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What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Consultant

Considering hiring a consultant? See what these entrepreneurs have to say on finding and hiring one before you get started.

By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)

Have you ever brought on a consultant to help you with strategy (or big $ decisions, like VC raises)? What advice would you give other women who are thinking of doing the same?

6A: Avoid Cookie-Cutter Consultants
There’s a part of what you’re facing that is similar to what most entrepreneurs face, but there is usually something that makes what you’re facing unique. Look for someone who understand the difference between the two and can customize and apply the solution to your needs.
Tynesia Boyea-Robinson (@tyboyea), Reliance Methods

emA: Utilize Free Connections First

Before hiring a consultant, think about your networks, mentorship relationships, peers and others who may have gone through similar issues you can draw on for advice. Do you have an advisory board you can call? You can often get just as good or better (and free) advice from your network.
Emily Doubilet (@sustyemily), Susty Party

darA: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

When I decided to grow one of my organizations into a franchise-like fashion, I brought on a consultant to help me with the strategy and financial projections. I highly recommend opening yourself up to getting an expert with an outside perspective to assist you. It’s tough to know what you don’t know, so having someone there to guide you is invaluable.

Darrah Brustein (@darrahb), Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments

natA: Get Advice From Someone Who Has Done It Before
I’ve brought on business coaches who have built the type of business I wanted to build, and it’s been tremendously helpful. They can see things from a different perspective and usually have a more long-range vision of things to watch out for and plan for too.

Nathalie Lussier (@nathlussier), Nathalie Lussier Media Inc.

4A: Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row
Just because a consultant isn’t a permanent team member, it doesn’t mean he or she should get by without adequate paperwork. I had a friend whose entire company was taken down by a consultant after the relationship went sour. Because both parties can walk away at any time, you want to be sure you have your legal ducks in a row up front. Just remember to protect yourself and your company.

Heidi Allstop (@heidiallstop), Spill

3A: Find Someone to Push You
I hired a consultant to form a vision and marketing plan early on. She encouraged me to use my last name for the business name, which was a decision I was resisting. She told me I’d soon make $5 million a year if I followed a thought leadership strategy. I thought that was ridiculous at the time, but she was right. My advice: Find someone who has an ambitious vision and will push you.

Jennifer Benz (@jenbenz), Benz Communications

2A: Cover Your Weaknesses
I brought on a small data analytics consultancy called DataClear to help me figure out if I was tracking the right things to make good decisions about my business over the long haul. It’s made me think about my business from a different perspective, and the questions they’ve asked have made me uncomfortable in a good way.

Mary Ellen Slayter (@MESlayter), Reputation Capital

vanessaA: Spend on Accountants
I’m so happy I buckled down and got myself a business accountant to do my taxes and make sure I was filing all the right forms and fees. Even if you are a sole proprietor or LLC, you might have money issues that could actually save you money. Have an accountant teach you what you can write off as a business expense and how to budget properly; it will save you in the long run.

Vanessa Van Edwards (@vvanedwards), Science of People

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.