Consultants exist to help businesses but too many small and medium-size-business people aren’t willing to ask for help from a consultant when they need should. Entrepreneurs are usually independent risk-takers. After all, in their mind they started the company so its only natural they should know how to manage and run it.
However, this is far from the truth as none of us know everything about all aspects of growing and managing a business. It is only good business sense to seek out experts in areas where you are not. Seeking the counsel of others in areas where you aren’t an expert can also be the difference of progressing or failing. But when figuring out who is right for you and your business can be tricky. So when considering the selection of a consultant consider these five guidelines and it will make your selection process so much easier.
1. Consultants Need Impeccable Character
First and foremost, when selecting a candidate for consulting they must be a person of the high moral character. They need to be professional, personable and intelligent. The consultant must be willing to put the best interest of the client ahead of their own personal needs.
For example, the consultant must be willing to tell clients the truth regardless if its something you may not want to hear. Hiring a consultant who is only tells you what they think you want to hear is a red flag. The consultant must be willing to tell you the truth even if it means they lose your business. Your consultant must care about your business more than the money they would have made.
Personally, I have a reputation to uphold and it’s very important to me to protect my reputation. By being honest, I never have to be afraid to face my clients because I know I’ve always been honest with them and told them the truth even if they didn’t want to hear it.
2. Consultants Need Solid Experience and Skills
Good consultants have extensive experience and the skills to present you with solutions to overcome the obstacles, challenges or opportunities you and your company are facing. A good consultant may or may not know your specific company or industry, but you do. What you need a consultant to have is experience in addressing the types of issues you face and coming up with reasonable solutions.
3. Creative Problem Solving Skills
You will want the consultant you hire to be a problem solving wizard. After all, the point of hiring one is to help you resolve problems (or take advantage of new opportunities). The consultant should be able to offer you possible solutions based on hypothetical assumptions after you’ve answered a number of their questions. Candidates who don’t ask you questions aren’t consultants; they’re salesmen.
4. Superior Communication Skills
Good consultants should be articulate communicators and possess excellent communication skills both orally and written. A consultant who doesn’t present a proposal or contract should raise a red flag. Just as much as a proposal or contract which is poorly written or presented untyped.
Communication though, goes both ways. Their ability to listen to your answers when asking you their questions is no less important and I believe even more so. Someone who doesn’t listen to the issues at hand will only offer pre-determined solutions which are a mindset of “one size fits all”.
Regardless of how intelligent a consultant is, they can never offer solid solutions if their egos or mouth over power their ears.
5. Outstanding Interpersonal Skills
When hiring a consultant it has to someone you feel comfortable with; someone you can trust. In order for a consultant to be able to adequately help you and your business, you have to be willing to expose your businesses intimately. You need to be able to trust they are worthy of your trust and are capable of keeping your businesses confidential information; confidential. A relationship between you and a consultant is very similar between you and your doctor or accountant.
A consultant will not be able to produce the results you’re expecting without you first offering full disclosure. Then, unfortunately, consultants are blamed for the lack of results a business owner is expecting. So chose a consultant you believe you can have and develop a professional relationship with.
In summary, a good consultant can be of tremendous value to you and your business. Hiring the wrong consultant can destroy your business and/or your reputation.