Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hiring Consultans

"I am a little concerned that some of the measures that are proposed may simply increase the number of consultants who are telling businesses what they already know." ~Alasdair Morgan

At one time or another, every business will need assistance from a consultant to grow, merge, improve profitability or address some other area of concern. Small businesses just cannot afford to have an IT or HR expert on staff. Consultants provide a very effective alternative, enabling small business owners to access the expertise they need without having a full-time employee dedicated to the specific area in question.

Before hiring a consultant, you must first determine what the real issue is. In many cases, this is much more difficult than it sounds. We are frequently called in to help an entrepreneur with a marketing problem only to discover that the critical issue is actually cash flow. The entrepreneur did not realize cash flow was the problem until we asked some critical questions and examined relevant data.

Some issues such as producing an employee manual are easy to match with the appropriate consultant, but most issues are not nearly as clear. Through careful evaluation, you must identify the correct problem and hire the correct consultant.

As with any expense, you should exercise due diligence when selecting a consultant. Just because one comes highly recommended by a friend or fellow entrepreneur does not mean that they are the best option for you. So much about selecting a consultant involves personal chemistry. To be successful, the consultant must have a good rapport with you and your staff. If chemistry and trust are absent, neither you nor your staff will accept the consultant’s advice.

Price or hourly rate is not the most important factor to consider when hiring a consultant. Frequently you will find that the quality of the consultant correlates with the fee they charge. That is to say, the consultant who charges the lowest fee is often the worst one you can find.

Rather than focusing on the cost, you should consider the value of their results. It is so much better to pay more and get more value than to go for the bargain basement consultant just to save a few bucks.

Another vital consideration when hiring a consultant is your willingness to accept the results. After meeting with an entrepreneur and making suggestions for improvement, we frequently find that they have received the exact same recommendations from a former consultant. When we ask why they did not follow through with the suggestions, they typically say they were too busy.

Bottom line here is if you are going to hire an expert, you must make a commitment to try the recommendations. If they do not work, jettison them, but not even trying is neither effective nor constructive.

When you find yourself in need of an expert’s services, hire a consultant that will add value to your company. Before you make a selection, however, make sure that you have identified and defined the problem that you would like them to address with some degree of specificity. Additionally, make a commitment to follow through and give their recommendations a try.

You can do this!

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