Hiring a Strategy Consultant is Not About You

My best clients approach me understanding that a) they can’t know it all, b) because they are new to their operating category, and c) if they learn just one transformational insight about their business’ competitive situation, even a five-figure fee is cheap.

They don’t take my ‘tough love’ personally, either. 

Satisfied clients know that the engagement is not about them. It’s about improving the company’s performance or ensuring it stays a high-performing company. If someone points out a misstep, they’re grateful, not resentful.

I’m essentially a rentable brand manager for early-stage startups not trained in the professional analytics or behavioral insight generation required to optimize strategy and executional playbooks.  It’s probably too easy for me to point out misunderstandings that founders have about their performance and competitive situation. That’s why I always pace my tough love delivery. Always.

But, honestly, a lot of folks who have read my book and taken my webinars hesitate to hire me. And I get it.

Most early-stage companies hire functional specialist help as their only ‘consultants.’ They need to solve very precise issues or, more often, simply execute something for them (e.g. social media posts).

Strategy consultants generally do not work with small companies because they operate within large firms that charge very high fees. Brand managers prefer to be analytical employees. Very few ever become consultants. Or want to be one.

For most of you, your ‘strategy’ formed unconsciously as you initially went to market. This unconscious set of choices can be surfaced and, if necessary, modified for better growth. 

Just surfacing your unconscious strategy so you can document it and systematize is a huge competitive advantage over your peers who mainly just ‘wing it.’  The key is to be open-minded when you hire a strategy consultant, not a founder hoping for ego validation.

Dr. James Richardson

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