To consult or not to consult – that is the question
When looking for a solution to a challenge, there are many variables to consider and options to choose from!
We all think we know what we want and what’s best to do in theory. But when the dreaded time comes to make a final decision, we end up confused. To make things worse we realize that people close to us supporting our decision-making process are not enough to give us clarity, maybe because they don’t know enough or maybe because they’re biased (any future decisions affect them directly). It doesn’t really matter why because we still need to make a decision and therefore, forced to look elsewhere for answers.
What makes a consultant a valuable ally?
From most consultants’ perspective, if a client is reaching out with a specific request they must have thought about it enough to lean towards a certain direction. So what’s wrong with giving a direct answer to their inquiry, discussing pricing that works and giving them what they want? At the end of the day, a consultant fills a need and complicating things might not end up in his/her favour.
Spending the least amount of time/cost and getting the most return out of each case is the common strategy for most. Why would a consultant bother going the extra mile or offer more information / potential solutions to elements that may need to be addressed, if the client didn’t ask?
Consulting, in its core is neither coaching nor decision making. Consulting includes research/evaluation from an unbiased third-party standpoint, often beyond the limitations of the current network. Ultimately, presenting the client with feedback, strategic advice and viable courses of action.
A consultant’s network (where the proposed solutions will be derived from) in itself can be a limitation. Why? Because no one has all the answers and if they say they do, this may be a potential red flag. Without taking into account what else could be done and adding value through the collection of more information and proper due diligence, (beyond our network when required), how can we be sure that we are proposing the most complete solution possible?
NOTE: Before committing to a course of action or consulting agency, look for 2nd or 3rd opinions. As with important health decisions, where you accept the cost of a 2nd and 3rd opinion to cross check that the right diagnosis is given, you should spare no expense when it comes to your business’s future as well. The increasing number of SOS cases we receive is a testament to this.
Food for thought – how can one assume that the right decision is being made only because it follows the direction of the one asking? Maybe, the wrong question was asked to begin with. For example, there are solutions to banking problems in various jurisdictions. In some cases painful (costly) and extremely risky, but possible. You can present these solutions as a direct answer and be done with it, or suggest more viable alternative structures to the brokerage that can fix the banking problem and also set the path for a sustainable future.
When a consultant is hired, the client and the consultant’s interest are now aligned (or should be in our opinion). In the research and elimination process for the correct direction, of a more complex challenge, the following will become apparent:
- Most solutions noted down are of the same nature
When you browse through your notes, you come to realize that the solutions (even though offered by different providers with minor differences) are the same in nature.
- Some solutions complement each other
Although solutions are straight forward on their own, depending on the case’s requirements/limitations, when combined can form a better structure that fixes a short-term challenge and at the same time offer a long-term advantage that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. So not having enough options limits your perspective into what else you might be able to pull off with minor tweaks or combos. Almost there…
- You’re able to identify the white noise (all “quick fix” options that would eventually lead to problems during actual operations)
There are so many cowboys in the crowd selling and pitching stuff (some of them quite good at it actually) and if you’re not careful, you might make emotional decisions (rush to fix your current problem and unknowingly add another). You tend to forget the rationale of narrowing down, eliminating, choosing the lesser of a few evils (because no business decision is actually perfect). You need to learn to “read between the lines” as some providers will take your project at face value and provide a direct solution to what you want (so you’re limited by your own inquiry). Some will take on your project and give temporary solutions to fix your current issue (knowing it’s a short-term fix, in many cases with potentially irreparable future damage). Some will look into the overall picture and give more options and recommendations that fit the part.
Understood! Now what?
If you carefully collected the information, you should be able to cross check the questions/answers of different providers and identify future problems within the solutions they offer. Where one provider pitched a solution as the answer to your prayers, another might have a different opinion on the matter. Like using an entity (payment agent) to fix a current banking problem, that only transfers the problem to the payment agent. And here you are again with the same problem (minus a couple of thousand $$$ paid to receive this awesome solution). The more providers you approach for the same question, the better the elimination process of this “white noise” will be. You now have a clearer path as to what can actually cause headaches down the line, even though it might offer a quick fix.
Important note: there’s no right or wrong in choosing a quick fix, as long as you are aware that it’s not going to last. The problem is when a provider pitches this as a permanent solution.
Making the right choice is rarely (at least in the years that we’ve been consulting) the answer to the direct question a client asked in the beginning. Many of our clients may have been convinced on an IB/White Label solution that kept them locked in an unproductive cycle, or chose a jurisdiction unrelated to their plan and target audience, or filed a weak application with a regulator ending up in a disaster, or were convinced on a business model that generated less than their previous operation. And the list goes on and on…
From our experience, the best providers won’t give a client direct answers/solutions to their challenges (unless a direct solution is undeniably the correct choice). They will provide options and alternatives after proper due diligence. They will add or remove options they themselves suggested in the first place as more information comes forward, thoroughly evaluate and narrow everything down. The final result will be an educated, researched process to work with and not wishful thinking or unreachable targets that simply satisfy shareholders.
It’s very difficult for a good consultant to take on your project at face value, knowing there could be better solutions to your case. Some people might be more knowledgeable than others but we’ve come to realize that no one is an “expert” in anything. So walking with a grounded partner down the path of deciding the future of your business, is most definitely a win because where everyone else keeps failing with inadequate information, you will always come out on top with solid structures, targeted milestones and a stronger base to work with.
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