Hiring a business consultant: How to maximize your return
Hiring a business consultant can be a game-changer for your company. But if you don’t have the right mindset, you could waste a lot of time and money—and lose a great opportunity to improve your business.
Rony Israel, a Business Consultant with BDC, has seen a lot of entrepreneurs have a poor experience because they had the wrong frame of mind when they brought in a consultant.
“Entrepreneurs often hire a business consultant when they’re faced with some kind of trouble,” says Israel, who was a successful entrepreneur before joining BDC. “But they aren’t open to the consultant’s advice because they are convinced they already know the solution. They’re just looking for confirmation of what they’re already doing.”
Be open to advice
However, most successful experiences occur when an entrepreneur is able to listen, can accept that the consultant has expertise they don’t and is willing to implement the consultant’s recommendations.
“It’s important to be willing to accept you don’t know everything,” Israel says.
Here are some other tips on how to maximize your ROI from hiring a business consultant.
1. Be open to sharing information
It’s common for entrepreneurs to hold back on sharing key information with a consultant. This may be because of concerns about confidentiality or uncertainty about why a consultant is asking for certain information.
However, consultants need detailed information to discover the root causes of problems facing the company, which are often different from what the entrepreneur believes they are.
“Open communication leads to the most impactful results,” Israel says.
2. Prepare company material
A consultant will need to get up to speed on your business quickly.
That’s why you should take the time to put together an information package that will get your consultant off to a fast start.
This usually includes information on the company’s history, structure, finances, market, value proposition, strategic plan and employee skill sets.
3. Build trust
It can be hard for an entrepreneur to trust an outsider. As a way to build the trust you need to work closely with a consultant, Israel recommends asking him or her for references from previous clients who had issues similar to yours.
You can then speak to other entrepreneurs and get a feeling for how the consultant works. This will help you understand what to expect and feel more comfortable once the mandate begins.
4. Communicate with staff
It’s important for the entrepreneur to communicate with employees to explain why the consultant is being hired. This will help allay their possible worries about how the consultant’s work may affect their jobs.
Employees should also get progress updates and be informed about the consultants’ recommendations and expected benefits of the project. It’s also helpful to ask them to offer assistance to the consultant and to provide feedback on the implementation of recommendations.
“Good communication with staff is very important for buy-in,” Israel says. “If there is no buy-in, the recommendations are likely to be badly implemented or not implemented at all.”