Have you ever hired a consultant to fill a need for your business and thought, “this person is the greatest thing since sliced bread! I must keep him around.” Suddenly, an urgent need or issue has turned into a full time position in your head. And maybe that’s legitimate and maybe it’s not. Don’t worry, you’re not the first small business owner that has found a great consultant to help them into or out of a situation and want to keep them around forever. It happens all the time. But there are several things to consider before sitting down to discuss it with them. You certainly can’t go into it with rose-colored glasses on – you have to see the consultant for what they are and you have to see your need for what it really is – otherwise the working relationship isn’t likely to survive.
Let’s discuss three key things that need to be considered before you say, “Yes, I want to and need to go through with this.”
Is my need real and ongoing?
This is really the first critical question you must ask yourself. This person didn’t work full time for you before. Maybe they’ve consulted for you before to help you through a rocky situation, but they’ve never worked for you as a direct employee because you’ve not seen the need before. Why now? What’s changed?
Are you going down this path now out of a euphoric feeling they’ve provided by getting you through a crisis? Are you just trying to show how much you value them? Or is this turning into an ongoing need? You have to ask yourself these very important questions before ‘having the discussion’ or ‘making the offer.’ Possibly they’re a network specialist and your business has grown enough and you see expansion coming and you do really need them full time. Then do you need them full time for a three-month window or full time forever? Carefully consider your true needs before moving forward.
Would I be ok with moonlighting?
The next question you need to ask yourself is – “Will I be ok with this person consulting on the side?” If you hire them full time it may be just what they were looking for. But if they’ve been consulting at all successfully, don’t fool yourself. That means they have at least some entrepreneurial spirit (more on that in the next item) and they likely have a list of happy clients who will call them back for more work. If they’re good, this WILL come up. Think about it now. Likely, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their duties for you, then you probably shouldn’t care. But it’s something you must think about and consider. And possibly even discuss it with them if you move forward with an offer.
Will our personalities collide?
Finally, as discussed above, the consultant is already an entrepreneur. A free spirit and an independent thinker who has been able to successfully go it alone (if they’re alive and still eating in this economy then they’ve been somewhat successful!). You, as a small business owner, are likely cut from the same mold. Could YOU work with yourself? Because that’s likely what you’ll be hiring. You must seriously and carefully consider this because the consultant will be opinionated and you will butt heads from time to time. He will not be a ‘yes man.’ No good consultant ever is. If you can welcome their input, then great. If it will drive you crazy, then maybe this won’t go well for you. Know your limitations on this one... there is a reason why opposites often attract.
Sometimes businesses love the consultants they hire and maybe even want to hire them full time. There are things to consider though, such as...they're of the consultant mentality...how long will they really want to stay in one position? Do I really have enough work - and enough challenging work to keep them busy and satisfied? Would I be ok with them consulting on the side?
Copyright 2011, Attard Communications, Inc.
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