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Before You Hire A Business Consultant, Follow These 4 Critical Steps

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When you’ve spent forever getting your business to a point where it’s healthy, buoyant even, the last thing you might feel like doing is letting go of the reins, even a tiny bit. But the fact is that even the most thriving of companies can get stuck in a rut, seeing healthy but none-evolving profits and facing the same challenges month-on-month, rolling into year-on-year.

That’s why a fresh pair of eyes can often be just what’s needed to pull your business out of the ordinary and take it on into the extraordinary. In this article we take a look at getting the best value for money when it comes to employing a consultant, what you should expect and what you should look out for.

The Process

You might be looking at some help with your marketing plan or someone to reinvigorate your sales team, either way you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the very best value for money and shop around, in exactly the same way you would for car or HGV Insurance.

Start by defining a very clear brief of exactly what you’re looking for. Be precise, if you want your consultant to help drive up sales, give a figure, something clear and tangible to aim for. If you’re looking to take a fresh look at your marketing actions, state exactly what it is you expect your consultant to do, whether that’s creating a brand-new plan or improving certain areas, such as your social media outreach.

Make Sure You’re On The Same Page

Interview around widely. The key to finding a consultant that will make a genuine difference to your organisation is finding someone who you can relate to and who makes communication as clear as possible. You do not want to start a business relationship with someone who you struggle to find common ground with, or who seems more interested in their own agenda, than fulfilling your objectives and business goals.

Sure, they might say the right things but if they can’t clearly set out their methodology and style of working, it doesn’t look good later down the track.

Talk Budget

Consultants don’t come cheap, so you’re looking for real value for money and to achieve this you have to be upfront about what you’re willing to pay and what you want to receive for that outlay. Be wary of consultants who offer the world and seem to be willing to work for very little, that doesn’t speak to a high-quality product. Instead, don’t be afraid to go in hard with negotiations and arrive at a point where you’ll be satisfied with both the budget and the expected outcomes.

Don’t Go To Ground

Once your consultant is appointed, don’t adopt a mindset of “leaving them to it”. While they may not be on your staff, they are now, albeit temporarily, part of your workforce. Check in regularly, assign weekly meetings to monitor progress and to make sure that both of you are keeping up both ends of the bargain. Does you consultant have the access they need to make meaningful progress? Have they fulfilled the objectives they set out? Don’t let the project or time run away with you, stay on top of the work to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the consultancy period.

If they are working remotely then a chat over Skype or on the telephone will be sufficient but go in with an agenda and specific questions and don’t rush through the call or be fobbed off with vague answers.

It’s your business and you give it your all. You expect the same from your staff and you certainly expect the same from anyone you hire in. Having a team on your side, who understand your business goals and what you want to achieve is invaluable. Your consultant should be no less committed to helping you achieve them as your own team.

Shop around, look for recommendations, check out online reviews and talk to colleagues. Find a consultant you know you’re going to get along with and have clear lines of communication. Go with your gut feeling and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions upfront. Let them know who you are and very clearly, what you expect. Talk budget and be very clear on what it is you expect them to achieve in the timeframe you both agree on.

With the right consultant your healthy business will become a vibrant concern and give you a fresh look at where you’re heading.

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