When businesses start to see a decline in sales, productivity, or success in general, they’ll hire a consultant. Since the rise of this trend, many myths and misconceptions have surfaced surrounding consultants and what they actually do. We break down 5 of the most common ones here.
Myth #1 – Consultants Tell You What You Already Know
Clients often face tough problems that they can’t solve on their own. A lot of the work in consultancy comes from gathering data to deliver solutions that are most pertinent to the client. This can take countless hours of listening, with a well-trained ear, and the rewards are well worth it. Insights are often gathered by asking the right questions to multiple people. Often times, a company will be aware of many different problems. However, it may take a consultant to discover that all those issues are just symptoms of the problem. A good Consultant will spot these connections and address the root issue. This quotation from The Muse illustrates it well: “The amount of thinking, passion, and pure work effort can yield some pretty amazing results, and I am constantly amazed at the value my peers provide to their clients”.
Often when people think consultant, they think big money, big organization, and an extravagant expense. However, consultants are a great investment for companies of any size. Startups make great clients because they are seeking a business plan that lasts. Without the ideal plan in place, growth plateaus can happen at any stage, and they cost your business money. So, the sooner you invest in a strategy that works, the sooner you’ll maximize your profit and continue growing. As far as actual costs are concerned, investing in a consultant when needed will more than pay for itself in the long run.
Myth #3 – Consultants Overbill and Under-deliver
How do you make sure you get what you pay for? The first step in working with a consultant is to make sure you both agree on the deliverables that will mark the end of the transaction. If you decide to take the leap, think of it as an investment in your business. A good consultant will set realistic expectations and fair prices for their services. As a business consultant with software expertise, I think it’s a great idea to choose a partner who can leave you with something tangible at the end of your engagement with them. That way, you have a product that will protect the great insight you received, and help it adapt along with today’s progressive technology. According to Harvard Business Review, the significant trend is that managers are seeking more than just expert advice, but also practical help in improving the organization’s future performance.
Myth #4 – Consultants do not stick around after giving advice
Understandably, a business might worry about getting left with no more than broad concepts, power points, and a plan they aren’t confident about executing solo. While it’s a valid concern, that is not the case when a strong consulting company is hired. Chances are, the expert has seen the problems you’re facing many times over, and want to see your company successfully adapt their new approach before moving on. If you keep the consultant on retainer or choose one who specializes in long term engagements, you’ll be able to go back and ask quick questions to ensure you’re right on track with the new strategy.
Myth #5 – You Can’t Trust a Consultant Who Knows More Than You
This is the age-old concern, that managing an expert is tricky business, for the simple fact that they know more than you. You might picture the crooked mechanic who keeps adding additional items to his list of things that need ‘fixing’. The truth is, there will be crooks in any arena. But, just because they exist, doesn’t negate the need for the service in the first place. In the same way that people continue to go back to a good mechanic or dentist, an expert can just as easily be a ‘partner consultant’ who is worthy of trust. How do you recognize this? Look out for signs of altruism. A good technical consultant will share inside information with you, explaining the risks, the costs, and then give you space to make follow up decisions on your own. As technical experts ourselves, we see the advantage of hiring a business consultant with an area of expertise over a more general consultant. That is, technical experts can build a concrete solution and put technical systems in place to make sure the new process will be carried out daily. This is a much stronger deliverable overall than big ideas and power-points. (If you want to learn more about this, check out our article about Quick Base and why companies are choosing custom software to streamline their business tasks.)
Making The Choice That Matters…
So, how do you choose a consultant that is trustworthy and capable of leaving you with concrete solutions? Ask them about their adoption rate or their track record. How do they measure success with a client? There are plenty of consultants whose primary mission is to help businesses grow for the sake of helping. For example, Quandary holds office hours to mentor other Quick Base builders and maintains a reputation as a trusted authority within their space. Find those trustworthy companies, and you’ll be sure to avoid the pitfalls of these consulting myths and misconceptions.
What is your experience with consultants?
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