Outside Perspective

I owned and ran a small business for ten years. Other than some accounting support I didn’t think I needed any other help. That is, until I did. Running a business involves people and when there are people there are complications. I didn’t realise how complicated it would be. I later learned there is a term called ‘lonely CEO’ and I can greatly appreciate this term. When you own a small business, you are it. I had no HR department to rely on, just me. At that time when I faced some significant challenges, I felt I had nowhere to turn. I didn’t know where to get help. I vowed I would work to ensure other small business owners didn’t feel like this.

If you are a small business owner you might think consulting or coaching support is outside your reach as it’s often considered a big business advantage to be able to afford consultants. It might be worth considering some of the advantages which can far outweigh the initial costs.

You’ve heard the phrase; it takes a village. This usually refers to parenting, another role in life we shouldn’t have to do alone. But I think it can also be applied to business. You may have set up your business because of an expertise in a certain area, you’ve grown and maybe now you have staff. Perhaps you’re beginning to realise the lesson I learned, where there are people there are complications. Could you consider bringing in outside help? It might offer some of the following advantages;

  1. Save you Money

While the initial cost of a consultant is an upfront cost the gains in staff retention and engagement can be significant. Some studies, according to this article predict it can cost 6 to 9 months’ salary to replace, train and bring a new employee up to speed. The average salary in Ireland is €52, 817, so even at the lower end it could cost you €26,000 if you don’t get it right. Spending time designing effective onboarding programmes, investing in learning and development and creating meaningful work experiences to engage employees is money well spent.

  1. Outside Perspective

When you are caught up in your business it can be hard to see the wood from the trees. A consultant can come in with fresh perspective and a different mindset because they are not caught up in the day to day issues you have been experiencing. They can also bring ideas that have worked in other organisations.

  1. Specialised Skill Set

You may not need a full time People and Culture specialist but just access to one when you need it. A consultant trained and experienced in this area can bring a specialised skill set to your business without having to pay exorbitant fees. This person is also not caught up in the culture of your business and tied to particular ways of doing things.

  1. Diversity is good for business

Diversity, including cognitive diversity brings fresh ideas or can challenge static ways of doing things. The pandemic has shaken up the status quo so embrace this change with examining how you do things. Are there better ways? Bringing in consultants from different backgrounds or different experiences can be invaluable for offering new insights into better ways of running your business.

  1. You’ll Learn a Lot

A consultant offering different ways of running your business can be a little unsettling. Learning can take us out of our comfort zone and make us feel uncomfortable. I know when I was managing my business control was important to me and that worked well, until it didn’t. I realised quickly how much I could grow and learn from having a support team and network around me.

If you need support reach out and don’t feel like you have to be the lonely CEO.

Aoife Lenox if the founder of Inside Strategies. I provide introvert coaching and training and people and culture support to small businesses.

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