you need a qualified consultant, but don't know where to go for
help. How do you locate someone reputable and maintain your budget at
time? Finding a qualified consultant can be a daunting task.
Google or one of the other popular search engines and you'll come up
a list that is too large to fathom. You can relax - it's not as
as you might think. Let me say at the outset that there are many
good consultants and agencies out there. In fact, the larger,
well-known entities have established track-records and are a good
but they can be very costly, putting them out of reach for many
consider an independent consultant. If the idea sounds a bit
you're not alone. There are many stories
unsuspecting clients who have been taken for thousands of dollars and
a sub-standard product.
just how do you find a reputable consultant without mortgaging the
farm? The answer is suprisingly simple, but you have to do your
you should know
The secret to choosing the right consultant starts with a
keys. The old familiar adage is true, "knowledge is power". The more
know, the better your chances of avoiding a disappointing experience.
study the consultant's credentials. In most cases, they will be
online on the consultant's website. This will give you an
first impression of his or her professional skills. If the
is unclear or badly arranged, it can be a sign of someone who is
or unorganized. Next, study the details listed including
and capabilities. Look for something that indicates experience
to your job requirements. And, finally, contact several potential
candidates and ask some tough questions.
Email is acceptable, but voice-to-voice phone calls are
preferred. Hearing the invidividual's voice will first assure you that
not only exists, but gives you a feel for his or her personality. Does
humility or flamboyance? Confidence or insecurity? Patience
or impatience? If he makes you feel as though your call is a
then you've just gotten a valuable piece of information. If the
is too busy to listen to you, then it's even less likely that he'll
consider your preferences for the project. But this scenario will
likely be the
rather than the rule as most consultants will be eager to greet new
be shy about asking for additional information or feel as though you
imposing. A good consultant will appreciate your diligence and
forthright in your phone conversation, remembering that the process
should be a two-way dialogue of thoughts and ideas. A good consultant
will be interested in knowing about
project requirements and any concerns you may have.
sure to ask how the consultant about charges for his services. Most
the response will include one of two answers: an hourly rate or a flat
fee. The more flexible consultants will offer both methods,
on the type of job being performed and its duration. A flat fee is
preferred for a short-term job where a clear objective has been
defined. But there can be
where an hourly rate makes sense. This may include projects where the
requirements are expected to change or to be fine-tuned over
time. When it comes to the choice of flat fee or hourly rate,
there is no
hard and fast rule here. The bottom line is that you can - and
- have a say in the process.
are questions you should ask each willing candidate.
provide a detailed resume?
have you been a consultant?
provide a list of recent clients?
have you done which qualify you for my project?
you available for my project and how long?
- Do you
provide free price quotations?
- Do you
charge a flat fee or by the hour?
let me take a moment to discuss an important issue regarding contractor
status and the IRS. The IRS has strict rules to determine
whether an individual is an independent contractor or an
An employee has benefits and legal entitlements whereas an independent
contractor does not. In general, an individual is an independent
if the organization for which the services are performed has the right
to control or direct only the result of the work, and not what will be
done and how it will be done or the method of accomplishing the
result. If an independent contractor is paid $600 or more, then he must
a 1099 form at the end of the year. (The 1099 form is the
equivalent of a W2 for employees.)
a good consultant does not have to be a impossible task. In fact,
it can be as simple as 1-2-3 if you follow these simple recommendations:
the information listed on the webpage
relevant experience and capabilities
propsects by phone and ask tough questions