Why Your Small and Medium Sized Business Needs a Consultant

February 18th, 2023
Blog Image

Why your small or medium sized business needs a consultant

Private business owners are extremely knowledgeable in their field of expertise, know their business down to every detail, and are hands on with customer service.  Bringing in a consultant from time to time provides an independent unbiased perspective which can be extremely valuable to owners.  It’s important to remember an external review is not a personal attack on you, the company, its management, or employees.  It is met to provide an outside viewpoint which can aid the company in achieving its vision, mission, and goals. 

Strategic Decisions are Difficult to Make Alone

Owning or being responsible for running a business can be a lonely position sometimes because of the sensitive nature of strategic decisions.  Maybe you can’t share all the context with internal staff members because of the type of decisions being made and how it will affect a specific department etc.  A consultant can be a confidential, unbiased source that can add perspective to a given situation.  Consultants are exposed to several different scenarios across a wide range of industries allowing them to share their perspective of what they have seen work and not work in the past.

Consider the CEO of a newer tech company is contemplating selling off a division to a larger firm.  This sale provides more resources for funding the growth of another division believed to be the future of the company.  The CEO is hesitant to confide in his upper management staff since some will be affected by the sale of the division.  Due to the sensitive and complex nature of this decision, friends and family is also not a great option.  Leaders of organizations can become stressed carrying the weight of these decisions alone.  Consultants provide the ability to confide in confidence without worrying about information leaking out.  A quick chat could be all that is needed to pair down the options and move forward.  

Time is your most valuable resource

Without a doubt, all successful business owners and executives are experts in their given fields.  Business is a complex and everchanging environment that constantly demands your time.  Hiring a consultant allows you to temporarily expand your company’s short-term capability and complete important projects that you do not have the time for.

For example, Jim is a red seal carpenter who is extremely experienced in residential and commercial renovations.  Given his area of expertise, Jim has constantly been booked up since the day he started 123 Renos.  Due to his hard work and commitment to quality, customers continue to bring him more and more projects.  He knows he needs to hire additional staff but is unsure if hiring a project manager or an administration staff makes more sense.  Jim is concerned about compromising the profitability and existing high service level of 123 renos.  As such, Jim pushes off the hiring process and keeps working longer and longer hours to satisfy his clients.  In this situation, if Jim hires a consultant, he/she can work autonomously to complete a confidential assessment of his business and provide recommendations on hiring extra staff.  The consultant can provide context regarding the financial pros and cons of hiring another project manager vs administration staff.  Furthermore, since the consultant understands 123 Reno’s business in more detail than other outside professionals, he is also able to help hire and train new staff; growing the company while not compromising service or quality.  Can Jim do all this himself?  Of course he can, but working with a consultant allows Jim to focus on driving revenue by completing projects for his customers while getting the other information he needs at the same time.  This way, Jim can run his company much faster and more profitable than he could on his own.

Experienced staff is hard to find

Companies are struggling with finding enough capable staff to sustain a health growth or even maintain that growth in other cases.  In other instances, maybe the company is expanding into a different market, but it is currently not big enough to justify a full-time hire.  A consultant is able to come into a situation like this and act on behalf of your company to expand the market until such time that a full-time hire is justified. 

Consultants that fit best in small to medium sized companies have a combination of education and experience that allow them to operate autonomously or as part of a team in your company with limited supervision.  Working with companies in different industries and with diverse resources provide consultants with a unique holistic perspective when it comes to adding value and increasing profitability.   

It is always important to do your research before hiring a consultant.  Designations are one thing and can seem impressive on a resume.  However, digging a little deeper can help determine whether or not the consultant is the right fit for your company.  Understanding the current capacity of the business, what they need, and how that can be provided is one of the most important things a consultant can do.  This is why ensuring they have experience outside of the office and classroom environment is so critical.    

For example, if a consultant recommends facility expansion, have they ever been a part of a commercial building project?  Lots of consultants understand the financial models and the preliminary drawings well enough to conduct a feasibility study.  Do they also understand the underground construction process?  Are they able to draw on past experiences with different soil conditions and communicate how that will affect the budget numbers in the feasibility study and in turn the financial model?

This is why it is so vital to screen the consultant to ensure they possess the right types of skills for job.  If done right it can save you millions of dollars in the example above.  If done wrong, well lets just say it could be a very painful experience for your pocket book.