Do you wonder how professional athletes keep in shape? How an actor keeps up on his or her ability to be a consistent entertainer? Have you ever wondered how YOU can become good at something? The answers are practice and coaching. A Business Consultant is a coach for your business, who should be able to help you practice the traits needed to be successful in your business.
How you choose a coach is a matter of personal preference. You can choose an online entity, a company in town, or an individual consultant. It does not matter, as long as you understand the requirements a consultant or business coach should have, prior to making a final decision. The fact is that you cannot accept everyone or every company at face value, especially in today’s volatile business world. This premise is exceptionally true for business consultants and coaches, because the entity you choose could ultimately be holding your livelihood in their hands. So, with this understanding, there are a few things you should know about any potential consultant, coach or firm prior to engaging them within your company.
The very first thing you should measure a coach or consultant on is his credentials. Any true quality consultant or firm will have their credentials available to you at any time. In fact, most reputable firms will already have the permission to use a cross-section of their clients as marketing references, giving you a glimpse of whom has hired them to date. It is very important that you contact a client or two, making sure any information given was accurate.
Second, you need to make sure your consultant has some experience, or is at least managed by someone who does. Many times, firms will introduce new consultants into a business, without letting the clients know they are new. You do not want to pay fees for an inexperienced consultant, to help train someone’s staff. Further, if you are going to allow a less experienced consultant work in your business, you want to know that an experienced mentor is working with them to make sure your company is successful.
Third, accreditations and reputation. Hiring a firm that has a broad experience base and has backed that experience up by joining industry groups, associations, public groups like the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau; show some integrity in their approach toward their own business. Also, industry specific training, that shows an investment to learn more about an industry or consulting, will always be beneficial to a business.
Fourth, beyond reference checking, meet some of the stakeholders who will be working with you. You can gain a lot of information by having a conversation on the phone, or even an email exchange with your potential consultant or coach. One thing you can ask is if you will be working with more than one person and if you can speak to more than one of them, which creates an opportunity to learn about the team.
Fifth, do they have a structured plan? It is an undeniable truth that organization and communication will make or break any business. Having a consultant that does not approach each client with a plan, will most likely cause a failure in your business. This does not mean your business will fail, but the objective of the consultant is to fix something, this cannot happen without a structured approach. Make sure that each firm or consultant being considered presents a plan that is clear and concise. There are no shortcuts to learning new things in your business.
Choosing a consultant is a big step for any business owner or manager. There are so many areas within a business that can be affected by multiple issues, many of which are third party or seemingly uncontrolled. By engaging a coach or consultant with a structured plan, you and your company will have the practice it needs to react consistently to business issues, over the life of your company.