First, determine your needs and do some research.
- Know your business. Know your current operations and your financial picture.
- Determine the specific need(s) you want an advisor to address and if you need “hands-on” or “hands-off” assistance.
- Get referrals from business associates. Ask questions about skills, performance, and results.
- Research. Get more information about potential advisors from their websites.
Interview the candidates.
- Set up appointments to learn more about advisors and their services.
- Look at the advisor’s credentials. Ask about their training, employment, and consulting work. Has the advisor successfully handled issues that relate to our objectives?
- Ask for, and call, references. A few specific questions may help you find the best match.
- Consider chemistry. Your relationship with your advisor must be one of trust, and you should be able to work closely and comfortably together.
- Presentation. Is the advisor well prepared and confident? Does the advisor look and act professional?
- Discuss your needs and expectations. A capable advisor should be able to understand and “frame” your issues, but should not be expected to have a solution before digging into the data.
- If you need help in various areas, does the advisor have access to any specialists you may need?
Review proposals and fees carefully.
- Proposals should outline achievement of clear business outcomes, not simply tasks. Training is a task. Improving sales results is an outcome.
- Does the time-frame for the project appear to be well thought out and achievable, or is it unrealistic?
- How does the advisor charge? Fixed-fee rates are optimal, but be sure to evaluate services covered under that rate. Hourly rates might result in a “running meter” attitude or result in a “never-ending” project. If the fee is not fixed, you should consider a cap on hours.