Arleo Dordar, Managing Director & Founder at Venture Plans.

Showtime’s Super Pumped portrays the rise and fall of Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick—a cautionary tale for startup leaders. Lacking a moral and strategic compass, Uber was led without an eye toward sustainability, compliance or culture.

Too many founders think they have to be larger than life. When they reach their limits, they try to compensate with charisma. The smart ones know when to seek help, but too many try to cobble together advice from various counselors—a little strategy here, a little legal there, etc.

For those leaders looking to hire a business consultant firm to assist, there are a few attributes to keep in mind. Based on my experience as the founder of a full-service consulting firm, you need someone with the breadth and depth to help you envision the whole and execute each of its parts. Here are seven traits to look for when hiring a holistic business consulting partner.

1. Expertise In Comprehensive Business Planning

Charisma is cool, but planning is crucial.

A comprehensive business plan addresses key components such as strategy, value proposition, revenue model development, financing structures and much more. I’ve heard too many sad stories from clients who paid a steep price for not addressing these issues in advance.

When hiring a holistic business consultant, be sure they understand the art and science of planning so you can launch with a comprehensive strategy in place.

2. Ability To Analyze The Market

Startups need to know where their segment of the tech industry is and where it’s going. Business leaders should look for market research consultants who can analyze the market from every angle and find the best point for maximum penetration. That includes looking at broad trends and discrete individuals.

Look for a partner that can identify precise needs through comprehensive research, surveys and interviewing. This can help you prioritize pain points, tailor solutions and validate them through rigorous testing.

3. Skill In Crafting A Strong Value Proposition

Your value proposition is your reason for existence. If you can’t tell people what you have to offer and why you’re better than your competitors, you may as well close up shop.

Crafting a value proposition is an art rooted in science. Using customer and market research, it presents your company’s experience, benefits and features as the solution to the customer’s wants, needs and fears. Look for a consulting firm with a background in generating strong value propositions. You want a partner who can help you know your customers better than they know themselves—then help you articulate your offering to speak directly to their pain.

4. Patience And Proficiency In Product Development

Too many entrepreneurs fail because they don’t spend enough time on their products. Depending on the circumstances, it typically takes several years to get a product to market. I tell my clients to plan for one or two years at minimum. Anyone who thinks they can do it faster is rushing.

It takes time to do the research and understand the user—their wants, needs and ideal experience. The latter is crucial. This is why conventional wisdom encourages developers to invest up to 20% of their budget in UX design.

Customer feedback is critical. Developers win when they create abundant opportunities for customers to provide crucial insight. A firm with skill in customer experience consulting will know how to guide you in soliciting this feedback to ensure your product is poised for success.

5. Strong Networks For Streamlined Fundraising

When choosing a potential partner, pay attention not just to what they know but who they know. For instance, the tech industry has seen a massive surge in investment in recent years, especially in cutting-edge technologies like AI, quantum computing, privacy and sustainability.

To get in on the action, your startup needs connections. If you don’t already have a network in your pocket, the right consulting firm can leverage theirs for you. Look for a partner with the right network that aligns with your business.

6. Legal Acumen And Resources

Every startup needs legal advice—especially those in tech. Bringing in outside counsel is necessary but can often cut against the grain of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Why? Because law firms without a consulting or business background can give great legal advice but may struggle to integrate their counsel into your company’s bigger picture and may not be able to give you strategic business advice. Be sure to consider firms with in-house legal resources that will keep you compliant without derailing your business.

7. Access To Vetted Technical Resources

According to some estimates, as many as 75% of venture-backed startups fail. In tech, especially, the odds are stacked against new businesses, and the only way to rise to the challenge is to hire talented people you can trust and inspire them to deliver their absolute best performance.

On their own, entrepreneurs may struggle to hire the right people, manage them well and measure their effectiveness. Consider partners with the entire range of personnel networks, connecting you with top talent and motivating them to perform at their best.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be a visionary know-it-all, nor do you need to hire the one consultant to rule them all. You just need a partner who can add coherence throughout product development, streamline resource management and corporate governance and open up a new world of well-connected friends. Do your due diligence—it could put you in the best possible position to enter the market and stay there for years to come.

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