A little direction might be just what your business needs.
If you run a small business – a local contracting company, for example – you may not be very familiar with the concept of a “business consultant.” Sure, you’ve heard stories and maybe even read an article, but the truth is that you consider yourself too busy to learn more. Besides, aren’t consultants for companies much larger than your own?
If you feel this way, you may have already made your own case for hiring a consultant. After all, two of the best reasons for finding a consultant are: (1) You are so busy that you need help implementing systems, and (2) You would like to grow, taking the next step toward becoming a larger company.
Small-business people – especially owners – tend to have a “can-do” outlook that often leads them to “can-doing” everything. They aren’t just the chief cook and bottle washer; they’re also human resources, customer service and accounts receivable. The problem is that they are so busy working in their business that they seldom get time to work on their business.
Successful companies periodically evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses, addressing shortcomings and establishing plans for improvement. They create systems that can be followed as employees come and go, ensuring that service is consistent. They anticipate (and sometimes initiate) change so that the company can stay on track.
Soliciting an experienced, objective opinion can help a small-business owner to see things in a new light. Al Schwartz is a plumber who once owned his own contracting company. Now he writes a column for Contractor magazine. According to Schwartz, “In almost every size company, there are blind spots. If you are an owner and are focused on your business, it is easy to get tunnel vision at one time or another.” A consultant can focus on improving a business, even while the decision maker continues to focus on doing business.
Similarly, anyone who runs a company knows that growth comes in discernible “steps.” These phases may come slowly or in quick succession, and making the necessary adjustments is critical to maintaining a healthy organization. Business consultants enjoy the advantage of having witnessed these phases before, and their guidance can be invaluable in avoiding the pitfalls discovered by companies that have gone before. In fact, an experienced consultant can often point out those roadblocks that are in the way of your “next step,” guiding your decisions and showing you the best path toward healthy growth.
Business consultants don’t work for free, of course. But you might be interested to learn that consultants often have scaleable rates, depending on the task at hand. If you only need a little help, you might be surprised at how affordable it can be.
Lest this article seem like an extended sales pitch for consultants, it is important to note that not every consultant is helpful, and not every situation calls for this level of expertise. In fact, consultants can become inefficient – and counterproductive – if they are overutilized. But the truth is that almost every growing company has asked for outside guidance at one point or another. An objective voice can be important when making big decisions.
If you are considering a consultant, do your homework. Check on references. Ask your DSG representative for a referral. A little good advice might make a big difference in your company.