Do You Need A Small Business Consultant

All businesses require professional help and expertise to get the business started on the right path. Your goal, as a business owner, is to minimize risks and ensure that your business can maximize its potential. When you have decided that you need help with planning or managing your business, you will be confronted with a common dilemma on where to get help: small business consultant or business coach?

Contrary to popular belief, a coach and a consultant offer two completely different types of services. Depending on your business needs, you need to hire the corresponding expertise to get your business where it needs to be.

A small business coach offers the same benefits to your company as a sports coach to an athlete or sports team. Their goal is to bring out the best in an individual or team to reach its potential. Most business coaches look at things through the bigger picture. When you examine things from a wider perspective, it enables you to see the tiny details that make up the whole. And if you do not take good care of these tiny details, you won’t be able to move forward or inspire your business to grow.

The concept behind hiring professional business coaching is to develop the potential within you so you can perform your best. If you can develop yourself as a business owner, it will only be a matter of time until it branches out to your business. Small business consultants can achieve this but they use a different approach and focus. The business coach will be helping you out every step of the process and show their support, in case you get stuck.

A small business consulting service works out differently. This is more of a partnership than a support team. This kind of service is provided by experts who have knowledge on planning, managing, and operating a business. You will be spending time with your consultant to perform thorough discussion and analysis of your business’ plan of action. The focus of this one-on-one consultation is to complete a project and move the business forward.

Another benefit to tapping a small business consulting service is the ability to gain new internet marketing techniques and skills. Ultimately, the consultant is available to teach you how you can do things better and achieve better results.

To fully understand the difference, it is important to use an analogy. A coach will enable you to gain some insight as to why you are interested in learning how to ride a bike, while riding next to you until you know how to ride it yourself. Meanwhile, a consultant is someone who can pinpoint you to the best bike to use when riding. They can also teach you about the various techniques to ride a bike efficiently, and in some instances ride it for you, when you are unable to do so.

Can’t decide whether to hire a small business consultant or coach? Make sure to take advantage of small business consulting services that provide these two types of service. Indeed, this is referred to as a hybrid service wherein you can get coaching and consulting for your small business. This will maximize the value of your investment and boost your chances for success.

What to Expect From a Business Consultant

It seems that almost everyone knows someone who is considered as a consultant. Just take the case of internet marketing and doing business online. If you check out some sites that offer these services and search engine optimization, you will find out a huge amount sites and personalities offering their services for a fee just to help others start-up their business. There’s a consultant for almost everything- you can count on a consultant for SEO, for start-up tech businesses or for network marketing.

Some personalities and sites may have abused the term but still one cannot deny the services and the benefits of tapping the services of business consulting and the business consultants. Business consulting can help re-direct the direction of the business, help others start their own business or simply help you discover new best business approaches and strategies. If you are looking to start up your own business or just wanting to boost your business’s stock, you too can get the services of the consultants that offer you ways to improve your business management skills and practices. The services are valuable but don’t just sign up with one without knowing the basic services that can be offered by the pros. Here are some of the basic services that you can expect from business consultants.

Business consultants will get to know your business. This is an important step in consulting, and you can expect as well that the professionals will do the same to you and your business. The consultant will exhaust all means and tools to learn more about the business. Of course, they can’t come up with sensible recommendations if they don’t know a thing about the business. The consultant will take time to learn about you and the business. Since you are the business owner, then the consultant will take the opportunity to spend more time with you. Once the consultant has understood the business, then it’s time that they can give recommendations for the business.

The consultant will also find problems and opportunities on the business. Once the consultant understood the business, then you can expect that they will come up with a SWAT analysis of the business. This means coming up with the problems and opportunities for the business. The identification of the problems and the opportunities will be a 2-prong approach. On one end, you can come up with your own listing of problems and opportunities for your business as you see it. The business consultant will also try to come up with its own listing of problems and opportunities from his own perspective. The consultant will bring a fresh take on the problems and opportunities of the business, and you can take advantage of this. Though you as the owner may know the business well owing to your years of experience in directing the business, still a fresh take on things will certainly help.

A business consulting company can also offer an analysis that can help tweak business management direction. After the observation and analysis, the next step for the professionals is to analyze all of these. The analysis will involve a check of the facts and figures, and from here conclusions and recommendations will be generated. The consultant will generally look at the business at the micro level yet will offer decisions and recommendations while taking a look at the business at the macro level. This is the common limitation of many business owners as they look at the business at a micro level every time. The consultant will attempt to change all that by incorporating a macro look at the business enterprise.

You can also expect that the consultant will interact and listen to your needs and wants. This is a necessary need so that the consultant can get a better picture of the business. It is imperative that the consultant will interact with the important members of the business and to listen to your complaints, needs and wants. The business plan is never considered complete if this is not done in consultation with the important members of the business or company.

There may be other services that can be expected from the consultants, but you can expect these listed above as examples of their services that can help promote best business practices.

Dany Cooper

I live in a tiny village in Ontario Canada, thanks to the internet it has allowed me to work from home just like millions of others. This wonder tool of the 20th century the internet has given all of us the power to connect it does not matter were we are or where we live. It’s an amazing device with a growth rate that increases daily, as more and more people discover what and how the internet can help them. Whether it’s for business or pleasure it does the job that we ask it to do.

Do You Need A Business Consultant

All too often, business owners, managers, or supervisors find themselves in a position where growth has slowed, stopped, or reversed. Though these are pressing reasons to consider finding the outside help of a business consultant, they aren’t the only reasons. This article will cover reasons you may need a business consultant, the affordability of a consultant, and what to look for in a consultant and their firm. Companies sometimes look for help when they are having trouble but the best practice is to reach out to a business consultant when your company is stable or in a position of growth.

It is much easier to grow your business if you acquire assistance while your company is stable or growing because you are not trying to recover lost revenue from earlier forecasts. A business consultant is a great resource to improve your company’s sales and growth. They are also an excellent resource when sales have dropped, slowed, or are stagnant. Though business consultants can help in winning or losing situations; the most value or R.O.I. is achieved when a business consultant is hired to move your company to the next stage of business, or improve upon your current sales, marketing, management, web development, and security processes. A good consultant will be able to provide you with a strategic plan for long-term growth while also being able to identify areas that can promote immediate growth. New businesses benefit by having a business plan developed while finding assistance to build a foundation. Loan package preparation is also a benefit of hiring a business consultant, but the most pressing reason to hire a consultant is to plan for long-term success. The aforementioned services will prove to be a great value to the companies with the vision to obtain them. The gain typically overshadows the cost of a business consultant.

Many business owners wonder, ‘Can I afford a business consultant?’ The question that should be asked is ‘Can you not afford to hire a business consultant?’ Business people know that increased marketing efforts, enhanced web development, a good strategic plan, and many other activities will increase their current and long-term revenue. Even knowing that, many of these activities are not aggressively pursued. An additional 20-40 hours a month in focused marketing efforts can bring a company a substantially enhanced amount of revenue dollars. Since the efforts are not made in many cases, the money is essentially lost to the company. Some sound advice to follow is; do not let the initial cost of a business consultant cloud the potential for future gain. The value a business consultant provides long survives the initial payment and contract.

Choosing a good firm to contract with can also be a challenge. The process can be made fairly simple by following the advice below. First, you must speak with the consultant that you are considering conducting business with. A good consultant should be able to understand your needs as you explain them. When dealing with more complex areas of business, a good consultant should be able to explain methods and processes in terms that you are able to understand. The ability to simplify complex processes usually indicates a strong understanding of what they entail. A consulting firm should also have a diverse team of individuals specializing in various segments of business development. Just as many businesses are not able to thrive with one employee, a consulting firm also needs a strong team to provide the best results. The ideal team will at least consist of a business growth expert, a web/graphic designer, a marketing expert, and a financial analyst or expert with good reputations in their industries. Finally, you should always maintain the feel that the consulting firm you decide to contract has your best interest in mind. Following these steps when locating a consultant or consulting firm will increase your chances of receiving a service that continues to benefit your growth for years to come.

Services Offered By Business

Every businessperson must make new strategies to run business processes smoothly. They hire business consultants, as that perspective outside the box can be useful. Many businesses today hire companies providing services like small business management consulting to improve internal management and operations.

As not all entrepreneurs have the needed educational background to know exactly how the business runs, advice from an experienced and knowledgeable party expert can be useful. If you look at websites offering consulting services, you can find many professionals who can help with specific aspects of your business.

If you are a small business proprietor, hiring the services of a third party may pose a challenge. You may not have enough funds to spend for outside help. This applies even more if you are just getting started with your business. It is a good thing there are business consultancy firms that focus on small businesses. With their expertise and guidance, you can save a good amount of funds and be sure you get specialized counsel.

What kind of Business Consultant Should You Get?

Before getting a company offering small business management consulting, think about the tenure of the company. This can reflect how long they have been practicing their expertise. Most consultants have degrees from prestigious business schools. Some may even be business executives themselves. If you want to make sure about your consultant’s expertise, find one with a consulting company.

Another factor you should think about when looking for a business consulting company is experience. While it is true a degree from a top business school may be impressive, nothing beats firsthand experience. Some successful business executives and entrepreneurs provide consultation on the side.

Business consultancy firms may have a specialized niche of business scale or industry. Some business strategies may work well in defined industries for companies with a certain size. If it is possible, look for a consultant with expertise of at least experience handling a business with the same model as yours.

Look at your consultants’ record of accomplishment. See if their business consulting services were effective in the past. Look for an advisor or consultant with a high success rate. This might be the only thing you need for your business to take off.

One thing you should look into is the kind of field your consultant is in. There are those who are efficient in organizing systems and improving employee productivity while other consultants are better off proposing ideas for expansion and other ways of implementation. Hire a consultant who specializes on the aspect in your business you need improvement on.

Consultants will still refer to other companies. Though this may give a general viewpoint and help you understand your business, there might be cases where there is conflict of interest. They may not be as focused to your case as they are with other clients. Make sure you get a loyal consultant.

Choosing Right Business

There are many factors to consider while choosing the right business consulting experts. Variables such as reputation, price and background come to mind. Often, non-obvious factors can enlighten your understanding and help in your business consulting search process. Business consulting experts are part knowledge providers and part sales people. At times, it is difficult to separate the sales from the expertise.

The first thing to consider while choosing a business consulting expert is their client outcomes. They should have very measurable client outcomes such as increased profit, increased revenue growth, upgraded financial reporting etc. that should be top of mind discussion points for them. These outcomes should be easily available to the business consulting expert and he should be able to share them with you. Second, a business consulting expert should have a unique background in a variety of different corporate environments.

The best consultants have been involved at big corporations, small entrepreneurial companies and everything in between. They have seen the same issues such as information weaknesses, management team weaknesses and lack of clarity on planning, played out in a number of different settings. This gives them an intuitive ability to see your shortcomings as an organization. Thirdly, often the best consulting experts have a vision for where your business should be going, due to their understanding of best practices and business trends. Often, businesses over time become inwardly focused and disengage from the outside world.

This lack of connection can result in a business not keeping up with the latest management approach, technology trend or marketing strategy. They lose their ability to change and to try new things. A quality business consulting expert will have his finger on the pulse of where your company is in its growth lifecycle and where it should be heading. They will lay out a vision of business development or management organization that may challenge your current thinking. It may sound outrageous or completely unattainable, yet true business consulting experts will challenge your preconceived notions about the status quo. They have exposure to those companies on the cutting edge and can help you understand what your business needs to do to get there. Fourth, quality business consulting experts will have pragmatic ideas for implementation. Lasting change is dependent on implementing a permanent long term solution.

Mere theoretical talking points do little in the way of providing a permanent solution. A quality consultant will be able to get the ball rolling and help you properly resource the change plan. Fifth, the person must have a 360° understanding of your business and your long term plan. They must spend the time to understand your business and have a holistic appreciation for it. You have to be able to trust this person and ensure that there is alignment of values. Is the consultant coming up with fresh observations that show that he is really taking the time to deconstruct your business model? With the right consulting expert involved in your business, the sky is indeed the limit. It can lead to a virtuous cycle of strategic improvement.

What Can You Expect From the Business Consulting

Consulting firms are getting popular now. Top dollars are being paid to these firms to come up with business recommendations and suggestions to prop up and improve the business management styles and decision-making processes. The role of the business consulting firm varies depending on the real needs and requirements of the company. But there’s one link that connects all these services and this link is common to all providers of these services- all these providers will get to know and understand the business.

Though there’s market for this kind of business and a number of businesses that tap the services of the professionals, still there are some people and businesses that don’t get the process and principle behind business consulting for best business practices. Getting confused with the services of a consulting firm is understandable but if you are in the business sector whether as a business owner or as a manager, it’s best to be aware of what business consulting is and the typical process that gets into the picture. The common understanding is that a consulting firm will take a look at the business and from there recommendations are forwarded. Though this is true, still it should be kept in mind that there are four more major steps that come in between these two. Here’s one look at consulting using a six-step process.

Step one is learning about the business. This is a given and a must for consulting. The consultant should have a good understanding of the business, from its operations to needs before recommendations can be drafted. Different consulting firms will have different approaches in doing this step. One approach is to take survey the business and interview key people in the organization. A survey will involve a tour of the office or plant to learn about the business. Interviews will be given as well to understand the products or services and to learn about management styles and the decision-making process.

Step two is to find the problems of the business. The problems that will be listed are not just the ones that are seen and observed by the business owners or employees rather the consultant will also find these problems from the consultant’s perspective.

Step three is the identification of opportunities. The principle behind consulting is that for every identified problem, there’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped. These opportunities should be discovered not just by the consultant but by the business owner as well.

Step four in business consulting is analysis. This step calls for the consulting company to analyze and study. This is the part where the problems and opportunities will be reviewed, and a listing will be made stating the problems and opportunities that will be prioritized. Future problems will be identified a well by the consultant. The analysis that can be provided by the consultant will also result to delivery of conclusions and these are all based on verifiable facts and figures.

Step five is the provision of solutions based on the problems and the facts provided. A good business consultant should offer a game plan to the business owner or managers that they can follow. The recommendations that can be made by the consultant will definitely help the company change the business management direction or improve on it.

Step six is the receipt of the feedback and adjusting the plan or strategies if necessary. Right after the submission of recommendations and conclusions to the business, the next step considered by many consultants is to let the business grow and see from a distance while the company makes use of the designed plan. By observation, the consultant should note some changes or issues that may have crop up along the way. This is also the time when the business owner or manager will also offer some feed back about the plan. Based on the feedback provided, the business consultant can do the necessary adjustment to improve or change the game plan.

Different consulting firms will have their own ways of undertaking the consulting business, but you can be sure that some of these steps will be reflected in their own approaches as well. At the end of the day, business consulting is about knowing the business and recommending solutions.

Dany Cooper

I live in a tiny village in Ontario Canada, thanks to the internet it has allowed me to work from home just like millions of others. This wonder tool of the 20th century the internet has given all of us the power to connect it does not matter were we are or where we live. It’s an amazing device with a growth rate that increases daily, as more and more people discover what and how the internet can help them. Whether it’s for business or pleasure it does the job that we ask it to do.

I have a successful online business, I enjoy learning and passing it on in my coaching. If you are looking for a online business I have one here that you can genuinely trust and you will make money. It has all the necessary components that it takes to make a successful home business.

How Can Business Consulting

Business consulting has come a long way. From small companies to major ones, these firms are looking at ways on how they can prop up their business through outside help. The competition is tough and this is the reason these businesses are looking for ways to get ahead of the competition. With the wish to get ahead, consultant services are getting popular as they help offer insights to business owners and managers. So don’t be surprised to find different sites and companies offering this kind of service.

Right now, companies and organizations can turn to providers of business consulting for a number of reasons. For example, a business may need some boost in terms of advertisement and popularity. This is true for many fledging businesses where their business management practices are no longer in tune with the demands of the market. When the business is no longer considered as a serious contender on the industry, then business consulting can be considered.

In business, it’s all about getting noticed thus this kind of service can help. And advertising is something that can prop up the business, and firms providing consulting can help. There are some ways on how advertising can transform a so-so business into a best business. The simplest approach to advertising and spreading the word is the handing out of fliers, or going big by designing television commercials. Advertising should come in at the first launch of the business.

If the business owner is still a newbie in the business and doesn’t know what to do and where to start, a business consulting firm can help shape up the marketing plan for the company. The consulting firm can help customizing the advertising message of the business. The firm is staffed with professionals that knows the business of the advertising and can suggest ways on how to place the business. The consultant also knows every outlet that can be used to spread the word about the business.

A business that is slowly losing traction and customer support in the market can also count on a consulting firm. Businesses that are having trouble attracting new customers can also tap into the services of this firm. The consulting firm can talk with the present customers of the company and learn how the company can improve. The consulting firm can also research why the business is not getting new customers and clients.

Perhaps customers are not doing business with the company because it does not carry a certain product or service that they are looking for. If this is the case, the consultant can make the proper recommendations and work with the owner to find out if it would be a good move to market and carry the product or service that the customers are looking for. The firm can also use different tools to come up with the recommendations for the business. A popular tool used is a survey, and this can be used to test how a product is being received by the client base. For example, the firm can commission a survey to test how the customers will respond to the new product offered. The survey will focus on the acceptability, profitability and customer satisfaction. Whatever the results may be, the consultants will report these to the business owners so that the proper tweaking of business management practices can be made.

This is the good thing about the services of a business consulting firm- they know what to do and how to do it. Whatever the needs and requirements of the business, they can offer the business solutions required by the business. They are the professionals that are trained in this field, and this is the reason why many businesses depend on consulting firms for advices and directions.

The consulting firm can also help a business owner come up with a reliable and updated business plan in tune with the times. The business consulting company can study the business and the market movements in order to come up with the best business plan for the organization.

Consulting firms can help struggling firms in many ways. Whether the company wants to reclaim a lost market or wants help in crafting a business plan backed by best business and business management strategies, a consulting firm can definitely help.

Dany Cooper

There are so many ways to make money online. I found someone who has achieved what I want so I took massive action and applied what he was doing into my business and voila success. This method works every time, a great start would be visiting my website. If you really want to make money repeat what I’m doing and you will achieve success.

If your in the market for a online business I have one here that you can genuinely trust and you will make money. It has all the recommended SEO tools that it takes to make a successful internet business.

Advantages of Business Consulting

Business Consultation Services are generally promoted, but not often well understood. Many see these services as a big picture conceptual exercise with no connection to the real world issues facing their business. Often Fortune 500 business consultation services come across as too ivory tower, and overly focused on highlighting issues without implementing solutions. There is a new breed of consultants that speak your language and understand the front line issues that you face as a business owner on a daily basis.

With the help of the internet, quality consulting service providers are much easier to find throughout the world. The internet proves enormously useful as a connection platform to find these smaller, specialized consulting firms. Whatever your need, be it financial reporting, sales assistance, IT, capital raising, human resources, there is a wide assortment of consulting service providers to select from. There are numerous advantages of business consultation expert services.

Quality consultants add a new dimension to a company, allowing it to think in new ways. Most quality business consultation service providers have strong backgrounds in a concentrated area, giving them subject matter mastery combined with real world experience. Adding them to your team gives your business the ability to think and execute at a higher level. Many rookie mistakes can be avoided by having a smart, experience-based business consulting service provider on your team.

As an outsider to your organization, a new business consulting service provider can bring a refreshing third party perspective. Often, companies or senior managers have a hard time clearly seeing their internal weaknesses. This is particularly relevant with smaller companies where a small group of employees comprises the entire C-Level management team. In addition, quality business consulting service providers know what standard practices are in your industry. They are well versed in best practices for their field and can easily tell you the best CRM system, or the best SEO approach or the best way to finance an acquisition.

Their expertise is their currency and their expertise has been acquired through involvement in a multitude of projects in the same field. Their concentrated experience can be a valuable addition to your knowledge base as you take your company in a new direction. One big advantage of business consultation services is the ability to save time and plan properly. Business is a learning curve and most successful companies rarely go in straight line in an upward direction. The key to navigating successful new growth steps is in proper planning and assigning realistic risk-based probabilities to each outcome.

A seasoned business consultation service provider is a great sounding board for all of this. They will be able to help you develop realistic timing assumptions and realistic cost factors. Most consultants are independent contractors and stay with your business for only a limited time. They are a flexible resource and are expendable once the project is complete. The value they bring during their engagement is considerable. Through aligning with a quality business consulting provider, your business can become quite sophisticated and seriously confront any challenges or opportunities that lay ahead.

Business Consultants Compared

When inviting a business consulting firm to get to know your business and its weaknesses, it is a delicate dance to find the best corporate qualifications, experience, and ability to navigate the inevitable invisible issues that will come up. It is also important to make sure your own corporate culture and on-going business do not get lost in the process.

In the marketplace of Business Management Consulting or Management Consulting, competitors generally fall into just a few categories:

-Sole proprietor consultants, who are generally niched and geographically based

-Larger consulting firms, who have multi-niched teams and the ability to reach out to other cities or regions

-Small consulting firms, regionally based and team oriented

Sole Proprietors: Personal Touch

Smaller and sole proprietor consultant competitors, like Jannelle Buzzell, Jim Grew, Will Moore, Mannus O’Donnell and others, get to know the client and their needs very personally. They start from exceptional business acumen, and make sure to create buy-in within the company. The client company is trusted to know their core business and its people very, very well. There is often not a pre-conceived corporate formula other than profitability, efficiency, and better managerial controls through feedback. To these folks, it is common to receive a fearful call where a business owner shares that they ‘aren’t even sure what the problem is or where it started’.

Large Consulting Firms: depth and breadth

Larger competitors, like Boly Welch Consulting, CBS Consulting, Georgia S. May, Point B and PeopleFirm, all offer fresh eyes, strong business acumen, and an understanding that all business evolution comes from the people within the firm. To make any consulting project stick, it has to come from within, which starts from leadership. Once leadership has aligned the goals and strategies, the consulting firm assists in rolling out change. This change management happens from setting measurable goals, checking in with ROI, and staying in regular touch with the feedback loop.

Small Consulting Firms: Personal touch and depth

What makes the smaller consultancy different is the unique blend of these styles. With a small firm, you are likely to meet the owner, but not work with them regularly. You will have a small, personal team, but enough distance to call their supervisor if necessary. A small firm has 8-30 employees, and is generally based in a single city office. Conversely, the consulting firm is big enough to have scheduling and launching flexibility more like a larger consultancy. Small consulting firms cannot do everything involved for a larger project, so they are forced to rely on (and train) the employee team. This strategy keeps the consulting team in alignment with owners, in order to organize which work is done by which team. Smaller consulting teams do not take over a floor of your building and set up shop. It is necessary to work along side the employee team constantly in order to on board change at a pace owners and employees can handle.

How Much Do They Cost?

When we compare business to business consulting, price is an unavoidable topic. If you don’t care how much the consulting firm costs, you are not in the market. Clients care, even if they aren’t sure they can afford it (or have plenty of money to afford it). Small firm prices lie in the middle, just as you might expect. Many sole proprietors charge a lower rate, especially if they aren’t busy. However, if they are busy, they simply cannot take the work, or quickly bump up to the rates of larger firms. Larger firms have additional overhead for travel, benched employees and significant benefit packages at all levels. These higher prices are significant and consistent. With a smaller firm, you are unlikely to receive enormous perks as a part of your purchase. They focus on the work done, and building the relationship on the job.

In general terms, a client can expect:

Team Size Typical Hourly Rate

Sole Proprietor 1 $40-$150

Small Firm 2-30 $75-300

Large Firm 30+ $200-750+

These rates are a generalized survey in Portland, OR, based on surveys of a small handful of varying small and medium businesses.

Conclusion

When you are considering outside consulting for your operations, spend some time considering the depth and breadth of the project, the budget you expect, and then consider requesting proposals or conversations from varying firms. Some projects are clearly one size or another, but medium scale projects that can take some time to evolve are a likely fit for a blended small consulting firm. If you go that route, you will save significant money and train your staff along the way.

Small Business Consultants

Many small businesses are experts in their field and know their own business inside and out. However lots of small business owners lack the time or expertise required to implement certain projects. That’s where a small business consultant can step in and help.

In order to achieve a successful project it’s important to be clear about what you want your consultant to be able to do for you. Just as important is selecting a consultant with the right skills for the job, but how do you make sure you don’t get off on the wrong foot?

Here are some things to consider:

1. Are you looking for a research/diagnostic approach or do you need help with implementation?

Firstly are you looking for someone to take a diagnostic approach to a business problem you are facing? For instance, which market segment should you enter? Or what product line should you sell? Or is your business need about implementation? For instance, you’ve identified that you need to be on Social Media and need a marketing consultant with the expertise to make this happen.

The two needs are different and some consultants are better in one area than the other. To find out whether your prospective consultant prefers to work on implementation projects or research projects ask them. Don’t be afraid to ask them for specific examples of projects they have worked on and how they have tackled projects similar to yours in the past.

2. Ask prospective consultants how their clients are better off after they leave.

What sort of outcomes were they able to achieve for their clients? Look out for wishy-washy answers. Look for specific examples and outcomes. Does this fit with the sorts of outcomes that you would like for your business? Where they able to increase website traffic by a certain percentage, reduce staff turnover by a certain amount or generate more business for the client?

Picking the wrong person for the job might end up feeling like you are pushing water up a hill with a rake. Not only will the results be less than optimal but it may end up being a costly and stressful experience also.

3. Be careful of wanting champagne on a beer budget.

Do you want fast, cheap or talented? You must pick two out of the three. There is a triangle trade off here. You can get premium talent, faster results or a cheaper cost but Taylor Swift won’t teach your team how to sing tomorrow for free if you see what I mean.

Often a small business owner will set a budget and then begin the search for the best talent and/or fastest result within that budget. From my experience a budget-driven approach can often compromise results. Your best approach is to establish your desired outcome, then judge each potential candidate by how likely they are to be able to achieve that outcome.

4. Look for a solid “About Us” page.

Ask consultants about their qualifications and their approach. With so many so-called ‘experts’ out there it’s really important to identify who is qualified and able to do the job for you. Ask prospective consultants questions about their skills and experience to determine whether they are fit for the job. Are they methodical in their approach? Do have a history of achieving quality results for clients? This will help you to avoid being mislead by organisations with few processes, a glossy website and no real qualifications or experience.

5. Ask yourself whether you think you will be comfortable working with the consultant.

Do you think they are going to be the right fit for your business? Can you see yourself and your team working well with them? Sometimes it’s less about the exact industry experience they have had and more about their ability to get results.

6. Think about goals and outcomes first.

Don’t pick a technical specialist to do a job when you really need someone who can deliver a sales outcome. Think about your goal first, what are you trying to achieve? For instance, if it’s conversions and leads from your website then perhaps what you really need is a marketing consultant to advise on the layout of the website rather than just a technical person to do the build. A technical person can definitely build the website for you, it will function beautifully, but will it achieve your goal of converting traffic to sales?

7. Be wary of small business consultants who are all things to all people.

A good consultant will be honest about what their speciality is and will not simply be a ‘yes’ man or woman. They will push back on projects, ideas and suggestions that they don’t think are right for your business or are beyond their area of expertise. Look for a consultant with backbone not someone who lets you steer the project without alerting you to the danger that lies ahead because they are too afraid to question your judgement or afraid they will upset you. I’d rather have an expert question me and make suggestions than sit back and watch me sink the ship!

So whether it is a marketing consultant or a small business consultant you are looking for, many of the same rules apply. Identify what you need and look at it from an outcomes perspective, work out who has the expertise to help you achieve your goals and whether or not you are comfortable working with them. Look for someone who is genuinely interested in working with you and passionate about what they do.