What do you look for when selecting a business consultant?

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The Need for a Business Consultant

In our complex, ambiguous and fast changing world there is a greater need to rely on outside assistance to help you make informed decisions. You need people who you can rely on and who have got the experience and knowledge that you haven’t.  This is where an experienced business consultant can be an invaluable part of the team. This article draws out the aspects you need to think about when selecting a business consultant.

What to Look For

  • Good Fit. You need to be able to trust your business consultant. They need to be able to see inside you and understand where you are coming from. In business there are many ways of achieving the same result and you need your business consultant to understand how you operate so that any coaching or advice is tailored to the way you work. The consultant must also feel comfortable with presenting the brutal facts to you as, quite often, no one else will. That is what you hire them to do.
  • Extensive Knowledge: Running a business is a complex affair and there is now a lot of sound knowledge out there which can help you resolve the challenges you face. A lot of clever people have researched what successful companies have done and the way they work and there is huge range of knowledge that if applied to your business can help you become more successful.
  • Solid Experience: You need to be working with somebody who has been there and got the t-shirt. Simply having the academic background is not enough. You need to have been there and done it. Work with somebody who has worked with a number of businesses, not necessarily in the same sector, although this can help. Sometimes ideas from other sectors can be applied to yours for competitive advantage.
  • Large Network: One of the benefits of working with a business consultant is that you can tap into their network both for potential customers but also potential suppliers in order to resolve specific problems such as HR, management systems, digital marketing etc. The network ideally needs to be both physical through personal working relationships and virtual such as on LinkedIn.
  • Creative Problem Solving: Having worked with over 300 businesses one of the key abilities that an outside business consultant can bring to the party is the ability to work with you to problem solve. During my MBA with the Open University one of the best modules I completed was on Creative Management. It is to this day, the learning from that module that I use the most when working with companies.
  • Social Proof: With large networks like LinkedIn it is very easy to see the social proof that your selected business consultant has developed excellent working relationships with previous customers and delivered a great service.
  • Great Communication Skills: A good consultant should be articulate. He or she should possess strong communication skills, both orally and written. Communication is a two-way street and so the ability to actively listen to your issues and problems is an absolute necessity.
  • Excellent Interpersonal Skills: Your business consultant will need to have a good level of emotional intelligence. They should be able to stay calm even if you are stressed, angry or impatient. They should be able to allow you to talk about difficult issues without getting emotionally involved. They must be able to empathise with you without getting in the hole with you!
  • Easy to Use Business Tools: With so many easy to use and apply business tools around to help you make sense of the world around you, your business consultant should be able to draw on them and help you apply them to your business. Ask them to talk you through which tools they feel would be applicable to your business.
  • Transfer of Knowledge & Skills: Sometimes you need a business consultant to do the job for you and that’s okay. However, rather than keep paying them, sometimes it is better for them to transfer their knowledge and skills to you or a member of your team. Look for flexibility in who you choose so that if you need a skill within in your team they should be able to develop your team in what needs to be done.

If you would like to chat to a business consultant then go to contact us for more information.