Are you allergic to consultants?

Are you allergic to consultants?

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The symptoms can creep up on you. There’s a sensation that you’re losing control. Perhaps you’re overcome by a feeling of weariness. And maybe your wallet seems mysteriously lighter. The symptoms can come and go, every few years …


Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients that want to achieve and manage growth for their businesses. In most cases, this meant difficult change at some level. But they all managed to go through it and achieve their objectives.

However, all of them loathed the word ‘consultant’.

Why? Well, they had some previous experience with consulting firms that came in and told them what to do. The consultant’s report or presentation was slick and stylish. Then they disappeared, leaving behind a huge bill.

Their recommendations didn’t really work either. But it was easy for the consultants to claim that the execution, not the strategy, was to blame. And therefore, another consulting assignment was needed to fix things!

Does that sounds familiar?

Simply telling small businesses what to do isn’t enough. Neither is coming up with a strategy. You need to be accountable for the execution.

Small businesses don’t require consultants. What they really need are ‘committed experts’.

So how can you identify one? Here are five ways capabilities they will display.

1) They can provide the answers that small businesses need – and put them into effect
Usually, ‘committed experts’ have experience working for major corporations as well as for small businesses. They understand the pressures weighing on business owners and senior decision-makers, whether it’s the daily decisions faced by a small family firm, or a key change to a portfolio of products worth millions of pounds. They know what works and what doesn’t. They put their proposals into action for you.

2) They are multi-skilled. One person is usually enough.
Their skill-set extends across many overlapping areas of business expertise: strategy, marketing, business development, restructuring and funding. Normally, hiring just one person is enough. This means you can make smarter decisions faster, without endless meetings with large groups of people.

3) They are committed
They don’t suddenly appear, make a few general observations and then vanish, leaving you with a large bill. They’re willing to work hand-in-hand with your business at a deeper, employee level. You can trust them. They’re open, honest, knowledgeable, committed and genuinely care about making your company a success. They’ll stay for as long as you need them.

4) When you invest, they’ll help you to get more back
During times of business growth, it’s very easy for companies to waste money on marketing plans, product launches and campaigns that turn out to be flawed. When working for your company, they’ll help you to avoid these approaches and focus only on proven strategies that will deliver the maximum return on investment (ROI).

5) They see the ‘big picture’ and can make success sustainable
Expanding in a profitable way is great news for any company. But it often leads to ‘growing pains’ as the business needs to reshape and re-organise around different objectives, products/services and customers. These experts will enable you to plan ahead, so you can prepare for these extra challenges in advance. This way, you can adapt easily, avoid the pressures of unforeseen consequences and protect the morale of your staff. With their help, you can make your profitability sustainable.

Maybe at this point you’re asking whether these people exist!

They do. But you have to look closely.

For a start, try to spot those who ask questions, rather than giving answers straight away.

That’s a good sign they’re focused on you and solving your problems – rather than making a quick dollar and a fast getaway!


This post was also published as an article on SME Insider and on the Great British Entrepreneurs Award website.

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