How to Think Like a Consulting CFO

Hired to Bring Solutions

This is one of the main ways you’ll bring value to a client. You’re being hired to “bring solutions” for them. Either they don’t possess the knowledge, experience or the time to “figure” out the solution to an issue or challenge they have and this is where you step in. You’ll be hired and expected to study their situation and then offer solutions that will bring change.

Hired for Expertise

The reason you can be a consultant is you possess knowledge and experience from your career. That is why you can make this move. You can leverage your knowledge and bring that to clients. So, you’ll be hired and the value you’ll bring clients will be your expertise. What you know, what you’re great at is what you’ll be hired for. And, as I mentioned earlier, whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already an expert at various aspects of your work life. Those aspects and that expertise is what you can sell. More importantly, that expertise is what you’ll use to bring value to a client.

Hired to “Compress Time”

Similar to expertise, one of the key reasons you’ll be hired as a consultant is to do what I call “compress time” for clients. Most of the time, clients simply don’t have the bandwidth, personnel or time to “figure out” the solutions they need. Many are trapped down in the proverbial “trees” and don’t have the time to see the “forest”. They are slammed and don’t have the ability to take a moment and think strategically. Or, they simply are understaffed and need help.

That’s where a consultant comes in. The “value” you’ll deliver is by compressing time. Many of my clients would eventually get to the projects, areas or solutions I have helped them with. But by using me, they compressed time not just in days or months but sometimes years. They got there faster to where they wanted to be and the value I brought them was helping them speed up by using me.

Hired for Independence & Outsider Perspective

Fundamentally, being a consultant means you’re an outsider. You aren’t part of the company. Essentially, you’re independent. In fact, most of my clients hire me for this outsider and independent perspective. They want me to “tell it like it is” or tell it to them straight. Maybe they have “yes” people in their organization. Or, they just simply need someone to give them the truth. Or, they really can’t see it and need that outsider to see what is really going on and offer solutions. Lastly, sometimes, a consultant simply has more experience than the resources within a company and can provide the perspective that a company needs, rather than the company having to “figure” it all out themselves.

I find that the classic phrase “you only know what you know” comes into play here. As a consultant who specializes in various aspects of a business, I’m an expert. Most of those areas in fact, I’m a master. So, for some companies and owners, they simply don’t know and I can help them. Again, the value here that we add is that we are outsiders, offer an independent and unique perspective and can offer solutions that insiders simply can’t see or know.

Hired to Ask the Right Questions

Asking questions is what consultants do. But it isn’t just about their own learning. It’s about leveraging that outsider perspective to step back. In stepping back, you ask the right or even sometimes, tough questions. And, an experienced consultant doesn’t just ask questions but has learned what questions to ask. That’s where their value is derived from. Most Owners, CEOs and Manager are so caught up in the day to day running of the business, they simply don’t have or haven’t allocated the time to step back and ask the right questions.

Hired to become a Trusted Advisor

Lastly, and probably most importantly, you’ll be hired to be a trusted advisor. This is also real value. And, the trust is built from the aspects we’ve gone over above: Providing solutions, providing expertise, compressing time and bring an independent and outside perspective. There is no greater feeling and fulfillment than helping a company, making them happy and affecting their bottomline. In doing so, you become not only a trusted advisor but invaluable.


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Posted in Consulting, General Business.