How to Choose the Right Consultant for Your Business
One of the hardest decisions for a CEO, owner, or other senior executive, is to consider outside assistance with matters that will help strengthen the business. I am approaching my 10th year as an executive coach, business consultant, and business coach. I have credentials in each of these areas, but not in all three practices, and not in all circumstances. I wanted to highlight “not in all circumstances” because one common misconception is that all three terms mean the same thing. There is much more that people need to know about me and others in my field before they can decide whether I can help them.
Confusion as to what executive coaches, business consultants and business coaches do make new business development a real challenge. This confusion is further complicated by the fact that there are quite a few areas of specialty within each of these disciplines. For example, some business coaches have very strong backgrounds with sales force development while others have none.
The words executive coach, business consultant, and business coach many times are improperly used interchangeably, properly describe lines of business, but fail to provide guidance as to what someone actually does. Worse, telling you how we do what we do is the equivalent of a magician trying to describe how he does his tricks. Furthermore, unlike the magician who does the magic trick the same way over and over again with precision, our fields do not work that way. Magicians create illusions; our lines of business create results.
We follow certain guiding principles in every case we encounter, but we use different approaches, tools, processes, and techniques, depending on the client’s situation. The reality is that no coach or consultant can solve all leadership and business problems. If anyone tells you they can, run the other way.
How to FIND the Right Consultant
Here are the questions you need to answer before you can properly evaluate who is the right coach or consultant for your business.
Questions to Answer About Your Business:
- In the last 24 months, how often did you achieve your revenue and profit goals?
- What percentage of the initiatives you establish at the beginning of the year do you actually accomplish? I am not talking about goals.
- If you could change the direction of your company, what would the new path be?
- If someone could help you move more quickly toward your goals, what kind of help would it be?
- Would you enthusiastically rehire everyone currently on your leadership team?
- What do you believe are the one or two issues that prevent your leadership team from getting stronger?
- What internal people challenges will have to be addressed in order to achieve success?
- What will it cost you in terms of time, money and stress if you do not solve _______?
- How big a priority is it, related to everything else going on, if you do not solve _______?
- How much time are you willing to commit if you do not solve _______?
- How much of other people’s time are you willing to commit to solve _______?
- How much money would you be willing to invest to make up for not solving _______?
- What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
- What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the other leaders on your team?
- When you have hired the right person/firm what measurable outcomes will you be able to use to determine that you made the right decision? If you are expecting to use revenue or profit growth as your measures, I would like to suggest that you give serious thought to the growth you would expect if you had no help from a business catalyst.
How to SELECT the Right Consultant
Based on above you are now ready to ask:
- Do you need a business coach, executive coach, or consultant?
- Does it matter if the practitioner is local?
- What training should this person have?
- How much of a track record to they need to have in solving your particular type of problem?
- How much time availability do you need them to have?
- How much industry knowledge is required?
- What processes do you expect them to bring?
- Do you prefer the latest and greatest processes or just proven processes?
- Do you feel comfortable working with this person?
- Do you trust this person?
- What style will help you the most? Please notice that I did not ask “which did you prefer?” Many times you may need someone that has an opposite style from yours. For example if you are very visionary and tend to avoid details and being practical, you may want to have a more practical coach even though this may drive you nuts at times.
- Do they offer any guarantees?
- How long will the program take?
- Is there more than one way to approach the problem?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
In case you wanted to know, this is the high-level answer I give when people ask what I do. I work with ambitious and high-growth companies who hire me to help strengthen their leadership team, improve revenue growth, or strengthen profitability. My focus is proven management systems that help the management team develop solid strategies, make better people decisions, keep focus, strengthen the culture, and align the entire organization. I also work one-on-one with C-level executives to help become more effective leaders. Contact me, Howard Shore, at (305) 722-7213, if you think you want to address a challenge in your business.