When you’re running a business, whether it’s a multinational retailer or a local hairdresser, you have the ultimate decision making responsibility, and many of those decisions come down to how you’re going to spend your money.
One way to spend money – and see either a healthy return or disappointing lack of one – is on consultants. Consultants offer expertise you may not have as a small business founder, and that it doesn’t make sense to either hire in or learn yourself. The temptation to spend lots of your starting war chest on setting up systems with expert consultants is hard to resist: they’ll help you punch well above your weight and outcompete rivals without this injection of high level expertise! Unfortunately if you’re not clear about what your business specifically needs, this is a great way to spend a lot of money without conferring any useful advantage to your brand.
Today we’re taking a specific look at strategic consultants so you can make an informed decision about whether they’d be a good investment for your business – before you commit your valuable funds to a business strategy consultancy.
The Importance of Business Strategy
A business strategy is an important document for your success. It crystallises the thinking that joins your decision-making up into a coherent process and ensures you’re each small decision you make contributes to the same vision of the future for your business rather than pulling in different directions. It can be difficult to make such coherent choices when under the stress of a ticking clock, and to ensure they fit the values you want your business to embody so codifying your strategy early, under the best possible circumstances is an investment that can really pay off.
You may find that writing a business strategy requires expertise you don’t currently have. A long term strategy might require insight into financial forecasting, or predicting how your market is likely to develop and that’s a specialist skill that you may not have – you’re an expert in your industry and your business, but that doesn’t translate into long term financial knowledge.
There are major use-cases where strategy consultants can be helpful: when you’re first starting out, and if you want to change your strategy. When you’re first starting out, you likely simply don’t have the experience and insight necessary and they can make a valuable contribution.
When you’re a mature business, looking to change strategy due to exceeding the brief of your first document, encountering difficult times or simply your own ambitions and expectations changing, the situation is more complex. You may, by now, have the experience you need to recreate your strategy yourself, but you’re also very close to your business and its problems and highpoints. At times like this, consultants can act as an objective, disinterested fresh pair of eyes, finding solutions you’ve overlooked or identifying problems you’ve accepted as normal.
One valuable use for consultants in general and strategy consultants in particular is as trusted experts who can challenge you on your entrenched views about your business. If you feel that could apply to you, then working with strategy consultants could be the next bright idea for your business.