Choosing the right business consultant is essential to improving business performance and generating profit. There are a myriad of different consulting firms on the market, all of whom claim to offer the best services out there. Yet as with any product or service, there is quite a range of quality across business consulting companies. The five tips that follow aim to help business owners choose the best and most qualified consultant for their needs.
Survey Business Needs
Even before bringing in any potential candidates for the position of business consultant, it is necessary to take inventory of a company’s needs and budget. In order to accurately convey to a consultant what services are needed, first determine what areas of the company need the most improvement. Then, determine the maximum amount of money that can be allocated to business consulting services. Conducting these steps, and making the resulting information transparent during recruitment, will help to narrow down the field of qualified and interested applicants.
Observe Attitude and Enthusiasm
Taking note of an applicant’s personality and level of enthusiasm is also an important step in choosing the right business consultant. The work required of a consultant is often time-consuming and exhausting, particularly if said consultant is being hired to help a business that is either struggling, or has plateaued. An individual who is energetic, dynamic, interesting, and who is willing to take charge of difficult situations will likely bring the most improvement to a company.
Test Communication Skills
One of the key markers of a good business consultant is a strong set of communication skills. Because consultants must work with a variety of different people within a company on a daily basis, and because they will often act as intermediaries between different company departments, it is necessary that they be able to communicate clearly with colleagues and clients. This includes not only the ability to clearly explain their own strategies, but also the ability to get along well with a diverse group of people. In short, consultants should be personable and approachable.
Generate Mock Scenarios
The best way to gauge whether or not a consultant is a good fit for a particular business is to craft hypothetical scenarios in which their services would be required, and ask them to devise plans for these during the interview process. CEOs and business owners should not expect a consultant to come up with revolutionary ideas on the spot, but the applicant should be able to generate a few interesting and practical suggestions during the course of the interview. A good consultant should have a repertoire of go-to solutions, and should also be able to think on his or her feet.
Conduct Background Checks
Always remember to check references and verify any information provided on a resume, a website, or by the consultant in person. Reputable business consultants should have a degree from an accredited program or institution: look for MBAs, CPAs, MCSEs, and PhDs. If the applicant has additional experience working with specific corporations, check those references as well. Job experience outside of the consulting field can be an important learning experience, and can indicate that a consultant knows the ins and outs of various sectors of the corporate world.
Searching for the right business management consultants for a particular company can be a time consuming process, but the extra effort made before, during, and after an interview can save copious amounts of time and money that might otherwise have been wasted on less than stellar service. Getting to know the applicant, asking questions about his or her experience and strategy, and verifying all credentials can help businesses successfully locate a truly great consultant.