I was recently having coffee with a senior banker when he said something that caught my attention. This banker said he has met a lot of so-called business coaches and consultants, and most of them have no real business experience. He went on to say that he would be hard pressed to recommend a business consultant or coach to a client without that experience.
His observation highlights one of my concerns with the consulting industry: There is no governing body to screen individuals to see if they are qualified to be a business consultant or coach. Anyone can hang a shingle and say they are a consultant or coach. I’ve met such people. A marketing consultant once told me he learned to be a marketing consultant by reading the book Guerilla Marketing.
But here is the trouble: You cannot be an effective consultant and provide genuine help to your clients by reading a book or going through a two-week consulting or coaching course. You need real-world experience in business during good times and bad. A business rarely has a straight growth curve. If your consultant has not weathered the storms in a business downturn and had to figure out how to pay the bills and make payroll during tough times, he or she lacks the deep understanding of business necessary to be consulting you.
Your business consultant or coach should have a proven track record of managing and growing a business to make a profit in good times and bad. Your consultant should have a thorough understanding of finance and accounting principles and be able to help you understand the language of business, which is accounting. Numbers drive everything in your business and your consultant must help you decipher and understand them.
Another concern is that coaches and consultants often use a one-size-fits-all template. But rarely are two businesses the same and rarely do they have identical problems. The one-size-fits-all approach is like trying to shove the proverbial square peg into a round hole, and it does not serve clients.
My job as a consultant is to improve my client’s condition. If I am unable to do so, then I am wasting their time. If you are looking to hire a business consultant or coach, make sure you do your due diligence and hire one with real-world experience in running a business from the top. Do not waste your time and money on someone who has only worked in the business and not on the business.
If you want a consultant who has been there, give me a call. I am the former COO of a $5 million company. I was the owner of my own business and I spent 22-years as COO of a $40 million company with seven locations doing business all over the world. I have in-the-trenches business experience as well as an MBA in Organizational Development. I’ve been there. 503-312-3145