It’s almost ironic that the organizations that really need business strategy consulting are inherently the ones that tend to reject third party intervention. Large and mid-sized corporations employ a number of consultants to facilitate various programs. Yet, it is the very small concerns that typically require more help than they are usually willing to believe.

You’ve probably seen energetic and positive-thinking folks start a business with only a weak idea of where they’re going with it. Meg Childs is one of those folks. She began a cafe in the surrounding area of a major metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest. Most of her friends thought she was cray at first, when she began her business, because the famous Starbucks was opening a new store somewhere on the planet every thirty minutes at the time.

By the time a business closes its doors or files for bankruptcy, they have already weathered periods where they could have done something to stop the bleeding. But far too often a small business owner ends up working around the clock to try to make things work. Many spend sleepless nights worrying about their failing dream, but only very few actually seek third party intervention to save their business.

For more than a decade she was successful enough to gross into the high six figure range every year. She spent her draw on a million dollar house, bought into vacation clubs and took exotic vacations every year with her family. After a dozen or so years, Meg was exhausted. Her goal starting out was to build up the business and sell it for a profit. Even though she had invested wisely in real estate, she never invested in a sound branding strategy. Her operational plan was non-existent and even after fifteen years she had no clue what her business was worth or what her annual revenue at any location was without researching it. Poor Meg!

Her dream fell apart! She tried desperately to sell the business but there were no offers. Nobody wanted what she had built up even though the entire package included great equipment, prime real estate and a central commissary setup that could easily be rented out. Meg was beside herself! Had her luck run out? Why hadn’t her hard work paid off in the end? Aging into her retirement years, she was really tired and emotionally and physically depleted. In fact, she was working harder than she ever had just to keep her investment afloat and pay her family bills.

Carol never stopped to consider building a strategy to help her reach her original goal of ‘working less’ and ‘retiring early’. Somewhere in between her tactical applications and her lack of a sound strategy she managed to create a small collection of spin-offs to her original concept.

Another way to look at it may be like this. When a child is failing in school, parents will usually go to any lengths to get the child help in the form of tutoring or counseling. Yet when a business is failing at the cash register, a typical ‘business parent’ probably won’t rush out to find a tutor for their ‘baby’. They’ll usually blame the economy or try to stuff more money that they don’t have into marketing or fire a few staff members to ‘save money’ and do the work themselves. If you or someone you know is struggling with a small business, think about this analogy the next time you’re wondering what to do to turn your business around.

Remember that old saying: “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink”?. Employing business strategy consulting is simply the first step toward making a business thrive. Even the best consultant in the world cannot make a small business owner successful. But a small business has a much better chance of growing and prospering into the future with a little help from the outside. So don’t be ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ when it comes to making decisions for the direction and future of your small business.