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Things to Check before Hiring a Freelance Consultant

By Sthitaprajnya Panigrahi

Gone are the days when businesses could only hire consultants through big consulting firms. With the arrival of freelance consultants and online consultancy firms, freelance consultant jobs are becoming the new norm. A freelance consultant is a person who works autonomously and is paid for his expertise and professional advice in a certain field. Starting from advising a company on social media marketing to giving tips on boosting its overall performance, a freelance consultant works on the overall aspects of boosting the business dynamics. Initially, people believed freelancing to be a second-best option, but as things have changed now, freelance consultants are quite in-demand across the global market. Not to mention that, the freelance consultants who have worked for Fortune 500 companies are now accessible to work with small to medium-sized businesses. This availability of talent is benefitting many businesses to ascend greater heights.

To make it easier for businesses to hire an apt consultant, this article focuses on some of the key factors to look into before hiring a freelance consultant.

Area of Expertise

Its favorable for business owners to hire specialists instead of generalists. If you want to enhance your sales figure for your flagship products, it is better to hire a consultant having expertise in B2C sales. Similarly, if your daily business operations are out of order and you want to ease things up in that particular direction, you could hire an operational efficiency consultant. Starting from brand strategy consultants, risk management consultants, culture change consultants, and so on, it's totally possible to recruit freelance consultants for almost every distinctive business-related problem. Due to the upsurge of online consulting marketplace, businesses now have more options than ever before to hire consultants who specialize in one or couple of more areas. If you’re confused about which skills best suits your business requirement at present, you can approach a freelance consultant platform, and they can advise you the right consultancy category appropriate for you.

Success Stories of Previous Clients

This is a key factor to analyze the performance and expertise of your freelance consultant. Ask them about their previous achievements and detailed case studies about their prior consulting engagements. So that, you can get a fair idea about the skill sets they possess. In these early stages of laying the foundation of business relation, the previous success stories will help you trust the recruited freelancer. Also, cross-examining their previous case studies will give you peace of mind before you bring them on board. Refer to their testimonials as well. Read others’ view point about your freelance consultant and cross-check their website as well as their LinkedIn profile. Since, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to do a background check on your consultant and ensure that they are what they claim.

Fee Structure

Project cost will be the final factor in finalizing a deal with a freelancer since different freelance consultants will have different fee structures and their demand should match up to your probability of offering as well. But what you have to do is to opt for the one who can provide the best value for money, not the one you can easily afford.

You can either pay them an hourly rate or based on the project or as per a retainer model. In the hourly rate fee structure, you have to pay the decided fees to your consultant for the number of billable hours he/she has worked for you. Usually, this arrangement works pretty well for short-term projects, since the number of hours are easily predictable. If you are going to pay a project-based fee, you had to be aware of the precise cost of the project right from the beginning. So, if they have to work for few extra hours to get the job done, then you won’t be spending for those hours. According to a retainer deal, you will have to pay your consultant a fixed monthly fee to avail their services continuously and frequently. Before recruiting freelance consultants, take time to select the fee structure that best suits your circumstances.

Any Ongoing Projects

It is important to understand a consultant’s availability for your project and the current assignments he/she has been handling before bringing them on board. The consultant might be sure that he/she can handle few more projects, it is also possible that your particular project might need private attention from a consultant. In this case, before recruiting a consultant, ask if he/she is working on any other projects at present. If you are not in a rush, you can wait for them to complete their previous projects before moving on to yours. Even if your project not necessarily requires a full-time, special commitment from a consultant is necessary and you can ask them about their current workload to take your decisions accordingly.

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