I am launching my own firm that, among other things, provides advisory and consulting services to professional staffing and consulting firms. Sounds odd doesn’t it: consulting services for consulting firms.
Taking a closer look shows that it’s not so odd. Consulting firms face the same challenges that all businesses face: growth, profitability, a volatile market and economy, sustainability, competition in a global economy, threats from smaller, nimble competitors, etc. The same challenges that the proprietor of the neighborhood cafe faces when an Applebee’s open up down the street, or the local businessman has when his taxes or utility costs go up.
The tactical and often high transaction nature of the business within staffing and consulting makes it tough at times look objectively and strategically at the business. It is in the truest sense a people business. People working with people to provide people to do things. Given the normal variability of human behavior, should we be surprised we are consumed with just the maintenance of day to day business?
This tactical nature of the business pulls one away from the more strategic and long term aspects of the business. What is happening to profitability? Why has revenue been flat during a growth cycle? What are the risks and threats to my business? How will next year’s economy impact my top three clients and how will that affect my business? Why do I have staff turnover?
This is where a person in the role of a coach, a consultant, a mentor, or an advisor can provide real value. A person who understands the business and can look at your situation with objectivity and clarity, who can see causes and effects, and help assess a path to resolution. The best ones are those can get close to the situation and understand it yet have little to no emotional stake in the outcome. The ones who sometimes tell us what is obvious but yet we don’t always like to hear.