Running a small to midsize business is no small endeavor and is almost impossible to do alone. There are too many important tasks and vital roles that need specialized attention beyond what one person or even a handful of people can do. Thankfully, when it comes to making business changes, there are specialists to call — these people are business consultants. Whether it’s time to launch, grow, shrink, or pivot, hiring a business consultant can be a wise move.
First, exhaust your network for recommendations of business consultants in your industry. Next, look to platforms such as LinkedIn and sites such as Upwork, especially for niched consultants. When perusing these channels for a quality business consultant or firm and when eventually interviewing candidates, consider looking for the following five traits:
The integrity of your consultant is of utmost importance. You must trust that the consultant will put your needs ahead of their own. This is the foundation upon which everything else matters. Hire someone you trust to take care of your business like it’s their own.
Look at your business consultant’s CV. Ask for references. Look at their case studies. Read their reviews. Try to hire as specialized of a consultant as you can possibly get. Talk to them about their experiences with similar companies with similar problems. What did they do? What were the results? If this consultant has had successes with companies similar to yours, chances look good that they can replicate those results.
Thinking “outside of the box” can produce favorable results, whether solving problems or seizing opportunities, and this is exactly what you’re hiring a business consultant to do. Ask your prospective consultant about a time they used creative thinking to solve a business problem or skim their case studies looking for evidence of this trait.
This top-notch skill almost always reveals itself pretty early on in a relationship. Look for timely, appropriate, and thorough correspondence, and be sure to mention your preferred method of communication. An excellent communicator will, whether in written or oral form, be highly intuitive and responsive to your wants and needs in whatever manner you prefer.
It’s pretty basic, but what good are these communicative, trustworthy, and experienced creative thinkers if you can’t afford them? Mind your budget. Ask if this will be hourly, by project, on a retainer, or a percentage of ROI. Think of cost but also value. If you can’t afford the big heavy-hitters, consider small to midsize firms that still have the resources and experience to overcome your specific challenge.
As the business owner, it is your responsibility to set measurable goals and track results to prove the consultant’s value. Discuss goals and possible results before signing the contract, so all are clear on expectations. If you can check off each of these above characteristics for your business consultant, have confidence that you made the right decision for your business and that more success is on the horizon.