Why your budget should include a line for outside advisers

A quick glance on the Internet tells me the global management consulting industry could be earning anywhere from $330 billion to $1 trillion in a year. Some may think that figure is high. I don’t.

Sure, there are business consulting horror stories that range from asinine to atrocious. You might have some of your own. They stand as reasons to not only be cautious about who you choose to work with, but also the importance of recognizing that, ultimately, regardless of the advice offered, there’s only one person to blame for the outcome.

Consultants serve one essential role for a business leader: they keep them from drinking their own Kool-Aid. Outside advisers, if chosen correctly, have expertise that you or your internal people don’t. They could be knowledgeable about an industry, have high-level business experience, or product, subject or economic expertise. They also can be brought in to offer an objective, third-party perspective on a divisive issue within the company. They’re a check and balance to partiality, a way to filter out the noise or a confirmation of a gut feeling. What they’re not is the final decision.

Business leaders might lean on different consultants at times to get an outside perspective, but you still run the show and need to take responsibility for whatever action comes from their advice. The decisions made— from whose advice is sought to whose is taken ultimately — is yours.

Successful businesspeople get as many perspectives as they can as they look to solve problems, seize opportunities and effectively lead their organizations. Those working without the input of experts are putting too much responsibility on their own shoulders, and that can get them into trouble as it’s impossible to see their own blind spots.

If you aren’t doing so already, consider allocating a percentage of your annual budget toward consultants. Seek out different voices from across industries and get as much input as you can, because there’s little reason to go it alone. Those who have been in business for a while should be able to sort out the good consultants from the bad. And if you’d like an outside opinion on that, talk with your peers or professional advisers, who will most likely have a name or two to get you started.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc.

Fred Koury

President and CEO
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