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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
If you take a minute and look at some of the articles about business management, you couldn’t be blamed for concluding that business consultants and management consultants have earned themselves a less than stellar reputation.
Many conclude that business consultants have no future in small business for a variety of reasons including track record, cost, as well as viability. All these conclusions could be sufficiently justified based on all the past/current information.
Yet they are not 100% accurate: business consulting as a discipline as well as business consultants as experts have never been more important and vital to the success of small business. Let’s have a look at the why and how.
The answer to the why is rather simple: choices. Take a step back and think about what has happened over the last few years: a rise in available tools and services have created a great deal of competition creating a vast marketplace with immense choices in virtually every subcategory of business products and services.
Now that we have so many choices in selecting our vendors and service providers, the real question is: how do we choose the right one? Does SMB have the experience or the human capital to make those decisions? Of course, some SMB will fare better than others but the majority are unlikely to have internal HR capacities/ HR capital to make the most out of those choices.
Business Consultants to the Rescue
Deploying advisors of any kind has been a time-tested method, and there is no difference in this case. Business Consultants much like any other special advisors have to be selected carefully and purposefully. Yet, more importantly, selection should be a deliberate step in addressing the internal deficiencies of the organization.
Selection should start with analyzing the business needs/internal deficits. Optimally the selection should be based on the conscious and deliberate understanding that no organization has all the needed expertise “in-house”. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case: most of the time SMB leadership resorts to deploying external advisors and consultants either out of fear or several trial and error situations that have gone horribly wrong.
Once the consulting entity has been selected the core mission begins. The steps that follow may vary a great deal and are not the subject of this writing; however, the challenges in achieving the end results are.
Traditionally speaking, organizational leadership is the deciding factor in success and failure. All things being equal, the success of a business consultant will greatly depend on the backing of the senior leadership. It is fair to assume that the biggest challenge will be the organizational culture that will inherently resist changes. Hence it is the job of the senior leadership to provide a conducive environment for success. Steps to achieve success could include vocal and strong public support, immediate actions based on the consultant recommendations as well as “transfer of trust”. Such steps will pave the way to a smoother and more effective environment that will lead to success.
In turn, the consultants have their own challenges that could influence the final outcome. Some of those challenges include aligning vendors and third parties, managing the emotional impact of change as well expectation management. All of those could fall under the umbrella term of “change management”.
Many times one or more factors that are mentioned above can and will stray away from the original plans and create dynamic situations that can chip away from success. Hence, it is vital to dynamically and consistently adapt both planning and execution to maximize the potential outcome.
Ultimately, the deployment and end results of special advisors/business consultants are multidimensional and progressive in nature. The true route to success will inherently have to include uncomfortable variables that will challenge organizational synergy as well as internal dynamics. Those will all have limited but lasting impact that will shape the final outcome.
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