Hiring A Business Development Consultant – Mistake Or Opportunity?

I just finished searching the web for business and marketing consultants, and even as a professional Business Consultant, I was left confused and skeptical. The profession seems to be filled with those who over-promise, have little experience, and some who only want to sell you anything but knowledge based on experience. Fortunately, under the rubble, there are those who have spent a lifetime in business and who are practicing professional consultants with a great deal to offer the right customers. Since this is my business, I decided it might be time to offer my observations on why you might need a professional consultant, and how you can benefit.I am a Business Development, Strategic Planning, and Marketing consultant. I specialized in helping small to mid-sized companies review their current activities and providing Critical Analysis, Strategic Planning and Implementation guidance in my areas of expertise. My goal is to help small business and mid-sized companies grow by understanding where they are today, where they want to go, and exactly how to get there.With the disclosure out of the way, let me provide my guidance on hiring a business consultant, what to look for, and what to expect for your time and money.1) EXPERTISE: The single most important reason to hire an outside business consultant is to bring in expertise that you do not already have in house.Most people have a background in their industry, and many have experience in two or three industries. Some people even have experience with 10 or 15 products within that industry, but knowledge, experience and hands on management of a broader range of products, from over a hundred companies, and building marketing and distribution in diverse markets such as North America, Europe and Asia is experience few people have.When you look for a consultant you want someone who has a breadth of knowledge and experience that exceeds that which you already have. Along with bringing a new or different perspective to your analysis and strategic planning, a consultant should bring knowledge that is outside the scope of your current environment.By bringing in someone with a wide range of knowledge and experience in their area of expertise you supplement your current knowledge base. Most companies already have excellent people on staff performing their duties in the areas of business development, marketing and sales. Limitations occur because of the ‘box’ in which we work. You and your staff are running full speed ahead to keep up with the demands of your business. In many cases, you are putting out fires as quickly as they ignite (if you’re lucky). This environment dictates that you focus on the job at hand. When you and your staff meet, you are discussing real problems that need immediate solutions. There is little time to research what other companies are doing and what is successful or not for them.A consultant should bring an ‘out of the box’ perspective to your table the moment they walk in the door. They may not understand the minutia of your business immediately, but through discussion and some research they will bring new perspective and ideas to your problem solving and business planning process. Their expanded world view will open new doors of opportunity for your organization and offer ideas that have proven successful in other environments.2) ECONOMICS: The second most likely reason to hire an expert business development consultant is saving money.Hiring the expertise you need for every aspect of your business development process is not only impractical, but impossible.When we need professional expertise we either outsource or bring on new staff. Today, in this economy, hiring new staff is a luxury most small business cannot afford. Outsourcing is a good alternative, and in the case of consultants, a highly cost effective alternative.In addition to bringing immediate knowledge, consultants bring all the benefits of outsourcing. Taxes and Benefits are the responsibility of the consultant and never carried as overhead by the company. Costs are controlled and can fit your budget. Hiring and firing are as simple as picking up the phone. No job search, no severance. Consultants are usually available when you want them and expendable when you do not. For many that description is a little uncomfortable, but a professional consultant is an independent business person (or company) who works at the pleasure of YOU.In addition to all the benefits of outsourcing, a professional consultant brings immediate payback. Duplicating the expertise of a good consultant might require 3, 5 or even 8 different positions to be filled by experienced managers. Each position requires training and integration into the organization. One expert not only provides the knowledge-base of those positions, but also hits the ground running.Finally, regarding a good consultant’s hourly or daily fee. My experience is that they are usually priced at the level of a senior partner in a law firm or regional accounting firm. When compared to the cost of hiring that same expertise on a long-term basis, they are almost always a bargain.When hiring a consultant, clearly define your objectives and identify the deliverables he or she will provide. Always receive a firm bid quote. Then consider; can we do this in house? If so, what is the cost in using our own manpower, including the cost of pulling that manpower off other projects? If not (which is usually the case), then ask if the deliverables and benefits are worth the cost?3) USABLE DELIVERABLES: You want a deliverable that can be used over a long period of time throughout the organization.In most cases, you hire a business development consultant to help you solve a specific problem or more often help you define a plan of action for taking you where you want to go. In such cases, you want someone who can deliver in writing a road map for future activities. To do this, they must be able to guide you through a careful and thorough review process in which both you and the consultant identify what is working and what is not, and where the holes are in your present plan.A good consultant will then be able to lead a strategic planning process in which the consultant, you and your staff collaborate on developing an expanded plan in which your ideas and wishes are combined with the consultant’s to create a plan that is much better than anyone alone could create.Finally, a qualified expert consultant will be able to create a written plan that includes a full marketing plan and budget that can be used as a guide, a road map if you will, to take you where you want to go.This document should not be an academic study, but a dynamic real-world document that reflects the hands-on expertise of your organization and the consultant, and is used, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.4) OBJECTIVITY: You must have objectivity that ensures the advice you receive is in YOUR best interest.You want a consultant that is objective with no conflicts of interest or hidden agendas. In order to give you the valuable information you’re paying for, your consultant must have only one allegiance – you.This doesn’t mean that the consultant you hire hasn’t, or won’t in the future, work for companies in your industry. In affect, that experience and diversity of knowledge is what gives them value. It does mean that they sign a confidentiality agreement; they do not discuss or disclose any proprietary information to anyone outside your organization; and they are not obligated to another company in any way that would degrade their work for you. ­­­­­­­What you want is someone who has the experience to be called an expert, and professional ethics to match their expertise.5) HANDS ON EXPERIENCE: Finally, you want someone who has experience in the field. As a small business manager or entrepreneur you need experts who understand the challenges you face, and who have had to meet and solve those challenges.As a small businessman in my first company (a drafting and engineering company) I hired someone who had been a high level manager with a very large engineering firm. I thought they would bring expertise in how to run my business. What I got was someone who was used to managing assistants and departments, but who had no real knowledge of how to get the job done. In other words, he understood big business and big budgets, but he didn’t know how to roll his sleeves up and deal with my problems. After spending much time and money, I finally realized my mistake. After that, I made sure the advisors I hired had the hands-on experience of an entrepreneur and knew what running a small business was all about.When you hire a consultant you want someone who has been there, built and managed companies, analyzed markets, and implemented and managed business development, marketing and sales campaigns in a wide range of markets for diverse products, for small to mid sized companies. You want a professional consultant with hands-on experience who understands your problems and can offer real world advice and solutions.The best way to ensure you have an experienced professional that can truly help your organization is talk with them. A qualified consultant will have a history that speaks to your market, will have references, and will be able to communicate with you in a way that tells you they know what they are talking about. You will hear their competence in their answers to your questions and in the questions they ask you.What I suggest is after you read their materials, visit their website, and complete your due diligence, call the individual(s) you think are qualified and talk with them. Ask questions specific to your business and industry, and listen carefully to the answers. If the answers are full of fluff and hyperbole know that the service you receive will likely be the same. If, on the other hand, you hear information that feels real, has substance, and reflects an understanding of the subject, you may have found someone who can truly help you shortcut the learning curve of building your business, help you reduce costs, and help you significantly move your small business or mid-sized company forward.Some final comments about hiring a business development consultant:Consultants may be experts, but they won’t know everything about every industry. In most cases, you will know your industry and business better than they ever will. What a good business development consultant brings to your table is a diverse range of experience that can apply to your situation. They bring new ideas, and the ability to think outside of the box, which, when combined with your specific company knowledge, catapults your organization forward. Don’t expect them to know upfront all your industry statistics or demographics, that they can obtain through research. What they will know is how to solve the broader questions of where you want to go and how to get there.Professional consultants are full time and have been for a long time. They are not part time consultants and not ‘between jobs.’ Their expertise is born of long term work and effort, and it is displayed in the service they provide you.The best consultants work on a fee basis, with costs quoted and known upfront. Proposals should be in writing and itemized to identify a projects objective, scope, and timeline. Transparency and no-surprises are exactly what you’re looking for.Good luck and good marketing.

Selecting the Best Contractor For Your Home Improvement Project

Maintaining or renovating a home can be a very daunting task for most people. However, after all the hard work and investment in time and resources you have allocated for a home improvement project, the satisfaction of seeing a superbly crafted home that you can call your own can be priceless indeed. Such is the importance of choosing the best and most qualified contractor who is knowledgeable and capable enough to turn your vision into a remarkable work of art.When choosing a contractor for repairs or renovations for your home improvement project, it is vital that you first acquire all the important information about a particular contractor before ever committing in getting their services. You need to make sure that they are capable of performing all the inclusive work, including customized builds and improvements that you would want your home to have. To get all these pertinent information, you should ask your contractors a strategic set of questions designed to extract all the data that you will need. To help you start in this direction, you should ask the following set of questions:* Does the contractor have the appropriate knowledge and experience with the type of home improvement project that you have in mind?According to recent information from the industry, approximately 80 percent of contractors and builders are knowledgeable and are adequately trained in the latest construction and building techniques. However, even though they may have the training with these new techniques and the certifications to show for it (ex: techniques in energy-saving green building technologies, etc), their actual experience may have just been picked up or even achieved as they work on new projects. On some cases, the home renovation projects may involve a historic home with irreplaceable artifacts or sections. A contractor may not have the expertise in dealing with such a home nor could they match the craftsmanship involved with these historic masterpieces.* Is there an existing relationship between your contractor and architect/designer and have they worked together on a project before?For your home improvement project, you may take on the services of some of the best architects and interior designers in the whole of Massachusetts. To complement the expertise of these professionals, it is but proper to also get the services of the best contractors for the project. In such cases, it would be best to choose a contractor whom your architect or designer knows. They may be aware of the track record of these contractors and may be comfortable working with some that they can identify. With such arrangements, you can be assured of a timely completion of your project and in the manner that you envisioned it to be.* When you inquire something about the project, does the contractor communicate well with you?It is a normal thing for homeowners to ask something about a home remodeling project from their contractors. However, if all you get is a hasty answer without much details and it would appear that they want you off their faces, then be careful of such contractors. A good contractor should be receptive of the needs of their clients and should be ready to discuss every detail of the project should you ask for it.* Is the contractor experienced in working with your kind of home?A commercial construction is different from a home construction in terms of details and even on building and safety codes. The contractor should be adept in the type of home that you have, otherwise they might turn your priced possession into their laboratory for trial-and-error building methods.* How fast can the contractor start and how soon can they complete the job?Finding the best contractor is one thing, but having them start on your home as per schedule is another. You might be at the end of a long list of clients and would have to sit it out for months on end. You should weigh the urgency of having the work done as soon as possible or getting the services of the best contractor that you can get.* Is there a guarantee for their work after completion?A competent contractor will give you the assurance of an excellent renovation or repair work and will provide you with a guarantee on the work done. They should be confident enough of the quality of their work and give their clients the assurance that they need.Conducting a one-of-a-kind home improvement project for your Massachusetts home entails the best services from the best professionals available for the job. Taking a few extra moments in checking out your contractors before hiring them can spell the difference between a disastrous undertakings or a magnificent work of art you can call your home.

Treat Your Food and Drink Allergies

Certain food and drink allergies can make you very uncomfortable in few situations, keeping you always suspicious of what you are about to eat or drink. This can affect a human in a many different ways. Just think about it! How easy it is to have the same food every day you are already bored with? Well let me give you a clue, ”It’s NOT Easy.”Even worse factor is, in some of the cases when you were able to enjoy a certain food or drink, but in the meanwhile you have developed an allergic reaction to it. It surely is very unpleasant to hunger after a certain food and to resent it at the same time because you anticipate the disagreeable effects it will have on you.Food and Drink sensitivityThe way you get allergic reaction is when a specific enzymes in the product you are having can not tolerate some chemical or natural substance of it.The main symptoms are: gas, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, skin rash, headaches, and cough.From another point of view, allergy is an immune response to some allergens, or food proteins that generate the allergy, and has a partially different symptomatology: soft tissues (tongue, lips, eyelids, etc.) swelling lesions itches vomiting culminating anaphylactic shock.Most common Food generating allergies include milk, eggs, seafood, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.Aloeride effectivenessNow there is a easy way to regain the possibility of using food and drinks banned for long time from your diet. Few cases reports an increased tolerance to substances you could never even think to ingest again after undergoing terrible reactions to them. The fact that Aloeride performs on the immunity system guarantees that allergic reactions, as immunity responses to some mixtures found in food or drinks, can be dealt with. Using Aloeride for drink or food allergies doesn’t really mean you should go and grab everything you had allergy before with. It would be really irresponsible from your side, however Aloeride may actually surprise you, it offers you an opportunity to learn simple things like rightfully appreciated food, especially after a period of constant prohibition and frustration.