Do You Have a Business Coach?
Did you know that business coaching is one of the fastest growing industries? Research has shown that business coaching / business consulting leads to significantly improved performance by the person or business receiving coaching. From a dollar value, the return on investment is very high. Business coaching basically focuses the individual and or company’s management team, and fine tunes what is usually natural talent. It enhances skills and attributes already being displayed by the individual or the company’s key management team members or simply creates a culture based on operational excellence or continuous improvement. For example, enhancing leadership capability of a senior sales executive should translate into a direct increase in sales by the whole team.
What Do Business Consultants Do?
Generally speaking, they will look into your business with a view to giving you insights from an outsider’s perspective so that they can assist the business to move forward, grow and or step change. This review process will take into account the market, the environment, industry standards / norms and the individual performance aspects of the business being assessed. This can vary significantly, as each brief would be different.
The other aspect to this is that business consultants will bring a specific expertise; for example, some consultancies will operate in best practice within (say) the mining sector or manufacturing sector. This way, through analysis and objective assessment of the organisation, they can improve performance. The services generally extend to preparing recommendations or implementation plans, and this may be staged by the business owner.
How Do Business Consultants Add Value?
The key aspect is that business consultants tend to operate with numerous organisations so they are aware of business best practices across industries, and roll out continuous improvement programs as their end product. As they bring an independent view, there is no emotion attached to the business operating practices and guidance on change and how to implement changes (including cultural change) can be more easily undertaken. This can be done in a variety of ways through coaching, technology, streamlining processes, people changes, culture change, etc., the key being to make the business more efficient and effective in undertaking its tasks.
Do You Need a Business Consultant?
As a business owner, chances are you want the best for your business, and more than likely you know there is room for improvement. But you may not know how to get from A to B, and you will need to make time to make the step change. Despite all the literature and information available on business best practice, optimising performance, change management, etc., none of this will translate to action unless the business owner decides to take action. Doing it alone will likely lead to some improvement over the short term, but is less likely to deliver significant sustainable change. This is because most business owners are in the business and not running the business. Focusing on the organisational health, and investing in time to look at how you are doing, is a key factor to business improvement. Successful companies don’t simply introduce changes for today / tomorrow; they create a culture that seeks out challenges and changes so that they can create the capacity in the management team to continuously change over time. This is where the ultimate competitive advantage lies.
Planning to Get the Best Out of Your Consultant
If a business decides to get a business consultant, the key is to make sure that you get value adding. This requires a significant plan of attack. Without this, the business may spend unnecessary time and money. There are some key steps; get them involved early in determining the brief (this way there is clarity on what is to be done / achieved), select a consultant you can trust and feel comfortable with, look for a consultant with the right skill set and check their references / clients, allow for your staff to support them, which will get your staff’s buy in and deliver longer term change, set targets and continuously review, set targets and stick to them, make decisions.
Tips to Finding a Consultant
Generally, the more experienced consultants will have a legitimate web presence with lots of information and resources to enable their clients and potential clients to find them and assess their capability. They will also tend to have case studies, white papers, and may list their client base. Having located a consultant, the client should literally pick up the phone and set up a meeting to assess the capability and suitability of the consultant for their business. Ideally, they will provide references to talk to, as these businesses will rely heavily on referrals and testimonials.
Both the consultant and potential client should assess their instinct on the situation. Where there is a comfortable fit, you are likely to get good outcomes.
Key Focus for Consultants
As a consultant, be sure to define and focus on meeting the client needs. This need you to clearly understand their requirements and expectations, and this may vary between team members of the business, so be sure to consolidate the thinking and seek direction from the right people so you have one song sheet to work from.