Nearly all businesses will require specialist external expertise at some point in its lifecycle. Once a company has found its fit within a chosen market, the next challenge usually presents itself in the form of growth. How can a business increase its reach, grow its audience and get its products and services in front of more people?One way of achieving these goals is by hiring a business consultant. Equipped to boost business acceleration at an impressive pace, business consultants use an arsenal of specialised knowledge to analyse target markets, generate interest, optimise marketing tactics and increase brand positioning.
That said, there’s more to it than just deciding you need to hire a business consultant and going with the first one you find. There are several factors that will colour your choice, so it’s imperative that you ask yourself the right questions before leaping into things. From gauging their previous experience and successes to the costs involved, this due diligence guide is designed to help you decide whether a business consultant is right for you.
Do you require diagnosis or implementation?
In your search for the right business consultant, it’s a good idea to identify the type of consultant you need and where in the process you need them. Consultants that favour a diagnostic approach will help you make a decision or develop a plan, while an execution specialist will implement all or part of the plan.
Keep in mind that no consultant is amazing at everything. How can they possibly be? So, consider this: decide where in the business funnel you require the help of a consultant and search for one with expertise in that part of the journey.
What can you afford?
Often, a company will set a budget, and then search for the best or fastest talent within the constraints of the budget. However, it’s been said that this approach can often compromise results. A better course of action is to lay out the desired results you wish to achieve with your business consultant, and then judge each potential candidate by how likely they are to deliver this outcome.
It may be the case that budget isn’t a problem for your business, or it may be that the cost is worth the investment if it means hiring a quality consultant or speedier delivery of the end result.
Do you have a realistic goal they can achieve?
Following on from the above, setting a realistic goal for your consultant is essential. Sometimes, businesses can hire consultants without first thinking about what they want their business outcomes to be. At which point, they’ve spent a large sum of money, with little in return. If there isn’t any agreement on what the KPIs you want to achieve, then neither you nor the consultant will know what they’re working toward.
Before hiring a consultant, make sure you set clear parameters for measuring the effectiveness of your efforts. The chosen metrics depend on your own goals, priorities and business model, so it’s worth selecting KPIs that are realistic, measurable and specific to what will have the biggest impact on the growth of your business.
Some commonly-tracked growth metrics you may want to consider include:
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What is their speciality?
From here, you can start to decide whether any potential consultants fit your bill. More than anything else, the first question you should ask is what their speciality is. The ideal consultant is one who should fit the area of expertise identified through your desired outcomes and chosen metrics.
Specificity is key here; any consultants who struggle to articulate their speciality in a clear, precise manner probably aren’t who you’re looking for. Likewise, be wary of any consultants who try to deduce what you’re looking for before you’ve even told them of your issues. The right consultant is one who knows what they’re doing, can develop expertise in a focused area and can express their value before asking for more information from you.
What are their successes?
The right consultant will be able to tell you the benefits they deliver upon the conclusion of a project. Their answers should indicate outcomes rather than processes, and should include specifics. If their answers are too broad, then it’s probably an indication you should look elsewhere for a consultant.
Does the consultant have proven experience?
In conducting your due diligence, it’s a good idea to ask for references from their current clients, evaluate their portfolio and enquire about the kind of ROI you might expect from them. Someone who knows what they’re doing can detail their expectations about your business in a clear and confident manner. Additionally, make sure that the references are for the specific consultant who’ll be working with you as opposed to the firm in general. However, those with less experience shouldn’t be discounted; they may still have something of value to offer. If you’re thinking of going with someone less experienced, be sure to ask them how they plan to accomplish your goals upfront.
Are they the right fit for you?Though the project needs will differ, certain characteristics of a potential business consultant are good to know ahead of time too. For instance:
Are there more cost-effective ways to boost growth?
You may decide that hiring a business consultant isn’t the right thing for you, but you still want to optimise the skills of your team in a way that adds value to their roles within the business. There are plenty of training programmes out there designed to help your business level up. Such platforms detail best practices and most commonly-used strategies and methods to boost business growth, and can be hugely cost-effective in the long term if hiring a business consultant is out of the question.
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