How to Tell When You Need a Business Consultant
This week, I want to talk about how to tell when you might need a business consultant. This is different from a peer group, of course – this is focused one-on-one coaching with a business consultant. A lot of people think they need a lot of help, but really, they might just need a little tweak here or there. They get some tips, find a resource, and turn it into a DIY project. But there are those who really do need help. So if you’re wondering where you fall, here are four quick self-diagnostics that you can do that should give you more clarity about whether or not you actually need the services of a business consultant.
Communication has broken down.
How do you know communication has broken down? There’s a whole series of issues that will tell you if communication has broken down. You’re avoiding each other. You’re not talking. You’re trying to find reasons to skip business meetings because it’s gotten uncomfortable. People walk out of meetings. People storm out of meetings. People get into meetings, and they get frustrated and at their wit’s end, and they leave the meeting.
Eye contact is a big thing. If you’re finding it hard to look other people in the eye at your business, that’s a real key sign.
Trust has broken down. If I say I’m going to do something, and your first reaction is to roll your eyes and say, “Oh my gosh, here they go again, promising something they have no intention of following through.” Shouting, fighting, even physical violence has been known to happen in some businesses.
Interrupting other people, not showing other people respect in conversations or in meetings. Talking over them, disregarding them, looking at your phone while someone else is talking. That lack of respect in interpersonal communications is an issue. Power plays where people draw lines in the sand and they say, “If we don’t do this,” or “If you do that, by God I’m quitting,” or any other types of ultimatums.
When there’s a lack of communication, decisions stop getting made, and nothing gets done. Because of the lack of communication and the lack of coherence among the people in the business, you get bogged down, and the same problems begin to repeat themselves. There’s no positive solutions. There’s no clear pathway to getting out of this continuous, frustrating loop that you find yourselves in.
You’re not getting good advice from traditional outlets
You’re not getting any new advice from your traditional advisors to help you get going in the right direction. Most small businesses will turn first to their CPA when they have questions. Then, of course, there’s the cohort of traditional advisors, there’s the CPA, lawyer, insurance people, bankers, investment people, etc. Once you get to a point where you have challenges (like communication), and you find that your traditional advisors aren’t providing the pathway you need to break through, then you probably need to go to a more specialized advisor, and get a different kind of counsel.
Your good employees begin to leave the company
Because of whatever problems you’re facing, whether it’s poor communication, the lack of decision making, the lack of a clear direction, or stagnation, whatever it is, your top employees might leave the company. That should be a huge warning bell that you better do something and you better do it quickly.
A sense of dread
I’ve heard this story before: A father and adult son are in business together. The son said, “When I come to the office in the morning, if my dad’s Cadillac is sitting in the parking lot, I just want to leave.” In fact, on many occasions he would. He would go to the country club and hit golf balls, knowing that his dad was going to leave at 12 noon to play golf, and he could go in and get his work done from 12 to 7 or 12 to 8 or whatever it was. The situation with his dad had become so poor that he actually dreaded being under the same roof with the guy. Long story there, but that is a real, palpable, emotional sense of foreboding that he has about interacting with his father at the business.
If any of those four conditions exist in your business, you probably need some more specialized help. Hopefully, that gives you some clarity about when you do and don’t need to seek help from a business consultant.