Understandably, many companies struggle with the decision of whether or not to hire a consultant. Senior management often may feel that such a decision would indicate their own inadequacy in running the company and may be threatened by a consultant’s expertise. However, this is obviously a counterproductive perspective to have for any business looking to grow. The following five reasons illustrate why consultants are often a necessary tool for taking businesses of any size to the next level.
Especially true for small to mid-size companies, owners and senior management normally have invested significant time, energy, and resources into their companies. No wonder it’s so common to hear business owners refer to their businesses as their “babies.” Due to bias or simply being too close to the issues to see clearly, companies can easily become blind to problems that are often right in front of their noses. Consultants, having fresh eyes, can often spot the true issues holding companies back relatively quickly.
Furthermore, family-held businesses often suffer from their relationship dynamics such that it can be difficult for the family members themselves to speak openly and honestly about problems dragging the company down. Maybe one family member’s poor performance is being detrimental, or maybe an inter-familial power struggle is causing the company to lack a unified strategy. A neutral and objective consultant will be able to speak openly about these problems without fear of reprisals.
Employees are established performers within their own job descriptions. However, it can be difficult to get employees to implement short-term goals when it involves utilizing other skill sets. Employees that normally perform specific tasks may get annoyed at having additional duties or may simply be unfit and too inexperienced for the task. Bringing in an experienced consultant and the resources available to him or her often ends up saving the substantial time and money that would be involved in retraining employees, organizing and prioritizing their schedules, and executing the strategy.
A major part of every consultant’s job is to keep up with current business trends, strategies, and methodologies. When these skills are used, it’s normal for company leaders to require an in-depth explanation of these methodologies and how the consultant used them to reach his or her conclusions.
This is more than just simple vetting of business ideas, though; it is an opportunity for company leaders to learn these skills themselves.
This means that company leaders can often learn new skills from the consultant that they can carry forward to benefit their company long after the consultant departs.
Any consultant hired needs to have experience and understanding of the surrounding marketplace in which the company operates. Because the consultant usually has spent time with similar companies (that may or may not be competitors), the consultant should have a solid perspective of what other companies are doing and what it will take to outperform the others. For instance, the consultant could easily point out that a business isn’t utilizing a popular customer communication system that is allowing similar businesses to cut costs in this area.
Let’s face it, it can be hard for managers to find the extra time needed to develop effective plans and execution strategies on top of their host of other duties. Taking this time can often feel like a luxury the company can’t afford, especially during the early stages of planning a project that might not even occur. Sadly, many potentially valuable projects and ideas never get traction merely for lack of time. However, when it’s a consultant’s job to devote all of his or her time towards weighing the different options and presenting research and data on the various costs and benefits, managers will be able to concentrate on what they do best and at the same time the consultant can set up the company to tackle its goals.