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Be a Better Client to a Consultant With These 3 Tips

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As a new entrepreneur, at some point you will need to hire a service provider, or a consultant, to help you develop, protect or market your business.

I have owned EGT Global Trading since 1997 and have learned many lessons and aborted potential messes while working with clients. Below are three tips to get more bang for your buck when appropriating funds to a consultant.

Related: Hiring a Consultant? Shun the 24-Hour Turnaround and Other Hype.

1. Always be available to your consultant, whether it is via email, text message or phone. Set up an auto response when you're away and let your consultant know in advance when you’ll be available to return a call.

Notify your service provider if you anticipate any vacations, holiday closings or even trips to look at colleges with your children.

I recently began a project with a young woman inventor whose religion prohibits her from conducting business on a vast amount of holy days during the calendar year, as well as working on the Sabbath. Fortunately I knew this in advance, and was able to obtain from her a calendar of closings so I was able to see when and why there would be delays in replies.

2. Listen to your consultant. You hired him/her because you thoroughly researched his/her background -- and checked his/her references (online testimonials can clearly be fudged or exaggerated.)

Related: 3 Legal Precautions in Hiring Freelancers

So if you think that pink and green packaging will blow your new product off the shelf, but your consultant suggests keeping it simple with black and white to start, please trust his/her instincts and experience. Remember why you hired him/her, and be flexible.

3. Understand your service provider’s fee structure and contract. You are paying this person to grow, help or promote your business, so when it comes to signing his/her contract or paying a down-payment or retainer, be sure to clarify exactly what this contract covers.

What is the length of the contract, what services will it cover, is part of the retainer refundable if he/she completes the job ahead of time, and what are his/her hourly rates if the project goes into extra innings? Get everything in writing, and do not hesitate to have your attorney review this contract.

Never lose your passion for your new business but get your money’s worth. In a client-service provider relationship, you, as the customer, are the buyer of services. Caveat emptor -- or let the buyer beware!

Related: Don't Pay a Consultant Before Chatting With Your Vendor

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