Whether you are running an established business or are a new start up, there are times when you will simply need to ask for help. One of the resources would be to hire a consultant for your company. Yes, this will cost money, but it can be a worthwhile investment.
First, you should decide whether you are in need of guidance. Some of the indicators include:
- You are so busy running the business that you can’t keep up with trends, changes in the marketplace, or simply the tech necessary to streamline your operation.
- You are out of ideas.
- The business is declining, but you can’t pinpoint the source.
- You need a boost of an outside perspective.
- You need more expertise or resources but can’t afford to hire.
If some or even one of these is happening to you, you may want to investigate what a consultant can do for you.
There are two main ways a consultant is beneficial. The first is in a specific area of your company, like upgrading equipment or technology. The second is an overall review of your entire operations to find where you can improve. The latter is what used to be called an efficiency expert. This does not mean you will need to lay off the majority of your staff. Many can be re-tooled and incorporated into different roles. Good employees are difficult to find and keep, so you need to be cautious.
With either choice, the process will be similar. The consultant will need to understand your company and the specifics of how it works, including facilities, key team members, accounting, and pretty much everything. With all the details in hand, he or she will be able to look at other companies in your industry and find where you exceed or fall short of competitors’ benchmarks.
There are definitely some advantages to using a consultant.
- Any changes can be initiated quicker than your starting from scratch.
- A consultant is a one-time fee while hiring a department of employees is quite expensive.
- The solutions should be customized for your specific business.
- A fresh and outside perspective can be a huge advantage to realizing where log jams occur or when it is time to change direction.
When you work with a consultant, you should have a written contract that clearly specifies what they will do and how you will track progress. Due your homework and find a reputable company with a style that will fit yours. Ask around and read reviews. Document the time you each spend on the project. Be sure your choice of communication channels works for both parties.
It is always best if you choose a person or company that has specific knowledge of your field or industry. It may be difficult but you should try to work collaboratively and not adversarily.
Be sure you understand the proposed plan of action, but don’t follow it blindly. It is still your company and trust your instincts about what will be right for you and this business and not just because it worked for someone else.