Small to medium-sized businesses may need to supplement their staff, but adding more people to the payroll doesn’t always make sense. Hiring an independent business consultant is not as costly or as high-stakes as hiring a full-time person and it can help fill that business need.
Here’s a look at five reasons to consider hiring an independent business consultant.
- Access a specialized skill set. Small businesses have a lot of people who wear several hats and are busy each and every day with tasks that have to be done. Your sales manager might be able to oversee a new software solution for the whole department, but how much will he have to neglect his day-to-day work to do that? You need a specialist who brings deep expertise in one or two specific areas who has done exactly the thing you want to do with other companies, maybe even some of your competitors. You could try to do what they do yourself, without benefit of their experience and expertise from the trenches. This likely will involve a long stretch of trial and error and inevitable mistakes that almost certainly will have significant costs, not only in money but in time, performance, and perhaps even your company’s reputation. Or you could hire a consultant and follow this ancient wisdom: “If you need to get somewhere, ask someone who has been there before.”
- Drive innovation. Like anything, businesses and business owners can get stuck in a rut. You know there are new ideas, strategies and technologies that could help, but keeping up with all of them is a challenge. And your full-time employees had a minor rebellion the last time you changed the brand of hand towels in the bathroom. Change can be scary. An outside set of eyes can look at your models in a fresh way and offer new ideas and solutions that will help your business grow.
- Get an objective point of view. We all have preconceptions about the things we do every day, and your company most likely is no different. Admit it: your business does some things a certain way simply because it’s always been done that way. An outside consultant won’t have the same emotional investment in your practices or any particular products or services that just aren’t working but you are just too attached to let go. While loyal employees are a gift, they aren’t always the best option for delivering hard or unpopular truths to the same boss they rely on for the paycheck that feeds their families. It may take a thick skin, but an outside consultant will give you an honest assessment. Think of it as a little dose of tough love, like when your mate says you might have gained a few too many pounds for that swimsuit or that people don’t really love it when you are the only one doing karaoke at the party.
- Scale up or down quickly. Independent consultants are a great way to add key people when business demands it — seasonal increases, new product launches, periods of rapid but short-term growth. Hiring permanent or full-time for your company is a challenge because you have a culture and a flow which a new person can change for the worse. Once you invest the time and money into hiring and training that employee, it’s no easy task to get rid of them if it’s not a good fit. For short-term projects or sporadic needs a consultant — who is hired for a finite project or period of time — can be a much better solution in every way.
- Save time and money. Outside business experts are much easier to recruit and bring on board than a full time hire. You can shop for one who fits your needs for exactly the time you need and no longer. If you seek consultants from a large firm, you don’t get to pick the ones you get. They might send you Fredo Corleone when you really wanted Michael. By hiring an independent business consultant you get to chose the one you want and you don’t pay a consulting firm markup.