Recently, I discussed how freelancers often hinder themselves by being too tight with their money, trying to bootstrap to get ahead. Sometimes an expense is an investment, and hiring a consultant can flip your business right onto Easy Street.
But hang on a second. Don’t run out and hire a consultant just yet. First you’ll need an idea of what you’re looking for – and how to know when you’ve found it.
You Need a Good Business Fit First
If you’re a freelancer, choosing to work with an expert who has never worked on the internet, has never worked with online businesses or who has never been exposed to the freelancing lifestyle is a big mistake. The advice you get might be rock-solid, but if it just isn’t applicable to your business model, that good advice becomes as good as useless.
It could even end up causing damage to your business as you try to fit the square-shaped suggestions into your round-shaped business.
Been there, done that. I don’t recommend it.
You Need Someone Who Understands Your Lifestyle
Before you hire a consultant, make sure this person understands what it’s like to be a freelancer. He or she needs to already have a good idea of the kind of lifestyle you have, including the fact that you don’t work 9 to 5 hours, the type of industry struggles you face, and the typical financial concerns of freelancers, like the feast or famine roller coaster.
You shouldn’t have to explain how freelancers work. Your consultant should already know.
To that end, your consultant should have done their homework when it comes to you. Any consultant worth his or her salt checks out a potential new client before walking into that first meeting, and that’s a good indicator that this consultant is ready to help you – instead of handing you the exact same spiel they give all their clients.
If they haven’t done time in the trenches with many people in your field, that’s okay – but it’s essential that your consultant has at least put in the research to discuss your business with you easily.
You Need a Flexible Perspective
That said, don’t discredit experts who mostly work with brick-and-mortar establishments. Many business principles apply to any type of business, virtual or not, and what you learn from the expert who works for the store down the street can be just as valuable to your online storefront.
A good indicator is that the brick-and-mortar businesses your consultant works with also have online presences, and that he or she has the chops to get results in that venue. Your consultant may be incredibly talented, but if they’re not even sure what Twittter is for or all the components that go into a website, you’re probably not going to get what you need for your online business.
You Need a Specialist
I highly recommend working with consultants who have a specialization. Generalists tend not to be as skilled as specialists who do one thing, and one thing only. Specialists hone right in on exactly what you need, and they don’t spread themselves thin.
Ask about their particular qualifications, credentials, or any specialized areas of knowledge that might be especially useful to your business. Your consultant doesn’t need to have degree to prove his or her worth – some of the best experts I’ve met are self-educated and self-taught pros – but they should be able to explain which of their skills will be most valuable to you, and to give you some idea of how they earned those skills.
You Need to Feel Comfortable in the Nude
Finally, make sure that you feel comfortable with the consultant. Since consultants are going to be behind the scenes of your company, they’re going to be privy to a lot of sensitive information or business plans. It’s like dropping your pants and standing naked in front of the person, so you should have a good feeling that you can trust this person not to laugh, criticize or go whisper behind your back.
Professional, expert help is worth every penny, and it’s worth spending now, not later. These people’s job is to make your life more efficient, more productive, more lucrative – just plain better. Their whole career is about taking your $500 and helping you turn that investment into $1,500 – not just once, but many times over.
Even better? With expert help, it happens with a lot less effort and much faster than you could have done on your own.
Need a team ready to help you invest in yourself? Contact us today – we’ll help your website make your life more efficient, more productive and more lucrative so you can reach your goals of success.