Broader isn't always better.
While management and technology consultants offer a range of services, niche consultants
are specialists. From building an e-commerce site to naming a product, you can choose a consultant for nearly any
First decide whether you really need a consultant. You may be able to take on the problem yourself—but will you
do the best job? "It's a little bit like selling your house," says Tom Bentley, managing partner at Palo
Alto, California–based financial consultants Alliant Partners. "Some people believe that you can do that on
your own, and they do just that. But did you get the highest value? That is always the question that remains."
Bentley, whose company specializes in mergers and acquisitions for smaller companies, recommends looking long and
hard at the answer. "We try to convince people that we create more value than we cost. However, in spite of
that, there are still people who like to sell their houses themselves."
Even if you could do something yourself, consider whether it's worth your time. At the San Francisco shop Idiom,
a naming consultant with clients that include Fogdog Sports and Intel, consultants work on creating a name so you
can concentrate on your core business. Just finding an available URL is a time-consuming task.
"The names that people immediately like just aren't going to be available," says Idiom partner George
Frazier. "It's like boys picking out pictures of supermodels from a magazine; the reality is that they can't
have any of them."
With e-commerce on everyone's mind, don't be timid about calling in a consultant in this area. E-commerce requires
a whole new set of skills; even the techies at your company may not be qualified.
"Running a LAN or WAN is different from running an e-commerce site," says Jim Nail, an analyst at Forrester
Research. "Very few companies have the internal skill sets to go it alone."
Relatively speaking, companies such as Agency.com and Razorfish are veterans. These e-commerce consultants can
help you get up and running faster.
A specific goal, such as building an e-commerce site, allows for a structured process. Work with the consultant
up front to determine the various stages of your project.