Perfect Match

A game plan for choosing -- and keeping -- the best consultants.

Need some good advice? You're not alone. Businesses large and small are turning to consultants for help in strategic planning, technology, personnel management and other specialties. According to Linda Wessels, president of the Association of Professional Consultants Inc. in Costa Mesa, California, hiring a consultant can be a good idea any time you move outside your area of expertise. That might mean bringing in a consultant to draft an employee handbook, design a computer system, or help with public relations or crisis management. If you're planning to go public, a consultant can help strategically position your company. If you're moving into the global market, an international business consultant can help you establish the right contacts.

Just be sure you look before you leap. Focus on choosing the right consultant for what you need done, then clarify your goals and expectations with a carefully prepared contract.

Steven C. Bahls, dean of Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, teaches entrepreneurship law. Freelance writer Jane Easter Bahls specializes in business and legal topics.

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Perfect Match.

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