Comparing consultants and employees
Owning a business and being your own boss means making the tough decisions, decisions that have the potential to greatly affect the livelihood of your business. Because you’ll eventually reach the point of needing help to advance and grow your business, you’ll have to decide to either hire a consultant or bring on a full-time employee.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy decision to make. What makes is even more difficult is that each choice comes with ample pros and cons, and you have to sort through them in order to make the right decision, an informed decision. So, let’s get started.
Option one: hiring a consultant
A consultant is someone who can give you expert advice regarding any business decision you need to make. A consultant can come in handy if you need a second opinion before you start a new marketing campaign or partner with a complementary business. Whatever your professional question, there is a relevant consultant that can help you.
One major advantage of hiring a consultant is that you only have to pay when you actually use the consultant, unless you have the consultant on retainer, of course. This means that you also don’t have to provide employer benefits, which can save you a lot of money in the long run. Using a consultant can give you an outside, fresh perspective on your business.
Sometimes, as the business owner, you can become too close to a project and lack objectivity. A consultant makes up the difference. Most consultants come with a specific knowledge-base, which you may be lacking in your company. For example, if you need marketing help and advice, you’d use a different consultant than if you needed help drafting professional and lawful client agreements. Selecting the right consultant can give you highly specialized help where you need it most.
However, as great as the benefits are from using a consultant, it also comes with some drawbacks. The first, and perhaps the most prominent, is that your consultant may not always be available. If s/he has other clients, you may need to take the backseat until you’re fit into the schedule. If you don’t mind waiting, this isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, most business decisions that need additional consultation are top priority and have an upcoming and hard-set deadline. Hiring a consultant can also be a gamble. Because you don’t personally know this person and all you have to go on are assumptions, this professional relationship may or may not work out for the betterment of your company.
Option two: full-time employee
Choosing to hire a full-time dedicated employee rather than a consultant typically gives you consistency, dependability, and availability. If you need your employee to work on a project, all you have to do is assign it and wait for it to be completed. As the business owner, you won’t be put on the backburner as you would with a consultant.
You have complete control over work projects, deadlines, and professional timelines. Your employee will maintain focus on your objective, rather than furthering his/her career by taking on additional clients. Depending on the person you hire as an employee, loyalty should be a priority. This way, you can be sure that your employee will stick by you and your company longer than any consultant will. After all, many consultants will leave you behind once they secure higher-paying clients.
Hiring a full-time employee could mean you risk hiring a generalist rather than a specialist. So, instead of the track record and experience of a consultant, you may get availability. And depending on the nature of your business, that may not be a smart risk to take. Keep in mind that you have to pay your employee, including employer benefits, even if you don’t use his/her knowledge or skillset on a regular basis. So this may not always be a financially smart decision.
Making a choice
Deciding between hiring a full-time employee and a consultant is unique to your business needs. A smart decision for one company isn’t necessarily going to be the best choice for you. Study all of your options before you come to a final decision. Part of that is to evaluate all candidates, their strengths, and what they bring to the table. Only then will you know you’ve made the right financial decision for the health of your business.