As a small business owner, hiring a consultant is something you will eventually have to do as you grow and expand your business. If you are looking for a lawyer, accountant or a creative individual to provide freelance or consulting services, there are a few crucial things you need to assess about the individual or company you are considering before you make a decision.
When you are a small business, it is very important that you only surround yourself with intelligent, experienced and knowledgeable people who will contribute positively to your company. When you are small, one negligent person or one huge mistake can be the difference between business success or business failure.
To assess if a freelancer or consultant has the level of competence you need, start by examining their experience. Check their website, ask them what experience they have working with clients in industries similar to yours and look at samples of their work. Get third party corroboration by Googling them and seeing what people are saying about them on social media sites such as Facebook , Yelp or industry websites.
As tempting as it may be to work with someone “green” in order to save money, the cost of trusting your business to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing can be astronomically higher in the long run.
Just as important as competence in business is ethics. You want a freelancer who is honest with you: about expectations, about pricing, about their abilities and about whether or not what you are asking them for is the best idea for your business.
A good, professional freelancer should be willing to answer all your questions openly, operate transparently and keep you informed of everything they are doing, or recommend doing, on your behalf.
Listen to your instincts when it comes to whom you entrust with your small business. If you ever find yourself chronically distrustful of a consultant, move on.
Notice here that I didn’t say “price.” Value happens at the intersection of price and competence. Forget going with the cheapest freelancer and, instead, focus on finding someone who can give you the best possible service at the best rate.
If your budget is very tiny, I recommend cutting back the amount of services or hours you purchase, rather than hiring someone cheaper who may not be the best consultant for your company.
Another trick for weeding out the bad from the good when hiring a freelancer: If a potential consultant offers you an hourly rate, ask them how many hours they estimate your project will take. This will give you a good idea of what you really would be spending. Hint: If they can’t answer this question, they are not the freelancer for you.
4. Lack of Ego
You hire a freelancer because you need someone who knows more about a certain aspect of running a small business than you do, be it marketing, building a website, personnel management, finance or any number of other tasks. You can, and should, expect your freelancer to offer you advice and give you an honest professional assessment of all your business decisions.
That being said, it’s still your business and a good freelancer understands that their job is to help you build the business of your dreams, even if that means allowing you to make decisions different than ones they would make.
5. The Right Fit
Life is too short to work with people whose company you do not enjoy. If you’re not clicking with a freelancer on a personal level, find someone else. One of the beauties of owning your own business is never having to work with someone you dislike.