This article was written with the collaboration of Myla @Congruent Marketing Solutions.
Small business owners wear more hats than they can count on a single hand. Accountant, clerk, receptionist, salesperson, customer service, social media manager, operations coordinator, and the list goes on. Especially if you are as involved in your business as your health coach is in your… well… health.
That is why as a small business owner you should consider hiring consultants, virtual assistants, and other experts. To lighten your everyday load, reduce stress, and improve your mental wellbeing.
But we understand it is easier said than done.
That’s why we have brainstormed, planned, and strategized, a framework to help you find, hire and reap the benefits of hiring a consultant!
Know Where You’re Going
And no, we’re not talking about vacations here. As a small business owner in the health and fitness industries, you need to always keep the bigger picture in mind. What are your business goals for this year? In the next five years? Or even beyond? When you keep your overall goals in mind, it is much easier to find a path that gets you where you want to go.
Two strategic options that you should consider are to hire consultants or virtual assistants. What’s the difference? A virtual assistant (VA) is perfect when you have the answer to your question and need help implementing it. Consultants are for when you are aware you have a problem but don’t have a solution.
Is a Consultant Right for You?
A consultant is an expert in a specific field such as accounting, social media, marketing, systems, etc. When you need high-level help in a specific area of your business, they will work with you to create a plan tailored to your needs and help you implement it. Consultants can work with you long-term or be project-based in a variety of different ways. The best way to see if they’re right for you is to chat with them.
Is a Virtual Assistant Right for You?
A virtual assistant can help you with multiple types of tasks – from making creatives on Canva to posting on social media, replying to emails, DMs and comments, doing data entry, etc. They take tasks off your plate once you’ve explained how these things are done. Generally speaking, they require a little bit more guidance from you and are therefore great when you know exactly how/when/what to do.
No matter who you hire, you should have clear goals and expectations for your partnership. Whether that’s specific tasks to be completed, hours to complete (in the case of a VA) or specific outcomes you are looking for (to grow your audience, improve your processes to save hours every week, etc.), this will help guide you in your search for help!
Hiring the Right Person
Once you know what you need help with and what role in your business that you need to fill, it’s time to see who fits the bill and hire to help! Social media is a great place to start scouting as many consultants and VA’s advertise their services there. Their social media platform will already give you a taste of how they work and if they’d be a good fit.
Start the Conversation
You should be able to easily find their email on their social media profiles or through their professional website. Contact them by email to state your interest or send them a DM if they are actively on the platform. They might already have some questions for you regarding what you need help with.
Odds are that they will suggest you book a consultation or strategy call with them. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know them further and see if they are the right fit for what you have in mind. We love these calls as it’s a great time to make sure you’re a great fit for each other.
You should never be shy about the goals and expectations you have for this relationship. The more clear you are about this, the more you will benefit from the consultant in the future. This conversation will give you a glimpse of how they operate and how they will meet your needs.
These initial conversations are a great time to discuss budgets. You should go into this discussion with an amount in mind. A respectable consultant will let you know if your goals and expectations are achievable with this budget or if they might recommend another package or service that would best suit your needs.
The Proposal or Letter of Agreement
Depending on the consultant and the nature of the work, it’s not uncommon for the consultant to follow up with a proposal, estimate, or other snapshots of what your work together would look like. This can include
- Review dates
- Payment dates
- Rush fees (if applicable)
- What you get to keep vs what the consultant gets to keep
- Any other information the consultant deems necessary
The terms of this document are normally quite flexible and can be tailored to your needs. Contacting the consultant about your questions or requesting changes should be expected and welcomed by most consultants. As it is our responsibility to help you achieve your goals, we will always be more than happy to discuss and adjust the proposal with you so an agreement can be reached.
Making Things Official
The final step in the hiring process is the completion of the contract and payment. Again, this will vary from consultant to consultant but this contract should highlight your discussions and what was in the proposal. It may include sections about their policies for sick days (if these apply to your agreement), cancellations information, services being provided, deadlines, etc. Take your time to read through these and ask questions if you have them!
Contracts and any invoices you receive from consultants should include the payment terms. These will range anywhere from immediate to 30 days or more after receiving the invoice depending on the cost and the nature of the work. It is common to see deposits (usually to reserve your spot before starting the work), monthly payments, or payments due upon work delivery.
Once the work starts (based on the dates and payments in the contract), you can expect some sort of onboarding process to take place. A good onboarding process helps get the consultant set up for the work, provides a more in-depth look at your business’s current operations, and should plan to fill in the gaps discussed and agreed upon.
The start date of the consultant’s work might be dependent on the reception of the necessary information required for them to begin their work. To improve the efficiency of this process, please consider preparing a document with all information required from consultants to start their work including but not limited to:
- Passwords and login credentials to your accounts (relevant to the work).
- Introducing you to your client portal (although not every consultant has one).
- Homework, videos or documents to fill out to give the consultant the necessary information to get to work.
- Confirming how and when they can be reached.
Reap the Benefits!
As with any business decision you make, the benefits should always outweigh the cost associated with the decision. In our case as consultants, the time that we save you and the specific knowledge we provide you with should always be more than the cost of our services.
Generally speaking, pricing will depend on how experienced and busy a consultant is. You can either choose to go the low-risk way and hire an experienced and seasoned consultant, or you can go the low-cost way and hire a younger or less experienced consultant that has amazing testimonials or portfolios.
Some of the most obvious benefits of hiring a consultant are:
- Filling in gaps that you and your full-time employees don’t have the time, expertise, or interest in.
- Save more money than hiring an employee that has health benefits.
- You can claim their services as a business expense and reduce your taxes.
- Stay up to date with changing and new trends.
- Avoid paying people to twiddle their thumbs. Consultants only bill you what they spent working for you. No more. No less.
- Reach your business goals more confidently when you stay on your long-term and short-term targets.
- Overcome challenges that your business faces and that you don’t have time to resolve.
- Gain access to a network of consultants that supplement each other (as we often work in networks and through referrals).
- Hand-pick consultants that you find it easy to work with and who complement your business’ work atmosphere.
- Easily terminate the contract at any time you need to with no fuss and no messy unions. You can hire them for a specific length of time too if you need to supplement your operations temporarily.
Overall, the best way for you to keep track of the benefits you gain should be through reports. Whether that is a report of a social media campaign completed, advertisements run, or the efficiency of your business operations, by setting goals before hiring a consultant you can then see the difference that they make to your business.
But please bear in mind that not all goals are measured the same way and that your milestones might not be obvious right off the bat! This will largely depend on the nature of the work you’ve hired for. If it was easy to do it and to do it well, you wouldn’t need a consultant in the first place.
A lot of the time if you want to gain a larger following online, improve your internal systems, or increase your sales, then the processes will span over multiple months or even longer. You should always meet regularly with your consultant to evaluate the progress of the work. Set these ahead of time or make sure these are included in the proposal and contract you hire them.
Ending the Relationship
Once your relationship comes to an end, there should be an offboarding process involved. This process will vary greatly depending on the nature of the work and the preferences of the consultant but there are a few things you should look out for:
- Log in credentials – either delete this person’s login or change your passwords. We hope you never have to deal with someone who would intentionally sabotage your business but we’ve seen it happen.
- The agreed-upon assets are in your hands (or the consultants’ hands)
- If you had a good experience with this person, write them a testimonial! They’ll appreciate you taking the time to write it and can use it to encourage their own business’ growth.
- Ask if they have a referral program! You and a friend might save big if you refer someone else to this consultant 😉
We know hiring help in your business is a big step and can be intimidating and challenging on its own. We encourage you to always listen to your gut. If throughout this process you start feeling that something isn’t right or experience some red flags, then you don’t have to stay there.
When you set clear expectations and guides before starting the process of hiring a consultant or VA, you will more confidently hire the best person for the job and will experience more benefits for that relationship. We hope this blog has helped you feel more confident and prepared to find the right person to bring your business to the next level!
Please note that this is not legal advice. We have simply curated this information based on our education and experiences. However, please consider the following when hiring a consultant: if the contract does not contain the same information as the proposal (red flag)!, that the contract protects BOTH parties equally, and this person has a track record, portfolio, or testimonials that support the results they are promising.
This article was written with the collaboration of Myla @Congruent Marketing Solutions. Check out her social media for any marketing advice!