Consultants help businesses identify their problems and assist in creating and implementing effective solutions.
The right consultant can bring you expert advice, knowledge and the benefit of their experience, to ensure that you are getting the best results for your time, effort and money – they also can be more direct with you as they are an independent entity who can give you open and honest feedback that you may not be able to otherwise obtain.
Independent Consultants are not employees – they will have their own schedules to work to, and will most likely have other clients. They are either contractually hired, or brought in for specific projects at a time. They may work as individuals taking on the work by themselves, or have their own team with whom they split the workload – timescales and availability must be discussed and agreed upon before hiring, so that both you and your Consultant know exactly what is expected.
‘It is always important to clarify who the primary contact person will be in order to prevent miscommunications. ‘ Source
What do Business Consultants Do?
Aside from providing an outside non-biased perspective to your business, Consultants bring with them a wealth of specialised knowledge which would cost your business more to research and develop on its own.
Experts in their field, the right Consultant will also bring with them experience, skills and the ability to flexibly adapt to different situations – skills which you as a business can harness and enhance your company with.
Having a consultant to assist means that you are paying them to work on a single project and focusing their dedicated attention to it – this means that your employees are free to continue with their current workload, and you have specialised assistance in completing the task at hand.
It is also important to remember that your Consultant will come to you armed with experience and a good understanding of what needs to be done to get your business on track – this saves you the time, effort and money of having to train your staff members, and having to postpone your plans until they are up to speed
What should you expect when hiring a Consultant?
You will need to draw up a list of what it is you want to achieve, the areas you want worked on, and anything new that you believe should be added. You should decide on a budget and timeframe for the work to be completed in.
This is where you will engage with your chosen Consultant for the first time, and relay the information you have gathered in the ‘Before’ stage. They will then be able to discuss this with you and advise you in their expert capacity if the workload to time-frame ratio is workable, whether the changes you want will bring you the results you desire, make additional suggestions, and assist you in creating an optimised plan for going forward.
This is also the stage where you will need to create an agreement with the Consultant, deciding on a budget, access to your data (site logins, social media channels etc.) and determine how and when you should expect reports from them.
This is the main phase, where work on the project will begin. The initial portion of this phase can be split into three sections – Discovery, Research and Presentation. Even if the Consultant is going to be helping you implement their recommended changes, this 3-stage approach is important because it gives you a professional view of the information you gathered in the ‘Before’ section and can address any additional problems or areas of weakness that need to be addressed.
If the Consultant is aiding with implementation, they will then be able to move on into actioning their findings.
This stage will either see you implementing the findings of the ‘During’ stage yourself, or monitoring the changes made to see what effects they are having. You may decide at this point to extend the agreement with the Consultant and further, optimise other areas of your business, or move on to new projects.
There are many different types of Consultant to choose from, and it’s important that you objectively look at your business, and hire a consultant that meets your specific needs – be it the review of a section of your company, developing new strategies for social media or online engagement, or even collaborating to inspire innovation and new direction for growth, choosing the right Consultant is extremely important.