The big mistake often made about consultants is that they add cost to a business.
Truth is, the best consultants working with SME’s have to deliver more benefit from using their services that the cost of their fee. Why? Because there’s hardly ever a budget for consultancy services – neither should there be, without a significant budgeted pay-back as a result.
Let’s just be clear that I’m focusing on the owner-managed business here, not large corporates or the public sector, where there might typically be a budget set aside for consultants.
One of the reasons that many small consulting businesses find it hard to generate a steady income is that they are largely transactional and don’t build the expectation of medium-term relationships into their initial pitch. It’s really difficult to build a worthwhile consulting business without working with clients over time. This is because new clients have to be won after each engagement, coupled with the fact that the client doesn’t receive any real value.
Frankly, one-night stands won’t deliver lasting results for either party. The plans put in place probably won’t get implemented without external accountability. Too often, business owners hire a facilitator to run their strategy away-day. Nothing happens for a year, then they do the same again, usually with a different facilitator (for obvious reasons), beating themselves up for lack of implementation. Repeat every year until totally frustrated.
Before you hire a consultant, ask yourself: “What outcomes do I need in order to justify the fee?”, then simply build the deliverables into the contract.
Your business relationship with any consultant should be long-lasting, mutually beneficial and return a benefit many times the cost.