As a company owner, when do you think to hire a consultant, and how you find him/her?
At which stage of your project do you incorporate the opinion of certain business consultant, and what are the parameters of choosing this consultant? How you can find him/her?
Well, I don't think that there will any description needed in knowing at the stage at which one decides to higher the the consultants. What I am going to say over here is at every stage there is a need of consultant because they are person which people first start talking to. Let me give you an example like we are mobile application development company, and the very first person our clients talk with is the consultant they are the person responsible for guiding the clients over the right direction, they are going to have a look at the clients requirements and accordingly they create a plan which one should work upon. So, I would say with every new idea there is a need for consultants.
You're probably ready to hire a consultant after the following things have happened:
1. You have already felt the symptoms of a problem. i.e. you don't know why you're running out of money, you aren't sure why there aren't more customers in your business, etc.
2. You've started to look around online, talk to co-workers, read books, and now you've given a name to the problem causing the symptoms i.e. if you're running out of money, you've realized its because you haven't done a good enough job keeping track of your accounting.
Once your problem has a name, you understand what's causing it and you've educated yourself enough to not be naive, now you're ready to find a consultant.
Chances are that no matter the type of consultant you need, doing a search online for consultants that handle the sorts of issues you're having is going to be your best bet, and the nice things is that thanks to the internet, you're often not limited by where you live when it comes to finding the best person to help solve the problems that your business is facing.
I've personally consulted people and businesses from overseas with great success - it's just a matter of finding someone that is transparent, that keeps an open line of communication, that has a lot of knowledge in regards to your business issues, and that this consultant meshes well with the values of your business.
I'll make it simple for you and I somehow echo Andrew Grove, Interl's former CEO when he was asked when he does changes: "when I feel that is needed:. No one knows and feels your business like you. On one hand you can't predict the future but on the other hand you envision what might happen. The same thing applies for hiring a consultant.
Hope I helped
When you need an experience- and expertise-based answer that is beyond your corporate capabilities. Rather than try to answer it yourself, just outsource the answer. Finding the right person is a lot harder. Referrals are really important -- you can't just browse the web.
Hi Mohamed after you have closed your first or second deal using your personal networks, and now don't know how to get your next deals.
Sales is a rigorous process and requires sustained effort, B2B sales especially requires intense focus, and the founder / CEO of a small or medium sized business may not be able to spare time, as he/she gets sucked into operations.
Vishal Arora (email@example.com)
What type of consultant are you thinking about? Is it to help you solve a problem or improve your sales or marketing, or accounting help or legal help, etc?
Typically the right time is before you need it to keep your business from failing, however, many business owners wait until it is too late to ask for help.
Never be afraid to ask and get some one to help you do what you don't have the experience or training to do.
In my experience, at the moment you recognize there may be an area you are not experienced in, and that it may impact the outcome of a project (usually during the planning stage), it is likely a good time to start looking for a business consultant to talk with.
To avoid mistakes that can derail a project, try not to wait until you are well into that project. This will save you much frustration and disappointment, not to mention reputation, time, quality issues and of course cost.
The parameters will be dependent on what issues you are needing addressed and the area of expertise you need advice or services in. That being said, of course experience in the area of expertise is important.
Finding someone can be tricky, try talking with peers, other professionals and of course check on-line professional sites. Once you find someone, it will be important to spend time talking about your needs and make sure they understand your needs fully.
I hope this helps answer your question. If you have any additional questions please contact me and I'd be happy to answer them if I can.
I recently started my own Startup business and I happen to experience in asking the same question that you have now. In my experience I started seeking consultant when most in the Work Breakdown Structures were not met and also upon discovering KPIs. I didn't engage some consultancy services though what I did was that I build rapport to experts and particular groups in Linkedin then started soliciting advices then reading useful and significant articles for my business.
My suggestion would be to acquire mentor support as soon as possible. You want to avoid problems, if possible, not course correct. Generally speaking, it's what the owner doesn't know that often puts him/her out of business. I recently wrote a blog on this topic, if yiu are interested - http://www.growthroughpeople.com/#!What-You-Dont-Know-You-Dont-Know-Can-Hurt-Your-Business-/c15i6/B7952792-FF53-4321-8E43-9FE49A227DC8
The need for a consultant can then be qualified. As for acquisition, I agree with the points made by Steven
First, don't overlook the need for the on-going process of developing a consultant network just as you do prospects/clients/customers (and this includes online/distance business relationships). You will learn a lot in the process and be in a better position to know when they can help. Second with the focus of providing the best client experience possible, look for opportunities to bring in (trusted) consultant - experts that can save you time/money, move things along more quickly and gain credibility with your customers.
The right time is when you know that the expertise of a consultant is required but should not take on fixed costs for the same and increase the risk and the fixed commitments of the business.
"When" to hire is the easy part of your question; "how" to select is harder.
Hire when you have a specific problem identified and defined as well as possible. The less well the problem is defined, the more expensive the consultant you will need, because you need a broader strategic outlook--someone who is accustomed to working in undefined, chaotic situations.
But if you have a chaotic, undefined situation, then hire the expensive person who is capable of giving you the quality of help you need.
How to find this person. Consultants are notorious for overstating their qualifications. Three common ways of dealing with this:
-- Hire somebody on a short trial basis, to see how they do.
-- Rely on a recommendation from colleagues.
-- Hire a large, well-known firm.
Each of these has risks:
From your profile it looks like you are in Saudi Arabia. Do you think you can find the quality person you need locally? If you cannot, then you may need to bring somebody in from a different city, or even a different country. That's expensive, and makes it hard to do a trial, because you'll have to cover their travel and accommodations.
A colleague may suggest someone who isn't a good fit--a friend or family member they want to promote. So you need to vet this referral as thoroughly as anybody else. If you hire them and they don't work out, it may be harder to fire them without affecting your relationship with your colleague.
The sales rep from a large consulting firm may talk a very good game, and you may be very impressed with the principals, despite their high price. But once the work starts, you could discover you are mainly dealing with a lower-level, less-experienced consultant--but still paying the high price.
There is an international organization that certifies consultants--the Institute for Management Consultants (IMC). http://imcusa.org. I'm not sure of their presence in Saudi Arabia, but I've met a consultant from Dubai at their conferences. It is worth checking.
Richard Stern- Suggest hiring a Consultant who has experience in your industry at the start of your project.
The Consultant can review your Business Plan to be sure your Business Plan and the projections are realistic and reasonable.
Furthermore, the Consultant can identify problems that need correction and assist in providing "audit" controls to check the progress of corrective meassures in your Plan.
Too many companies have this thing about bringing in consultants because they bring in an outside perspective to fix a problem. How you find them, well I would say in an industry related magazines or via word of mouth.
I feel before any leader decides to go out and bring in a consultant they should listen to the people below them first. I have personally witnessed the damage that consultants can do a company. Save your money and talk to your people first because your own employees are your best asset. Sometimes the truth hurts but you will be better for it.
I say do not over complicate this question about when you hire them (If your asking then the time is now). The question of who is the challenge and it depends on what it is you want the outcome to be for the relationship. I prefer to seek solutions directly from people you trust, but do confirm the actual experience of the person you engage for services.
As many said below - when you have a problem, need some skills you or your team do not have, when you need guidance or advice...
I will add, successful businesses have them (one or more) engaged proactively and from the start in order to be the extra eyes, ears, and smarts - objectively... to minimize or prevent bleeding, planning, assessing and more......
What to look for - experience, expertise, client list, results, collaboration, client focused, results oriented, and you respect, trust and get along with them (not a friend, but a partner)
Where you can find them - here on Mosaic, LinkedIn, referrals/colleagues, etc.
The first need is to address what type of consultant you need. Is it a strategic, talent management, financial, or IT consulting that you need?
Once you identify the need, start with your own professional network and ask for suggestions on recommendatios. Most consultants survive off of referrals. LinkedIn is also a solid means to start a search. The size of your town and your industry usually make it harder or easier to attain a good referral for consultants.
Hope this helps.
That depends on what I am looking for. I can do a lot of the computer changes, contents, etc but I am admittedly slow. If I can outsource it for a reasonable expense, I can get more cost effective work done. If I need knowledge and do not have time for the learning curve to acquire it, then I look for help. Weight time, expense, and desired outcome and make a practical decision.
At time of setting up the goals for the Organisation, Employees and Self. Before reviewing the action plans for all. At this stage Consultant should be able to point out the Risks, Opportunities, Threats and Strengths for each. The intensity of the findings can predict the success assumptions. Business consultancy generally gets viewed as Breadth and Width of all the Business Pillars, People, Process, Tools and Customer (Market). Thereby, identifying the risks and priority focus of any/ each pillar is critical to have mitigation plan in advance.
I see you have a lot of answers here so I will be short and sweet. Only hire a consultant when you are ready to her advice or guidance that your might not want to hear. If you are ready to think outside of the box, then you are ready.
As far as the how- that is tougher. I would definitely use word of mouth with trusted business partners as well as industry consortium and associations to start.