Should Your Small Business Hire a Consultant?

Author: Gina Hall | May 18, 2016

Are you a business owner? You may think you can do it all only to find you can’t. Hiring a consultant may be the answer.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to master everything you need to do to bootstrap, kickstart, or expand your enterprise. You may not know where your business is headed six days from now, let alone six months. Consultants can provide outside expertise in areas where your skills are lacking as well as shape a roadmap that will guide your business forward.

How do you know when it’s the right time to bring in an outsider? How much should you spend? Here are some things to consider when hiring a consultant.

1. A consultant works on problems, solutions, and optimization

Consultants have many specialties, but their services boil down to three main points:

  1. Identifying problems
  2. Suggesting solutions
  3. Optimizing workflow

Maybe you’ve seen a decrease in sales and need to pinpoint the source of the problem. Perhaps you know the reason behind the decline and are seeking low-cost solution. It’s even possible you’re experiencing a breakdown in communication among your employees and need someone to propose a plan to track online and offline discussions.

A consultant can help with these problems and more. Do your research to ensure a potential consultant has experience in your area of need before you bring her on board.

2. Communicate exactly what you need

If you’re well prepared before you hire a consultant, you have a much better shot at getting your money’s worth. Have a detailed list of what you need accomplished so you don’t wind up accepting a standard consulting package that doesn’t fit your immediate needs.

3. Consider the contract

Even an expert can’t work magic overnight. Hiring a consultant can be a commitment of up to six months. Know that you won’t see results right away, and make sure you’re comfortable fronting the monthly fees. If possible, structure the contract with outpoints that allow you to exit the deal early if you feel like you’re not getting what you want.

4. Determine value

The amount you should pay a consultant depend on the value you expect in return. Are you hiring someone to streamline a process that will have little effect on revenue? Then don’t invest a lot of capital. Conversely, when you hire a consultant to overhaul your business plan, you want to ensure that your problems are her top priority, so you should pay more.

Calculate how much revenue you expect to generate as a result of the consultation, then balance that with the costs. Consultant fees can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars per hour per project.

5. Manage expectations, but expect results

The consultant can’t do your job for you, but they can provide a clear strategy for success. Outline clear delivery expectations for your consultant, setting benchmarks for the duration of your contract. Strike a balance between how long you’re willing to wait for results and how long you can keep up with the extra expense.

A partnership with a stellar consultant who has the skills and experience to improve your business can make for an exciting experience. Good luck!

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