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Most small business owners think they know everything, I know I did. Okay, without this being a history lesson, I have been in the wireless mobility, communications, telecom, cellular or call it whatever you want industry for thirty-one (31+) years. When some people criticize younger people for walking around with their faces glued to their phones, I jokingly say, “yeah, I’m partly to blame!”
But being a small, or for that matter, mid-size or large business owner means being an expert on all parts of your business, and that is impossible. That’s why you hire people that are smarter than you are, get out of their way and let them do their jobs. But many times strategic decisions need to be made based on facts, data, and analytics, combined with your experience, and yes, your gut reactions. As leaders of MVNOs, it’s tough to stay on top of everything that’s going on in our industry when you’re trying to run the daily activities of your company. That is why many people use a consultant or business advisor as a trusted partner to help you see issues from other points of view and guide you to make the right decisions for your stakeholders, employees, and yourself.
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consultant (noun) · consultants (plural noun)
a person who provides expert advice professionally:
Consultants are also referred to as an adviser, guide, counselor, expert, specialist, authority, and a pundit.
My favorite definition of a consultant is “consigliere,” which Merriam-Webster defines as a person who serves as an adviser or counselor to the leader of a (criminal) organization. With all due respect to Tom Hagen (who was the consigliere in the Godfather movies), a good consultant is like a consigliere in many ways; they offer advice, help keep the disputes to a minimum, and help the boss make decisions while presenting options based on both facts and opinions.
What Is The Job Description Of A Consultant?
The job description of a consultant varies from the “skills” of a consultant (see below). When hiring positions for your company, the CFO obviously must have a financial background, the COO be very well versed on how to get things done and the Vice President of Sales better know how to hire, train and lead a salesforce. A good consultant also must have demonstrable skills including:
- Quantitative and analytical skills
- Ability to work under pressure and cope with challenging situations
- Good teamwork skill
- Understanding of business environments and commercial awareness
- Problem-solving skills
- Good interpersonal and communication skills
When hiring a consultant, you will most likely be exposing them to other people in your organization; it is critical that this person is not offsetting, dictatorial, or comes with an attitude that “I am smarter than you!” Collaboration between your consultant and your staff will get you the results you want. It is very interesting that throughout time, employees will tell consultants, complete strangers, things they won't tell you about your company
What Are The Skills Of A Good Consultant?
How do you start the search for someone who can come in and take an objective look at your business, and who isn’t afraid to give you some hard truths that you might not want to hear? If you asked an employee the same question that you asked a consultant, would you get the same answer? Probably not. A lot of times employees don’t want to rock the boat and will tell you what you want to hear.
A good consultant will demonstrable a depth of experience in your industry. A good consultant’s depth of experience should be evident from the first conversation they have with you. Are they:
- With a “Client-first Mindset”
- An Analytical Problem Solver
- An Excellent Listener
- A Lifelong Learner
- Results Driven?
A consultant should be hired by you not based on friendship or any reason other than someone who can help your business. Remember, you are paying this person to come in and get under the covers of your business, ask hard questions and give you choices on what will ultimately affect your company. Do your homework on the consultant’s background and even do an interview before starting your engagement. Do they check all of the boxes above?
When Should You Use A Consultant?
The time to use a consultant is most important when your company is faced with unique situations that require the outside and unbiased opinions of an expert in your field. The time to use a consultant is also when you are crunched for time as they can deliver results very quickly as the consultant, unlike the in-house management, isn’t distracted by urgent other tasks. You may also want to hire a consultant if your business is new, or you are just starting out (see how to start an MVNO).
As earlier stated, a consultant always has a knowledge of the “best practices” and effective solutions from within the client’s industry. I myself in thirty-one years have seen the wireless business completely change from car phones to bag phones to handhelds; from using roaming numbers to connecting effortlessly around the world and from paying per minute (and who remembers free nights and weekends?) to unlimited, talk, text, and data that allow you to stream a movie right to your handset. But I, like many of you, am on a path of continuous learning as we enter 5G, IoT, and new types of learning and applications that were unthinkable just a few years ago. eSIM? Artificial Intelligence?
You simply cannot be the expert on everything that is going on around you, it pays to bring an expert every now and then to help you with the tough challenges that you are facing.
Okay, you’ve looked at your current situation and have decided that it’s time to bring in a consultant. Are you trying to overcome challenges, increase revenue or simply grow? Are there underlying issues that are affecting your business that your employees won’t tell you about?
From my standpoint, here is the bottom line: it's important to ensure business consultants have experience and previous success with companies like yours.
If you’re having issues that you can’t solve, or maybe don’t even know what the issue may be, it may be time to bring in someone who can look at things and deliver a fresh perspective, based on experience, knowledge, and everything else listed above. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to prevent small problems from getting bigger, unknown issues from festering and that might cause employee and/or customer issues, or if things are going extremely well and you just want to grow to the next level. Business consultants may charge by the project or the hour, or require daily or monthly retainers, but most, like my company, will tailor a program that best meets your needs.
Atrium Unlimited Consulting can check off all of the criteria above and more. We have worked with firms of all sizes and delivered exceptional results. We have just expanded our Advisory Board and are looking to grow our staff this summer to best serve the needs of all of our clients. Please go to our website, https://atriumunlimited.com/, and fill out the contact form should you want to start a conversation. And of course, there are many other terrific companies out there that can help you as well. We are all in this wireless thing of ours together, let’s make sure we all stay ahead of the curve.