The U.S. saw a record-high number of layoffs in the first quarter of 2019 due to market pressures and demands for budget cuts. A reported 190,410 people lost their jobs due to cutbacks, the highest number for a first-quarter since 2009. Fortunately, overall layoff numbers for the year are down, but that doesn’t mean certain industries and individuals aren’t looking at downsizing as a way to increase the profit margin. Whenever layoffs happen, trimmed-down teams wonder how they will continue to function without sufficient resources. What used to be a department of 24 can easily become a party of one.
Companies downsize staff when they need to cut costs. Regardless of the reasons for cost-cutting, many threadbare teams continue functioning at a deficit for months after a round of layoffs without any increase in resources. To help figure out how to move forward with fewer staff, many companies opt to bring in business consultants to bridge the gap and offer project management solutions.
Why bring in business consultants?
Often, it is cheaper and more prudent to hire a team of business consultants rather than hiring several full-time workers with benefits, particularly when the company is overhauling the budget. Companies typically reach out to business consultants because they either lack expertise in an area of the business, they need to grow a team without increasing labor costs, or they need a new perspective on a problem or potential opportunity.
Many times, companies can get more bang for their buck if they bring on a team that offers multidisciplinary benefits. For instance, communication departments can utilize a diverse consulting team for design, writing, video production, illustration, and social media management. Human Resources may rely on the same team for consulting
If you are thinking about hiring a business consultant to revive a struggling team or revamp an old strategy, take this advice to heart:
- Decide what you want. Before speaking with any business consultants, write down your vision for the future of the department or what project you need to overhaul. Define no-go areas and please-go priorities. Certainly, you want to leave room for the consultant’s expertise, but providing parameters gives the consultant something to start with, along with a clear understanding of your vision.
- Look for people with experience. Find business consultants with a proven track record in the areas where you need assistance. For instance, if you need guidance in digital advertising and content marketing strategy, don’t hire an agency with a TV-centric background.
- Consider your values. Make sure your values align with the business consultant’s team. Hiring business consultants offers a fresh perspective, however, you don’t want to venture so far from your business goals that you don’t recognize your own company.
- Get references. Ask your business consultant for letters of recommendation, testimonies and/or references.
- Expect progress reports. Make sure the business consultant can meet regularly with you for progress reports and milestone check-ins. Even in your initial correspondence with a prospective consultant, take note of the level of communication and whether it matches your expectations.
A consultant with proven expertise in the area you want to grow can take you farther than a dozen full-time employees without the same experience. But putting in extra work and communication upfront will help keep morale high and avoid wasted time and money.
If you need help filling critical gaps in your company, Mad Hat Maven offers a diverse skill set to help you navigate transitional waters. We specialize in internal and external communication digital media, marketing, and brand strategy. Contact us today for a free introductory consultation.