Now that you have realized the importance of business consulting to your business, you need to know how to work with consultants. There are business experts offering various lines of consultancy services ranging from financing to mergers and acquisitions. When you are adept in identifying existing business problems, you will be better placed to find the best consultant to help you solve your business problems. Identifying the right consultant to work with will enable you save time and money. The following are some of the steps you may take in identifying and working with business consulting services:
1. Establish your business need
Before you engage the help of a consultant or seek business consulting services, you need to identify your business problem. You need to know whether it is a strategic need you are trying to address or are seeking industry expertise. This is the first step you should take before you seek the help of any consultant. The problem has to be very specific and you should be able to define it properly. Business problems are broad-based and may range from trying to find new markets, achieving growth, mergers and acquisitions, identifying opportunities among others.
2. Assess the stage of the business:-
Is your business a start-up, an already existing business or are you folding your company? If you are merging two or more companies or trying to bring in new funding to your business, the level and stage of growth of business has to be very clear before you take up business consultancy services. Most consultants will establish this before they sign up a contract with you.
3. Get a Contract
This contract will enable you define the kind of business relationship you and your consultant will have. It will stipulate the role of the consultant, his scope of work, the date of execution, the specific business problem they will tackle and their remuneration. A contract will protect you from exploitation and will describe the consultant’s work in general and specific terms so that there is no ambiguity as to their role. If the consultant you are working with does not have a contract, get help from an advocate or lawyer to draft one for you.
4. Ask for References
Just as there are many consultants as there are industries and businesses in the business world, it is important for you to get testimonials and references before you hire a consultant. If you need an insurance consultant for example, ask for references from trade associations, your local chamber of commerce and industry and other authorities which have this information. Marketing associations are useful in that they have a list of consultants in their database and this information can be accessed at no cost. These references will enable you make the right decision in as far a selecting the right consultant is concerned.
5. Track Record:-
It makes good economic sense to hire a consultant with a track record. You will be comfortable knowing that the services you are paying for are being executed by a tried and tested professional. The track record of a consultant is a guarantee of their expertise and it will be very necessary to look into this. The track record should include a list of clients they have served in the past and testimonials to that effect.
6. Necessary Certification
Certain aspects of consulting require the necessary qualifications to match the skill set of the consultant. For those requiring business consulting services, it is important to get the resume of the consultants to establish whether they are properly certified. You wouldn’t want to deal with someone who is not an expert in their area of expertise, right?
7. Establish the Length of your project
The success of any business consultancy service is measured against time. A good consultant will work within the framework of the time set for them and will try to achieve above the minimum objectives set for them. Try to set achievable timelines within your consultancy agreements.
Reporting goes hand in hand with time. Periodic reporting will enable you to assess whether the goals are being met and the necessary adjustments that are to be made. Projects that take longer need to be reviewed frequently and the modalities of reporting should be established between you and your consultant.
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It is important to note that various industries have various approaches to consultancy. Taken note of the industry you are in. if you are in the financial services industry for example, your approach to a consultant will be different from that of a person in the manufacturing industry.
Before you choose a consulting service, it is important to look at some of the approaches to consulting:
- Assess the Strategic capabilities of consulting companies – This will enable you realize how you can match the business consultancy services with your goals. Strategic capabilities will give you a long-term picture of what your working relationship with a consultant will be.
- Understand the Industry Expertise of the Consultant – A consulting firm that is not within your industry and does not have the necessary expertise may not offer you satisfactory services to match your business needs. Establishing this from the onset will be of great advantage to you.
- Get a Profile of the Consulting Company – The company profile will enable you to see the business approach the consulting firm has on solving problems. You need this information in order to make an informed decision before you take up business consulting services.
Once you establish the best consultant to work with, you will have a fruitful business relationship. Consultancy fees are typically high but the results of a good business relationship with a consultant arising from a job well done far outweighs the cost.
Work well with a consultant who understands your industry well and is able to deliver on your timelines. Once you do this, you will not only create a good business relationship with your consultant but will grow your business in leaps and bounds.