The pressures that small and medium-sized business owners face can be intense. Starting, taking over, or learning to manage a business is hard enough as it is, but such owners also often find themselves having to play the roles of VP Finance, Head of HR, Director of Sales, Marketing Specialist, and many more, all at once. With so many hats to wear, small business owners can quickly run out of capacity, and mental strength as well.
The main values of consultants include their knowledge, expert skills, and influence. Because consultants work with a variety of businesses, they may have a much broader and deeper knowledge of business trends, industry challenges, and new technologies and processes, than internal employees.
When you hire a consultant, you pay only for the services that you need, when you need them. This can provide substantial savings over hiring a salaried employee, with the same level of expertise, to complete similar tasks.
The experience of consultants means that they know best practices already. For example, a lean consultant can look at a client’s manufacturing process and very quickly identify inefficiencies. With a consultant, there is no need for business owners to reinvent the wheel or lose valuable time to something that can be completed by an expert contractor.
An Outside Eye
It’s the same when you’re dealing with an issue in your life and turn to friends or family for opinions. Alternatively, if you’re working on the same project for too long and ask someone to take a glance and they find the issue. Companies need this, especially when making tough decisions. Oftentimes, clients will have a perspective on how to solve the problem but want to make sure that what they are thinking is correct.
Then there are times the problems a company needs solving are vitally important, but they don’t necessarily have the manpower to focus on them. Companies still have to focus on their day-to-day operations. New projects typically require reprioritizing employees’ core job responsibilities or even changing their entire job description. Hiring new employees to fill these gaps doesn’t always make sense either, especially when many of these are one-off projects.
Another reason and perhaps the most common reason companies hire consultants is to gain access to a specialized skill set that might not exist in-house. Engaging with a consulting firm will provide access to a group of professionals that have skills ranging from Lean Six Sigma process design to finance organization structures. These specialized people as employees would not only be expensive to hire but the company might not have enough work to keep said employees busy year-round. Thankfully, consultants can bring in that skill set on demand when they need it.
A Safe Zone
Of course, there are times when companies are working on a challenging problem or project, it can be demanding for them to make decisions or to take the necessary actions without getting wrapped up in emotions or politics. Consultants provide an unbiased eye and do some of the more hesitant work for them.