Business consultants are our essential advocates when we start our own business. They turn every problem into possibilities. It is their job to help creatively solve problems that we have within our business, whether it may be in marketing strategy, in operations, IT, human resource, management, etc. There is a huge range of business issues that consultants can provide solutions for, and different types of consultants bring different ideas to the table.
But it is not always the easiest way. To find the right business consultant may be the most difficult part for you as the business owner because you need to look for the best qualities that will suit your needs. The consultant should have a passion for their work, a drive for excellence and an eye for organization and detail. It’s vital to find a consultant who has expertise in your industry or experience with the kinds of problems your business faces.
Reasons for Hiring a Business Consultant
For some companies, they wonder why they would need the services of a business consultant. They already employ smart people so why can’t they solve problems on their own? But there are many valid reasons why it makes sense to hire someone from the outside. Here are some common reasons for hiring a business consultant:
1. Lack of expertise – There are times when the skills needed for growth are not available inside the company. Outside expert consultants provide the skills and experience needed to complete a project or solve specific problems.
2. Shortage of time – Employees may lack the time needed to complete a particular project or do the required research. A business consultant can be a valuable resource for quickly staffing up to get short-term tasks and projects completed.
3. Inadequate experience – New technologies and trends emerge quickly and it’s difficult for employees to stay current. This creates a shortage of trained employees knowledgeable in the latest tools and methodologies. Business consultants can administer training or fill the demand until needed skills are acquired.
4. Staffing flexibility – Companies can hire business consultants for short-term projects without the expense of salary and benefits. A consultant’s contract ends once the project is completed. There’s no need for a company to budget severance pay or other HR obligations.
5. Unbiased opinions – When conflicts or problems arise, it’s good to get an impartial opinion. Business consultants, being experts on strategies, can add perspectives that might be missing with stakeholders get too close to a problem. They can help think things through, navigate internal politics, and offer sensible solutions.
6. Cross-pollination of new ideas – Business consultants have experience with different companies and industries. Cross-pollination of these ideas helps businesses think “outside the box” and incorporate new concepts and methodologies.
7. Speed and efficiency – Companies can hire a consultant for special projects for which they have direct experience from previous engagements. For example, maybe you need to get a new software solution running inside the company. A consultant who previously worked on the same software can help a company quickly get past the learning curve and provide a cost-effective way of implementing new tools.
8. Assessment – When companies encounter a problem which impacts productivity or growth, a business consultant can help uncover data, define the problem, and recommend new approaches through an objective assessment.
9. Conflict resolution – An outside consultant can serve as a mediator during situations of conflict. Business consultants are objective outsiders that can provide a neutral moderator for settling disputes in different scenarios.
10. Compliance – Businesses need to follow federal, state, and local regulations. A business consultant specializing in compliance issues can help a company stay clear of violations. Regulations can be complex and difficult to implement so hiring an expert can save time, resources, and finances.
Benefits of Hiring a Consultant
The biggest advantage of hiring a business consultant is that they usually operate in narrow areas, meaning they can bring detailed and in-depth expertise required for any given sector or organization. As consultants will work with multiple clients in their specialist area, they will also be aware of the latest trends and developments in the field; something which can help organizations stay ahead of the curve and get the maximum potential out of new methods and models. As a result, consultants can not only help their clients with immediate decision making processes, but will also help build a long-term structure which can lead to an increase in productivity and performance, generating an easily quantifiable return on investment.
A permanent employee may be subject to the internal ‘politics’ of an organization, meaning they may agree to things to please their boss rather than because they make good sense. Consultants, on the other hand, brings an independent perspective, which could result in a big change in the way you run your business. A good consultant will always be unbiased and objective, and as they have no personal connection to the organization, their ‘out-of-box’ thinking means they can focus only on the goal/plan agreed with their client, without being caught up in internal distractions.
Beyond the immediate fees paid to the consultant, organizations deploying external expertise for individual projects do not incur overhead costs, such as providing benefits, or even having to supply a computer and a workspace. This also means there is a level of flexibility involved in contracting a consultant; clients can extend their contract based on their requirements and the results achieved during the initial term, without having to worry about contributing to another pension fund, or having to cover holidays and or sick pay.
4. Best practices
Consultants work for a diversity of clients, and therefore can bring experience from a variety of companies and industries. This diversity in thinking allows them to offer creative solutions. In addition, it puts them in a good position to provide insight into best practices. By learning from the best performers in the industry, organizations can find ways of improving their own operations.
5. Keeping the business running
When organizations staff their projects, they can for some roles, consider using internal resources instead of a consultant. But in some cases, taking resources out of the standing organization can impact the running operation, meaning that using consultants can be a valuable means of ensuring business continuity.