My inbox is pinged on a daily basis by ‘consultants’. At least, that’s how they’re positioned, promising a world of new and untapped opportunities that they will be able to open up to me and the business I work in.
The term ‘consultant’ is quite a loose term, and can be used by anyone; but, to walk and talk like a good one, isn’t quite so straightforward.
But, while I am introduced to consultants on a daily basis, some of the most influential professionals I have ever worked with have been consultants. They have broadened my professional horizons, provided new perspectives to nuts I simply couldn’t crack, and have changed my way of thinking about business overall.
When you start a business, there’s arguably nothing you need more than an effective consultant to steer you in the right direction. Here are the traits I identified within those who helped me, and how I believe these traits could help you.
Critical Traits For The Perfect Consultant
If you’re in the early stages of setting up your business, or even if you’re still writing your business plan, here are the things you should be looking for if you are planning to lean on the expertise of a consultant:
- Experience in your field: experience in any industry goes a long way, of course – but, it must be in your field for the consultant to be of optimal value to you. Remember, consultants aren’t cheap – but there’s a reason for that if you find the right one. Choose the right consultant, who has specific experience in your line of industry, and they will unlock potentials in your business that you never thought possible, or in the midst of focusing on hundreds of other elements you may have missed. Or, even simpler than that at least, they’ll make sure you’re absolutely doing the basics right. This is only really achievable if they have that valuable experience that they have demonstrated in your field.
- They know how to communicate: not just to you, either. The best consultants I have worked with knew not only how to communicate to me, but to everyone around them. Put it this way: if you work in industry, and you operate a factory, something that will be front and center of your mind will be identifying efficiencies in your operations. I can guarantee that your staff will have the answers – but you need to be able to talk to them to extract them. Find yourself a communicator, and they will find nuggets of gold from solutions that are right underneath your nose.
- Driven by data: this is a trait I just love in business. I’m such a numbers person, that when somebody asks if they can ‘see the data’, my eyes light up! After all, how else can you measure performance? How can you fix an issue based on fresh air? The numbers have to lead the way, and if a consultant is data-driven, you’re onto a winner.
- They don’t jump into solutions: before you shake hands on any consultant, ask them about their approach to consulting. The best consultants I came across did one thing for a painfully long time – they watched. This is something I really admire actually; recognising that there’s a value in watching and listening, instead of going for immediate solutions to justify themselves. Some consultants may be out to prove their value from minute one – you don’t need that. The best consultants recognise the value of observing, gathering thoughts, and presenting findings.
- They champion you: it might sound obvious, but a great consultant knows their position: they’re a supporting act to your operation. And, they’ll be absolutely fine with that. What’s more, they’ll feel part of the team, not separated from it, and take on the burdens you feel towards the success of your business. You need a champion in your corner from day one, and you may just find one in a consultant.
The Right Consultant For You
I hope you found some of my experiences useful and valuable here. I speak in confidence when I say that finding the right business consultant can really have a seismic impact on the success of your business. And, while they might feel expensive at times, consider them a worthwhile investment when they tick all the right boxes.