Operations

Consulting Gigsters Are Coming For You

Martin Romjue
Posted on July 29, 2019
When sizing up a consultant, what can you deduce about their overhead? Are they oriented toward personal wealth and gain? Do they showboat their lifestyles on social media? (Pexels photo by energepic.com)

When sizing up a consultant, what can you deduce about their overhead? Are they oriented toward personal wealth and gain? Do they showboat their lifestyles on social media? (Pexels photo by energepic.com)

If you want to succeed, you really should. . . try new things. Yes, and know your customers. Offer a mobile-friendly website. Personalize your content. Incorporate SEO strategy. Learn what interests your target audience.

Are you still with me? OK, I could offer you more, but that will be $250 per one-on-one coaching session. For another $100, you could join my intimate roundtable (top) where we all finger and pluck glistening gems of wisdom.

Better yet, just spend a few hours Googling these tips for free and how to follow them step-by-step.

With the online information explosion comes a lucrative industry of all types of experts, consultants, and advisors ready to grab a pound of your piggy for providing business-related knowledge. There’s plenty of money to be made, or else you wouldn’t find so much competition, so many glitzy websites, and oh, all those rebates, mark downs, discounted offers for packages, memberships, clubs, podcasts, workshops. . . so much status ready to boost your business self-esteem.

This vast, messy galaxy of sparkles and super-novas could use some serious gravity to sort out the cosmic dust. I spoke on-the record recently with some veteran insiders, with off-the-record names, to glean pointers on how to find the right business help. Call it a consultation on consultants, free to me and now free to you.

Walk The Walk:

Hired consultants, experts, and peer leaders need to perform and produce measurable results. Ask: What business did they run and for how long? Why did they sell, and was it for a high profit? Why are they consulting? What is their knowledge base? It’s difficult to advise on topics and situations you haven’t directly experienced yourself.

Say What?

Avoid consultants who use too many clichés, dense lingo, jargon, or buzzwords (tactile utilization strategies!). Stating the obvious with fancy words is a flaming red flag.

Digital Fast Pass:

I was told one topical area where you do not necessarily need an industry vendor is the digital-marketing-social-media-web-content complex I alluded to above. Unlike more refined areas of expertise such as regulatory compliance and detailed P&L analysis, digital-marketing experts and gurus tend to feed off each other. Given this morass, take time to identify the true innovators and originals, whether inside the industry or out.

Hold My Hand:

Insist on some hand-holding. Plenty of people can give you all kinds of advice and then leave it all up you. That way, you get the blame if results don’t materialize: Well, you didn’t do 100% of what I told you and you didn’t read my mind. In a productive arrangement, the client should do clearly defined “homework” while the consultant guides hands-on.

Group Flex:

If you belong to a brand name group, make sure your business keeps improving. The same forward progress applies as in a one-on-one arrangement. Groups are fine as long as you get custom service, but avoid merry bands of group-thinkers who feed from the same tidbits trough. Remember, the whole point of hiring a consultant(s) is to get unique insights that give you a competitive advantage. Get some strategies for yourself.

Cost Conscious:

If you join a peer group, what is the complete list of costs? In addition to the consulting fee, what are estimated travel, hotel, and meal expenses? Does the group meet in pricey first-tier cities or in accessible, affordable second and third-tier locations? Kansas City? Are you helping pay for meeting room rentals, speaker fees, and travel? There are no right or wrong answers here; just insist on full disclosure and find the right budget fit.

Be A Good Student:

Stay involved in all the changes and suggestions your hired help makes. You are also responsible for following a clear path and the steps toward self-sufficiency.

Deep Benches:

Is your consultant/expert a solo actor, or does your guide have a firm, partners, and/or reliable allies as back-up? If your expert gets hit by a bus, is your business journey or contract in a ditch, or can someone step in and take over?

Bye, Now:

Like all good house guests, consultants and advisors eventually leave. Make sure you are advancing with benchmarks. If you get no results, then stop. Avoid open-ended gigs and long-term contracts. Monitor the relationship so it doesn’t revert to auto-pilot. It has to land somewhere better.

Who Are They?

To my sources’ guidelines, I would like to add a few observations and instincts to follow:

When sizing up a consultant, what can you deduce about their overhead? Are they oriented toward personal wealth and gain? Do they showboat their lifestyles on social media?

I once learned of a RFP presentation where the principals referenced their multiple houses in expensive cities. Guess who helps pay for that? There’s nothing wrong with amassing assets from earning what the market can bear. But if you’re paying someone to boost your business, pick an advisor on the prudent, humble side.

Examine a consultant’s messages, verbal and non. Do you hear and see someone authentic? Do they try too hard to be hip? I recall a nationally known digital media squawker who s- and f-bombed at a business conference like a stand-up comic. It betrayed a disconnect. I’ve also seen too many speaker-experts, online and in-person, who wear “that look,” which I’ll call the casual Justin Bieber slobster style. Sneakers and T-shirt required (I’m leaving women out of this, since they dress much better).

Now that I think about it, these posers could use a grown-up. Well, I see another consulting gig coming on. I’ll take clients to Brooks Brothers for fashion interventions: $100/hr. with access to an exclusive online wardrobe club. And they can buy the clothes.

Related Topics: 20 Groups, business development, expanding your business, How To, industry consultants, LCT editor, marketing/sales, Martin Romjue, peer groups, social media marketing

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 2 )
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  • Martin Romjue

     | about 5 months ago

    Pat, Thanks for the added insights. I'm familiar with several industry consultants. This is general advice on consultant businesses and related services, in and out of the industry, prompted by comments and complaints we've heard from operators. I asked two industry sources to offer some benchmarks on choosing the right ones, because yes, there are really good ones out there. We use consultants internally here at the company we work for. I specifically avoid naming anyone so I don't detract from the larger points. Keep up the good work with Drive Profit. Martin

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