This post is the second of a series about how proven ways consultants can build valued sustainable business mentoring relationships. The first post** looked at maximising your own consulting confidence in the value you deliver. Now we discuss the next 2 vital ingredients for starting and growing a healthy consulting practice. It comes as no surprise that the formula for a sustainable business mentoring program is based on delivering high value to the client quickly and repeatedly.
Key Number 2: A Shared Passion and Commitment
In nearly all cases, your client is looking for a partner to achieve their goals – the goals they have not achieved thus far. That partner needs to complement and support the client’s capacity to take the business forward. To be that partner, you must also share their passion for their business, and its values.
So the question is: Do you UNDERSTAND their goals, and importantly do you AGREE with them? If you don’t, then something has to change. Either you convince the client to modify their goals and business focus or you get on board with their goals.
Your best kickstart process: Set-up a planning session.
This tool has many benefits:
- During the session you clarify the client’s goals and you can insert realism into the program.
- You retain control of the output document and this becomes the “road map” for the business moving forward.
- Because you identify what resource your client has available, you can work within that resource. Maximise it, AND don’t exceed it.
- Along the day you can agree and document the program, and its pace. The pace you set is critical. Overwhelm them or under-whelm them and you will risk your ongoing engagement.
- Documenting the program helps you and the client to stay committed to it and avoid distractions.
- You can plan progress reviews. On occasions, you may need to alter the agreed plan to meet changed circumstances. Discuss and document all changes, so that the client understands it is a change to the program and not a distraction from it.
- Being consistent, staying focused, is in itself adding value as it minimises the waste of resources that distractions generate.
The Enduring Business Mentoring Program Recipe
Everything you have done so far is leading you to becoming the enduring business mentor to your client. In this role you will be the natural first point of contact when the client wants advice, support or guidance. Now you have the opportunity to deliver results that cement your relationship.
Looking for the Early Wins/ step by step
Early wins will advance you as the enduring mentor. The client will look for your engagement to provide a return on their investment. Providing an early return lets the client know that this is a shared priority.
Achieving these early wins is easier that what you may think. Simply look for WASTE in the business:
- Look at processes: It is amazing how much you can contribute by streamlining processes. Remove unnecessary processes, simplify and see the change in business effectiveness.
- Analyse the cashflow.
- Uncover redundant assets.
You are now able to steer the client and their business to both achieve and exceed expectations. Use this responsibility wisely and ensure you always have the client’s agreement before proceeding.
Keep setting-up opportunities for “easy wins”:
- If you opted for a planning session, then follow-up review sessions can become a regular calendar item. They provide the essential “road map” update to focus the stakeholders.
- Also consider other regular calendar engagements to maintain and build an open-minded dialogue: Price reviews, market appraisals, staff assessments are all very good ways of delivering value-adding guidance.
Extra added value
The enduring mentor should actively source knowledge pertinent to the client’s business and industry to be adept to supply knowledge promptly and effectively when needed for the business. Your goal is to be ahead, recommending to and leading your client, not playing catch-up.
Develop the enduring mentor as a critical role within the business rather than a supplier to the business. Become a colleague for the client and other stakeholders trusted to provide a dependable support: an independent voice, bringing calm, focused and knowledgeable advice, while debating and questioning decisions to achieve the best outcomes for the business.
Your Next Steps Towards Extending Business With An Enduring Business Mentoring Program
Of course, you can choose to work alone and forever harder to grow your consulting business. Consider however how much extra value you could create for your clients by accessing the know-how of trusted partners. And how much added-value you could also bring to your own consulting business.
If you would like to know more about how a network like ours could work for you, why not catch up informally with me or some of my colleagues from The Network Of Consulting Professionals?
This free, and obligation-free, networking opportunity offers a window into building valued business mentoring solutions and an enduring business mentoring program.
Are you available for a chat and for one of our next get-together casual events where you can meet some members of the network?
Read also the first post** here: Business Mentoring With Consulting Confidence