No matter how good a manager is at running his staff, completing his projects, operating his business and coming up with solutions to pressing problems, there will come a time when he would meet a challenge for which he does not have a solution. After all, nobody is perfect, people do commit mistakes, and information that may be current today will certainly become obsolete in the days to come.
It always pays to have a look at one’s business from a different perspective, preferably from the eyes of someone who is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Having someone else take a fresh look at how the business is run helps managers spot potential problems, existing problems, as well as ways to streamline operations to make them more efficient and productive. This is why many corporations hire business consultants.
Business consultants are supposed to be experts in their particular field. They may specialize on a specific aspect of business or a specific industry, such as management, finance, operations, human resources and development, research, et cetera. They may adhere to a particular business theory or principle and are certified to conduct trainings, workshops and consultancies. Business consultants are supposed to be more informed and more knowledgeable about certain approaches in business. At the very least, they can give new insight on how things can be done better at the office.
During crunch time or in times of crisis for the company, getting a business consultant to come and take a look at the way things are being run in the company may prove to be invaluable. It always helps to have someone look at any given situation with a different perspective. A stranger to the situation most of the time is able to spot what is being done wrong more easily than one who is firmly entrenched in it. A person who is firmly entrenched in a given problem may be too stressed out to see what may be obvious to some. Moreover, a stranger will be able to offer a more objective opinion than one who is from the inside.
Finding a good business consultant is not as hard as it may seem. If you regularly reads books on business and personal leadership, books such as those written by Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, Brian Tracy, Dr. John C. Maxwell and Robert Kiyosaki, you would be aware that some of these authors started out as business consultants. Most likely, these authors still do consultancy work for large corporations.
Of course it may not be possible for you to hire the likes of such stellar experts to be regular business consultants for your company because they may charge hefty consultation fees. If these experts’ fees are too much for you, the least you can do is to make their books, podcasts and CDs available at your company’s library and start up a personal development program for your staff. You can make this program compulsory, done for around ten minutes a day, once or twice a week. Or you can book these experts for a seminar or a speaking engagement.
Another way of finding good business consultants is to search for them at online directories and search engines. Typing in a search query on your browser can turn up the websites of companies such as the IBM Global Business Services, FranklinCovey and many others. Choose a business consultant whom you think can address the current needs and concerns of the company.
Once you have chosen a particular business consultant, you can invite the consultant to come onsite, at your company’s premises, to go and have a look at the way things are being done at work. This look-through can last a few days and the consultant may ask for access to some company files and documents. You can also set up a meeting between the key members of your staff and the business consultant to discuss the current situation at work, the possible challenges and the possible solutions that can decisively deal with these challenges. You can hire the business consultant to come at the office on a regular basis to sit with you and your key staff at board meetings or annual planning events.
Of course, the business consultant does not need to be physically present at your office to conduct an evaluation. Perhaps a video conference can be set up between you and your business consultant so the two of you can have a candid talk about your concerns about your company. Your key staff members can also join in the video conference. Business meetings can be done online, after all, regardless of the location of the parties involved, thanks to video streaming technologies over the Internet.
As for details of your concerns that you would like your business consultant to look at, you can have your staff prepare flowcharts, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, reports and other documents related to these concerns. You can even send the consultant copies of old records if you think that these documents are not confidential and are not too sensitive to be read by other people. So the consultant would know what he or she is looking at, an abstract or an executive summary should accompany this packet of documents. The packet can be emailed in case matters are urgent, to be followed by an express delivery of hard copy on the following day. If time is of the essence, make sure that your business consultant knows that there is a time pressure involved.