How business consultants can affect your business?

Good, expert consultants are a need of any growing business. But not all consultants are good. And not everybody who shows up is an expert. There are many black sheep who spoil the reputation of the entire lot. Here is a case study about a businessman who fell prey to one such firebrand – business consultant and nearly destroyed his business. So, what went wrong? What to watch out for? Read on :

Pramod had a good, growing business, inherited from his father. After his father’s death, since around ten years, he was running the business. During these ten years, his friends had moved much faster in business and created their ‘corporates’. Pramod felt left behind. Not happy with the pace of growth and etching to move faster and into newer markets and industries, Pramod tried many things. To claim citizenship of the ‘Corporate World’, Pramod was advised to

  • Hire professionals
  • Learn new things, attend seminars, courses etc.
  • Appoint expert business consultants

He did everything of the above. But still, his business went down instead of moving up. In last three years, he reached a very difficult stage where survival of the business became uncertain. Pramod’s uncle noticed this and asked him what was wrong?

On his part, Pramod, too, was eager to find a solution to his problems. He wanted to share his frustration with somebody. He explained the situation to the uncle in detail. He made it clear to the uncle that :

  • I have learnt the new-age management practices.
  • I think BIG.
  • I think ‘out of the box’.
  • I think ‘different’.
  • I think ‘smart’.
  • I work smart, not hard.
  • I do ‘different things’.
  • I delegate. I don’t take tension, I give tension.
  • I have learnt to ‘be passionate’ about my business.
  • I innovate.
  • I focus on ‘creating value’.
  • I manage ‘work-life balance’.

But still, my business is going from bad to worse, instead of growing.

Uncle was pleasantly surprised by his nephew’s updated knowledge and the big words we was speaking. He found that Pramod had acquired this Corporate lingo through attending various courses, seminars, workshops etc.

Uncle could also relate that Pramod was always curious about getting an MBA or doing some ‘Management’ course. He was very impressed with MBAs. He thought that the solution to all his business problems was known to MBAs because they knew the dynamics of the ‘corporate’ world. He himself could not get an MBA degree. So, to make up for his management ignorance, he joined many courses. During one such course, he was so impressed by the passionate speech of the trainer, that he thought this trainer must have all the solutions of his business problems.  Next day he called the trainer and appointed him as his business consultant immediately for three years.

Examining the sequence of events carefully, uncle found out the reason for Pramod’s business debacle was closely related to the business consultant’s arrival on the business scene.

Later, the uncle also found that the other clients of the same consultant were also facing the similar situation. There was a striking similarity in the pattern of events. Every business consulted by that consultant was facing some very common, undesirable outcomes. Here are some of the effects wrong consultants had on its client businesses :

1) The old, trusted employees, who had helped establish the business found it difficult to work with the arrogant pseudo-boss, who visited every week and shot orders indiscriminately, sitting along the boss’s chair. The boss just nodded, as if approving the knowledgeable business consultant’s unquestionable authority. This made old people’s lives miserable. They either left or continued unproductively.

2) The professionals hired were insulted by the consultant, because they knew their job more than him. Feeling threatened by these professionals, the consultant repeatedly ridiculed them in front of the boss and others. Most of good, qualified people left or were contemplating moving.

3) The expenses rose suddenly. All that the consultant did, smelt, tasted, breathed, inhaled, exhaled was billed to the company, in addition to the agreed upon contractual fees.

4) All the new important appointment candidates were interviewed, evaluated and approved by the consultant, so good people were systematically kept away. The consultant watchfully safeguarded his territory. Only mediocrity was allowed in. Quality was kept out. With old good people going, and new mediocrity joining ranks, the consultant had an open ground to play his tricks freely.

5) The consultant controlled the boss’s life. He chose what the boss did. Whom to meet, which customers and suppliers to meet, which seminars to attend, which courses to join everything was decided by the consultant. In fact, the consultant recommended all the events to the boss, where he himself wanted to go. In this process, the boss did not get any new input or fresh opinion. It was all filtered by the consultant. The freedom of the boss was curtailed without his knowledge. The emperor’s mind was replaced by a consultant’s mind, without the emperor realizing it…!

6) The word of the consultant carried more authority than the boss himself. People contacted consultant, to get things done from the boss. This is a strange example of reverse management…! A lot of manipulations and misappropriations happened.

Uncle gave his analysis to Pramod and suggested to immediately terminate the services of the consultant. Pramod was feeling the same, but was confused so far. Now, he was clear. He realized that hiring such a business consultant who did not have any accountability was a big mistake. The consultant took credit for every good thing, and blamed Pramod’s team for each failure. The state of the affairs was due to the unwarranted importance Pramod gave to the consultant’s every whim, every silly idea and bookish themes which had no relevance to the situation on hand.

Pramod learnt his lessons the hard way. We should learn from Pramod’s mistakes. It is easy to brush aside MBA by saying “Mane Badhu Aavde Chhe” (I know everything) and then go ahead and hire some self-proclaimed Business Guru (or some even more verbally glorifying title). In that immature ignorance, we open doors to crooks who rampage our empire and then put our name on their “Client’s list.”

Life is short. We can’t make all the mistakes on our own. Learn from others’ mistakes. Wake up.

Author: Sanjay Shah

Sanjay is the author of "Business Management Simplified" which provides Practical, Actionable Solutions for Entrepreneurs. It is an all-in-one guidebook to start, run and grow a small and mid-size business to the next level. He is also an SME Business Coach, Seminar Leader and Motivational/Keynote speaker, Sanjay is based in Mumbai (India). He advises many businesses on Strategy, Leadership, Marketing, Branding, Customer Experience Management and Organization Development. He conducts various self-help seminars and workshops for companies and groups in English, Hindi and Gujarati. For more info, visit : www.SanjayShahSeminar.com