Businesses need new talents but do not have the desire to hire a full-time employee, in this case, they can hire a freelance business consultant. Freelancing is on the rise in today’s world. The benefit of hiring a freelancer is flexibility and money savings. Freelancers not only work on demand as needed but you can also choose from work ready talents.
Business houses will have to face some uncertainties when hiring independent business consultants and freelancers. So to relieve you from all the possibilities I will give you ideal methods on how to choose a business consultant depending on your needs and criteria.
Why hire a freelance business consultant?
You need to analyze yourself first why you need an external consultant or freelancer. You can consider hiring a consultant by being overwhelmed with the amount of work in the business.
The reasons behind having a significant amount of work in this sector can be an increase in work, high turnover, new business opportunities and more.
You may have an immediate need for a skilled and expert team member and do not have time to up-skill an employee. Do you need the consultant services to grow your business and lay down business strategy for your business?
You are looking for someone experienced with significant exposure. In this case, it is relevant to choose a consultant.
A consultant has expertise on the latest trends and what works well for your organisation. How to choose a freelance business consultant
The Bloom Group 2013 conducted a survey which shows the types of the consultant that were hired by business houses.
You should always know why you are hiring the consultant. Consider this as the most important factor while hiring one. If you relate to the above reasons while hiring a consultant then and you are determined to hire one, then next step is to evaluate what you need from the consultant and the work to complete.
Determining the project details and the type of consultant that you need
Clarify the scope of work
What does success in the project look like to you?
You should have a vision of what a successful project looks to you and what will your ideal result. This way you can have a bright idea of what success looks like to you.
Now that you have a bright idea of what you want you can give a brilliant idea to the consultant about your vision rather than telling what you want to avoid.
You have bridged the gap as you did the gap analysis and identified a project need. But you also need to know if you wish to add anything to the project requirement.
It is equally important to determine the positive impact of the project and people who will be benefited with this. You also need to analyse people who will be facing changes in the organisation.
Identifying these factors will help you create a final project and hire the most suitable consultant. If you need any help regarding this, your consultant will quickly help you as he is expert at recognising broader business issues.
What timeframes are you working with?
With your vision establish a timeframe in which the project must be completed. You can quickly do this by reviewing previous projects which are similar to the current one.
Review case studies of other organization that have had similar projects in the past. Review similar internal projects which could indicate the length and time taken for the project to complete.
What is your budget?
Evaluate to understand how much your organisation can invest in the project. Independent business consultants are more economic than business IT consulting services firms.
Recognize the finances available for the project and choose your consultant accordingly.
What are some of the anticipated challenges of this project?
You should evaluate a few things like if there are any policies, laws or systems, processes that will create challenges for consultant and hamper the success of the project.
Identify the obstacles that you may face due to some setbacks in the project. Identify if some clients or customers might resists consultants working on this project.
Anticipating the difficulties in advance will help you evaluate and choose the best suitable consultant who will support your team.
Create a document outlining the scope of the project
Once you are sure on your requirements for the projects, put it in writing form. After documentation, you can use the same for approval of the plan from the management. Send the document for communication to potential consultants.
Type of Consultant You Need
What level will the consultant be working on?
Recognising at what organisational level the consultant will be working. This will help you understand identifying someone with similar experiences in the past. You need to ensure that the consultant is confident in communicating with your executives.
Your consultant may have worked in the past with emerging leaders, therefore involving the consultant with executives is necessary. The same applies if the situation is the opposite.
Who will work with the consultant and what are the team dynamics?
Review your team and hire consultant whose working style and dynamics match of your teammates. Every consultant has a different style of working. The person who will take your team ahead and will lead them comfortably should be chosen.
If you need a solo consultant, who has to work on his own then hire this type because the type of consultant working on his own cannot work with a team.
Who will gell up culturally in your organisation?
Many organisations follow firm working culture and ethical working policies. There will be very few consultants who will be able to work in this pattern. Suppose you have a highly technical group and you need to generate evidence at every step, you need to ensure that the consultant is comfortable communicating such evidence.
Other factors to consider are language and communication style of your organisation. For organisations to work together, a similar culture and thinking are essential for smooth functioning.
A suitable consultant will be working with your team, but your team should be more accepting towards the consultant. The more the person is accepted he can lead the team well.
What qualifications does the consultant require?
Depending on the kind of freelance consultant you require, you need to consider educational, technical, IT and industry knowledge. Some consultants will be able to convince you verbally, but they might not have professional expertise in the sector.
Find Your Ideal Freelance Business Consultant
Online consulting platforms
You can access many consultants on online platforms like Expert360. These independent platforms have all the consultants pre-screened in advance. These consultants provide high-quality service or product.
Word of mouth
You have a membership of your business association group within your industry whom you can call for any suggestions for a suitable consultant. They can even suggest you partner on there with whom you can work.
This method is excellent as you will get first-hand feedback from the business who have used the consultant.
Screening suitable consultants
Project scope outline
Use the documents you prepared earlier and post it online on your website or send it to interested and selected consultants depending on your hiring processes. This will help the consultants to screen themselves at an initial stage and ask any queries for clarification.
Ensure they meet your criteria
The consultant will submit their proposal, review and check all the details to check if it matches your criteria. Check if they are experienced and have previously done the type of work they have shown in the proposal.
Check their educational and industrial background. You can analyze the cultural match from the initial proposal. Check your consultant’s insurance and membership to the industrial organisation.
Set up meeting
Identify people in your company who are familiar with the project and can conduct a meeting with the consultant. If the project has a wide impact on your organisation, you may consider more than one person to meet the consultant.
Now you can arrange for face to face meeting, or you can go for telephonic conversation whichever you feel is sufficient.
Screen for technical or behavioural requirements
Understand the consultant’s background and understand the fact that they understand the scope of your project and he is a suitable match for your firm. Give the consultant time to ask his questions.
Ask for real past examples, as it is more logical than asking for hypothetical questions like “what would they do in a given situation?” Ask more behavioural type questions.
Use the star model shown below.
Ask behavioural interview questions
Can you tell us about a time when you exceeded the budget on a project and how did you handle it?
Revise all meetings
After meeting different clients revise and assess the data provided by various consultants. Make your decision after reviewing all the data and select a suitable consultant.
If in doubt arrange for another meeting. Identify if there is any risk involved in using the consultant you picked.
Offer the contract
Before you offer the deal ensure that the consultant is not engaged any legal case, has a registered membership and the evidence of the same should be obtained. Now get the approval of the management, board and other influential people of your company.
Once all essential people have signed the documents, you can offer the contract to the selected consultant. The agreement should be in writing and each party should agree to the contract in writing and preferably on a legal document.
Create a table or milestone for the completion of the project.
Below is the sample of the table
Changes throughout the engagement
There is a possibility that you may want to change the project details during the on-going project. Make these changes in writing. Communicate these changes clearly to all relevant members and give access to the consultant to ask questions. Get involved in the project and work with the freelance consultant.
Do not tell your consultant on how to do the work instead tell him what to do and when to do it.
Your project is your vision and dream you need to make the right decisions and select the most suitable and best members for it. Selecting a consultant is not easy and the above procedure will ease your selection and will help you make an appropriate decision.
Have you ever hired a freelance consultant for your business before? Share your experience with us in the comments below.