The word “consultant” comes from the Latin verb consultare, meaning “to discuss.”  Consultants are as varied as the industries and businesses they serve, and the function of a consultant at a graphic design firm is virtually guaranteed to be very different from the function of a consultant serving a financial company.  For small businesses, hiring a consultant can be of special importance.  What are the top five benefits of hiring a consultant for your small business?

Photo from www.surry.edu

Photo from www.surry.edu

1. A fresh perspective

What “counts” as a small business varies depending on location.  The Australian Fair Work Act of 2009 defines a small business as employing 15 or fewer people, while in America, the legal definition for what constitutes a “small business” may include as many as 500 (or more) employees.  Nonetheless, when we hear the term “small business,” we often imagine a single self-employed individual, a pair of partners, or a small group of employees.

Because small businesses are, well, small, they’re particularly vulnerable to suffering from a narrow point of view.  With only a few voices to contribute opinions and ideas, it’s all too easy for small businesses to stagnate or become stuck on an issue.  A consultant adds a fresh, unbiased professional opinion to the mix, and can shake a small business out of gridlock.

2. A focus on results

When you’re caught up in the center of a situation, it can be hard to remember to think about the big picture.  Likewise, when you’re working on your small business from the inside out, it becomes very easy to get caught up in the minutiae of details, problems, and deadlines.  When you “can’t see the forest for the trees,” your business suffers from a limited, short-term vision.  The key to long-term success is maintaining a focus on results.  A consultant can help to set goals, create plans to meet those goals, and keep you focused on the overall outcome.

3. Specialized expertise

On a basic level, the main purpose of a consultant is to provide expertise on a subject that a business’ owners and employees are not sufficiently familiar with.  Because a consultant arms you with the knowledge and informed analysis you would otherwise be lacking, you can feel confident that you’re being supported by the guidance of an expert.  A consultant is like a mentor for your business, and can help you evaluate the profitability, risks, and benefits associated with subjects you are not proficient in on your own.

4. Cut costs

At first, this seems counterintuitive: how could paying to hire an additional person possibly save your business money?  It’s a question of making an investment.   While there is a cost associated with hiring a consultant, you have to remember that the consultant’s purpose is to help your business make smart, savvy decisions.  The cost of hiring a consultant is negligible compared to the cost of making poor business decisions down the road.  For small businesses, whose pockets are often not quite as deep as those of large corporations, avoiding expensive mistakes is especially critical.

5. Boost confidence

The psychological benefits of hiring a consultant are arguably as valuable as the quantitative benefits.  With a consultant on your side, you gain the confidence you need to negotiate, seek out new clients, and take new business initiatives.  Because small businesses typically don’t enjoy the size or popularity advantage of large, well-established chains and corporations, having the confidence to make bold moves and constantly push your company forward is key.

If you would like to find out more about ways that hiring a consultant can benefit your small business, I invite you to contact me.  I have been helping professional service providers such as CPAs, attorneys, and financial services providers focus their business development efforts on profitable micro-niches for over 10 years.  Email me at david@themicronichemethod.com.

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