Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Message to Small Business Owners & Employers from Al Walsh

A Good Word for “Little Consultants”
Options to consider when seeking focused talent.

Consulting has it’s place in the world - “Get in, get the job done, get out!”

The street is awash with large consulting firms. They have their place, but be careful. I was invited a while back to interview with one of these biggies. What an eye-opener! All they cared about was who I knew in the business-world, and how I might parlay those contacts into business for them. They didn’t give a hoot what my business capabilities were. Not a single question about my expertise arose. When I didn’t throw them any big names, their interest faded rapidly. Keep that in mind the next time you’re contemplating using a “biggie” consultant.

Businesses, especially small ones, have a love/hate relationship with consultants. On the one hand, they would love to have focused assistance from time-to-time (assistance that they can utilize and then kick out when the job’s done). On the other hand, they cringe at the thought of paying the fees. The utilization of consultants basically comes down to a cost/benefit trade-off. It’s a circumstance- by- circumstance decision. Consultants are used when there’s a need to supplement internal talent. You small business people have the highest aversion, but you also have the greatest need. Small companies operate with lean teams, thus the knowledge-base is more limited. Small contributions by consultants can reap huge rewards. Your team can use a focused supplement from time to time. Wise use of consultants can be a huge boon.

Which brings me to the main theme of this blog. You have options! There are very capable people out there who are available at very reasonable and negotiable rates, and who provide high-quality work, but don’t get considered either because they aren’t in the “biggie” consulting firms or because they haven’t yet established street name-recognition; which is a laborious and slow process. They’re out there, they’re not hard to find in this electronic age, and very likely they’ve already approached you for work.
Most of these “little consultants” come out of the corporate world, where their prior focus was internal; taking care of business for their employers. They were doing what they were supposed to do; and now they can do the same for you.
If you want some focused help, and you’re having a panic-attack over the potential cost, you need to take the “little consultants” into consideration.
They’re hungry, and they’re highly-motivated to please. If you make a reasonable offer (don’t be too greedy), they’ll “jump through hoops of fire” for you. They’ll want to use you as a reference when they’re done - so they’ll do everything within their power to satisfy you. I’ve known a number of these people over the years. They’re quiet, competent, capable folks who are focused on providing quality service. Unless you’re hiring a sales consultant, do you really want one who’s main focus is on selling?
Most business people with any experience can sniff out a “BS-er” pretty quickly, so interview your consulting candidate and feel them out. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not they know their stuff.
Your aversion to consultants will change once you tap the “hidden” talent that’s out there. Give the “little consultants” a chance.

Al Walsh is a Los Angeles area "Unrepentant Capitalist"
CAREER ROLES:~ CEO - V.P. - CFO - COO - Entrepreneur~ Executive Committee & Board Member~ Partner and Advisor to CEO's, COO's & Boards~ Multi-Disciplined Consultant & Contractor

1 comment:

Patty De said...

Thanks Al,

I agree with your thoughts here.... I have always felt that enterprises, large and small benefit from what I like to call "Passing brilliance". Passing Brilliance is far better than permanent mediocracy.