Who Hires Consultants?

In addressing the question “who hires consultants?”, the definition of “being a consultant” needs to be settled first. It is simple-enough. It is generally accepted to be “a person who gives expert advice professionally” (Oxford Concise English Dictionary).
In business-survival language, a person determined to become an independent consultant has to approach his search for clients with some kind of presumption that he will be able to establish good business relationships with enough people (especially business decision-makers) who will be prepared to consider hiring him (or her) for the expert advice he will be able to offer them and the style and manner with which he will offer it.
There are then two further questions to be tested: who hires established consultants who have built-up a solid reputation for themselves in their field over several years and who already have a contact book of regular clients? And who might be likely to hire a newcomer?
Accepting that the established consultants will have been newcomers to their marketplace at some time in the past, the now-settled reality will be that they will have built up a reputation and will have proved themselves to be invaluable to the clients they have accumulated since they set-up business They will be hired because of these attributes: the service/s they offer will have become sound and well-suited to the individual clients; they will have developed an understanding of the businesses and have a serviceable relationship with the personalities they have to interface with; and they will be reliable.
The businesses, for their part, will have the best of several different worlds.
The consultant will provide them with on-call access to his expertise, but only when they need it. They do not need to employ an ‘expert’ member of staff (with all the attendant liabilities) and find other work for the staff-member to do to fill-up time. Nor will the client need to pay for holiday time or time-off-sick. All these savings are likely to matter particularly to smaller businesses interested in economies wherever they can be found.
Equally importantly, a consultant is likely to be especially-valued if he is known to reinforce his existing expertise continuously by buying the journals and keeping-up his memberships of the professional bodies that will ensure he stays fully up-to-date on professional matters, and even to spend money on essential training courses, sparing clients the need to include any of these often substantial annual training costs in their own budgets.
But perhaps the most fundamental reason why an established consultant will be consistently hired is that most old-fashioned ingredient: reliability. He will be going out of his way to make sure that his clients can feel confident he will always be there for them, ready to help them sort out their problems. Quite often they can’t be confident their own staff would be that diligent.

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