Finding the right consultant for your business

Writing down pros and cons, doing some calculations and deciding to hire a consultant is the easy part. Finding the right consultant is the hard part. Here are some tips and ideas to consider before making a decision:
1. Be sure or write it down if needed, what exactly do you need and expect from a consultant. Is it financial advice, product development, design or something else. It makes it easier to do the search among companies and freelancers.

2. Ask your friends or business partners who have used consultants before. Maybe they have some guidelines for you, they can recommend someone specific or some business consulting company.

3. After the first selection, it’s crucial to have discussions with all the candidates. It doesn’t matter if you meet them in person or just call by phone or Skype. A live interaction will tell you more about the consultant than any website or review will. These people should be excited about your business and about working with you. Also consultants should believe they can achieve what they say they can in the timeframe they quoted.

4. Trust your gut.

Starting to work with a consultant you have to make some plans so that the schedule should be applicable for both of you. Write it down in a contract. A typical consulting contract includes consulting parameters, names of the responsible parties, payment schedules, any relevant deliverables and deadlines. Setting the optimal time period for your project is important to ensure your consultant has enough time to provide results and it also helps to ensure timely progress. Consulting period usually includes an intro, research and the final presentation of recommendations that completes the project. After this period you can decide if you extend your agreement or not. Sometimes it’s useful to continue with the agreement in different terms to do follow-ups.

Probably the most common question is „How much will it cost?” Cost depends on which consultant you choose and for how long. There’s no rule that companies ask for more money than freelancers or designers cost less than financial consultants. The only way to know for sure is to get in touch with them and ask. A consultant can often work with you for free to help you determine the right scope and budget for your project. These discussions with a consultant can be a way to test the waters for your potential working relationship. Knowing the price of the consultant helps you in calculations and you can decide whether it’s worth it or not. You should set a fixed percentage of your total costs and/or sales you can pay to the consultant. For example, if your monthly sales are 10 000 €, it’s not wise to pay 5 000 € per month to a consultant. But if your monthly sales are 200 000 €, and you want that number to grow to 500 000 €, then 5 000 € per month for a 6-month contract is reasonable.

Though, even with the best intentions, there may be some consulting relationships that end up just not working out. There’s no need to worry about it when it happens, just choose another one. There can be many reasons why the partnership doesn’t work and usually, the feeling that it doesn’t function is mutual. Don’t feel bad about it, you shouldn’t push it to work, it’s a waste of money and time. Be open minded and move on.