5 Things to Consider While Choosing Right Business Consulting Experts

There are many factors to consider while choosing the right business consulting experts. Variables such as reputation, price and background come to mind. Often, non-obvious factors can enlighten your understanding and help in your business consulting search process. Business consulting experts are part knowledge providers and part sales people. At times, it is difficult to separate the sales from the expertise.

The first thing to consider while choosing a business consulting expert is their client outcomes. They should have very measurable client outcomes such as increased profit, increased revenue growth, upgraded financial reporting etc. that should be top of mind discussion points for them. These outcomes should be easily available to the business consulting expert and he should be able to share them with you. Second, a business consulting expert should have a unique background in a variety of different corporate environments.

The best consultants have been involved at big corporations, small entrepreneurial companies and everything in between. They have seen the same issues such as information weaknesses, management team weaknesses and lack of clarity on planning, played out in a number of different settings. This gives them an intuitive ability to see your shortcomings as an organization. Thirdly, often the best consulting experts have a vision for where your business should be going, due to their understanding of best practices and business trends. Often, businesses over time become inwardly focused and disengage from the outside world.

This lack of connection can result in a business not keeping up with the latest management approach, technology trend or marketing strategy. They lose their ability to change and to try new things. A quality business consulting expert will have his finger on the pulse of where your company is in its growth lifecycle and where it should be heading. They will lay out a vision of business development or management organization that may challenge your current thinking. It may sound outrageous or completely unattainable, yet true business consulting experts will challenge your preconceived notions about the status quo. They have exposure to those companies on the cutting edge and can help you understand what your business needs to do to get there. Fourth, quality business consulting experts will have pragmatic ideas for implementation. Lasting change is dependent on implementing a permanent long term solution.

Mere theoretical talking points do little in the way of providing a permanent solution. A quality consultant will be able to get the ball rolling and help you properly resource the change plan. Fifth, the person must have a 360° understanding of your business and your long term plan. They must spend the time to understand your business and have a holistic appreciation for it. You have to be able to trust this person and ensure that there is alignment of values. Is the consultant coming up with fresh observations that show that he is really taking the time to deconstruct your business model? With the right consulting expert involved in your business, the sky is indeed the limit. It can lead to a virtuous cycle of strategic improvement.

Business Consultants Compared – What Makes Firms Different?

When inviting a business consulting firm to get to know your business and its weaknesses, it is a delicate dance to find the best corporate qualifications, experience, and ability to navigate the inevitable invisible issues that will come up. It is also important to make sure your own corporate culture and on-going business do not get lost in the process.

In the marketplace of Business Management Consulting or Management Consulting, competitors generally fall into just a few categories:

-Sole proprietor consultants, who are generally niched and geographically based

-Larger consulting firms, who have multi-niched teams and the ability to reach out to other cities or regions

-Small consulting firms, regionally based and team oriented

Sole Proprietors: Personal Touch

Smaller and sole proprietor consultant competitors, like Jannelle Buzzell, Jim Grew, Will Moore, Mannus O’Donnell and others, get to know the client and their needs very personally. They start from exceptional business acumen, and make sure to create buy-in within the company. The client company is trusted to know their core business and its people very, very well. There is often not a pre-conceived corporate formula other than profitability, efficiency, and better managerial controls through feedback. To these folks, it is common to receive a fearful call where a business owner shares that they ‘aren’t even sure what the problem is or where it started’.

Large Consulting Firms: depth and breadth

Larger competitors, like Boly Welch Consulting, CBS Consulting, Georgia S. May, Point B and PeopleFirm, all offer fresh eyes, strong business acumen, and an understanding that all business evolution comes from the people within the firm. To make any consulting project stick, it has to come from within, which starts from leadership. Once leadership has aligned the goals and strategies, the consulting firm assists in rolling out change. This change management happens from setting measurable goals, checking in with ROI, and staying in regular touch with the feedback loop.

Small Consulting Firms: Personal touch and depth

What makes the smaller consultancy different is the unique blend of these styles. With a small firm, you are likely to meet the owner, but not work with them regularly. You will have a small, personal team, but enough distance to call their supervisor if necessary. A small firm has 8-30 employees, and is generally based in a single city office. Conversely, the consulting firm is big enough to have scheduling and launching flexibility more like a larger consultancy. Small consulting firms cannot do everything involved for a larger project, so they are forced to rely on (and train) the employee team. This strategy keeps the consulting team in alignment with owners, in order to organize which work is done by which team. Smaller consulting teams do not take over a floor of your building and set up shop. It is necessary to work along side the employee team constantly in order to on board change at a pace owners and employees can handle.

How Much Do They Cost?

When we compare business to business consulting, price is an unavoidable topic. If you don’t care how much the consulting firm costs, you are not in the market. Clients care, even if they aren’t sure they can afford it (or have plenty of money to afford it). Small firm prices lie in the middle, just as you might expect. Many sole proprietors charge a lower rate, especially if they aren’t busy. However, if they are busy, they simply cannot take the work, or quickly bump up to the rates of larger firms. Larger firms have additional overhead for travel, benched employees and significant benefit packages at all levels. These higher prices are significant and consistent. With a smaller firm, you are unlikely to receive enormous perks as a part of your purchase. They focus on the work done, and building the relationship on the job.

In general terms, a client can expect:

Team Size Typical Hourly Rate

Sole Proprietor 1 $40-$150

Small Firm 2-30 $75-300

Large Firm 30+ $200-750+

These rates are a generalized survey in Portland, OR, based on surveys of a small handful of varying small and medium businesses.

Conclusion

When you are considering outside consulting for your operations, spend some time considering the depth and breadth of the project, the budget you expect, and then consider requesting proposals or conversations from varying firms. Some projects are clearly one size or another, but medium scale projects that can take some time to evolve are a likely fit for a blended small consulting firm. If you go that route, you will save significant money and train your staff along the way.