Adding Value as a Consultant in a Smooth Running Business
Every business is run and managed by successful and action oriented leaders. Business leaders manage and handle many diverse market pulls and pressures that are unpredictable. Using their acumen, they run and grow their businesses. Against such a backdrop, how can they benefit by hiring an outside consultant or what value can a consultant add on a regular basis is a matter of question.
To understand this, both the business owner and the consultant are required to understand how they complement each other in their roles. They should know in what ways their combination can bring about successful and lucrative business strategies. In this combination, one is a planner, thinker and a visualizer, while the other is a doer and a decision maker. The latter is practical and is more responsible & capable to implement the decisions.
The role of a business owner and a consultant is like role of a king and an adviser. The business leader is a king and the consultant is an adviser and a moral guru. The latter is to guide and update the king of the various options, consequences and possible solutions that can be implemented to grow the business. It helps overcome the problems that the business is facing.
To discharge his roles and add value to an organization on a continuous basis the consultant should follow these steps:
1. Flexible, Agile and Accommodative Approach:
With the emergence of new business ecosystems, it is sensible to use agile approaches that can be easily adapted according to the changing environment. A Consultant should never be rigid in implementing a solution and he should leave that decision to the business leader. The consultant should try being an adviser and not a decision maker. He should always be open to changes and iterations.
A good consultant always supports the arguments with facts and figures and he leaves it at that, not arguing further with the business leader. Business leaders too prefer to work with consultants who have a flexible and accommodative approach responsive to changing business patterns. It helps to build a good rapport with the business leader and guarantees a long-term and regular hiring.
2. Always have more than one Road to Success:
A consultant should always have multiple solutions to the given problem. He should analyze all the feasible steps that a business can take and calculate the possible consequences of each step to be taken. The consultant is advised to have backup plans such as Plan B & Plan C, etc. He should be prepared to implement these plans in case his primary plan fails.
The consultant should be willing to support the business leader even if the business leader disagrees with his approach. He should neither confront nor give up, but look for other possible alternatives to benefit the business leader.
3. Use the knowledge in a Positive Way:
Consultants always get hired for their specialized knowledge and experience. But sometimes, due to difference of opinions, their knowledge may act as an obstacle. It can be the reason of conflict between the consultant and business leader. In such cases, the consultant is advised to be diligent and use his knowledge in a positive way.
When there is disagreement on some decision, the consultant should not be rigid and stick to his opinions. Even if the business leader is wrong in his judgement, the consultant is advised to remain calm and make it clear to the business leader. The Consultant should use his academic knowledge, experience and continuous learning in a suitable way to the current situation and task at hand.
4. Be a Friend in Need:
There are instances when a business incurs losses due to the wrong decisions. In such circumstances, instead of getting into arguments with the business owner, the consultant should help him recover and minimize the losses. He should not forget that he is in to help the business owner and not argue about who is right or what is right.
He should not be negative and try to dissociate himself with the actions taken. He should instead share the responsibility and advice quick steps to recover from losses to bring the business back on track. Nothing helps better in building the trust as admitting mistakes, sharing the responsibility and lending a helping hand in need.
5. Don’t corner the Cat too Much:
Be firm and respectful and at the same time prepare the business leader to be informed and not take hasty and risky decision in the future. This is a task which will require the consultant to use all his experience and knowledge. There is never one way of achieving this as every case is different and unique. So, the consultant should not corner the client too much. He should always remember that a cat pushed beyond a point, only pounces back on the attacker.
The consultant should be a humble adviser and gain the trust of business owners through his actions. He should be open to see value in the business owner’s existing business model while seeking to modernize and streamline the operations. A cooperative approach is required to be followed in these cases.
6. Regular and Proper Communication:
Once a consultant has been associated with a business and an assignment is finished, he should always try to agree on a long-term retainership for a small budget and limited role. Regular communications from consultant will always be welcomed by the business leaders. Every business leader will look forward to useful tips and advice from a consultant, provided it is not expensive, non-intrusive, useful and without any long term liability.
Keeping in touch with the business owners and lending a good ear to their problems will help the consultant be a long-term trusted adviser to them. Thus, maintaining regular communication with the clients is recommended for consultants.
Long term Regular Hires will be Possible
Selling Services to clients who are rigid and are ready to argue can prove to be difficult. Especially if the clients are not well aware of the evolution in the industry. The best way for a consultant is to be humble and be open to a business owner’s opinions and doubts.
By following the above principles you can always land up long-term hires and good client relationship. It helps to maintain the integrity and sanctity of your role as a consultant in the business world. I am sure every consultant would like to have long term accounts. This will let them spend required time in learning and updating their knowledge. They will be learning or advising and not have to spend more time in looking for new clients.