All businesses eventually need to bring on a team, whether it’s part time or full time employees, outside agencies, or freelance consultants. Being a “lone wolf entrepreneur” doesn’t work when trying to grow a business over the long-term.
That’s why it’s imperative to hire help as quickly as possible. If you’ve considered hiring freelance consultants, know that there are pro’s and con’s. It doesn’t matter the size of your organization, whether you’re a “solopreneur” or already have a team of 100.
Knowing if you should hire a consultant for your business needs is important to the overall efficiency and growth of your business.
Why Hiring Freelance Consultants Is a Bad Idea
Freelance consultants often have a bad reputation because they are not an established part of the team. Here are reasons why hiring freelance consultants might be a bad idea.
When hiring freelance consultants, know that their time will not be solely dedicated to your assigned projects. Consultants oftentimes manage more than one client’s projects at a time and sometimes projects, other than your own, can take hierarchy.
Consultants are more prone to handle jobs that are likely to bring them more profit or it may just peak their interests more.
This can ultimately result in your project being pushed to the side for when it is more convenient for them and you can end up with a missed deadline. Another obstacle that may result in missed deadlines are unforeseen life events.
Be it a funeral, wedding or their family member giving birth, those events and many others similar will interfere with a consultant’s work ethic more than a regular, full-time employee.
Lack of Commitment
Getting a consultant to be dedicated to their project may be one of the biggest feats you have when hiring a freelance consultant. Would you dedicate all of your efforts to a company that you work with every now and then?
Even if you were to make your relationship with them long-term, would it not be more beneficial to hire a full-time employee?
Either way, the drive that you will get from a full-time employee’s willingness to learn the in’s and out’s of your business is not something that you can expect from a temporary hire. Weigh your options and see which will be more benefit to you in the long run.
Low Quality Work
You get what you pay for. There is no other way to put it. A low rate is great, but the quality will certainly fit the bill.
Freelance consultants from low-income countries lure many businesses in with low prices and while that can be beneficial, the return investment is usually you left with something worse than what you had in the beginning.
Some consultants can deliver what you ask for, but they come a dime a dozen. Searching for a quality relationship to do business with will take some time and effort. The ones you want will not drop their rates to bare minimum just to land the job.
Opt for the pros to avoid the probability of extra costs down the line.
When hiring a consultant, there is a certain amount of control that you can have in order to classify them as such. Upon an audit your business will need to be able to show proof that they are indeed hired outsourced consultants.
Just in 2014, in the US $79 million of back wages was paid to over 100,000 workers who were classified as employees rather than freelance consultants.
So this is a big risk that you have to stay on top of. While there is not a test to make sure that you are abiding by the rules of classification, there are helpful guidelines you should follow. As a rule of thumb, consultants control their business and decide their rates, as well as when, where and how they conduct their work.
Hiring a freelance consultant has it perks when you are faced with work that needs a small solution for projects, off-site jobs or needn’t a full-time, nine to five employee.
Certainly, gigs have changed the way we think about work in businesses. Just make sure that you are filling those positions with the right people and classifying them correctly to enjoy those perks of outsourcing your projects.
Why Business Owners Need to Delegate
Being in charge of anything can be intimidating. Be it starting a new business or undertaking a major project, it’s a heavy responsibility to have as it’s up to you to lay the foundational groundwork for your team.
Every decision you make is fundamental to the growth of your venture, to the extent that you may feel that your project might fail without your direct involvement.
Yet, there is always the possibility where your colleagues or employees might feel undervalued or even suffocated by your micromanaging tendencies. Perhaps it’s time that you learn to relinquish some of your tasks and learn to delegate and collaborate with your colleagues and/or employees.
Generate an environment that provides your fellow co-workers or employees the leeway to freely innovate and demonstrate their dedication to the team.
You may be surprised but by doing so, you might be able to instill a sense of confidence and respect within your team and cultivate a more cohesive working site for everyone to enjoy.
If you are looking to entrust more responsibility to your team members, whether its in-house employees or freelance consultants, here are some essential points you could take into consideration:
#1. What is the specialized skill set that could beneficially enhance the team?
#2. What are the specific expertise and experiences needed for your team that are essential in achieving your desired goals while simultaneously allowing you to still be a valuable contributor?
Being able to curb back on your sense of control is a gradual process that simply doesn’t just occur overnight. With time you’ll be able to identify certain team members who have exhibited exemplary leadership qualities, as representatives that not only oversee that integral tasks punctually meet their deadlines, but also to consistently conduct follow ups and data analysis to ensure that the team has remained on schedule.
Your fellow colleagues or staff members might be more receptive and comfortable in abiding with a peer’s directions.
It is extremely important to note that there’s no team without good communication. Interaction between co-workers is key to achieving success. This is especially true when it comes to delegating tasks to individual members.
Communication needs to be inclusive, not exclusive. It’s vital for everyone within the team to receive identical instructions. If there’s a breakdown in communication, the entire team’s progress and its dynamics will be hindered. Never enforce your personal preferences onto your fellow members, as everyone has his or her own distinct approach to handling a solution.
Engage in two-way conversations with your colleagues and take into consideration of the ideas they might offer to the team. This signals to your fellow counterparts that you value their contributions and that they are all necessary components to the entire project.
Utilize your resources that could effectively boost the team’s communication and efficiency: virtual team conferences as well as supplementary training sessions could aid in strengthening camaraderie within the team.
Why It’s Imperative for Businesses to Hire Freelance Consultants
There are many reasons why freelance consultants might be the best stepping stone for a small business to grow in the early stages of business, as well as larger businesses to multiply their workforce quickly.
Why Corporations Rely on Consultants
We all have days where we feel overwhelmed by decisions and we refer to the guidance of our loved ones to assure us or advise us on the routes we should take.
That’s the sort of service consultants provide to global corporations, especially when these conglomerates are impeded by an obstacle that needs the expert insights of a specialist who is able to produce out-of-the box strategies due to their extensive experience in resolving their clientele’s dilemmas.
As third-party outsiders hired to ensure that the company operates with optimum efficiency, consultants are able to objectively identify and provide recommendations that could possibly redefine the dynamics within the organization’s internal structure.
Likewise, freelance consultants act in the organization’s best interests and are dedicated to devising and implementing cutting-edge strategies that revitalizes the corporation’s overall productiveness.
Consultants with proven track records of success are tremendously in-demand by corporations, particularly those who are in the midst of revamping their organizational structures.
An Impartial Mediator
Humans are social creatures that are quick to establish emotional bonds with one another, regardless of how well-acquainted we are with each other. Sometimes employers have to make decisions that would directly impact their employees’ livelihoods negatively.
When such situations arise, the best people they could turn to are consultants, who aren’t privy to the bonds of camaraderie within the organization, to deal with potentially unpleasant aftermaths.
Likewise, the presence of consultants could aid in alleviating tensions between two partner organizations whose conflicting ideas and approaches could either stall or terminate the collaboration.
Efficient Worker-Bees for Less
It might surprise you that consultants are often enlisted as temporary staff substitutes, given their relatively high billable hours. However, for businesses looking to reduce their expenditures, enlisting consultants offer a more cost-efficient alternative to retaining full-time employees.
The overall productivity of the business may increase as consultants are accustomed to adapting to the needs of their interim jobs and are able to astutely fulfill the demands of their clients.
Consultants as short-term staff are also helpful when clients are short-staffed or if there’s a need for supplemental assistance that could assist their regular staff in their assignments.
Jack of All Trades
Consultancy is an immensely competitive industry. Consultants have to arduously educate themselves on the latest information and skills within their specialized fields in order to provide effective and innovative solutions to their client’s problems.
Those who have in-depth knowledge of their fields are often requested as instructors to train their client’s workforce.
Types of Consultants to Hire
There are many types of freelance consultants that can help you in your growing business. Here are the most common types.
A strategy consultant is someone who has achieved highest levels in the consulting market. Strategy consultants focus on ways to improve the overall structure of the company.
This includes topics like economic and government policy. Often times, strategy consultants work with top executive and managers to provide advice.
These consultants focus on the organizational matters within management. As a result, they are often known as “organization advisors.”
Their area of focus includes services that range from human resource consulting, operations consulting and strategy consulting. Due to management consultant’s vast services, the majority of consultants fall under the “management consultant” branch.
Operation consultants provide direct support to their clients by working side by side.
They aim to improve the overall performance of an organization. This includes services ranging from finance, marketing, production and sales to boost productivity and efficacy of an organization.
Financial Advisory Consultant
These consultants provide assistance to the financial and analytical sectors in a company.
Some examples of financial consultants include corporate financial advisors and real estate consultants. However, a majority of financial advisory consultants work for accounting and consulting firms.
Human Resources Consultant
Human resources consultants focus on managing and resolving issues within the company that pertain to employees. Most importantly, these consultants manage the terms of employment, the hiring process and employment training.
They also assist in facilitating the business dynamic and communication among co-workers. Human resources consulting has the smallest number of consultants compared to other areas of consulting.
IT consultants are commonly known as “technology consultants.” As one of the biggest growing markets, this specific branch of consulting aids clients in the usage and development of Information Technology.
The vast majority of technology consultants work on extensive projects that focus on the implementation of technology within the business.
How to Hire the Best Freelance Consultants
If you’ve established that you need to get your feet wet with hiring a freelance consultant, here are the points to consider in the process.
A resume is a great way to assess a consultant’s level of experience. It provides information on previous work experience, accomplishments, area of study and how the consultant can be an asset to the company.
References are vital, as they provide direct proof of the consultant’s quality of work. If a consultant has done quality work, then customers are more than likely to share their experiences.
References can often be found on social media, such as the consultant’s website, or under the recommendations on Linkedin.
It’s important to look for a consultant who has had the experience of being a small business owner. Often times, people may claim that they have had years of experience, yet in reality, they have never owned a business or been on the other end.
Questions like, “Have you ever owned or business?” or “How many years were you a business owner?” can help avoid this situation.
To ensure that the consultant allots the appropriate amount of time for you, ask for their availability. It’s important to find out their available working hours, which provides an idea of their workload. You don’t want a consultant who has too many clients, and as a result, can’t give you the proper time you need.
Consultants oftentimes have an area of focus and an ideal target audience. Specifically, small business consultants have a wealth of experience in their particular field.
It’s important to find a consultant who understands your particular field and needs. Be wary of someone who claims to be an expert on anything or anyone that’s too broad in scope.
Pay attention to how the consultant charges for their services. Consulting fees can be charged hourly, on a project basis or for a flat rate.
To ensure that you’re not being overcharged, internet searches are a great way to compare prices.
A contract ensures that the consultant agrees to the set terms that you have laid out.
This helps prevents any miscommunication or understanding if problems arise. Be wary of those who aren’t willing to sign a contract as this may be an indicator illegitimacy.
Which to Choose: Freelance Consultants or Agencies
Employees will always be the best choice due to stability and control over the employee. However, there’s also the question of if an outsourced agency (versus consultants) will also work for your business needs.
Agencies versus Consultants
An agency refers to a large organization that is comprised of many people and services. Due to the large nature of agencies, they often have many positions like account managers and strategists.
The large employment of staff and resources in an agency enables them to operate at a larger scale than consultants. In contrast, a consultant refers to a single person who provides expert advice in a specific area. Consultants work alone, meaning that a consultant has no affiliation with an organization but rather operates independently.
As a result, consultants have fewer clients. Due to a consultant’s smaller clientele, they can provide more attention to detail and spend more time with their clients.
This serves as a contrast to agencies who have a larger clientele and as a result, can’t provide the same level of attention to their clients like consultants.
Pro’s of an Agency
Agencies are best for long-term, complex projects. Agencies are bigger so they often have the organizational structure, resources and the availability that’s needed when undertaking a larger project.
Oftentimes they have a more established reputation and have worked with larger clients. Agencies can also provide multiple perspectives on a project since they have a larger staff.
They also provide more assistance in the marketing field since with larger organizations comes more resources. In addition, agencies involve less management work, whereas consultants require more direction and oversight.
Consultants tend to lack in availability since they have a sole operator. This means that consultants have to handle situations personally so they can’t provide as much time if they have multiple clients. Consultants can prove to be especially problematic if they suddenly quit a project, making it difficult to find a last minute replacement.
However, agencies can outsource projects and aren’t constricted to the schedule of others. As a result, agencies can provide more time to the client, but you pay significantly more to bring an agency on-board. If you’re pressed for time, or don’t want to be as involved in the project, agencies are the best choice.
Con’s of an Agency
Since agencies are comprised of more individuals, resources and services, they are more expensive than a consultant. Agencies also may be unable to provide the personal attention to detail that’s required.
Due to the larger structure of agencies, they can often feel less personal, thus creating a very impersonal experience.
Communication can also be an issue among agencies. Agencies may not understand the desired needs since they are operating from a more business model standpoint. As a result, communication may be more difficult.
Why Consultants are Best for Small Businesses
Consultants are often cheaper than agencies since they have the freedom to set their own rates. These rates can be contingent upon project length and task difficulty.
Since small businesses don’t have the same budget as larger businesses, consultants provide a more financially feasible option. Consultants are also great for small businesses that want to be involved in the creative process. For example, consultants can provide the strategy aspect, whereas the small business can then utilize the strategy and implement it into the company.
Consultants also offer the freedom of individually hiring whoever you please. Since agencies are restricted to a set of employees, you are limited to the range of talent. However, consultants offer the opportunity to hire whoever you wish, creating a team of consultants.
Lastly, consultants have a more specialized skill set that’s great for small businesses with smaller problems.
No matter which route you choose, get help immediately in your business. Whether you already have a small team, or a large workforce, the business will grow faster with the right people in place.
Hiring a freelance consultant is almost always a great choice for any company because of the flexibility in their working style, little oversight is needed and specialization in their area of expertise.