Thinking of becoming a consultant? Consultant and author Elaine Biech says there has never been more opportunity than there is right now. From a client perspective, here are ten reasons why consulting is a profitable $250 billion growth industry and why companies need consultants.
1. Lack of expertise
The skills necessary for the growing and changing needs of an organization are not always readily available inside every organization. Therefore, organizations turn to expert consultants to complete projects or solve problems they can’t address with in-house resources.
2. Shortage of time
Even when the skills are available in an organization, staff members may not have the time to complete special projects or research. A consultant can quickly become a part of the organization just long enough to complete whatever needs to be done.
3. Inadequacy of experience
Certain professions across various industries are experiencing a shortage of trained employees. As Forbes contributor Kurt Cagle notes, “Increasing job specialization requirements coupled with limited availability will result in more projects getting canceled before they can even begin.” Consultants can fill in until demand is met by training or hiring new employees.
4. Staffing flexibility
Consultants can be brought in for short-term projects. When the work is completed, the organization can terminate the relationship easily and quickly without severance pay or other human resources obligations.
5. Objective opinions
Consultants usually provide fresh perspectives. Outsiders can look at a problem in a new, unbiased way. According to John Behrens there’s value in an outside perspective. “Ask any bartender and they’ll probably tell you there’s a certain contingent of customers who come in just for the conversation. It’s why Norm went to Cheers. Or why on Star Trek Captain Picard would frequent Ten Forward.”
“Sometimes you just need someone to help you think things through. We do this all the time—step up to the bar, literally or not, seeking advice from a fresh perspective— because we know there’s value in having someone else apply their point of view to our situation.”
6. Cross-pollination of new ideas
Consultants bring with them ideas from other firms and industries. This cross-pollination is a surefire way to tap into various resources. Staff members may be too close to the problem to see a new solution.
7. Speed and efficiency
Hiring a consultant who has encountered the same type of project in the past at other companies may be faster and more cost-effective than attempting to bring staff members up to speed.
A consultant can provide an objective assessment, define the problem, and make recommendations. He or she will carefully uncover data that can inform an organization and prepare, plan, and recommend approaches for an upcoming project.
9. Conflict resolution
In the case of a merger, operational issue, or another change of organizational structure, an outside consultant can act as an independent mediator to settle disputes.
An organization may require proof of compliance with federal, state, or local regulations. Hiring a consultant shows that an effort is being made to correct a problem that could otherwise cause legal nightmares.
Elaine Biech is the author of The New Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond. As a consultant, trainer, and president of ebb associates for more than 35 years, she helps global organizations to work through large-scale change and leaders to maximize their effectiveness. She has published 85 books, including the Washington Post #1 bestseller The Art and Science of Training. She is the recipient of numerous professional awards and accolades, including ATD’s inaugural CPLP Fellow Honoree, ISA’s Broomfield Award, and Wisconsin’s Women Entrepreneur’s Mentor Award. Learn more at elainebiech.com.