Do I Need a Consultant?
"Do I need to hire a consultant? What can I do instead?"
Great question. You may have other options. We would like to answer your question with a question. Well, three questions.
Can you do it?
(If yes, skip to next question)
If no, you are in a tough spot. Somebody has to do it, right? This is the probably the most common reason to get a consultant, but there are a few ways to avoid hiring a consultant to start.
If you can’t do it, can you get someone to do it for free? This is a weird thing for a consultancy to recommend, but you may have some free or cheap resources that would be better to start with. You will not find free or cheap help with everything, but you can usually get help with business strategy and sometimes creating contracts through local resources. For example, many cities have a SCORE mentor program for business strategy, usually this is a meeting or two per month. See if your city has a SCORE office and start there. SCORE mentors can often also recommend other resources near you.
If you are here in Portland, Oregon, like us, look to the Small Business Legal Clinic through Lewis and Clark University for some contract services. This resource is not free, but their fees are based on the revenue of your company. If you are just starting, you can get some contracts made for as low as $50, a token fee for legal help. Keep in mind that these are students working under an advising lawyer so give them due time to complete your project. Check your local law school for a similar resource.
If you cannot find resources like these in your area or you need more help then they can provide, then, yes, you may need to hire a consultant.
Do you have time to do it well?
(yes or no, you should still read this section)
This one is pretty self explanatory. If you can do it, but don't have the time, you kinda need a consultant, (Assuming it’s not a task an employee can handle). This is often a specialized task that you either just need completed the one time or the ongoing maintenance is not enough to hire an employee for. Think branding, web design, advertising, photography, and videography. Some of these common tasks of starting a business are things you can do on your own if you have a bit of time.
For example, building a website using a Wordpress or SquareSpace theme is becoming more and more accessible, but designing and creating a great branded website can take time, and maybe your business doesn’t create websites for living and you have better things to do. I assure you, you can build your own website if you want to, many themes come with tutorials, it just may not be worth your time. Similarly, you could learn a bit about Google Adwords for free using Academy for Ads and start your own advertising campaign. But, maybe your company doesn't create advertising campaigns for a living and you have better things to do.
The “do it well” part if this question is also important. Everyone can create a website, but sometimes it’s worth hiring a consultant if you are not confident you can do your brand justice. A professional web developer or advertiser that has passed the Adwords, Bing, and Facebook ad exams may be able to leverage your ad dollars better and end up paying for themselves in addition to saving you the time and headache of learning the quirks of each advertising platform.
Do you want to do it?
(if you got here and all the answers are yes, you don't need a consultant right now)
If no, hire a consultant. Life is short, you have plenty on your plate already. You probably didn't get into business to worry about your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and where it lands on Google or Bing's Search Engine Ranking Protocol (SERP). I imagine Adwords and Analytics reporting is not what you thought you would be doing when you launched. And you don't have to. This is a luxurious reason to hire a consultant, but quality of life is important.
If you do not want to do it, can’t hire an employee to do it, but want it done, it can be worth hiring a consultant even if you can do it well yourself (and we know you can do it well if you wanted to).
And that’s that!
We hope you have found some resources here to help you move forward and we hope it’s just a little bit easier to decide if you need to hire a consultant to get over the hurdles your business may be facing. Visit our site every once in a while, check out our articles, and share them when you think it's worthwhile.
If you have questions or want more specific advice, you can email our Managing Director, Hakon Khajavei, at Hakon@Blacklinecollective.com. He will get back to you as soon as possible. Blackline Collective is located in Portland, Oregon, but we are happy to answer your questions about this and other topics as best we can regardless of where you are located.
All the best,
Blackline Collective Team