Thursday, November 8, 2012

Five Tips For Working With A Small Business Consultant

These days, the term and title ‘Consultant’ is used far and wide. Post recession, many professionals found themselves out of a job and have taken up Consulting projects. Based on their previous work experience and professionalism, many nouveau consultants are offering small companies, expertise at a fraction of the cost. Be it Sales, Marketing, Expansion Plans, Business Analysis, or other areas, qualified consultants are quite accessible these days.

Should I Hire a Small Business Consultant?

Running a small business is a full-time, hands-on career. The smaller the business, the higher the chance that as an entrepreneur, you’re taking on multiple roles. A freshly-minted entrepreneur is often both the Marketing Manager and Business Development Executive.

Despite years of entrepreneurial experience, your business may need an external and objective perspective, which a qualified Consultant can offer. For instance, what if you intend to expand your business to other parts of the country but are unsure where your business would thrive and attract both the right talent and customers? In this case, would you like your friends and family to make suggestions? Or would you prefer a qualified professional to use the right analytical tools and shortlist locations, each backed with solid reasoning?

At the s
artutp stages, and as your business grows, you may not be able to hire full-time, qualified help, and Consultants can offer flexibility and expertise across different disciplines. But remember to ask the right questions. What are their qualifications? Have they handled projects similar to the one you’re interested in hiring them for? And so on. Sometimes, you may need to hire more than one Consultant to fulfill separate criteria.

Working with a Small Business Consultant

When you are ready to hire a Consultant, here are a few tips to help you navigate the relationship along the way and gain the best possible value for your investment.

1. Check Credentials.
Remember to check references and credentials. This is also a good time to check their sphere of influence including social networks and digital presence via their site and reviews.

2. Keep It Confidential. Most qualified Consultants will draw-up Confidentiality Agreements before the start of the project. If not, don’t forget to develop an agreement and clearly outline the scope of work to set expectations. In doing so, you can rest assured that what ethics can’t promise the threat of a potential legal action can and will keep most Consultants in check.

3. Start Small. Start with small projects to test the waters. Develop a clear outline, or Scope of Work document that outlines a desired objective that is specific, measureable and realistic. From there, launch a kick-off call to discuss you goal to aid in transparency and clarity for all parties involved.

4. Structure the Deal.