If you think hiring a consultant is an unnecessary expense or a frivolous waste of time and money, you’re not alone. Many people have misconceptions about what consultants do and lack understanding of how a consultant could help their companies improve efficiency, work through challenges, and implement strategies for long-term growth.
Myth #1: “Short-term help won’t affect our long-term success.”
While some companies have endemic problems that prevent long-term success (such as offering a single product, which becomes obsolete), many struggling organizations can get back on track by making some fundamental adjustments to how they do business. A consultant can help you evaluate how you can do what you do more efficiently, quickly, and cost effectively. They can help you pinpoint where and how to focus your attention and resources to streamline your operations, allowing you to get caught up on things that have fallen through the cracks. This can take an enormous weight off your shoulders and give you the confidence to move forward and grow. Although your consultant may only be advising you in the short term, the strategies and plans they provide can help your business for years to come.
A dramatic example is turnaround consulting, which specializes in evaluating and restructuring troubled businesses. In addition to providing concrete strategies to improve performance, these consultants can help reassure investors, employees, and consumers that the company is getting back on track and heading in the right direction. This short-term help can make the difference between long-term success and outright failure.
Myth #2: “Consultants don’t know anything about my business.”
Consultants make it their business to know your business. They keep up with trends, technology, and innovations, both generally and within specific industries. Many consultants specialize in a few key industries or marketing sectors. They know what is working right now for companies similar to yours and are able to objectively compare your business to others. This outside perspective helps them show you how your company could grow, adapt, and improve efficiency to be more competitive and successful.
For example, if you run a small waste management company in the Midwest, you may face certain issues with your sorting facilities. A consultant who has worked with a variety of waste management companies in other regions that use different technologies may be able to help you integrate some outside strategies from their industry-wide experience to improve your operations.
Myth #3: “Consultants will just offer cookie-cutter advice that they use on all their clients.”
Some business advice is universal (e.g., revenue must exceed expenditures over the long term), but consultants know that no two projects are the same. While success strategies have some things in common across industries, a good consultant will give you more than just advice; they will address your specific needs and goals. Their recommendations will be based on data collected from your business, and they will provide specific, action-oriented plans to effect change.
For example, rather than advising you to hire more staff, an ROI consulting specialist may recommend that you add two employees to a specific department to increase its productivity, in turn enabling two other departments to improve their output (providing the best return on your investment).
Myth #4: “Consultants will tell me things I already know.”
Some of the largest companies in the world use consultants to solve some of their toughest questions. There are multiple reasons to call a consultant. You may be too close to your business to see obvious problems and possible solutions, and a consultant can offer a valuable objective outside perspective. Some questions offer no obvious answers, and consultants can apply their expertise to collect the right data, analyze it, and use it to formulate a strategy to move toward your objectives. A consultant can also identify gaps in your organization’s resource or knowledge base you may not have recognized and connect you with experts or other solutions. Some consultants can even provide specialized knowledge that you need to optimize performance but don’t need on an ongoing basis.
For example, a business hires an operations consulting firm, which determines that the biggest reason revenue is down is that a significant proportion of a new product is being damaged in transport from production to retailers. The company might then hire an engineering consulting firm to help redesign the product’s packaging so it prevents damage, reducing loss.
If you’re ready to see for yourself how a consultant can help improve your business, contact Cornerstone Consulting Organization. Our executive and senior business management consultants come with varied experiences, areas of expertise, and technical specialties to give you quality business consulting services.