Taking your small business to the next level requires hard work, dedication, and the help of experts outside of your immediate organization. Bringing in an outside strategy consultant gives you a fresh set of eyes to help you find the best ways to optimize your company. The following tips can help you get the most out of working with a consultant to grow your business.
Tip #1: Set clear goals
Nebulous and ill-defined goals aren't helpful for you and they can be frustrating for your consultant. The following are examples of poor goals:
"Grow the customer base."
"Cut unnecessary costs."
The following are strong goals:
"Develop a stronger market in the age 18 to 24 demographic."
"See a 10 percent increase in sales and market size by the fourth quarter of the upcoming fiscal year."
"Reduce company overhead by 5 percent while maintaining product quality and employee satisfaction."
The main difference is that the strong goals lay out an exact aim, while the poor goals are overly general and difficult to measure.
Tip #2: Interview several consultants
Each strategy consultant has different strengths. Once you have one or two strong goals to focus on, begin interviewing prospective consultants. You want to find a consultant that excels in working on goals similar to yours. For example, a consultant that is great at cutting down on unnecessary company expenses may not be the best fit if you are trying to develop a new customer base. Look over the consultant's portfolio to pinpoint prior clients that had goals similar to yours and assess how well they achieved these goals with the help of the consultant.
Tip #3: Focus on training
A good consultant should be a temporary position, because if they do their job well you won't need their services on a specific project permanently. Make sure the consultant offers training services so that your permanent staff can be taught to do the work that the consultant has been doing or implementing in your company. You don't want to flounder when the consultant's contract is up and they have moved on to helping a new company.
Tip #4: Know the consultant's values
Finally, the best way to ensure that you get solutions you will be happy with and that will allow for the continued satisfaction of your employees is to pick a consultant with values that reflect those of you and your company. For example, if your company values family and employees, a consultant that values the bottom line over family won't be a good fit. They may advise cutting family leave time to save money, which wouldn't mesh with your company's overall values. When interviewing the consultant, go over your company's mission and values statements to ensure the consultant fully understands what is important overall in the company.
Contact a business strategy consulting firm in your area for more help.