Building Your Business Operations & Success Does Your Small Business Need a Consultant? Small business consulting services can make your business more profitable By Susan Ward Susan Ward Twitter Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 19, 2022 Fact checked by J.R. Duren Fact checked by J.R. Duren J.R. is a terms editor at The Balance, a role in which he focuses on providing clear answers to common questions about personal finance and small business. J.R. has more than 10 years of experience reporting, writing, and editing. As an editor for The Balance, he has fact-checked, edited, and assigned hundreds of articles. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Accounting and Bookkeeping Consultants Information Technology (IT) Services Consultants Human Resources Consultants Marketing Consultants Legal Services Consultants How To Find and Hire a Consultant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images Small business owners tend to prefer to be involved in every aspect of their operations, from choosing the type of coffee machine for the breakroom to doing the company tax returns. Many business owners find it difficult to delegate tasks to employees or outside consultants. However, if you are a small business owner and spending too much time on non-core business activities, you can find assistance from consulting services. Financial restraints often require owners of startups to be jacks of all trades during the first months or years of operation. As businesses mature and profits increase, there are many needs that are better served by experts in the discipline. The ever-increasing complexities of information technology, the tax code, and the regulations and other legal aspects surrounding a business can be very difficult to keep track of. Small business consultants can help business owners manage these complexities. Key Takeaways Consultants can help manage areas that business owners don't have time or expertise for.You can find a good consultant by word-of-mouth, or by searching online for specialists in areas where you need help.Accounting and bookkeeping consultants can be hired for a few hours a year (or year-round) to help keep your books in order and prepare you for tax season. Accounting and Bookkeeping Consultants Accounting and bookkeeping are two of the most common consulting activities needed by small businesses. When deciding whether or not to contract out some or all of your bookkeeping or accounting duties, ask: What is my time worth?Can I do as good a job as a professional in this field? For a solo enterprise or the startup phase of a small business, you may have time to handle bookkeeping and some accounting chores if you have the desire and aptitude. However, as your business grows, it may make more sense to hire out some of these duties to a consultant. In as little as a few hours a month, a good bookkeeper can do most of your record-keeping, including submitting invoices, paying bills, doing payroll, and prepping the company accounts for tax season. A good accountant can do much more than explain tax changes and do your taxes. They can: Navigate the maze of tax laws and provide the financial advice you need to manage and grow your businessMake recommendations on how to lower your taxes, such as whether or not to incorporate or if you should lease or purchase commercial spaceProvide advice on ways to cut business costs Note Hiring an accountant for just a few hours a year may be well worth your while. Information Technology (IT) Services Consultants Information technology (IT) is one of the most rapidly changing fields in business as new technology regularly impacts devices or software systems including: Desktop computersMobile devices (laptops, cell phones, tablets, etc.)Cloud computing servicesPoint-of-sale (POS) systemsBusiness websites and social media platformsWord processing, spreadsheets, etc.Accounting softwareTax softwareComputer-aided design (CAD) systems Unless your business is in the information technology field or you are otherwise proficient with maintaining hardware devices and solving software issues, an IT consultant is recommended. In addition to repairing hardware and operating systems, an IT consultant can perform other duties, including: Ensuring valuable business data is backed up in case of emergencies;Setting up cloud computing services;Installing software systems;Providing training on hardware and software systems;Advising on technology upgrades and methods of using technology to streamline your business and improve productivity. Human Resources Consultants Dealing with personnel-related issues often is difficult and time-consuming. Some small businesses cannot afford the expense of a dedicated human resources (HR) individual or department. However, businesses with effective HR strategies typically have better working environments and higher morale, which increases employee retention and lowers turnover costs. As a result, you may want to outsource your HR functions. Professional HR consultants are trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of employee relations and can: Handle the recruitment of new employees or contract workers, including advertising, interviewing, and reference checksDeal with disciplinary issues and terminationsRun employee orientation and organize proper trainingLimit your legal liability by ensuring that employee complaints or disputes are properly handled;Keep you up to date on state and federal regulations regarding employees, such as wage laws, hours of work, holiday time, leave of absence, workers' compensation, mandatory benefits, and reporting; Arrange and provide optional benefits such as health, dental, vision, and disability insurance for employees and their families. Marketing Consultants Successful marketing is essential to attracting and retaining customers—the number one need for most businesses, especially startups. Unfortunately, marketing is highly specialized and while many small business owners excel in providing products or services to their customers, they may be less proficient with marketing and cannot afford full-time salespeople. The right marketing consultant for your business should have a high level of expertise in your industry and be able to bring in fresh ideas as well as tried and true advice on how to develop strategies and campaigns. Marketing consultants can work with your business to establish and implement strategies based on: your Overall business goals Products or services Target users or clients Company's role in relation to the competition Consultants also can design and implement individual marketing campaigns and provide general advice on promoting your business through activities such as: Social media campaignsEmail marketingWebsite and blog promotionsPress releasesCharity event sponsorships Legal Services Consultants Having a good business lawyer available when you need one can be valuable when confronted with circumstances that involve more complex legal issues or may involve liability, such as: Partnership agreements or share allocationsLawsuitsLegal action against your business by government agencies for issues such as licensing, tax disputes, or non-compliance with regulationsReal estate purchases or lease agreementsTrademark or intellectual property rights issuesFranchise agreementsSelling or merging your business, or purchasing the assets of another business Note Some small business attorneys are generalists who can analyze your problem and provide solid advice, or, if needed, refer you to someone more specialized in a particular area of law if required. How To Find and Hire a Consultant Word-of-mouth referrals are a common way to find good consulting help once you've determined you need it. If you are new to a particular area, local business groups or chambers of commerce might provide referral assistance. Once you've interviewed and selected a consultant, draw up a contract that addresses things like rates, terms, and any required confidentiality or non-disclosure clauses. If you are just starting out in business and cash flow is tight but you need a consultant, consider bartering your services. If you run a restaurant, for example, you might agree to cater a consultant's event for free or for a reduced rate in exchange for their services. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Do I need to hire a consultant? If you find yourself needing help in certain key areas of your business operations but you don't have the time or expertise to do them yourself, a consultant could be a valuable asset for established companies and startups. What services do small business consultants offer? Consultants for small businesses range in expertise from legal and accounting services, to IT, marketing, and human resources. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Thomson Reuters. "Accounting Consulting: How To Become an Accounting Consultant (and Why)." BoTree Technologies. "What To Consider While Hiring an IT Consultant." BoTree Technologies. "7 Reasons to Hire a Professional IT Consulting Company." Red Clover HR. "When You Need an HR Consultant." Rea & Associates. "3 Signs Your Company Needs An HR Consultant." Digital Marketing Institute. "What Skills Do I Need to Be a Marketing Consultant?" Robert Half Talent Solutions. "How to Pursue a Position as a Legal Consultant." Equinox. "Why Your Business Needs a Legal Generalist Not A 'Specialist." Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "Sample Consulting Agreement." Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center at the University of Michigan. "The Right Way To Find a Consultant—6 Basic Steps."