Trust me, I’m a consultant

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(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

We’ve all had that experience some time or another when a consultant comes into our business and believes that they have all the answers. Worse still, they believe that their way is the only way and the right way. Never mind that they know very little or next to nothing about your business.

Why is the consultant there in the first place? You may be struggling with a certain part of your business such as operations, distribution, marketing or even product development. The consultant may be there by invitation but not always so. They could be fobbed on to you because of your investors or shareholders and for some larger businesses they could be there as part of a business recovery plan.

The problem with most consultants is that they don’t know your particular kind of business and they often have an approach of one size fits all. One would expect that a so-called business consultant would be able to provide you with a range of options but this is often not the case.

The solution to your business problem may be one that doesn’t require something straight off the shelf. It may not fit with your unique needs or circumstances. The poor consultant who pushes a line of thinking, it being the only way they know, does your business a disservice.

The intention of the business consultant needs to be understood. Why are they there in the first place? What is it that they want? Do they want as high a fee as possible without regard to the “solution” that they provide? Are they there with the intention of trying to weasel their way on to your permanent staff? Do they really and truly believe in the best interests of your business?

It’s a difficult call for good consultants when they come into a new business and offer solutions. The business owner or business manager knows little about the consultant and how effective they have been in other businesses. Often what you being presented with is a glossed-over version of their experience. Do you really believe that a consultant is going to tell you about the things they have done wrong and failed at?

The professional business adviser or consultant will come in with a collaborative approach, one based on building the relationship first before offering or specifying the technical business solution. They will have sensitivity to your need to build trust. Trust is not something that can be acquired in a one-hour discussion. It is a human process and needs to grow slowly only after trust is well established, credentials and experience are conveyed in a fact-based manner, can the real business of consulting begin.

I’m not saying stay away from consultants altogether. They have their place at certain times. But be wary. If you are in a position to require advice from a business adviser or consultant, make sure you get advice from more than one consultant. Bad business advice can lead to failure. The more business advisers you are able to see, the more you can manage the risk associated with their advice.

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