As a small business owner, it’s likely that your staff consists of mostly “generalists,” or folks who don’t have a highly developed area of expertise. While there is nothing wrong with this line of thought and practice, chances are you’ve had times when it would have been helpful to have someone around with a deeper knowledge base.
For example, have you ever needed or wanted help determining the size of a product or service market? Identifying market opportunities and researching competitive products or services? Developing a business or financial model? Analyzing company logistics or supply chain processes? How about an expert in industry best practices, profitable real estate opportunities, or patent, trademark, and IP research?
The list goes on and on – third party analysts can aid in a wide range of specialized tasks and projects.
Despite this fact, there is reluctance among entrepreneurs to hire outside experts due to a number of factors, including things like perceived high costs and a lack of understanding on how to track down and interview such specialists.
If you’re considering hiring a third party analyst to lend a hand on your next project, here are 4 foolproof tips for finding the right fit for your business.
Tip #1: Know where to look.
Some things are obvious: the best way to find a good, reputable, and trusted analyst is to ask for referrals within your network. Speak with other business owners you know, both locally and nationally (and internationally, if that applies!). If your project isn’t confined to your local area, you may find a match outside your city’s borders.
In addition, if you’re a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, meet-up/mastermind group, or other business groups, scan your directories for third party analysts you can meet and speak with in-person to learn more about how they can help you.
Tip #2: Ask probing questions about the depth of their experience in their area of expertise.
We’ve already agreed that simply hiring an expert can be intimidating, but questioning an expert about their qualifications may also feel a bit awkward.
Don’t worry, though: A quality analyst will be prepared for such questions and welcome them. They want your business as much as you want their knowledge, so don’t shy away from any work-related questions, including those about their academic background.
Tip #3: Insist on including a nondisclosure agreement as part of your conversation.
Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are common and protect you, your intellectual property, and the expert you’re speaking with. They’re so common; in fact, that any third party analyst you’re interviewing won’t bat an eyelash at your request for them to sign one before you discuss the specifics of your project.
An NDA will legally ensure that any details you discuss in your initial consultation and – assuming you hire your third party analyst – any subsequent meetings will remain confidential. It can also help you identify any conflicts of interest before it’s too late to turn back.
Tip #4: Draw up an uber-thorough contractual agreement.
Your NDA will protect your intellectual property and proprietary information, but a contract will safeguard everything else and lay the groundwork for the expectations of both you and your expert from the very beginning.
This may seem like a “no-brainer,” but it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs hiring third party analysts for the first time to miss some important things. Make sure your contract outlines:
● The amount you will pay your analyst, when you will pay them, and what will constitute work that they can bill for separately.
● A definite timeline of when work is to commence and when the project should be finished. If the finish date is fluid, agree on a date to “shoot for” and include this verbiage in your contract as well as specifics about how billing and payment will be set up if the project goes beyond the original end date.
● The size and scope of the entire project, from beginning to end. Accommodate for changes by adjusting the start or end date if necessary, but try to be as specific as possible on how large the project truly is.
● The ownership of intellectual property and research findings. Depending on your project, not including specifics like these could create trouble for you later or decrease your opportunities for future growth.
Third party analysts bring a lot to the table and hiring the right one could be the decision that takes your business to the next level. Don’t let your discomfort stop you from seeking an expert. Use the tools above to find the right person to help you grow your enterprise.
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