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Using a Business Consultant: Is the Fee worth it?

Updated on February 5, 2012

Company owners and managers have much to consider for the successful setting up, running and growth of their enterprise. Having experience in all aspects of this is difficult for any one person to have and for this reason many companies will consider the use of independent experts to help from time to time.

When it comes to writing your business plan this generally means hiring a business plan consultant or once your business is established and you need some specialist guidence and advice you need to hire a business consultant. Well whichever you need the advice is the same and when you are considering whether the cost of this is worth it, owners should look to what business consultants can offer and the pros and cons of hiring one.

Pro's and Cons of hiring a business consultant


What a business consultant can offer

Business consultants can typically work for a consulting firm or operate as freelancers. They are generally highly skilled professionals that have an excellent track record in the business world and have worked through many or all stages in the life of an enterprise, from initial planning to working operation. This provides them with a solid background that can be used to provide company owners and managers with excellent advice to improve their company.

In the initial stages of the planning for an enterprise, the added expertise of a consultant business plan can increase the chances of a business idea successfully getting off the ground. During the running and growth stages of a company, a business consultant can offer independent advice and support that helps managers improve their businesses procedures and strategy. The effect of this can be improved profits and operations.

Business consultants

What business consultants offer are solutions to problems you may or may not even know you had.
What business consultants offer are solutions to problems you may or may not even know you had.

Benefits of Business Consultants

There are a number of benefits that a business plan consultant can offer to companies. They may be able to offer new skills that a company does not currently have and can help teach these to existing employees for the benefit of the company. Consultants are generally highly productive individuals that have gained a healthy work ethic during their years in business and this makes it possible for them to make a difference in a fairly short time period.

At the outset of a new project consulting business plans can better help identify the strengths and weaknesses of an idea and this can ultimately save a business owner a lot of money by steering them away from potential pitfalls and in the direction of the right road to follow. This is also the case during the operational stage of a company, where the solid experience of a business consultant can provide invaluable advice to steer a company in the right way to move forward for continued growth and success.

Drawbacks of business consultants

Business owners and managers should also consider the disadvantages of hiring business consultants before deciding if a business plan consultant fee is worth it. Business consultants won’t have the background knowledge of a company’s in-house procedures and this can be a disadvantage for them in the decisions that they make.

costs involved in hiring the best consultants can also be high and this means that it may not be an option available to every company. Hiring a consultant also means that a company owner is bringing in an outsider that they do not know. This raises the possibility that the consultant hired may not provide the quality type of service that is needed.

Free consulting services

Deciding whether a business plan consultant fee is worth it can depend on the advantages and disadvantages they offer and business owners need to consider these carefully before they make a final decision. However, a business plan consultant can come in a few different guises and this can also determine whether it is a worthwhile endeavor to consider. At the most affordable end of the market there are volunteer mentoring services such as SCORE.This organization partners with the US Small Business Administration to offer their consulting services for free and therefore the fee is not a consideration.

However, they typically offer their services by email, visiting a local SCORE office or local workshops. The advice they can provide may therefore be limited by this as they may find it more difficult to get an in-depth knowledge of a company. However, for smaller companies the fee-free consulting services offered by SCORE can be worth considering as a way to get business advice.

Example of SCORE free consultancy services

Freelance consultants

Before hiring a business consultant be sure to check them out and do your due diligence.
Before hiring a business consultant be sure to check them out and do your due diligence. | Source

Freelance business consultants

Freelance consultants are independent operators that generally have an extensive knowledge and background in business. If considering using this type of business consultant it is generally worth looking for a reliable recommendation that the consultant under consideration provides a quality service.

Jumping in and hiring a freelance consultant without a reliable recommendation can be a risky business since it can be difficult to judge the quality of service they will provide. It can also make sense to check the background of a freelance consultant before hiring. This can include their business experience and also feedback from others that have used them. With this said, there are many good quality freelance consultants available and they can be a more affordable option that a consulting firm. Businesses that can identify a good quality freelance consultant may well find the fee they pay is worth the advice and assistance they receive.

Management consulting firms

Consulting firms are generally one of the more expensive ways to hire a business plan consultant. However, the best firms, such as McKinsey & Company, the Boston Consulting Group and others tend to hire top quality consultants, and companies that use them can generally be assured of a quality service. Consulting firms also have the advantage that they have professionals targeted at different business disciplines and therefore a company can be sure that the professional they hire will be an expert in their field of work. Consulting firms are more typically aimed at medium to large size enterprises and for those that have the finances available, the fee can be worthwhile for the quality services provided.

Setting up and running a business can be a complex operation and the extensive knowledge required to do this successfully can mean that owners and managers will benefit from the assistance of outside help. However, hiring a business plan consultant needs to be given due consideration and the pros and cons carefully weighed to decide if the fee paid is worth the service provided. The information above offers some guidance on the consultation options available for businesses of all sizes. Taking this into consideration can help owners and managers come to the right decision for their company.


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    • dipless profile image

      dipless 6 years ago from Manchester

      That is some really good advice. Indeed it is very important that you know exactly why you are hiring a business consultant and also have a quantitive idea of what you want to achieve. That way you have something to measure the progress against. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 6 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      One way to get the most out of a consultant is to know what you need to know up front. Develop a list of specific questions, from incorporation to taxes to HR. Then seek out an expert consultant for that specific set of questions. This allows you to get the most help for the least amount of money (fewer visits, less time, lower cost).