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How to Hire a Consultant for Your Business

By: EJ Dealy

 

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Starting your own business is one of the most effective and fulfilling ways to take control of your life and your finances. You’re able to set your own hours, meet potential clients, explore your interests, and pursue projects that interest you. Additionally, you can set your own rates and become responsible for how much money you’re able to take in. Running your own business does come with its risks. At some point in any business’s lifespan, problems and questions will arise that are best addressed by a professional business consultant. There are a few reasons why hiring a consultant can prove to be a useful strategy for your business.

As a business owner, sometimes you may feel that you are too close to the problem at hand. You may find that you and your team of employees work well together, but often think similarly and come about solutions the same way. Hiring a consultant is beneficial if you’re looking for an objective point of view. Sometimes a fresh look and thinking outside of the box can give you the exact answers you’re looking for. Additionally, a consultant makes a career out of helping many different clients solve a variety of problems. They are experts at giving advice because they have experience and specialize in specific areas that can help you with your business. Through seeing problems from many different sides, the consultant will be able to use that experience to help solve your problems.
Before you hire a consultant, make sure you know that the person you are hiring is the correct person for the job. Hiring a consultant is a big commitment. You do not want to hire somebody who might put you in a worse situation than when you started. There are several steps and precautions you should take to ensure the best match between the consultant, you, and your business.
Be sure to know what the exact problem is your business is facing. Knowing the problem will make searching for a consultant that much easier. You don’t want to hire somebody who specializes in branding management if the problem you are facing focuses more on creating solid benefits packages. If you know what the problem is, you will know what to expect from the consultant. Before you hire the consultant, create a detailed outline of the problem your business is facing and how you found yourself in this situation. You should be able to describe the list of steps you’ve already taken and why they did not work. Then it’s time to decide what you want the consultant to do. Should they simply offer advice? Do they get decision-making power? Do you want them to just go ahead and fix the problem for you? Maybe you want to learn what they’re going to do so you can use some of these steps if the problem arises again.
One thing you should remember before hiring a consultant is that any self-employed person can essentially call themselves a consultant. A simple Google search can show thousands of results. Finding the right consultant can be a daunting task. Try asking friends and colleagues for professional referrals. Using referrals can help you find somebody with a decent track record and good experience. Consultants should also be able to provide you with a list of references. Feel free to contact those references to check out the consultant’s work style, expectations, and experience. You should also develop a list of questions you’d like the consultant to answer. You can learn quite a bit of information about a person through a simple conversation. If you don’t foresee a professional connection with the consultant, there is a strong possibility that the working relationship will not work.
Once you find the consultant you are looking for and everything is squared away, make sure you take the steps to protect yourself and your company. Go over any legal matters such as confidentiality agreements and billable hours. Discuss a timeline to ensure the problem gets solved in a reasonable amount of time. Find out if they have any other skills or talents that could be beneficial to your company while they are working for you. Hiring a consultant can be an expensive undertaking. Make sure if you hire one, that you are using them to their utmost potential.
Published: July 23, 2013
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EJ Dealy

E.J. Dealy is CEO of The Company Corporation, which provides affordable incorporation services to entrepreneurs and small businesses nationwide. In addition to filing corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs), The Company Corporation offers a wide range of products and services, including license and permit assistance, corporate kits, business education books, certificates of good standing, and more. The Company Corporation does not provide legal, tax, or financial advice.

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