Consulting is not a dirty word: 5 tips for working with a consultant
07/10/2016 by The Red Tree
BeautyMatter was born from Founder Kelly Kovack’s desire to provide a fresh voice to a beauty industry hungry for more content from her perspective, and through her lens. BeautyMatter aim to fill the void, connect the dots, and provide an informed, analytical, and compelling point of view. Exploring limits and blurring boundaries, they offer highly curated news and original content by thought leaders and beauty insiders.
“I have been advising clients for the majority of my career and, with each new business meeting, I hear the litany of consultant horror stories. I’ve also been on the other side of the desk, having shared the misfortune of some of the very same experiences. However, I’ve also had consultants and freelancers who have become full-time employees or long-term business collaborators. I love consulting and continue to be drawn to it – not out of need, but rather for the ability to touch multiple brands, work with diverse people, and tackle unique challenges.
External agencies or individual consultants can be valuable resources for companies of all sizes, but as with most relationships, it requires commitment, work, and communication on both sides to reap the benefits. As with most business objectives, having a plan sets the stage for success. In the best of all possible worlds, you will be able to provide a well-articulated explanation of your needs, stipulate background parameters, expertise necessary, services you’re seeking, and characterize the type of relationship you want to cultivate with the consultant for a defined term. However, you may find that the initial engagement is actually to help you identify the problems you face. Either way, acknowledging your needs is the first step to a solution.
Five Tips To Productive Consulting Relationships
1. Have you done your homework?
In today’s hyper-connected world, everyone has a digital footprint. Both sides should enter the first conversation having done their due diligence. Everyone’s time is valuable, so having done this work up front will provide context for the initial meeting and allow for an informed and targeted conversation that should determine if there’s a move forward together, not yet, or that it’s simply not the right fit. Remember, first impressions matter.
2. Is your house in order?
A good consultant should have a list of requirements or a process for engagement. This is an opportunity for both parties to gain insights into what a working relationship might be like. Before signing an agreement, establish what documentation, product, access to staff or clients, and time commitment are required to initiate the project. This is not a place to cut corners: if you, the brand owner, are not able to grant access in terms of time and resources or don’t have the ability to prepare documentation in an organized manner, then perhaps the timing is not right. It’s crucial that a consulting project is set up to succeed if you are seeking ROI from the relationship.
3. Are you looking for a miracle?
Unfortunately, they don’t exist. While it would be nice if it were that easy (but few thing are), most business success requires time, a plan, execution, and constant evaluation. Both sides need to be realistic and clear about the expectations, goals, and term(s) for working together. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No matter how good the consultant is, how deep their experience is, or how many contacts they may have, things take time. If they promise you miracles to land the project, run for the hills. As a brand, if you’re going to go down this path, be sure to make the investment required to reap the benefits.
4. Are you crystal clear or as clear as mud?
Communication is imperative for the project to be completed on time and for the agreed-upon goals to be achieved. Consultants are not mind readers, nor do they have a crystal ball into your past or the day-to-day workings of your business. Conversely, clients sometimes don’t know what they don’t know. It may not always be easy, but open dialogue, brutal honesty, and clear communication ensure efficiency and productivity and eliminate the potential for misunderstandings. Identify a point person for the relationship and a process for decision-making. Projects only move forward when decisions are made.
5. Can you handle the truth?
If you are contemplating hiring a consultant, very often there’s a problem or the need for expertise in one or more aspects of your business. While it may be difficult, you must put aside your embarrassment and fears and be prepared to air your dirty laundry. Laying the groundwork for a project with complete transparency establishes the expectation that you will receive frank and honest advice in return. Whatever the magnitude of the advice, only you can make the final decision whether the prescription is justifiable and correct. Furthermore, you will then need to summon up the courage, flexibility, and resources to take the next steps.
The bottom line is that times have changed, and the ability to successfully work with outsourced talent at all levels is becoming the new business model. Successful consultant engagements can have a profound impact on your bottom line and the long-term success of your brand.”
The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.
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Any company entering The Beauty Accelerator™ competition must be based and registered in the UK.
The scheme by which investment into the winning brand will be made is the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). You must be eligible for SEIS to enter The Beauty Accelerator but you do not need to be registered for SEIS. You can be in the process of applying for SEIS and receiving Advanced Assurance from HMRC, which is free of charge to obtain and certifies to investors that the criteria necessary to qualify for SEIS have been met by the company at the time of the application. You do however need to be SEIS registered at the point of investment.Click here For further information about SEIS
As is the case with all equity investments, the winning brand must be willing to provide equity stakes for both SFC Capital and The Red Tree. In addition, the winning brand might be required to pay a monthly fee for the duration of the 12 month period of assistance from The Red Tree. The size of the equity stakes for both SFC Capital and The Red Tree are unknown at this stage and will be based on the valuation of the business at the time of investment. The value of the monthly fee to The Red Tree will be determined by the scope of work required by The Red Tree and will be agreed in consultation with the winning brand. The equity stake, monthly fee and scope of work will be discussed in further detail with short listed brands during the interview stage.
Brands that applied for The Beauty Accelerator™ 2022 can apply for The Beauty Accelerator™ 2024.
Applicant brands should ideally have proof of concept – the business should ideally be in operation with at least one product currently retailing on the market, an existing website in operation and a number of months of trading.
Under exceptional circumstances, brands that are at concept stage will be considered.
There should be a team in place or a willingness to take on a co-founder at an early stage.
A business plan must be in place and submitted as part of your application to demonstrate the revenue that can be delivered.
The business should not be valued at more than £1,000,000.
All R&D should be completed as funds invested will only be used for marketing and commercial activity.
If you are short listed, you must be available to attend the virtual shortlist interview. It is likely that short listed brands will be required to attend more than one virtual interview.
If you are a Finalist, you must be able to attend The Beauty Accelerator™ Final, either virtually or in-person.
You cannot apply for or already be in the process of applying for another accelerator or incubator during the period December 2023 to December 2024.
If you are selected as a finalist, and if you go on to win The Beauty Accelerator™, you must agree to exposure of you and your brand through The Red Tree’s, SFC Capital’s and Freeths online and social channels and a possible marketing campaign.
Confirmation of the winning brand is subject to SEIS eligibility confirmation, agreement on equity stake and The Red Tree fee, and completion of due diligence.
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