At some point, every entrepreneur faces the question of whether or not to hire a consultant. Up until now you've gotten by without help, but if you want to grow your business, you need to face the fact that you aren't an expert on everything. When you reach that point, here are some tips that will help guide you:
Do properly interview the consultant.
Take the time to sit down and talk to all potential consultants. Tell them about your goals for your business and get their feedback. Don't hire them unless you are comfortable that they truly understand your company. The reality is that some consultants won't be a good fit.
Any consultant that is worth the money will have an established reputation.
Don't hire a consultant that doesn't have a strong reputation in their field.
Word of mouth is the best way to find a good consultant. Talk to other entrepreneurs and see who they use. Any consultant that is worth the money will have an established reputation.
Do provide the consultant with a clear definition of their task.
Before you even hire the consultant, you should have a good idea of what you want them to accomplish. How will you measure the success of their work? Without clear parameters, it is impossible for you to guide them and you are putting them (and yourself) in a no-win situation.
Do have your consultant sign a contract.
Whenever you bring someone into your business, you need to protect yourself. It's a good idea to have them sign a contract so that both of you are aware of your expectations. Also, since the consultant may have access to your company's sensitive information, it is smart to have them sign a confidentiality agreement.
Do ask questions.
Some unscrupulous consultants adopt the strategy of telling their clients exactly what they want to hear. That way the client leaves happy and by the time they know any different, the cheque has already cleared. Don't allow a consultant to present you with an overly rosy picture. If something doesn't sound right to you, ask questions. If you aren't satisfied with the answers, ask them to provide you with more detailed information. Remember, you are the client and it is the consultant's job to provide you with the information that you need to make educated decisions for your business.
The decision to hire a consultant is not an easy one, but if you do your research and keep them accountable, they may be able to give you the answers that you need to take your business to the next level.
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