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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Capital

How Do I Find the Best Small Business Consultant Near Me

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Most business experts and business consultant services are former big company efficiency experts that provide a marketed process or great lip service as an executive business coach. However, the reality is that each small business has unique business challenges, coupled with sometimes even greater personal challenges that owners are wrangling with. Top small business consulting firms know business efficiency and process, but are also pragmatic, hands-on executors and problem solvers.

As a small business owner CEO, you are probably a great product person, a great sales person, or maybe even both. Your business has grown to where it is today because of your risk-taking, desire and focus…with maybe a sprinkling or luck or good fortune mixed in. You have lived your business and know your operation better than anyone. But you may also have some tunnel vision and perhaps lack certain vision for the next growth phase to achieve higher business success and wealth generation. Maybe you are fine and happy with a ‘lifestyle business’ that generates a good income and doesn’t require getting up each day with renewed passion and vigor for besting the competition. There is no shame in that at all.

As a small business owner CEO, you are probably a great product person, a great sales person, or maybe even both. Your business has grown to where it is today because of your risk-taking, desire and focus…with maybe a sprinkling of luck or good fortune mixed in. You have lived your business and know your operation better than anyone. But you may also have some tunnel vision and perhaps lack certain vision for the next growth phase to achieve higher business success and wealth generation. Maybe you are fine and happy with a ‘lifestyle business’ that generates a good income and doesn’t require getting up each day with renewed passion and vigor for besting the competition. There is no shame in that at all.

Do you have a strategic agenda for your business but know that you need help to make it happen? Are you exhausted from searching around for small business advisors near me, an outsourced cfo, fractional cfo, interim coo, part time ceo and business experts? If so, this discussion is for you and with the right mindset there is no reason to feel alone in your journey to ‘get to the next level’ in your small business.

You are the business owner President or CEO and are aware of the opportunities and challenges that exist within your company. But sometimes you just cannot see the forest through the trees and feel alone or overwhelmed. It’s the classic CEO vs COO dilemma and has led business efficiency experts to write books and conceive ‘turnkey business operating systems’ that are nothing more than common sense outlines.

Business consultants can be awesome, and some owners find success with them. But entrusting a stranger with the management of your business can be risky and even detrimental, as there are no barriers to entry to be a business consultant other than a resume, a laptop, phone number and business card. Here are a few items you must consider when choosing small business advisors and business consultant services that go beyond mere small business tips and advice and rah-rah business coaching. Business advisors are unique in that they are business consultants and business coaches rolled into one, providing business results with the joy of managing and working with one person.

Business advisors understand you, can see your potential and differentiation.

Millions of people understand business in different ways and just because a small business consultant or fractional cfo understands business does not mean that they understand your business. Generic small business tips and advice will only get you so far, as will, reading self-help and inspirational business books.

Your business is a unique and dynamic entity that has as good as a chance as any of achieving life impacting wealth creation for your family. Before any outsourced cfo or interim coo can help make it more successful, they need to understand what makes it different and have a passion to drive your business to get there. That means business consultants should immerse themselves in your organization and industry. These efficiency experts need to also be growth experts to formulate and implement business growth strategies. True business experts understand how it all fits within your company.

Hands-on small business advisors will understand:

1) You, the business owner, and your personal and professional goals.

2) Your company, your people and quickly learn to become an expert in your industry.

3) Where the strengths and differentiators of the business lie to focus on the building blocks that will enable smart growth both in the short-term and long-term.

4) Both the finances and operations of the business, where efficiencies can be realized and where investment is needed. True efficiency experts know that the wrong cost-cutting can actually hurt performance.

5) Your company capital structure and how to mitigate both business and personal risk for you, the business owner.

6) Your culture and how to create one if needed, knowing that culture for culture’s sake is nothing more than rah-rah business consultant or business coach lip service. It must be authentic and real.

7) The need and timing of when to deploy existing company resources and also have the know-how and contacts to bring in outside cost-effective resources as needed to get the job done.

With your business consultant, you should be able to have calls on the fly and get the practical business coaching advice that is needed to make great decisions. If you find your decisions being bad ones and leading to more issues, than time to reassess your business consultant. Know that some small business consultants will tend to provide advice that is geared more toward them and their expertise versus you and what the business really needs. Sometimes they just don’t know and sometimes they just want to bill you more. In any event, it’s on you as the business owner CEO to manage your business consultants.

Business advisors focus on pragmatic implementation.

Great small business consultants know that it is not about having meetings, giving good power point and making suggestions about how we did it at XYZ Fortune 500 company. It’s about making wise decisions that foster growth, strengthen the small business and having both a quantitative and qualitative impact. Implementing change and making it happen is not the strength of many, and especially if they do not have the huge budgets and support staffs of Fortune 500 companies. For example, if your brand needs a facelift or if your marketing is disjointed and weak, then you need a consultant that can effect change swiftly without deploying a ton of time and resources.

The business expert needs to be an expert in everything, not just business efficiency or they will have to have you bring in more resources costing more dollars and involving more people…leading to inefficiency. You aren’t paying and spending time with a business consultant to tell you what you already may know. You don’t want or need a lengthy report or business plan that no one (including you) will ever read. You are relying on your business advisor to make an informed opinion, discuss it with you, get your input and buy in, and then work on getting the job done with minimal supervision but constant updates. You may also try your hand at implementation but the right small business consultant will also help you solve the CEO vs COO conundrum, as doing everything yourself can only take you so far.

In short, the right business consultant is the go-to resource to devise solutions and also implement change. Change management is difficult and you probably do need that unemotional, outsourced cfo and coo bad cop to work through the changes needed to make your life and business better. Maybe you can do it all yourself, but at the expense of a reasonable work-life balance, is it really worth it. This is the question only you, the business owner, can answer for yourself.

Business advisors are not emotional and are comfortable making unpopular decisions.

Sometimes it can be the people in your business who are the problem. At the end of the day, businesses are all about people. A small business CEO with countless business and people issues once said, “You could build some great companies relying in robots”. Unfortunately, unless you are a robot, you must rely on and motivate people to help a business reach its potential. Employees and contractors come in all flavors. Few are great, some are good and get it done with little supervision, some need a lot of hand holding and attention, and some are just bad employees without potential. A top family business consultant once said that there are no bad employees, only bad managers.

After decades of small business experience and reflection, this is business consultant lip service. There ARE bad employees that just do not or will not fit into your organization and you must weed them out fast before they grow within your company. A great small business advisor knows that you are only as good as your weakest link and your rock star employee knows this too if you are lucky enough to have one. If left to fester, the bad employee that is a drain on the company stays, while the rock star A-player employee leaves to greener pastures. Don’t kid yourself, this is what happens.

A challenge is that sometimes bad employees are people that have worked with you for years. You may be an entrepreneur, but at the end of the day you are still human and can tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. As a human, you can be prone to ignore certain inconvenient truths about your business. What the heck, it’s only costing me $80,000 per year to not deal with this. Your business advisor will know that these situations must be objectively addressed. If you fail to make decisions, than others will make decisions for you that you may not like and will have to endure. Having seen the catastrophic results from poor or no decision making, your consultant will make sure that issues are addressed promptly.

As outsiders looking inward, the right business consultants are objective about even the most uncomfortable situations. As true business experts, they know that it is about the business and not any one person other than you, the business owner.

Business advisors are realistic and shift priorities as needed.

You have set the strategic agenda and your business advisor moves into action-oriented execution mode. Then, like business and life the world changes and priorities change. This always happens and you need a business consultant that is flexible and has the skills to adapt. Your business advisor will know that it’s not about checking the boxes on the to-do list, but rather it’s about real results that endure. The experienced consultant knows that time is money and treats everything with a sense of urgency, but also knows that timelines must be realistic and goals achievable.

Great business advisors aren’t there to perform like robots and check boxes, but rather they know they are transformational as well as transactional. Transformational business consultants have both the strategic vision and hands-on execution ability to both see it and make it a reality. This dual role and skillset is part of the CEO vs COO dilemma and when you find a business advisor with this diverse skillset, you may find yourself enjoying the business and life more…while also adding more value to the business for the long-term. A win-win for you and your business.

Business advisors are not only there to simply motivate you.

A small business advisor can also be your business coach. However, it’s doubtful that your business coach can also be your business advisor. Maybe you need both or maybe you have not found the right business advisor, and if so keep looking. Nothing makes most people feel better than a motivating pep talk or an ego feeding feel-good greatness session. The top small business consulting firms are not there to motivate you exclusively, and if you need that motivation than maybe you should hire a business coach full time or sell your business altogether. A business coach finds it easy to motivate someone. But it’s not purely about motivation, but rather formulating and pursuing a practical strategic agenda that allows the business to reach its full potential.

Let’s face it, as a business owner CEO, it can be lonely at the top. We are all human and need help at some point, even if it means moving outside our comfort zones. The problem is that there is no perfect match-making service for small business consultants and business owner CEOs. There are also vastly many more business coaches and business consultants near me looking for business owner CEOs, than business owner CEOs looking for small business consultants. This imbalance of supply and demand leads to slick consultant marketing tactics, business expert seminars and sometimes more aggressive sales tactics. There are not many professional long-term small business advisors near me that have the breadth and depth of expertise to truly accel in the range of business consultant services that small business owner CEOs need. A Charlotte business lawyer or CPA firm may be a good place to start to find the right business advisor for you, but don’t rely on any one source and keep looking to find that right fit. The results for your business and you personally can be immense if you understand the fragmented world of the outsourced cfo and business experts. With any good fortune, you will find the right business advisor fit that has the pragmatic business expert advice that you seek.

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