As more nonprofits and small businesses turn to consultants to help with everything from writing grants and business plans to fine-tuning their brand and developing their leadership, you may wonder: Is a consultant right for us? Here’s a quick list of reasons why it might be worthwhile.
- A consultant has skills that you don’t. In your field, you’re an expert. For the same reason you wouldn’t try to fix your own refrigerator or build your own house, you shouldn’t expect to create your own social media campaign, lead an executive coaching program, or design a new logo. There’s no shame in hiring someone — another expert — to realize something you need.
- A consultant breathes energy into your organization. Whereas you and your team might have worked together for years, the consultant sees your organization as new and exciting. He or she will ask a lot of questions, suggest ideas, get folks thinking and talking about things in new and unexpected ways. It will feel like a breath of fresh air.
- A consultant has other clients — and a broader perspective. There’s a strong likelihood that the challenges you’re experiencing are issues the consultant has seen before…and learned a lot about the best way to address them.
- A consultant sees the forest and the trees. (And the cellular structure of the leaves. And the land beyond…) There’s nothing wrong with being focused on the day-to-day, yet every enterprise needs someone to bring a broader and more granular perspective — and explain their importance to you in ways you can understand.
- A consultant brings best practices. Just as you’ve been focused on your own programs, your consultant has been learning the newest, most effective, and most powerful ways to help organizations just like yours. From the latest analytics to new marketing tools, she’s probably itching to try them out.
- A consultant represents an investment in your cause. Dan Palotta and others have made powerful points recently about the importance of expanded overhead for nonprofits. If you’re feeling pressure from your board to expand the organization and to track costs, the choice to hire a consultant can help you deliver both.
- A consultant knows others who can help. Specialists succeed by solving problems. A good consultant is a capable networker who fills his contact list with folks who can help in a pinch. So whether your organization needs an executive coach, an event planner, a graphic designer, or someone else, your consultant is likely to have someone to reach out to.
- A consultant has an agenda: Your success. To stay in business, a consultant needs satisfied clients who will talk them up to their peers. She is motivated to make a big difference for you — raise you more money, expand your membership, strengthen your team. She has skin in the game.
- A consultant won’t put a long-term strain on your budget. No insurance, no benefits. Just the fees you’ve agreed to, for the amount of time you’ve agreed to. No surprises. Like the work you’ve gotten from your consultant? He’ll be happy to extend the agreement.