Your Definitive Guide to Choosing a Small Business Consultant

by Pat Owings

Sometimes, it’s okay to ask for a little help. Small business consultants specialize in helping young businesses grow, and hiring a consultant doesn’t mean you are failing. It simply means you’re willing to do what it takes to improve. A great consultant will understand your industry, help you develop actionable strategies and take the time to teach you the skills you need to succeed. When it comes to how to find the right small business consultant, choose one who will coach you throughout the journey.

Determine Your Needs

Be honest with yourself about exactly what your company needs from the start, and apply this knowledge to your search for a consultant. You might actually need a whole agency on your side to get started, and it could cost way less than you think. Hiring an agency to take over your web development, graphic design, copy-writing and lead nurturing is usually much cheaper than trying to hire and train your own employees. Outsourcing individual projects to specialists might not always yield cohesive results. If you’re on the fence about just how much help you will need, your first step in determining how to find the right small business consultant should be to people associated with agencies. Go with a company that offers both consulting and full agency services and can help you identify your needs.

Choose Experience

The best small business consultants have industry-specific experience. Don’t just go for a recent MBA graduate if you can find a consultant with years of experience successfully growing a small business a lot like your own. Don’t underestimate the expense of having to teach someone the tools and tricks of your specific trade. When it comes to determining how to find the right small business consultant, always begin your search by looking for someone with experience in your industry.

Verify Their Claims

Worthwhile consultants aren’t cheap, so be sure to verify every small business consultant’s claims before cutting the first check. If they’ve been in business a while, they should be able to produce references or client testimonials. If you’re looking for some help with inbound marketing, research the consultant’s social media and business blog success. If they have 7 Facebook fans that seem to be relatives or haven’t Tweeted since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, they probably don’t have the social media chops they claim. A little Internet stalking is a crucial component of how to find the right small business consultant.

They Want to Learn

The best small business consultants understand that their job involves more than just developing a strategy. Great consultants dedicate time to learning about each of the quirks that makes your company unique. They’ll ask questions about your corporate culture and for  access to information on your value statements, sales cycle and goals. An important part of how to find the right small business consultant is identifying someone who takes a unique approach to each client.

They Coach

Anyone can tell you what to do, which is why looking for a coach is a critical part of how to find the right small business consultant. Even if it means you pay a little more, invest in a consultant who will stick by your side until you’re ready to take flight. No matter how much guidance you need, the best small business consultants are committed to teaching clients each of the tools they need to succeed. An enormous component of how to find the right small business component is identifying someone who gives interactive lessons, feedback and homework.

How to find the right small business consultant involves identifying an individual or agency with a truly impressive skill set. The best consultants don’t just hand you a road map and run, they learn, teach and have easy access to other specialists. Whether you need some basic guidance or to retain an entire agency, choose your consultant carefully.