Creators of Habit…Are We? Can We Dance?

by Keith Basik on February 19, 2012

Lessons In Business

This blog is the Third of a series highlighting key lessons learned in business. They are lessons that apply to all businesses, regardless of the type or industry of the business. The goal is to have business owners, buyers or sellers of businesses, and other readers comment and share insightful vignettes or short stories that have changed the way they do business. Comment or submit your story to

 Creators of Habit…Are We? Can We Dance?

I was on the outside looking in.  As I was looking to possibly list a business, a consultant was brought in by the owner to help improve some aspects of the business.  The owner recognized that certain adjustments needed to be made to help streamline the business process to make it look more appealing to a perspective buyer–hence, the entrance of the consultant.

I will preface this by saying that I have nothing against consultants. A good one can do great things.  A bad one, however, can do damage and waste a lot of money.

And so the dance began…and surprisingly, it started prior to the music beginning.  The contract to engage the consultant started off bad and seem to last forever. The consultant was slow to call back to answer engagement questions and make adjustments to the contract. The owner would look at me and ask: Does he want the contract or is he too busy?  Since I was not engaged in the whole process, I was not sure what to make of it.  The owner poised this question to the consultant and was reassured that he was enthusiastic about the engagement and could bring great value to the business.

Now, the owner was not a bad businessman, however, he needed help and this person was recommended to him.  So the dance continued for another 3 weeks. Finally the engagement/contract was in place and work was soon to quickly commence.  The owner felt that things may change once the contract was in place.

 O Contraire Mon Frere 

On the contrary, my brother.  Things did not change.  The lack of response continued. The lack of enthusiasm and attention to detailed continued.  The consultant was suppose to schedule a weekly meeting, which did not happen.  The required updates either did not happen or were poorly developed. The owners became increasingly frustrated by the engagement and eventually, after 2 months, wanted out of the contract.

Surprisingly, the consultant was surprised by the owners disappointment and desire to want out. Neither was a surprise to me. The one time that the consultant did assert himself and show signs of energy was in the defense of the contract and his performance. This, then, began several weeks of lawyering up and more wasted time and money.

From the Outside Looking In

From the outside looking in, we look at this scenario and say the owner got what he deserved. True enough. Yet, it is often the case that many owners continue to make excuses or concession for poor behavior or bad performance. And as a result, the dance, which should not have never be started, continues long into the night and makes us tired and regretful in the morning.

As owners, you need to heed the warning signs and realize that habits of creators sometimes do not change. If you don’t, may the dancing begin.





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