As a small business owner, it’s impossible to know all there is to know about every facet of growing and managing a business. There comes a point in every startup or small enterprise where you will need to hire a service provider, or a consultant, to help develop your business. It could be some external assistance in designing a swish website. Or maybe it’s a recruitment professional to help you find the right people for your company. Perhaps it’s a marketing expert to enable you to tap into new markets on social media. Whatever it is, you will want to make sure the consultant or service provider is a good fit for your business. So what are the must-have attributes that a good consultant needs to have?
- Solid experience
The reason you are hiring a consultant in the first place is because of the knowledge, fresh perspective and breadth of experience they can bring to the table. The right consultant will have previous experience of the challenges and opportunities you are facing. And while they may not be experts in your particular industry, they will have that first-hand experience in addressing similar issues and so will be able to bring new insights and a fresh approach.
- Problem-solving abilities
Of course, you will want your consultant to be a good problem solver. You will want to hire someone who is imaginative and creative in finding solutions and so be sure to look for real evidence that they have this in abundance. Testimonials from existing clients as well as a face-to-face discussion will give you a good idea of their ability to problem solve and come up with solutions that are appropriate in the context of your business.
- Good communication skills
It almost goes without saying that a good consultant needs to have top-notch written and verbal communication skills. However, just as important is the ability to listen. Unless the consultant fully understands your business and the challenges you are facing, then they will be ineffective in helping you. And so being able to listen and fully appreciate your situation is an important attribute for any good consultant.
- Excellent inter-personal skills
You will be working closely with this person, perhaps for an extended period of time, and so you will need to feel comfortable with them and confident that you can work together. However, it goes beyond simply getting on with them on a personal level. You also need to feel as though you can trust them. As part of their role, they may well become privy to intimate details about your business and you will need to be able to have honest, and perhaps sometimes painful discussions with them. An open, trust-based relationship with a consultant that ultimately you get on well with is, therefore, at the heart of a successful client-contractor arrangement.
Consultants have much to offer new and small businesses: fresh ideas as well as detailed knowledge and expertise. And they can play a significant part in helping to develop and grow a company. Look for a consultant with these must-have attributes to ensure you select one that is a good match for your business.