When is it time to call in a consultant?

By Adam Blanch

We all know calling in the consultants can be costly. The trick is in working out exactly when the time is right. However, figuring out when to make the call can be as simple as understanding the five reasons for calling in the big guns.

1. Time

Given enough time we could all learn the skills and develop the expertise to do a staggering variety of tasks. But time is of the essence, and you already have the job of managing your business. This is where the arithmetic comes in. Add up the cost of learning how to do it yourself, add in your hourly wage, plus the wages of someone else to do the jobs you normally do, and compare it against the cost of the consultant. If the consultant is cheaper, and the odds are they'll do a better job, call them.

2. Expertise

It's been suggested that to be a master at one thing you have to put in 10,000 hours. That's a lot of time, and why would you want anything less than a master handling essential parts of your business?

3. Connections

"It's not what you know, it's who you know." This is true of just about every part of business, but it's particularly true in industries like publicity, lobbying and recruitment. The sorts of networks required take years to build, so sometimes you simply have to pay for other people's 'sweat equity' if you want a good result.

4. Independence

Sometimes we are just too close to see what needs to be seen. After years of hard work and creativity we can become attached to what we've created, but that doesn't mean it always works as well as it could. An independent expert opinion can show us where we need to grow and change.

5. Here today, gone tomorrow

Not every job needs a full-time person or constant attention. Sometimes we need someone who can get in, get the job done and get out again. Consultants tend to cost more in the short term, but once you spread that cost over the consequences you may get a pleasant surprise.

By bringing in some short-term expertise, business owners can avoid a lot of hard work for a substandard result, and you might even learn a few things in the process.


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