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Life of a Consultant

Sanjit Kumar wrote this question on Linkedin, to which I replied below:

Whether consultancy is Jargon? OR practical approach…

I will not deny of the facts that most of the consultants believes in excellent presentations as well as good jargons and most surprised things is that customers also believe in those. Business owners believe more on consultant who use lot of jargons rather than an internal employee who try and force to do internal change management within an organization.
I would like to ask a straight forward question to most successful consultants:
1. How many of you started and given a right direction to firms who were completely lost. As per my understanding most of the successful consultants prefer to provide consultancy to firms who are doing good but wanted to be best?
2. Whether you work only with well establish firms where executives and board members can easily understand your communications rather than values and believes of your words.
3. How many of you started your career from a start-up firm, gone through all practical and real business problems and then started providing consultancy to other after analyzing the real practical world experience like most of the fortune business owners had gone through in their practical experience?
4. How many of you are successful without any brand tags? Means can create a path by yourselves not to follow the path created by someone else.

My reply

Very interesting question! I wrote an article, a couple of weeks ago, entitled "The life of a consultant" (see links, it is in Portuguese, though). In this article I mentioned I noticed I became a consultant when I no longer could explain to my mother what my work was. In my usual presentation to a new customer I tell them most people think a consultant is someone who comes into a firm and tell them everything they already know and charges quite a good amount of money. A little bit later, after presenting a little bit of what we have done in the past, I tell them that as a good consultancy firm, we will tell them what they already know and we will charge them quite a good amount of money.

I do believe in "radical transparency", even more when providing consultancy services. The true is we, consultants, walk into a firm and the first thing we have to do, before throwing up methodologies and jargon, is to understand how the company works, who are the key people, gain their confidence and try to voice up already existing good ideas, maybe formating these ideas in a way we already know (based on our previous experience) they will become a success.

A consultant needs to "blend in", be recognized as part of the team. In the other hand, people must know a consultant's work has an specific time to end, so they may use this as best as they can. A consultant needs to build a trust environment and, at the same time, be firm enough to let the people who hired him know who is a good asset for the company and who is not, in his point of view -- notice: a consultant recommends, never decides on behalf of the ones who hired him/her.

Regarding brand tags... I assume you are talking about major consultancy firms, am I correct? Well, it depends a lot in the way you position your business. If you decide (as I did) to move into the market with your own name as your brand, you will lose quite a lot of business to well known companies. As you go along and insist providing a good job and building your history (bring with you your successes from the previous life, also) you will start to win more and more businesses. In my case, it worked building a serious of small success cases, and then start moving on to bigger markets. In my company's web page (see link) there is some information on my todays and previous projects. There you will see the range of projects I can now show, after some years of building my company.

Links:

- The article "The life of a consultant", in Portuguese



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