Hiring a Business Consultant: What, Why, When, and How

14 Nov, 2022 | By leslie@leanexpansion.ca

Is it time to hire a business consultant? Surprisingly, organizational leaders don’t always recognize the value of these services. However, there is immense value for organizations lacking in-house expertise who may require a second opinion, auditing services, or even a professional with the knowledge to restructure business or operations infrastructure.

What is a Business Consultant?

Business consultants provide advice, guidance and training in one or several specialized areas. For example, my areas of expertise include:

Finding a consultant whose experience matches your needs increases the likelihood of a smooth and constructive relationship. Hiring a consultant for businesses, especially larger ones, can save time, catalyze growth, and alleviate pressure on executive team members and managers who may be struggling with multiple roles in times of high turnover and labour shortages. Consultants are essentially business doctors who diagnose what’s ailing an organization and create a wellness plan. Still, many businesses are hesitant about hiring business consultants. The Predictive Index Consultant Report found that more than one-fourth (27%) of companies choose not to hire consultants because ROI is too difficult to measure—but this shouldn’t be a problem with the right person.

An unfortunate reality of the industry is that nearly anyone can call themselves a business consultant. However, it’s easy to distinguish experienced consultants who bring real value. Part of the process may include requesting a portfolio of work, checking online reviews, and scheduling a discussion to discuss goals and expectations—something many consultants offer for free.

Why Hire a Business Consultant?

Hiring a business consultant often works to the advantage of a business in terms of cost savings. Hiring a business consultant means only paying for necessary services as and when needed. The result is typically substantial savings over hiring a salaried employee with the same level of expertise to complete similar tasks.

Further, most consultants can identify areas where businesses are currently overspending and help to cut costs. As a lean consultant, one of my most valuable skills is mapping business processes end-to-end and very quickly identifying inefficiencies. My outlook is objective. The value I offer comes from learning about each client and their goals and tailoring advice and strategy for specific challenges.

When to Hire a Consultant

As a consultant who has worked in many industries, including Aerospace Engineering, Consumer Manufacturing, Healthcare, Software Development, & Agriculture, I typically collaborate in three different areas:

  • Initiatives–this usually focuses on floundering projects; when funding is tight or things aren’t going as planned, I work to find solutions and resources to keep initiatives on track.
  • Audits—this may involve a product/service that isn’t profitable or undergoing a significant change. Perhaps it’s finally time to frontline a dark-horse initiative that has never realized its full potential.
  • Large-Scale Transformations—the problem here is usually complex; team members and shareholders are frustrated by chronic underperformance. Perhaps it’s new industry competitors or some other form of disruption. In this case, I look at key indicators to identify opportunities for change and growth.

How to Hire a Business Consultant

When leaders have determined there’s a need to grow faster, smarter and enhance customer service—when there’s a need for bottom-line improvement, greater efficiency, and processes that cut down time and wastage on needless tasks—that’s the time to hire a business consultant. Sometimes floundering can be a side effect of growth—it can be hard to keep up with demand. Alternatively, team members may be getting burned out. There’s a recognized need to do things better, but no one is quite sure how.

The best consultants tailor their skills to offer professional service that meets organizational needs. Besides acting as a good satellite team member, an experienced business consultant is adept in many areas, including:

  • Collecting, synthesizing, and analyzing information about a business
  • Demonstrating empathy for challenges and people
  • Adapting to the organization’s readiness for change and available resources
  • Reading the client’s environment and fitting in
  • Establishing metrics that measure that can be used to measure goals as well as intangible benefits.

As a senior business consultant serving Canada and the US, I invite you to set up a consultation to discuss your challenges and goals. Request an appointment at leslie@leanexpansion.ca or 416.528.7990.