How long does it take for us to trust a distant family member who has come to visit us, while he/she was en route to his or her final destination? Hell of a lot or sometimes never.
Now, Imagine a business consultant who engages with small and medium enterprises (SME's) or any other bigger firm's management to work on their business problem. It can be defying for both parties to come together for a common cause, which creates a sense of urgency for the consultant to take a proactive approach. This approach helps the consultant to reiterate the benefits of the consulting assignment and bring both parties closer for collaborative action.
Building trust in the early stages of client engagement is not as easy as it sounds; it requires emotional intelligence to discern out any doubts. Every consulting assignment often requires a meeting with the stakeholders. Business information can be easily shared when the trust, integrity and respect are secured early.
So, why do we need consulting?
There are several scenarios when a business owner or top management request for consulting. Consulting projects can be for various reasons.
Providing industry information to the client;
Solving business problems;
Providing diagnosis on why product or services are not gaining market acceptance;
Providing recommendations on the business problem to taking charge and executing the recommended solutions;
Implementing change in an organization;
Improving operations effectiveness.
It doesn't matter which business consulting assignment are external consultants called for, apart from having desired knowledge, skills and expertise of the industry trust holds the key. Building an environment of trust with every interaction can boost the comfort level of the engaging parties.
Consulting assignment are generally short-lived in Small and Medium Enterprises due to limited resources and eagerness to get the much-needed business solution; having a feeling of no trust can act as a barrier.
Moreover, encouraging and educating business owners of SME's on the need to ask for "consulting advice" is a steep journey.
SME's are born with the belief that the management has to do everything to keep the business going. This perspective has taken most of the SME's towards failure as the owners were unable to grasp the knowledge or the expertise needed to grow the business. On the contrary, those SME's that are running for many years have developed the prejudice that "they know everything." This approach creates an unacceptable mindset that hinders openness from asking for external business advice when needed.
SME's management, apart from focusing on business operations, must need to become more open for ideas.