There comes a time in every business where you no longer know enough to continue moving forward. The point where you have exhausted every last ounce of your ability in one or a number of areas. The time when you know that in order to take that next step, you need someone else… a consultant!
A consultant, as defined by the ever reliable Wikipedia, is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise. This stems from the Latin consultare, which means “to discuss” (thus where words such as consul and counsel are derived). The hardest part is often not defining what a consultant’s area of expertise is, however it’s establishing what exactly they are able to ‘discuss’ that will actually benefit you and your business.
Personally I see advantages in a team of consultants or at least a consultant backed by a team. Depth adds to the variety and expanse of the advice and thus is likely to be more broad in its approach yet more focused in its recommendation. Age also plays an important factor. Not just the number of years in an industry – this, at times, leads consultants to be set in their ways or even out of touch with the current trends. I mean variety and breath of age. A good spread of age and socio demographics in a consultants team will garner you much more accurate advice as it is sourced and refined from a larger source.
It’s also important to see the cost of your consultant as an investment in a brains trust. This doesn’t just apply to a marketing consultant. I’m talking about all professional service fields – accountants, solicitors, etc. This investment, given you’ve a) chosen the right consultant and b) you listen to their advice, will give you growth in you business that would never be possible or would take an inordinate amount of time for you to achieve.
Working your consultant is crucial. Factors such as trust, honesty and building a strong relationship are paramount to the success of the consultancy and I know from my own experience that we always produce the best results for the clients when we have such a foundation. This is simply due to the fact that we have more to work with and 9 times out of 10 the implementation of the advice is followed through.
A consultant should be an extension of your business. Like all things, used correctly they can assist in having a massive effect on your business.