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Photo Credit: John Di Frances

Figuring Out the Right Time to Ask for Help and Hire a Consultant

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As much as an entrepreneur does for his or her company there are times when even an entrepreneur has stepped outside the bounds of their knowledge. This is when a consultant can be called upon to ride up on their white steed and help any entrepreneur sort things out. Sometimes, though, it isn’t clear when a consultant needs to be hired. Below we’ve gathered some input from entrepreneurs on when a consultant or professional should be hired to assist you in your business.

Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs on when it’s the right time to hire a consultant.

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Photo Credit: Greg Ferrett

Photo Credit: Greg Ferrett

Sales management is a critical role

Sales Management is a critical role which is easily contracted in part time for a company with only a few sales people – or maybe only one. Salespeople in small teams typically report to a company founder or other person with little or no sales management experience. To keep the sales team focused on results an effective sales management role can easily be contracted in for two or three days a week to manage a small team. An effective sales manager can provide leadership to ten or more sales people. By contracting in a person to undertake the sales management function costs are reduced (over a full time person), you get the benefit of cross industry exposure and you get serious sales management skill into the business to drive growth.

Thanks to Greg Ferrett, Monday Motivational Moment

Related Post: Best Sales Tips

Photo Credit: Jamie Perrott

Photo Credit: Jamie Perrott

When you require timely, independent expert advice

Business owners and CEOs should consider consultants when they require timely, independent and expert advice to either capitalise on a specific business opportunity, or when services outside the core scope of business operations are required. Consultants should bring specific knowledge and expertise of your own business’ operating environment, combined with their specific skill sets. The best consultants can demonstrate their value quickly, enabling you to act on their advice and determine any future requirements for their services.

Thanks to Jamie Perrott, Buchan Consulting

 

Photo Credit: Samuel Seeto

Photo Credit: Samuel Seeto

When expert advice is needed but not available

In short, you should hire a consultant when expertise is required but not available to you and your company. In general, the following issues are generally the core ones that cause a consultant to be required to address a problem: Speed. Scale. Objectiveness. The speed issue causes the need for hiring a consultant because your company may have the skills to do it, but because they are not specialised it may take a lot longer than desired. Hence you hire a consultant who specialises in that area of need. Scale is similar to speed. You may have personnel capable internally but because of your need to build and scale something up fast, again you’d hire a consultant who knows all the ins and outs to get it done as effectively as possible. Objectiveness (or honesty) is the final key issue because obtaining a consultant will give you (or they should) an unbiased of the solution you are attempting to solve. That is, what you need to hear, not want to hear. And it’s basically impossible for you to look at your business, your personnel, even yourself, without any form of bias.

Thanks to Samuel Seeto, Reach for Freedom Pty Ltd

 

Photo Credit: Tina Mosetis

Photo Credit: Tina Mosetis

When you realize you need help in an area that would help build your business/brand

It’s time to hire a consultant when you realize you need assistance in an area that would help build your business/brand and that you are not expert at. For example, many people have no idea how to begin publicizing their business and can waste hours of their own very valuable time trying to gain media, community or business to business attention. It’s key to know your own strengths and when to rely on the strengths of other experts. For those with very limited budgets they can often find advise on the Internet but, again, an entrepreneur needs to evaluate how much time might be wasted trying to accomplish something they are not prepared to handle versus investing in a specialist who can take your business to the next level.

Thanks to Tina Mosetis, MosetisPR

Related Post: Rebranding Your Business

 

Photo Credit: Lenann McGookey Gardner

Photo Credit: Lenann McGookey Gardner

When you are willing to calculate a return on investment

A few years ago, I realized that ALL the technology in our office was out of date. I knew we needed an upgrade — of computers, printers, the scanner/copier, even cell phones. I travel for a living, and I found myself in airport magazine stores, buying “PC World” and other techie magazines, looking for ideas. Then I realized: I don’t know this stuff, and it’s going to take me a LONG time to become fully familiar with what’s available and up-to-date. After hiring and firing consultants for years, I’ve become one, now, and I sincerely hope that businesspeople who lack the expertise I have will call me, rather than trying to become an expert in my field. But I was behaving in exactly the opposite way. I called the consultant that day, and though he wasn’t cheap, we got the perfect hardware/software combination, and some pretty nice, clear-sound cell phones to boot. Worth every penny. Bottom line: hire a consultant when you don’t have time to become an expert — or when you want to bounce your ideas off a person who knows their field and will let you know when your thinking is off. Hire a consultant when you don’t have time to do something yourself, and you need an extra set of hands to get it done right. Hire a consultant when you need a template that you can then implement, yourself, in the future. And hire a consultant when you need your thinking stimulated with fresh ideas — or just a perspective on what other people in your position are doing about the issue at hand. Finally, hire a consultant when you are willing to calculate a return on investment — and the ROI is better than you’d get if you spent the money elsewhere!

Thanks to Lenann McGookey Gardner, Lenann McGookey Gardner Management Consulting, Inc

 

Photo Credit:  John Di Frances

Photo Credit: John Di Frances

When you require depth in a particular area

There are two scenarios when it is beneficial to hire an outside consultant. The first is when you require depth in a particular knowledge or skill for a short duration of time or special project. Examples might be skill in a particular IT expertise or knowledge of how to raise venture capital. The second scenario is when you need to inject a broader knowledge or understanding into your organization. Most successful companies have a comprehensive understanding of their markets and industry, but what they lack is the larger picture. In a globally interconnected marketplace, reinventing the wheel each time you face a problem or challenge is simply too slow and expensive today. There are few problems that others outside of your industry have not faced and bringing in an innovative thinker who has the breadth of experience to find the right solution and help your personnel adapt it to your unique requirements can result in your gaining a distinct competitive advantage. Likewise, with opportunities, thinking outside of your industry and marketplace can result in the identification of innovative growth opportunities within your marketplace that your staff would never have seen. While utilizing outside consultants in both ways is beneficial, the second has the potential for unleashing a new internal dynamic for the greater growth.

Thanks to John Di Frances, Red Door Innovation

 

Photo Credit: Christine Clifford

Photo Credit: Christine Clifford

Thinking inside your box

We often hear the expression, “Think Outside the Box.” The problem is, we can’t. It’s a lyric heard every minute, somewhere in the world. But the message doesn’t work. That’s where consultants come in. Here’s why and what you should do instead. Your box– your way of thinking, working and living– has worked for you. It’s the box in which you were born; a product of the DNA with which you were encoded. You can change your box about as easily as you can alter the shape of your head.Because you can’t change your box, you need to do something different: grow your box. Bring in a qualified, highly recommended consultant. Consultants bring in fresh ideas, new perspectives, successes and failures of their own. They can listen, study and make recommendations that noone in the company may have thought of. And consultants save money. They don’t have benefits, vacation time and office space on your dime. To become more creative– always a good idea– don’t try to think outside your box. Grow your box.

Thanks to Christine Clifford, Christine Clifford Enterprises

Related Post: Best Personalities for Entrepreneurs

 

Photo Credit: Michael Ruiz

Photo Credit: Michael Ruiz

When you’re looking to diversify and add products

When you are looking to diversify, change, add products or services to your current portfolio. If you’re looking at adding staff to your business, having growing pains or not growing as fast as you would like – engage a consultant. Consultants can help you identify gaps in your business, your produce portfolio or your services, consultants can also create/amend processes. Depending on the consultant they can train your sales staff, make cross-functional communications easier and create sales and marketing plans. Consultants differ from one to another and each have their own specialty – find one that suits you and the business before you sign on the dotted line.

Thanks to Michael Ruiz, CASA Business Consulting

 

Photo Credit: Pat Valdata

Photo Credit: Pat Valdata

When you have a topic outside your area of expertise

Whenever they need expert advice on a topic outside their area of expertise–this can actually be a tough sell for many small business owners who think no one else can do what they do or no one else knows their business so well. Yet a good consultant will learn their client’s business and may end up knowing it better than the owner. Whenever they are spending too much time to do something–a business owner should be focused on building and enhancing customer relationships to help the business grow. Everything else should be delegated, and sometimes delegating to an outside consultant is the most cost-effective solution.

Thanks to Pat Valdata, OnPoint Partners, LLC

 

Photo Credit: JT Hroncich

Photo Credit: JT Hroncich

Hire consultants to advise on matters you’re not experienced in

Consultants should be brought in to advise on areas outside of the client’s expertise. Consultants also offer a fresh, objective set of eyes on a client’s day-to-day work and overarching business activities. They provide observations and insights based on their own experiences, and can serve in a temporary or long term capacity. JT follows his own advice. Capitol Media works with a PR consultant for all of its corporate Public Relations services. Capitol Media believes that marketing & PR are more cost-effective than advertising alone and have a significant credibility-boosting effect that pay-for-play exposure cannot provide. Additionally, CMS feels that an experienced consultant can serve as a trusted advisor, providing honest assessment of personal image and the public perception of the company. With the current transparency that social media encourages, having someone who monitors your company’s image is priceless. Plus, using a consultant for this service allows Capitol Media to hire someone with experience on an as-needed basis without the additional cost of benefits and severance.

Thanks to JT Hroncich, Capitol Media Solutions

 

Photo Credit: Maya Townsend

Photo Credit: Maya Townsend

When you don’t have the skills you need in house

There are three good reasons to hire a consultant. First, you don’t have the skills you need in house. You need a specialized skill set, like web design or process mapping, but you don’t have the time or inclination to hire a full-time employee with those skills. Instead, you buy the skills you need from an external consultant. Second, you have the skills in house but the people with those skills are too busy to assist. In this case, you supplement what you have with an external resource who has the bandwidth to meet the need. Third, you need an external authority. There are internal politics, distrust among colleagues, or other challenges that make it difficult to work through a particular issue. Bringing an authority in from the outside lends credibility and helps bring a third-party, objective voice to the situation.

Thanks to Maya Townsend, Partnering Resources

 

Photo Credit: Dixie Gillaspie

Photo Credit: Dixie Gillaspie

Knowing what you want to do

Whether growing my own entrepreneurial business, or helping my clients grow their own enterprises, the answer to “when to hire a consultant” comes down to knowing what you want to do. Because it is the role of the consultant to work with you to define what you need to do, and how to do it. First, get specific about your want; for example, not just “I want to grow my company,” but “I want to build my company to $10 million in gross revenues without increasing my current staff.” Then, if you can’t see that next step, or you can see the next step, but aren’t sure how to take it, you know you need the help of a professional. Most businesses fail to get the help they need because the business leaders aren’t connected to what they really want.

Thanks to Dixie Gillaspie

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Profile photo of Gresham Harkless Jr.
Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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