As a business consultant, Ismaila Whittier understands the advantages of hiring and working with consultants or advisors, regardless of the size of your company. Consultants bring a unique point of view to the table because they are on the outside looking in. Think of it in terms of a house fire. Who do you think has the better vantage point for rescue, the victims trapped inside or the firefighters outside? While each has a unique perspective, the firefighters have the advantage because they can see how the fire affects the structure and surrounding area. In contrast, the victims can only see their immediate surroundings, and smoke covers even those.

Ismaila Whittier Discusses the Questions You Should Always Ask a Business Consultant

Ismaila Whittier Talks Hiring Consultants and Asking the Right Questions

Hiring a consultant is never straightforward. While you can contract big firms with vast experience across several industries, not all businesses want the intrusiveness that often comes from hiring larger entities. Regardless of your choice, a consultant must meet specific qualifications to offer any value to your company. For example, if you own a retail clothing store, you do not want to work with a consultant specializing in manufacturing or food services.

Finding the right consultant comes down to asking the right questions. Whittier suggests every business, regardless of size, asks a minimum of three questions.

1. What Are Your Areas of Expertise?

Every business consultant will have experience in several industries, but they will probably only have expertise in one or two. For example, a consultant may have experience in the retail sector, but their specialty is in restaurants or B2B operations. Ensure that any consultant you consider has experience and expertise in your industry, preferably in your niche.

2. What Are Some Results From Previous Projects?

Any worthwhile business consultant is good with numbers, and they can tell you how they affected change in previous projects. According to Whittier, if a so-called consultant cannot give you real-world numbers to back up their claims of success, you will want to steer clear.

3. How Many Consulting Projects Are You Currently Working On?

Consultants often have more than one project at a time, but as a business owner, you want to ensure they have enough time to handle their workload. When business consultants spread themselves too thin, the businesses suffer. If you choose to work with a large firm, know the team works on several projects at once, and they likely have the resources to handle it. If working with an independent contractor, it is best to avoid working with more than one or two other clients at a time.

Ismaila Whittier and Others Warn of Consulting Fees

Business consultants have various fee structures. Some charge hourly or per project, and others prefer self-invented models. Before looking for a consultant, know your budget and have realistic expectations. According to Whittier, it is often best to work with a reputable agency or firm.