Hiring the right consultant or business advisor can be a cost-effective way for a small- and medium-sized fashion business to leverage specialized knowledge. Conversely, hiring the wrong business consultant or advisor can cost more than money—it can cost you a lot of wasted time, energy and money.
Great business consultants know how to ask the right questions, when to ask them and they have answers for your questions.
Run away if they start with:
“Tell me a little about your business”
“Who is your target market?”
“What is your budget for this project?”
Why? Because they wasting the time of the consultation you paid for. They should know those things already. They should come to you prepared. Asking about the budget before they even know what’s going on? I smeel here desperation for money. Everyone would like to have paid, doing nothing… Pathetic.
Ok. Sometimes your prospecting business consultant can put a spell on you and you may not recognise that there is something odd about them. So, I want you to know what questions to ask about your prospective business consultant to make sure you are talking to the right person?
- Are you collaborative? Every business, no matter of the size and character, do not want a business consultant who will work in isolation. Even if it is virtual support you must know how will this consultant keep you informed of changes he/she make? What he/she is working on? How often will he/she report on their work, and what will it look like? For example, it will be a monthly report, phone call every week? How will he/she contact you and how often? You must know what’s going on.
- Check if he/she has knowledge of our industry? That’s very crucial. It is important to have industry knowledge and also a broad knowledge of other industries. Knowledge from different industries will allow a business consultant to bring fresh ideas to the table. Prior to hiring a business consultant – make sure they have some kind of specialisation. If they are offering their services to everyone, from every industry, every kind of business (ex. B2B, B2C) it will often end with going all over the place with no tangible results. I’m sure you don’t want anyone to learn how to do business in your business. Your business can’t be an experimental rabbit. Period.
- Ask more about how the process of working together and achieving the goals will look like? It is important that your prospecting business consultant is able to demonstrate a strategy and process for achieving the results that the business wants. For example, you might ask, “what is your process for improving traffic and conversions from social media?” A strategic planning consultant should give evidence of a path to achieve this, but with the understanding that this might need to be tweaked along the way. No two businesses are the same. Remember that.
- See if they want to work long term or only short term. A good business consultant provides true value – add rather than just a generic service. If they say that one session will be enough to make your problems go away – run. No one can help you achieve great results during one session. I believe that to see the difference in results, a business consultant needs to work with you for about 3 months.
- Make sure your prospecting business consultant have up to date knowledge. Ask: “What do you think is the biggest change that has happened in (consultant’s sphere of knowledge) in the 5 years period of time?” For example, you might ask a digital marketing consultant about algorithm changes and the biggest problems in today’s selling on social media. You might also ask about any recent courses or interesting content the prospecting business consultant has completed or read recently.
- I would suggest asking if your prospecting business consultant can guarantee success? This is a trick question, as success is never guaranteed. But this type of question will weed out the salesman from a trustworthy candidate. If they will guarantee success – run. A follow-up question could be, “How do you determine if you’re successful?” Do they aim to increase traffic by X percent in Y months, for example? It’s useful to see some sort of metric. And even though they can’t guarantee success you must have a way to measure the effectiveness.
- I get quite often opinion that business consultants don’t share what is the payment structure? It’s important to know how much and when exactly you will need to pay so that you can factor it into your budget. You also need to know what exactly is included in each price.
- Did you ever have a situation when you paid for something and had no news about your order? I’m sure you did. It’s not… nice, right? So ask what happens if you sign the contract as well as what happens when you terminate the contract? This is for your own protection. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Find out if there are any fees written into the contract and how long ahead you have to give notice. Negotiate these if you feel they are unfair.
- Check on the confidence of your prospecting business consultant. You have to have the balls in business, and your business consultant needs them too. They must lead in your face informed opinions. You must know that they are 100% sure about what they are doing. How to check this? Ask why should you hire him/her over other business consultants? You may need a consultant, but is this the one? Do they have something special, such as a key piece of speciality, experience or knowledge, that is a great fit for your fashion company? Are they able to disagree with you, say no to you? Are they confident about talking about themselves, their methods and knowledge?
- Another question is what access do you need to our data? If you are hiring a digital marketing consultant, they will often ask for access to Google Analytics, Search Console, any tools you use for website monitoring and paid distribution accounts, any keyword tracking you’ve been doing, and more. It’s best to know ahead of time what access is needed so that you can get this to them as quickly as possible in the project. It also shows their preparation to onboarding a new client. They try to convince you that they know what they doing so as business consultants they must have systems and processes in place. They must know what they need from you, when they need it and how they operate. If they don’t have a clear answer for you they are unprofessional, new in business, inexperienced. 100%.
- Very important is question about signing a confidentiality contract. As well as knowing if they will refrain from working with your competitors. Again, this is to protect the business, as you do not want key information being leaked, and you want to stay a step ahead of the competition.
Did you find those questions useful?
P.S. Not all fashion entrepreneurs are created equal. When you are ready to become a future-proofed fashion brand here is how you can get help:
1. Order Strategic Session with Your Team – 2 days (It involves gathering representatives of selected company departments in one place, over one goal/topic. The goal of their creative work is to generate various business concepts/ideas / options, analyze them and propose actions)
10.000 PLN net (2 183,80 euro) + travel expenses and accommodation costs (Bydgoszcz, Poland – your location)
2. Hire infuture.fashion Department – 12 months virtual cooperation (informed opinions, global perspective, forward thinking, true partnership, winning approach 100%).
To be discussed after the strategic session with your team.
3. Have 45 min Consultation – phone or online session with one-month email support (pick my brain, ask me all your questions, learn steps, walk away with tools)
790 PLN net (173 euro)
4. Attend Fashion Business Expo in Dubai – 5 days, Autumn 2020, up to 12 spaces
(Main attraction Dubai Expo 2020; Airfare, accommodation, and meals are NOT included, must have at least communicative level of English)
10 000 PLN net (2 183,80 euro)
Write to me firstname.lastname@example.org
We all have 24 hours in a day. Think about it. Contact me. Talk to me. Get results. Fast.
WARNING: I never negotiate rates, I don’t break down payments into instalments. You either want it or you don’t (begging and convincing not included).