The best consultant for your business is like your trusty steed.
Many successful business leaders aren’t willing to ask for outside help when they most need it. When you’re ready to do so, select your consultant as you might select your horse before riding into battle. With a trusted partner that you can count on, you can take your business to the next level.
Long term sustainable business growth often occurs in phases. You may find that your growth has plateaued, and that you can’t seem to gain traction in advancing your growth to the next level. So now might just be the time to seek out the counsel of others who have led and participated in the growth of businesses in other markets. Best practices in business are often very transferable, and an experienced consultant could bring valuable insight into your business. But how do you choose one that is right for your situation? These five simple guidelines can be very useful:
1. Integrity and trust
First and foremost, an effective consultant is somebody you can trust implicitly. You must feel that he or she is telling you like it is, and that they are willing to put the best interest of your needs first. You need to believe that their goals are consistent with your own.
For example, your best consultant will always be willing to tell you the things that you need to hear, even when it means that they might not be awarded your business. A great consultant cares first about achieving YOUR success.
2. Relevant experience
A great consultant should be experienced in overcoming the types of challenges that you and your company face. He or she may not know your specific company or industry from the outset, but a great consultant will work with you and your team in a way that YOUR experts can fill in the blanks specific to your business.
A great consultant brings the experience of solving the types of challenges your business faces; often with the benefit of best-practices transferable from other industries to help you to differentiate yourself against your competition.
3. Creative problem-solving skills
Your best consultants will collaborate with you and your team to first understand, and then analyze, diagnose, and prioritize your business challenges. After which, he or she will drive the development and implementation of active solutions to your business problems.
If you have the wisdom and confidence to seek outside council, then certainly you will want such council to be someone who will help you solve problems and/or take advantage of opportunities, right?
Marvin Bower, the patriarch of McKinsey & Company, essentially founded the management consulting industry and in the process grew the firm from a tiny enterprise into what is today the global leader in the industry.
Bower summarized the traits of an outstanding consultant below.
“Mental equipment – the successful consultant has outstanding analytical skill and the ability to synthesize his thoughts readily in reaching conclusions,” Bower wrote. “He is a quick and effective learner – imaginative and creative.”
When choosing your consultant, make sure to hire one with a problem-solving mindset.
4. A Winning mentality
A great consultant wants to win. He or she will understand your challenges, and will work with you to achieve quantifiable results. This requires a tireless and persistent commitment to driving your solutions through to completion. Your best consultant will put results front and center, and will focus on achieving them.
As the leader of your business, your decisions will always take precedent, but your best consultant will also be tactful and strong enough to inspire you to think differently in order to help to create unique competitive advantage for your organization.
5. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
No matter how smart a consultant is, you and your team will always be the experts of your business. Your best consultant will seek first to fully understand your business and the challenges you face before offering solutions. This requires a consultant with an open mind and open ears, as well as one who is trusted by you and your team. That trust will facilitate the open and candid flow of important information.
Your best consultant will be successful in helping your company by first building a trust-based relationship through open and candid communication. Without this trust and open candor, your consultant will be hindered in his or her effort to help your business. Chose your consultant in a way that ensures you can develop this kind of professional relationship.
The right consultant can create huge value for your business. Following these five guidelines will help ensure that you engage the right firm or individual.