• Ethan Hirschberg

Common Misconceptions About Hiring Business Consultants

Consultants are crucial to the long-term success of any company. There are literally thousands of scenarios in which it is necessary to hire an outside consultant. Fortunately for business owners, there's a consultant for any and all fields from accounting to marketing to strategy to law, and the list goes on. I primarily focus on strategic management and human resources consulting in my practice.

If your business decides that it's time to hire a consultant, there are likely to be many questions that arise. Sadly, there are many misconceptions about hiring business consultants, and it's important to keep these common misconceptions in mind so that you can make an informed decision for your business.

Misconception #1: You need to have a big company to work with a consultant.

Consultants are useful to any size company. I've worked with sole proprietors and with 100 person organizations. In fact, hiring a consultant in the early stage of your business is actually a great idea! Regardless of size, subject matter issues come up in any business and that's what makes consultants highly useful.

Misconception #2: Consultants are only useful for short-term work.

This misconception is actually quite confusing to me, as consultants are definitely useful for both short and long-term work. Some projects might only be a couple of hours, some might be a couple months, some might be a year. For instance, certain consultants act as interim c-suite executives and can have contract lengths of up to a year. That does not make them less valuable or less useful, which brings me to the next misconception.

Misconception #3: Consultants only give advice and then leave.

Many business owners might not want to hire a consultant because they believe that it's a one-time transaction and then the consultant will leave. A good consultant actually wants the client to succeed and therefore often will offer to stay on and provide value to ensure that the company sticks to the plan and has long-term success.

Misconception #4: The business must be in trouble to need a consultant.

While it is true that some consultants are hired to "fight fires" or handle specific issues that come up in an organization, other times consultants are useful to prevent those issues from occurring in the first place. My work is often preventative and transactional; it's better to not have a problem than to have to panic and try to solve it quickly.

Misconception #5: Hiring consultants is too expensive.

There are various types of fee structures that consultants utilize for their services and there is a range of prices. Not all consultants are expensive, and it may depend on the area of expertise. While hiring a consultant is an investment into your business, you don't need to break the bank while working with one.

Misconception #6: There are not enough financial benefits to hire a consultant.

There are multiple financial benefits to hiring a consultant rather than a full-time employee. As consultants are considered experts in their respective fields, companies do not need to pay for training, on boarding, and other costs associated with hiring new employees. In addition, a consultant is considered an independent contractor and therefore is responsible for taxes, health insurance, and other benefits usually paid by an employer.

No one can be an expert at everything and the goal of a consultant by nature is to provide certain expertise that isn't available within the company. By debunking common myths about hiring business consultants, I hope that entrepreneurs can now rest assured that they're making the right decision by adding a consultant to their team.

Ethan Hirschberg is an author, speaker, and business consultant from San Diego, CA. He specializes in strategic management and human resources consulting and publishes content about professional management, company strategy, and HR practices.