Hiring an external consultant to seek assistance for your business, or aspiring to become a management consultant, can both be really daunting tasks. Especially if you aren’t an industry veteran with over 25 years experience, or unless you have been working with a consulting firm, and are ready to bail, taking a few clients with you.
This post attempts to address a few of the concerns and inhibitions of business owners who might consider hiring a consultant to help boost their business growth, or for those who are seriously considering to make a profession out of offering management consulting services to businesses.
This post was recently created for submitting as a resource to MosaicHub, in response to their call to members for ‘the Top 5 things businesses need to know about your area of expertise’.
While they are based to a large extent on the A-Team’s experience and focus, it will also provide a certain insight into consulting in general.
To begin with, here’s a thought: The purpose of consulting, is not consulting, but the client.
1. Never does a one-size fit all – while industries, products or services and even markets may be identical, the A-Team’s solutions to client problems are built factoring even less conspicuous factors like promoter aspirations or management vision for a business. Thus, no two solutions to seemingly identical business problems are exactly the same. So don’t take a recommendation that your consultant might try to sell to you if it contradicts with the overall values or general direction of your business, or doesn’t sound like it is in the best interest of your company
2. No silver bullets here – you’ve heard of ‘easy come, easy go?’ We at the A-Team strongly believe that is exactly how quick-fix solutions are. While we might be able to quickly patch up urgent problems with a tactical outlook, our strategies are essentially designed for mid-to-long term growth of our client’s business, which is akin to laying a strong foundation before a huge building comes up. Only strong foundations make for lasting results. If consultants promise you magic potions, you’ll know something’s amiss
3. Who wants ridiculously expensive ‘paperweight’ reports – We have heard numerous stories of larger companies spending fortunes on consulting assignments, only to be left with a painstakingly prepared attractive report, albeit one that no one at the company can make sense of. The A-Team, since inception, decided to stay away from merely fancy reports and focus on simple, effective and implementable strategies. We ensure that all our strategies are broken into logical, step-by-step tasks that are easy to understand and implement by the respective persons or teams at our clients’ company. Our retainer-based engagement model allows for our close association with businesses during implementation of our solutions. Do remember to ask your consulting firm ‘how easily implementable will your solution be?’ at the initial negotiation stage itself, as well as approximate timelines for implementation [if implementation is part of their assignment] after the overall strategies have been drawn up.
4. Grey haired scholars are a lot, but not everything – The bigger consulting firms normally look at recruiting fresh graduates or postgraduates and train them on the job. And respected consultants advising large businesses are people who have spent decades seeing cyclical patterns of those industries. With Small & Medium Businesses, where the A-Team focuses, problems aren’t quite similar. Cyclical industry cycles apart, SMBs deal with smaller but way more critical problems than MNCs do. And unlike MNCs, where efforts and effects can take long to show, it’s do-or-die several times a month for younger businesses. Nimble, new, and creative are the type of solutions that SMBs need, and therefore, given the need for freshness and new perspective, old and experienced advisors may not always be the best bet
5. Stop at nothing – this one’s for aspiring consultants, nothing should stop you from becoming a consultant, if you have all of these – a logical and analytical mindset, and a transparent, ethical and unquestionable intention to do all you possibly can to add value in one or more areas at your client’s company. Shrutin had interviewed with some tier II consulting firms a few years ago, and while he cracked all their case study rounds, and was even admired by a few for his analytical skills, he was found wanting in areas of concise and crisp oral communication as was apparently a minimum criteria for the average consultant [go figure!] The learning for you is, if you can solve business problems logically and analytically, and have the noblest of intentions for your clients, nothing in the world should stop you from realizing your consulting dream. And this comes from someone who, 19 months down, has a few grey hairs of his own, to ‘show’ some distance run.
If you believe you are building a great company, do get in touch with us, we would love to be of any assistance we possibly can, in areas of Growth Strategies, Customer Delight Strategies, and Ideation.
And if you are an individual intending to start her or his own consulting service, drop us an email if you’d like to have a chat about our experience so far.