Here’s a smooth song to listen to if you’re not in the reading mood right now.
So, you want to hire a consultant, but not sure what you’re looking for? “Experts” seem to be everywhere, and making the choice of the right consultant could mean the difference between taking a big step towards success, or regressing back to where you are.
No need to panic, good consultants that can help do exist, but it takes some homework done on your part before you pick up the phone and start calling everyone. Here are some rules to use when searching for a consultant to assure you make the most informed decision you can for your business.
1.) When looking for a consultant the first thing to decide is whether or not YOU are ready for a consultant.
Take a second to mull that over, and think about what, exactly, it means to let one of these “gurus” into your life. Your business is your life, your creation, and the result of sacrifices, hard work, sweat, and tears. When you hire a consultant, you are opening up your personal life to these people, and you have to make sure you are ready to be COMPLETELY open and honest with them.
Have you ever seen shows like Bar Rescue and Restaurant Impossible where a business owner’s establishment is failing and they call in a consultant to save them? Have you ever looked up what happened to these places afterwards? I have, I’m weird like that, and what I have found is not surprising. The owners that were open, receptive, and honest to the fact that they were doing something wrong and needed to change succeeded. The owners that didn’t allow any changes, or weren’t honest about their place’s performance when it came down to it, didn’t change over time and eventually failed.
Consultations are useful, but if you are not ready to change as a person and owner, then nothing is going to change for your business. Simple as that.
2.) Find your faults.
Most consultant’s have different specialties, and all business owners have different faults. It’s important that, before you hire a consultant, you first take stock of what you are doing wrong.
And, I know what you’re going to say, “I don’t know what I am doing wrong, that’s why I am hiring a consultant.” But really be honest with yourself, you have a pretty good idea what your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner are. The problem you are really having is that you have no idea how to change it.
Write a list down of what successful business are doing, and ways you think your business is losing money. Line these up with the philosophies and strengths of your consultant, and use their skills to better yourself.
3.) Research your potential consultant!
Some key questions to ask yourself about a potential consultant: Why are they a consultant? Have they/do they ran/run a successful business? Do they have real experience, or are they a self-described “guru” that just “knows” the way to run a successful business?
Small side note, if they do describe themselves as a “guru,” run….run away fast.
Many consultants are “consultants” because they have experience as a business owner, but failed. Sometimes, that is a good thing, because it means they have learned from their mistakes, and if their references check out, then it may be helpful to learn from someone who has been there before and recovered.
Often, though, these consultants never learned anything from their failures, and figured becoming a consultant is the easier way to be successful. So, it’s important to make sure any consultant you choose doesn’t just have a nice pedigree (i.e. owned several businesses) but is also doing new and exciting things now. This will help distinguish whether or not they are dedicated to what they do and always learning, but also if they understand the culture of whatever your business is as it pertains in the present.
After all, you wouldn’t invite a bicycle expert to teach you about cars, so make sure your consultant has old, and new, experience in your field.
Finally, always remember how much you care about your business, and that you wouldn’t be looking for a consultant if you didn’t want your business to succeed. Treat the decision of hiring a consultant with respect, and remember to be honest with yourself and your potential consultant. Be ready to jump into the fire and dedicate yourself to getting better, and you will.
Trust in your business, yourself, and your choice of consultant, and prepare yourself for success, not failure.
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