As a business consultant since 2002 I’ve come across many different types of businesses and more importantly a very diverse selection of business owners. I love working with business owners, there is something about entrepreneurs that is intriguing. It takes a special kind of person to start a business because most people have an innate desire for security, and starting a new business venture doesn’t guarantee any form of security. What makes it even more intriguing is that many of these people do it over and over again until they make it, if ever.
Real business owners understand that in order to succeed they need to surround themselves with high quality individuals to help them work their business. Even then it is virtually impossible for people to be able to do everything or see everything. Business owners are very emotionally intertwined with their business and they typically don’t like to admit that something is wrong. That is where a consultant or coach comes in.
They Detect Problems You Are Blind To
A consultant will review the business operations, financials, records, documentation, etc. to see where any deficiencies are and work to create a plan to fix them and get things running more smoothly so that the business owners and their staff can focus on the business at hand. As the consultant takes an objective look at the business they are able to provide real solutions to those problems that plague the client’s business.
For example, a few years ago I was working with a trucking company in a small town in Utah. The company was doing quite well with their sales revenues, posting about $1.7 million in sales in their second year of operations, but they were struggling to stay open. I was tasked to go in and review their Quickbooks set up because they were thinking that their underlining problem was with tracking through their software. Once there I was able to take a look at everything they were doing. Their problem was not with Quickbooks, or any other software. It was with tracking and a lack of oversight.
They Increase Revenue Without Major Effort
I developed a tracking system to determine where money was being wasted with in house truck repairs compared to outsourcing this service. I developed a tracking for individual employee expenses and developed a collections practices operations manual and standardized procedures and policies for collections. You see they had a good revenue base, but cash flow was suffering due to the fact that they had no standard procedure and policy for collecting from customers. In all, by the end of my second day there I had saved them over $250,000 annually and set them up to be able to collect on about $700,000 of their accounts receivables that was nearing over 160 days past due. That was almost $1 million in effective direct benefit from bringing in a consultant to help.
They Tell You The Truth You Need To Hear
Sometimes business owners just need to bounce ideas off of someone who will be open to listening and at the same time be honest, and sometimes brutally honest. I have a friend who is starting up a business. When he first came up with the idea he came to me to see if I would assist him. I agreed to be his coach and now he calls me frequently with ideas and updates on research. As we talk I bring up all of the “what if” questions, which at times can be frustrating for him, but it makes him think and he comes back with a more solid plan when we speak again. Playing the “devil’s advocate” is sometimes all a coach will do, but the service is invaluable.
It is the job of a coach/consultant to make sure that you as the business owner are successful at what you do. A good coach will try and offer a two to one benefit. This means that for every dollar that you spend on them they will do everything to make sure that you recoup two in its place. This can be difficult at times, but I typically shoot for a whole lot more. In the case cited above with regards to the trucking company, their return was over 10 times what they paid for my service.
So in conclusion, the best reason why I would say that a business owner or entrepreneur would want to hire a consultant or coach is to help their business truly succeed. Of course I am biased here, but even I as a business coach and consultant hire consultants for my businesses. We need to be able to step back and let someone take a look at things and let us know where we are deficient. This provides peace of mind and ultimately allows us to achieve that all important security that we are always trying to obtain. Remember, an entrepreneur is a person willing to live now like most people refuse to, so that they can live later like most people only dream of.