Consultants can be a life-saving resource when it comes to saving the life of your small business, and finding the right one is important. It can also be daunting. But once you do, you need to maintain and grow that relationship to make it work for you, and to justify the investment.
In our “Working with a Consultant” series, we address some important factors in building and maintaining a successful and productive Business/Consultant relationship, from the point of view of a resource that exists to build those relationships.
Ok, this is an easy one. On the surface anyway. Of course, everyone knows that good communication is key to any successful relationship, but let’s talk about how it matters in a more specific way.
As a business owner, you’re an expert in your field. You know just about everything you need to know about providing the product or service you dedicated your professional life to. But when you find the need to hire a consultant, it’s generally because you need help in an area that is outside of your expertise but still necessary to run your business. So you bring in an expert in that field.
To make that partnership work for both, it’s not enough to just communicate. You have to communicate EFFECTIVELY. Meaning, with a purpose. Nobody, especially a business owner, needs another weekly meeting on their calendar just to check in. You need to make that time valuable. Here are some ways to consider:
1. Set goals for communicating to your consultant partner. Your main goal should be educating them on what your business is and does. And you should set goals to learn specifically about what your consultant can do for you.
2. Listen. No seriously, listen. And learn. Allow yourself to not know something and enter into a conversation completely open to learning something you don’t know. Curiosity is a key component to communicating when the objective is to find answers to your challenges. Human beings aren’t great listeners. Our business culture tends to convince us that the most successful of us are the ones that know everything. But in fact, the smartest people tend to be the ones who know what they don’t know. Allow yourself permission to not be the smartest in the room once in a while and let that dictate your questions, and what you reveal about your needs.
3. Be Honest with yourself, and your consultant partner. Don’t sugar coat what’s not working. Remember, you’re investing time and money in a consultant’s expertise, don’t let pride undermine that investment. When we partner you with a consultant, trust that they’re the right resource for you, and arm them with everything they need to know to make you more successful. That’s effective communication.
YDS is here to facilitate that communication. We work with consultants and business owners to develop a common language that ensures successful partnerships. And with that common language, you are already set up for productive communication.