Despite great leaps and bounds in the independent consulting industry in terms of growth, there has also been some bad press received by consultants overall, where it has been claimed that these firms and individuals do not provide value for money.
In order to ensure that you, and your consulting business, avoid these pitfalls, it is important to know what has been said. Some of the criticism has been harsh; however, there may be a grain of truth in there, particularly on the part of established firms, who may be resting on their laurels.
Think of it as an opportunity to prevent your business from these kinds of accusations, and take these messages to heart.
Deliver Measurable Results
In a recent book entitled Dangerous Company, consultants, particularly large firms, were singled out, and accused, of not providing significant, measurable improvements to the corporations that employed them.
Always bear in mind that your consulting contracts are multi faceted – assess, report and solve.
If you achieve the first two steps, but fail to address the last, you have failed in your mission, which is to provide your client with strategies that will improve their business.
Avoid the Consultant Stereotypes
Unfortunately, because of this book, and others like it, as well as the public perception caused by firms like these and others, the professional reputation of consultants overall have been tarnished.
Among the accusations leveled at the consulting profession are wasting time, charging exorbitant fees for very little result, and even lacking knowledge in their fields.
To avoid this, the best solution I can offer is this: whenever you undertake a project for a client, ask yourself one simple question: “Would I be willing to pay for this service?” If your answer is no, step up your game.
Set Realistic Consulting Fees
It is tempting to jump on the price bandwagon, and charge your clients what you know other firms in the consulting industry would charge. Consider however, whether this is wise in the end?
Charge a market related rate, and make sure you are making a profit – that is what you are in business for after all! However, try to avoid knowingly overcharging your client. Reasonable rates for quality products and services will go a long way to building a loyal client base, and garner more referrals from happy clients!
Work with your clients
Making sure you fully understand the brief, and constantly communicate problems or queries to your clients will go a long way to ensuring overall success of your consulting projects.
Always bear in mind though that you ARE an outsider, and very often, there are political issues within an office, that may have motivated management to engage your services. Staff may resent your being there, and may in fact attempt to make things very difficult for you.
Do not take that personally – you are there to do a job, and if it becomes a problem, mention it to your client.
Finally, have fun as a consultant!
People already in the consulting industry or just starting out in the business, seem to define the term workaholic, and while working hard to build a business, and provide excellent service to your clients is admirable, burnout is a risk, and you should try to remember to find some balance.
Short term, intense effort is fine, but if you find yourself trying to work impossible hours all the time, it is time to reassess – you need to slow down and enjoy!