Getting your business off the ground is no walk in the park, as many entrepreneurs will be quick to tell you. Nor are all of the processes that come with scaling your business. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners are accustomed to being lone rangers, taking the reins of their enterprise as they strike out into the wilderness.
But, regardless of your own expertise, you shouldn’t have to take that ride alone.
Business consultants offer key guidance and expertise for helping smooth out the bumps that may crop up in the road. Most optimal are the businesses that look for external expertise before there are problems. Building effective processes, strong project management skills and IT expertise into your business before you feel the pain internally — or your clients feel it externally — is ideal.
But if you’re struggling with growing pains, seeking outside counsel may be in the best overall interest of your business — or can at least help ease the burden of managing multiple initiatives single-handedly in a way that’s cost-effective.
A 2021 survey by Clutch shows that 44% of small business owners have hired consultants to assist with their business in the past — and furthermore, that 29% of those who haven’t previously hired a consultant planned to do so by the end of this year as of January.
Whether you’re part of the 29% on the hunt for consulting services, or you’re simply curious and seeking more educational resources, we’ve got you covered on how to find the best consulting firm for your business.
Determine the issue you’re trying to solve for.
You should first determine the type of service you’re looking for, which depends largely on the issue you’re trying to solve for. Do you need IT support for your internal processes? Or staffing services to fill in-demand roles on your team? Are you juggling multiple critical projects? Maybe you’re trying to automate your manual business processes, or to up your game in data management.
Whatever the need is, if there are one or even multiple, determining what to solve for should be the first step in choosing a business consultant.
Assess what type of consulting firm is the best fit for you.
From there, you can decide the type of consulting firm you want to work with — large or small, general or specialized. More general consulting firms might be able to help your business across a global transformation, but a boutique (specialized) consulting service can help target the problem areas that need the most assistance.
Many people hire consulting firms to save on internal costs, so it makes sense that pricing is an important factor when considering the consultant you want to hire.
You shouldn’t spring for the cheapest option that comes your way, though; cost efficiency is a much better metric to determine which business consultant is the right fit. Agree in advance if you expect business growth, reduced risk from enhanced IT tools, process efficiencies or stalled projects completed and launched. These are examples where the Return on Investment (ROI) often far exceeds any business consultant’s fee.
It’s also a good idea to take a look at how different business consultants will charge you. Some consultants charge hourly, while others require retainers or lengthy contracts.
You should also determine at the beginning of the process how long your consulting firm plans to work with you once a project is complete.
At AdamsGabbert, we prioritize a defined exit at the end of a project to avoid over-billing our clients and partners with unnecessary services. But other consultants prefer to embed themselves in your company and processes for the long haul, staying on to monitor progress even after the end date of a relationship.
Establishing these expectations at the beginning of your search can help ensure you don’t encounter surprise costs at the end of a project or partnership.
Check out their portfolio, experience and soft skills.
You want to ensure that the consulting firm you choose is a great fit not only for your business model, but for your style of communication and workflow.
Business consultants are used to working closely with individuals within different business types across all industries, so their experience and communication style is key. By taking a close look at a consulting firm’s communication cadence, management style and overall personality, you can get a better sense of how well you’ll work together and alongside each other. Ask what their purpose is. Does it align with yours?
An ideal way to assess a potential consulting partner is also to examine their previous body of work. Take a look at their case studies, their success stories and the portfolio of other clients they’ve serviced or are currently working with. If everything checks out, it’s a good indication you’ve found the right partner.
Ready to take the ride, partner?
AdamsGabbert offers a full suite of business consulting services that assist in anything from IT support and staffing to business process improvements and complex project management — all focused on helping you to scale up your business. Our business consulting services bring innovation, perspective and real-world insights to solve your toughest business problems.
Steve DiFranco is AdamsGabbert’s Senior Account Executive, where he thrives as a natural connector in cultivating AG’s business relationships. Surprisingly different, obsessed with innovation and creators of deliberate impact. We are the real deal. AG is an automation and technology services firm where trust, transparency and collaboration matter. By investing in our people and community, we bring our partners the best talent and strategic solutions. We are proud to be a certified Woman-Owned Business (WBE). We love Kansas City, and we have a lot of fun supporting our partners. We are AG.