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Hiring a Freelance Consultant? Look for These 4 Things

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Published:
October 2, 2020
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Leo Saini
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

So you’re thinking about hiring a freelance consultant? Well, welcome on board. You’re now about to join other smart business owners who don’t hesitate to hire consultants to help them reach their business objectives.

But what makes a freelance consultant worthy of hiring? Is it a nice CV? Or maybe a friend’s recommendation?

Hiring a consultant is going to be a big investment from a business perspective, that’s why it’s important that you look for these four things before you hire one.

1. The Ability to Get Along With Everyone

Gone are the days when people from the same city would work in the same company for thirty years and retire. The modern workforce is the most diverse one that mankind has ever seen. In today’s world, an eighteen-year-old intern could be working alongside a grandmother of three. And people from different continents could be operating under the same roof.

That’s why when you hire freelance consultants, make sure that they can get along with the team and adapt their approach with people from different backgrounds. Freelance consultants may work independently, but sometimes, they’ll have to work with your internal team as well as external stakeholders. Their experience may not be as useful if they lack interpersonal skills.

So, when you’re interviewing a potential freelance consultant for your business, do ask them how about their ability to work with other people. Remember, it’s not just about expertise or qualifications from prestigious universities. Empathy is a key attribute in any successful consulting engagement. It’s necessary to understand our coworkers’ emotional states at all times to have maximum productivity.

"Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." - Vince Lombardi

2. Their Areas of Expertise

The online consulting marketplace has enabled business owners to hire specialists instead of generalists. So if you want to increase the sales of your company’s top products, you could hire a B2C sales expert. And if your daily business operations are chaotic and you want to smoothen things up, you could approach an operational efficiency consultant.

Bet you didn’t know that it’s possible to hire freelance consultants for almost every type of business-related issue. In this day and age, it’s easily possible to hire brand strategy consultants, risk management consultants, culture change consultants, and the list can go on. Thanks to the growing online consulting marketplace, businesses have more options than ever before to find consultants who specialize in various fields.

No, you don’t always need to hire a generalist who ‘kind of’ knows about a lot of subjects. You can now find experts who specialize in one (and maybe a couple more) areas.

If you’re confused about which skills you require in a consultant, simply approach a freelance consultant platform, and they’ll recommend the right consultant category to you. Sometimes, businesses make the mistake of hiring a consultant from the wrong category. For example, you don’t want to hire an SEO specialist if what you really need is a Google Ads consultant. That’s why it’s better to let a representative from a freelance consultant platform like Consultport study your situation and find the right consultant for you.

3. Success Stories of Previous Clients

This is key. You should always ask the consultants about their previous achievements. If they have detailed case studies about their prior consulting engagements, then it’s awesome. When you hire freelance consultants from the online consulting marketplace, it’s likely that they won’t be from your existing professional network.

In these early stages of a business relation, it’s only the previous success stories that will help you build trust. Examining a consultant’s case studies will give you peace of mind before you bring them on board and unfurl your sails.

hire freelance consultants, Hiring a Freelance Consultant? Look for These 4 Things

Another way to build trust is testimonials. Read what others are saying about your future consultant. Take a look at their website or LinkedIn profile. If your potential consultant claims that they’re an expert in business strategy, and they have dozens of skill endorsements in the ‘business strategy’ category on LinkedIn, then it’s pretty safe to believe it.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which approach you want to choose to do a background check on your consultant and make sure they have what it takes.

Fee Structure

When it’s all said and done, project cost will be the final factor in deciding which consultant to hire from a pool of the select few. Different freelance consultants will have different fee structures. Your job is to choose the one who provides the best value for money—not necessarily the one who’s the cheapest. Before we move further, let’s quickly understand different types of fee structures:

  • Hourly rate: Based on the agreed-upon hourly rate, you pay your consultant for the number of billable hours worked. This structure is pretty good for short-term projects in which the number of hours is easily predictable.
  • Project-based fee: When you pay a project-based fee, you’ll know exactly what the cost is going to be right from the get-go. So if there are a few extra billable hours, then the cost for those hours won’t come from your pocket.
  • A retainer model: In a retainer deal, you pay your consultant a fixed monthly fee to access their services on an ongoing basis. For example, if you hire a legal or an HR consultant, you might need their service frequently, and sometimes, out of the blue. That’s why clearing all the paperwork and fees from the beginning can be very useful.

Before you hire freelance consultants, take some time to choose the fee structure that best suits your situation. Sometimes, an hourly charge should do the trick, and sometimes, a project-based fee could save you heaps of money in the long run.

4. Confidence and Energy

Solving complex business problems might be more complicated than you think. That’s why you should hire freelance consultants who have the energy to walk the extra mile and the confidence to deal with uncertain situations. If you’ve been a business owner for a while, you have probably interviewed quite a few people and it should be easy for you to tell whether someone is really confident or faking it.

All the theoretical knowledge might prove to be insufficient if the consultant doesn’t have conviction and relentlessness while working on a project. A confident consultant will take feedback well, boldly suggest what’s best for your business, and won’t look clueless when you ask them questions. If a consultant is confident that they can help your business achieve its goals, then it means that they might have made similar promises before and succeeded.

Conclusion

A consultant’s confidence and emotional intelligence are as important as their expertise and experience. Once you’ve found a consultant who fits your profile, it’s important to brainstorm the right fee structure and price to get the best value for money. Hiring a consultant can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make for your business. However, you should always keep the aforementioned things in mind to ensure that you find the best consultant.