Hire a Consultant: Finding (or Being) the Best Consultant Available

Whether you need a consultant, want to be a consultant, or want to expand your consulting practice, understanding the primary motivations for hiring a consultant will determine a good fit.

Hire a consultant for their field of expertise.

For the business:

Define your goals and expectations before you begin your consultant search. The more focused your requirements, the more effective your selection of a consultant will be.
For the consultant:

What do you really know? What are your demonstrated strengths? Define your area of expertise narrowly. Work towards developing a result-based portfolio.

Hire a consultant to solve problems.

For the business:

If something needs tweaking in your company, allow your well-qualified consultant to do their job. You may think your problem in staff retention is on the manufacturing floor, when it may lie in faulty HR practices. Offer your consultants your thoughts, but be open to their observations. Their overview and fresh perspective may give your company new clarity.
For the consultant:

Tap into your intuitive side. Examine each situation as it stands. Textbook rules are not always the only way to approach a challenge.

Hire a consultant to supplement existing staff.

For the business:

Do a comparison of total employment cost. A full time employee, with benefits and other perqs added, will almost certainly cost more than a consultant. In addition, a consultant may complete work faster and more efficiently than house staff.
For the consultant:

When creating your proposal, be realistic in your time estimates and fees. Factor in your own overhead, travel, benefits and taxes.

Hire a consultant to implement changes.

For the business:

The well-positioned consultant as outsider can be more effective in gaining consensus among employees. Without immersion in daily operations, change proposed by consultants may be accepted more readily by employees.
To the consultants:

To direct change in a company, be certain you understand the psychology of change. Change can only be effectively created through a perception of benefits to the staff. Prepare for resistance, and be ready to change objections to positives.

Hire a consultant to train.

For the business:
Consultants are available to teach almost any skill. Be certain their experience comes from practice, not theory. Hands on training shouldn’t come from book learning alone.
For the consultant:

Have practical experience to offer.

Hire a consultant to be the “fall guy”.

For the business:

Keeping company morale high may require an outside heavy to make cuts or unpopular adjustments to your company. Fully explore options with your consultant, and inform them of your plans to downsize, consolidate or restructure.
For the consultant:

You get paid to do something no one else wants to do. Be prepared and accepting of your responsibility if you accept this kind of assignment.

Hire a consultant to start your business.

For the business:

A start-up consultant can assist you in all phases of start-up from initial funding and business plans to growth planning. Determine your own weaknesses and work with a consultant that has the skill set you lack.
For the consultant:

From online businesses to Fortune 100 companies, new ventures need your specialized talents. Review your own skill set for tools which would benefit a start-up.

Hire a consultant for their contacts.

For the business:
A consultant may be able to provide you with elusive introductions for fund raising, entertaining, community support or lobbying. Even if this is not your primary reason for hiring a consultant, explore how their contacts may benefit your company.
For the consultant:

Your personal networking can be a bonus to your clients. Offer appropriate contacts to your clients and potential clients. Expanding your sphere of contacts will not only benefit your business, but clients will appreciate your introductions.

Whether your company is considering a consultant, or you are a consultant, understanding the key reasons for contracting help can make your efforts more successful.

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