When and How to Recruit a Consultant
Posted on September 03, 2008 at 15:47 PM EDT
In a growing business, oftentimes an entrepreneur must decide when and if to bring in a consultant. This can be one of the most challenging decisions for the entrepreneurial mind, which is stereotypically rooted in the "do-it-yourself" mentality. Even more complicated, in the case of small businesses, is the process of choosing between bringing on consultants or hiring full time employees. Fortunately, there are a handful of scenarios and criteria that can be used to evaluate whether now is the time to involve a consultant in your enterprise. Before determining your need for extra hands, it is important to grapple with one major notion: Even the strongest, fastest, most enterprising business owner is not an expert at everything. We all have expertise in different areas, but even strong business leadership skills do not qualify us to handle all challenges. Just because you make decisions regarding your businesses' digital strategy, for instance, does not necessarily mean you have the skills to modify lines of code. Likewise, deftly navigating sales calls does not ensure one’s ability to bring in prospective clients. A consultant can be an essential tool in helping the entrepreneur "bridge the gap" between their talents, and the areas they need to sharpen in order to ensure the best chances of business success. In a recent blog post, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer defined the five primary benefits of a consultant as: 1. Credibility 2. Rolodex 3. Tools 4. Resources 5. Relationships While looking for a consultant, the factors that are important to assess range from intuitive questions like, "Will I work well with them?" or, "Do they know what they're doing?" to the strategic, such as, "Will this person impart the skills we'll need to continue these initiatives on our own?" or, "Will they stay on past their welcome, draining much-needed resources from my company?" The process of selecting a consultant can be an arduous one, but take heart: Consultants' livelihoods are dependant upon delivering quality service. Without providing a professional or beneficial experience, they will seldom receive recommendations, let alone protect their current contracts. This incentive should reduce some of your anxiety during the search. Just make sure to stay away from those with few references and those who speak in generalities – knowing what you are getting beforehand can help avoid serious problems down the road. read more
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