8 Ways to Save Time and Expenses When Hiring External Consultants
Hiring the right external consultants can streamline your business operations and improve your bottom line, find out how with these tips.
Management consulting is a hundred-billion-dollar industry, according to Harvard Business Review.
Companies often hire consultants to save time and money (or both) when combating a particular business obstacle or issue. Consultants can provide a level of expertise that many business owners might only dream of having on their team because many consultants have years of prior experience in the industry they’re consulting in. Hiring an external consultant can provide you with an expert opinion that can enhance operations to make your business the best it can possibly be.
Here are eight tips to save you time and expense when hiring an external consultant.
But first, let’s take a look at several types of consultants you can hire, proven to improve your business.
Determining What Kind of Consultant You Need
When it comes to small business, there are several types of consultants you might consider hiring for your business, depending on your individual business needs. Several types of small business consultants exist:
- IT and Security – Larger companies used to be the primary target of cybersecurity (or similar) attacks, but these days, hackers are targeting small businesses just as much, if not more. That’s why small businesses turn to IT security consultants to help them find the right solution to protect their systems. A good consultant can help you get your servers set up and secured properly so you never have to worry about the technical side of things. You have the peace of mind knowing that you can always turn to your IT consultant should a data security issue arise.
- Bookkeeping and Accounting – Small and growing companies don’t always have the resources to think about bookkeeping and accounting issues, especially when dealing with so many other aspects of the company all at once. Hiring an accounting consultant can provide smaller companies with the assistance they need in getting their business books in order and avoiding potential liability as their company grows.
- Marketing – A marketing consultant can help your small business get off to a running start when it comes to identifying your target audience and creating a strategy for reaching that audience. Small business owners who hire marketing consultants benefit from having an expert to guide them through the modern digital marketing landscape. Find a marketing expert that meets your requirements.For instance,
do you need someone with a B2B sales background?
Or do you need someone who knows consumer sales?
- HR – In the early stages of your business, it was okay not to have anything formal in place regarding HR structures. But now that your company is growing, you need to have something in place to help address any problems that could potentially arise in the workplace. A good HR consultant can help you develop these policies in accordance with employment law and avoid any conceivable problems between employees in the future.
Now that you know some of the types of consultants you can hire to help your company grow, you can determine what kind you need and why. If you need to find and hire an external consultant quickly and at cost-savings, the following can help.
8 Ways to Save Time and Money When Hiring External Consultants
1. Set Up a Budget
If you’re like most growing businesses when it comes to hiring external consultants, you don’t have a penny to waste. So, before you hire a consultant, consider what hiring one will cost and try to create a budget for consulting expenses that you or your accountant feels good about. If you’re a smaller company, setting up a budget is even more important so you’ll need to figure out exactly what you can afford to spend and stick to your budget.
2. Find a Reliable Software for Web Conferencing Meetings
Finding a reliable software for web conferencing meetings, file sharing, and other collaboration and communication tools, can give your consultant better insights into what you should and should not be doing. This helps you avoid IT mishaps or missed/delayed meetings from software mix-ups, which can take up valuable billable time. Providing this information to an external consultant can help them see the bigger picture, and subsequently, provide better services. So find a software program the suits the needs of your business.
3. Hire a Home-Based or Travel Consultant
If you truly want to save money when hiring an external consultant, find one that can work from home, if possible, or a travel consultant. With some industries, it’s likely not possible to work from home as a consultant, but if you’re operating a business in an industry that allows for the possibility of a work-at-home or home-based consultant, then, by all means go for it! This can save your consultant money in travel and other expenses.
4. Provide Plenty of Resources
If you want your external consultant to be effective and efficient, provide them with the tools and resources they need to properly do their job. Give them as much information about the company as possible, including company records, sales targets and goals, and anything else that would allow them to perform to the best of their ability. Because a consultant is supposed to help you save money so you want them to be as proficient as possible. Provide them with company materials, product information, and anything else they request.
5. Ask for Recommendations
You could spend some time researching the best, most affordable consultants online, but the best way to find a good consultant is to ask for a recommendation. Perhaps you have a friend who’s also an entrepreneur in the same industry and who also recently hired a consultant. Ask whether they know anyone who could consult your business for an affordable fee. You could also ask your attorney, your accountant, or your business associates for referrals.
6. Provide a Clear Picture of What You Want
When it comes to hiring a consultant, you need to provide a clear picture of exactly what you expect from them. That could mean outlining your needs and their responsibilities in the form of a contract. Make sure to be as specific as possible when drawing up the contract so that there are no misunderstandings down the line about responsibilities on either side. That way, you can always refer back to the contract if any issues arise that you can’t deal with organically.
7. Give Your Consultant a Trial Run
If you’re not sure exactly how an external consultant can save you money and you’d rather try it out before you actually purchase their services, find a consultant who agrees to a trial run of their services before actually signing a contract and making it official. A trial run can give you insight into how your company’s improving and whether you need to further increase productivity, efficiency, and reduce overall costs. A consultant can help you decide these things and more.
8. Negotiate The Fee
If you only need a certain type of consultant on a temporary basis, think about negotiating the consulting fee, especially if you know them through an associate or friend. This could mean long-term discounted consulting services if you play your cards right. Even if you don’t find a consultant through a recommendation or mutual friend, you might still be able to negotiate a rate you’re both comfortable with based on a fixed per-project fee or an hourly rate, depending on the type of consultant your business needs.
Hiring The Right External Consultant
Hiring the right external consultant means weeding out candidates based on desirable qualities.
The best way to find a consultant that meets your needs is by asking for recommendations from friends or service providers like your attorney or your accountant. Once you have your recommendations, it’s best to conduct an interview to see what your candidates are like in person.
A phone interview won’t give you a full picture of what to expect from each candidate on the job so it’s best to get them to come in for a face-to-face interview.
Once you get your candidates in front of you, it’s important that you ask the right questions so that you can make a better, more informed hiring decision.
Once you know what areas you need help in, you can ask relevant questions and get as much information as you need from potential candidates before hiring. You’ll know exactly what their strengths and challenges are when it comes to particular areas of your business and you can make a decision from there. Doing some research on each candidate’s area of expertise beforehand (but after identifying your business needs), you’ll have a better list of candidates.
Hiring an external consultant can benefit your business operations in a variety of ways, but doing so usually means a lot of time and money spent to pay for one. With the above tips in mind, however, you can hopefully save time and money by being prepared, specific, and proactive.
By determining what kind of consultant your business needs, asking for recommendations, and conducting face-to-face interviews, you’ll find the right consultant or consultants to help your company see tremendous growth in the coming months. And by providing your consultants with the right tools and resources they need to perform to the best of their ability, you get exceptional support and guidance from highly knowledgeable experts with years of experience in their field.