If you’re a small-business owner, then you’re probably doing everything yourself. From selling your product to buying office supplies, from staying abreast of labor laws to taking out the trash. It all rests on your shoulders.
Taking a DIY approach is a smart way to keep costs down, especially when you’re just starting out and you’re watching every penny.
However, there will probably come a time when it’s just impossible for you to do everything yourself. But you may be reluctant to take on the expense of hiring employees. At that point, you should consider hiring a small-business consultant.
What is a Small-Business Consultant?
A small-business consultant is a person with a specific skill or area of expertise.
A consultant can be hired to solve a problem your business may be facing, help your business expand, or to handle one particular aspect of your business that you don’t have the time or desire to take care of.
How is a Small-Business Consultant Different from an Employee?
Unlike a full-time or part-time employee, consultants are typically hired on a per project basis or for a set period (e.g., 3 months, 6 months).
Consultants will usually have other clients in addition to you. Depending on your needs they may work independently off-site or on-site during hours you both agree upon.
Employees are hired for an indefinite period, but with a consultant you’ll both sign a contract outlining the specifics of what you expect of them and vice versa. At the end of the contract, the consultant will leave or you both may agree to enter into a new contract.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Small-Business Consultant?
There are several advantages of hiring consultants, including:
- Specialized knowledge: A consultant brings a wealth of knowledge about a specific business function to your firm.
- Cost savings: Hiring a consultant for a limited period of time is more cost-effective than hiring an employee.
- No learning curve: A consultant comes in knowing exactly what needs to be done. They can get straight to work without training or a “ramping up” period.
- More time for you: With a consultant taking on certain tasks, you can spend more time on the aspects of your business you enjoy the most.
- An outside perspective: Sometimes there may be problems or inefficiencies that you just don’t see because you are too close to the business. An outside consultant can take a fresh look at your operations and provide novel solutions.
- No long-term commitment: It’s possible that you may not like your small-business consultant. If that’s the case, then you can simply choose to not renew the contract.
What Should I Hire a Small-Business Consultant to Do?
Although you can hire a consultant for almost any aspect of your business, here are 5 specific areas where a consultant will provide the most bang for your buck:
- Bookkeeping: A good bookkeeper will submit and track invoices, pay bills, take care of payroll, and prep your records for tax season.
It’s all tedious and detailed work that most small-business owners are happy to remove from their plate. Unless you know you can do as good a job as a professional, then get a consultant to help with the finances.
- Information Technology (IT) Services: Business technology changes at a rapid pace and you need someone in IT who can stay one step ahead.
An IT consultant can make sure you’ve got the right software and hardware in place to keep your business running smoothly. Plus, if anything goes wrong, they’ll know how to fix it.
- Human Resources: Most small businesses don’t have the budget for a full HR department so hiring a small-business consultant is the best option.
Professional HR consultants can handle a wide variety of time-consuming tasks such as new talent recruitment, pre-interview screening, and new hire orientation.
They also have the skills to handle employee disputes, arrange for employee benefits, and ensure that you’re in compliance with local and federal labor laws.
- Marketing: Marketing is essential to growing your business and gaining new customers. The right marketing consultant will bring fresh ideas and advice on how to develop and execute successful campaigns.
In addition, they’ll know who your target audience is and how to get their attention through social media, print media, radio promotion, direct mail and a range of other tactics.
- Legal Services: Having a good business lawyer on hand is crucial, but not many small businesses can afford in-house counsel. A small-business attorney can be brought in as needed to help with a variety of legal matters, from simple to complex.
For example, they can assist with partnership agreements, lawsuits, real estate purchases, intellectual property rights issues, and more.
If you’re a small-business owner or you’re ready to start a new business, then hiring small-business consultants can be a fast and cost-effective way to bring professionals with specialized expertise into your organization.