Hiring a Consultant: 5 Types of Consulting for Small Businesses

It can be hard to know when to ask for help, and even harder when you know that help comes with a price tag.

That’s the decision many small business leaders and decision-makers face this year as they establish a budget for 2021: Is it time to hire a consultant?

Business consulting encompasses a range of specialties and organizations, from large consulting firms to individuals with knowledge and experience to share.

Despite the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, consultants remain a worthwhile investment for small businesses seeking expertise in an array of industries.

We surveyed 500 small businesses about their experiences with consultants. We found that almost half of small businesses (44%) have hired a consultant in the past. Of the small businesses that haven’t hired a consultant, 29% plan to hire one in 2021.

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Translation vs. Interpretation: How Emojis Change Business Communication

It’s been a record month at Dan’s company. Sales have increased and churn rate is low. 

Dan, 26, pulls together the monthly report, feeling good, and sends it to the company bookkeeper. 
He titles the email "this month was 🔥.”

Ruth, the 68-year-old bookkeeper, responds, “I haven't had a chance to look yet, but it sounds like you had a rough month.” 

Dan is confused and then he realizes: my emoji was misinterpreted. 

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Paid Social & PPC for Market Research Organization

"They understood the urgency of the project and always responded very quickly."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Less than $10,000
 
May 2020 - Jun. 2020
Project summary: 

MartonMedia assisted with a market research study on the efficacy of PPC campaigns. They set up PPC ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Berlin, Germany
Project Manager, Market Research Organization
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

MartonMedia exceeded the expectations of the client and performed better than previous vendors. The team was responsive and easily accessible.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m a project manager for a market research organization.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with MartonMedia?

We were doing a conversion study regarding PPC. We needed a team to help with that.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The conversion study was to see how well a new product would perform with different advertisement campaigns.

We set up PPC campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads. They did Facebook ads, including video and images. The content was created by a designer, but the team helped with coordinating and advising on compliance checks for the different medias. 

What is the team composition?

I worked with Martin (Founder/PPC Management).

How did you come to work with MartonMedia?

I posted on a Facebook group, looking for freelancers in our region. They had the best response to the ad. 

How much have you invested with them?

We spent about €1,700 (approximately $2,000 USD).

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from May 2020–June 2020. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

They tracked analytics. We monitored the conversion metrics, including how many people converted to the website, differentiated by gender and age, as well as checking out the interests on Facebook and Google.

How did MartonMedia perform from a project management standpoint?

They did very well. They were responsive and available.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They understood the urgency of the project and always responded very quickly. That has not been our experience with other companies in the past.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, we’re very satisfied.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Drupal E-Commerce Platform for Investment Company

"It’s rare to make something new and hit the mark that closely, but ADK Group managed it."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Aug. 2018 - Mar. 2019
Project summary: 

ADK Group built a Drupal website to replace a paper- and resource-intensive process for an investment company. Involved from scoping and design to testing and the launch, they now provide ongoing support.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Solutions Architect, Hancock Natural Resource Group
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The site processed 80% of all expected orders within the first few months, and it now is responsible for over $1 million in sales. ADK Group delivers high-quality development work with minimal bugs. The team manages a smooth workflow thanks to their timeliness, flexibility, and care.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m a solutions architect for the Hancock Natural Resource Group. We raise capital from our clients to put into alternative investments—such as timber and farmland. We then operate those assets on our clients’ behalf to generate a return.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with ADK Group?

We sell recreational licenses on the properties we manage, but our current process is entirely paper-based and resource intensive. The task we put forward to ADK Group was to digitize and automate the process through a website.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We started it with a lot of requirements. We did a lot of Q&A on processes, and we prototyped how all of these manual processes would translate into a digital environment. After a lot of wireframe design and UI changes, ADK Group put together a functional specification document. It outlined everything that they were going to build for us and that would be delivered within the scope of work. 

ADK Group developed the solution in Drupal while we got together other necessary pieces. We put third-party credit card processing providers in place for ADK Group to integrate with their services. For the user acceptance testing, the team came on site and recorded training sessions for all end users. After that, we led two weeks of testing, during which we identified bugs for ADK Group to fix. They then helped get ready to go live—importing historical data, generating records for our system, and helping us create marketing email campaigns to inform existing customers of the new solution.

Since the launch, ADK Group now provides live support. We continue to develop the platform with their team. They take our requests for new features and enhancements and deploy them into production.

What is the team composition?

We work with primarily two people, but three subject matter experts have participated from time to time if we had a challenge in their domain. For example, ADK Group brought people in to help with email marketing, Google Analytics, and our site’s geospatial component that helps us render maps. 

How did you come to work with ADK Group?

We interviewed many solution providers, including a few significant IT consulting companies with a significant presence in our region or nationally. But we ended up talking to a design firm that we had used for another public-facing site. The firm offered to take on the project, but they needed a subcontractor to handle the technical requirements. They brought on ADK Group, and since then, our collaboration has primarily been with ADK Group.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent between $300,000–$400,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in April 2018, and the project’s first phase concluded in March 2019. We’re now working on the second phase, and that process is ongoing. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We booked about 80% of our expected orders through the site within the first months of going live. We've drastically cut down on the amount of staff needed to operate or to facilitate the license purchasing and renewal process. We've processed well more than $1 million through this platform. 

How did ADK Group perform from a project management standpoint?

ADK Group has done exceptionally well in managing our account. I’ve been extremely satisfied with how diligent they are. Every deliverable that the team was responsible for arrived on time according to the original project timeline that they proposed. We did have setbacks on the project, but those were entirely our own doing. Nonetheless, ADK Group has been flexible enough to help us work around that and still go live within the required timeframe. 

During the project, we spoke at least twice a week. Leading up to the launch, we talked every day. Now, we only have a biweekly check-in.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Often when I work with technology providers, I have to spend a tremendous amount of time vetting everything that they do. I tend to find they're usually not very thorough and don't QA things that they provide us. But with ADK Group, that is quite the opposite. They work very closely alongside us, and their attention to detail was exceptional. And they built something for us that met all of our expectations. It’s rare to make something new and hit the mark that closely, but ADK Group managed it.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, nothing comes to mind.

Any advice for potential customers?

Just make sure that you're as invested in the project as ADK Group will be. You should also appropriately scope your project to ensure its success. 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They meet every deadline that they set for themselves. For delays on our end, they’re still flexible enough to make sure that the first phase got completed on time.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    ADK Group charges a third of the cost as the next lowest solution provider.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I haven’t had any negative experiences with what they provided. It’s exactly what we asked for.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would be willing to refer them assuming that the project is in the same or similar scope of work or similar technical area.

Interior & Terrace Design for Family Apartment

“Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño offers the perfect balance of performance and creative collaboration simultaneously.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Apr. 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño collaboratively designed a city apartment renovation and managed the construction team. They used technological programs to digitally render the concept to show the client remotely.

The Reviewer
 
Panama City, Panama
Lori Reinauer
Apartment Owner
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño partnered seamlessly with the client to bring her artistic vision of the renovation to life. They managed every aspect of the end-to-end project and delivered an of-the-moment and innovative design. Pleasant to work with, they’re talented and attentive to detail.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am an artist, art educator, and community organizer. 

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño?

I hired Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño as my architect and design team to renovate my second residence, a city apartment. I also needed them to manage the entire construction process. The situation was a bit complicated because the property had been uninhabited for 13 years and I live five hours away from where the project is going on. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño had full control over the design. I gave them executive decision-making power to manage the construction team. At my request, they were highly communicative. They reported to me several times a week about all the details ongoing in the project. Frequent updates helped me manage the process long distance and solve any problems that came up during the renovation and design process. 

During the project, they used specific architecture tools and programs to show me the renders on a very frequent basis.  Technology was a substantial part of the process since it was a long-distance project. 

Whenever I came up with new ideas, they would change the rendering to include them. The head of the project used architectural programs on his iPad and used it on site. They took photographs and created designs using this tool. 

What is the team composition? 

In his beginning, I worked with Carlos (Architect, Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño) and Olmedo (Founder and Architect, Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño). Later on, I only worked with Carlos directly. 

How did you come to work with Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño?

One of my good friends has a brother who works at Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño I was impressed by multiple restaurant projects they've done; they're gorgeous. I also liked that they're a family brand. 

What is the status of this engagement?

This project started around April 2018 and is currently in the final phase. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Honestly, I only have very positive feedback for Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño. They've been exactly what I was looking for concerning design and attention to detail. They smoothly facilitated contact with me and their whole team.

I needed more than the design team, and they were capable of managing the entire project. Since I'm not a citizen of Panama, they helped me understand the laws, zoning, and customs for Casco Viejo, the old quarter of Panama City. 

Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño offers the perfect balance of performance and creative collaboration simultaneously. Their work is quite detail-oriented, and the design aspects are very modern, international, and cutting-edge ideas. They've been just a pleasure to work with and have met all my needs.

How did Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño perform from a project management standpoint?

Communication has definitely been a key part of the success of the project for me. I specifically requested that all communications be in English. The meticulous requirements I set in the beginning included sending me regular communication with photos and updates. Long-distance projects always have room for error, so we worked to prevent any.

What did you find most impressive about them?

One of the team's best strengths was how accommodating they were. As an artist, I have my own vision and am very particular. I found it very easy to work with them. They had a great design in mind right from the beginning, so they could easily support clients who need pure design. Since I had my own ideas, they were very respectful of what I wanted. We collaboratively created a beautiful end product. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

I have zero complaints about my experience with Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño, and that's the honest truth. I'm very pleased with their performance and the project's outcome. 

I'm from New York, so I have different cultural expectations about timing. The pace of the city feels much slower. Pentagrama Estudio de Diseño has an international perspective and understands both the nature of Panama City and where I'm coming from. They did a great job understanding and facilitating the gray areas.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

SEO Campaign for Financial Services Firm

"I haven’t worked with an SEO firm that’s been this structured and organized."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
Project summary: 

Bruce Clay, Inc. provides an educational training company with several ongoing SEO projects, including restructuring and reorganizing both of their websites.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Los Angeles, California
Founder and CEO, Financial Services Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Website organization has improved, and the company believes that the user interface has improved as a result. Measurable progress has been made in rankings, with organic search results increasing by 25-40%. Everyone at Bruce Call, Inc., from the founder down, is committed and attentive.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

Netpicks is an educational company that provides training and systems for individual active investors.

What is your role and responsibilities?

I am the founder and president.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What was your goal for working with Bruce Clay?

The goal was to improve our organic SEO [search engine optimization] and come up with a structured plan. We didn’t have a plan when we first started talking to Bruce Clay. The website had been out since 1996, so we had a lot of history. However, so many of the tactics and strategies had changed through the years that we just weren’t sure. What used to be white hat was probably now black hat, and it was time to be current, do things correctly, and fix our prior issues that we had gotten ourselves into.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their work.

Bruce Clay did primarily SEO strategy. We have two major sites that they work on, and we work with them on a regular basis. It's like a shared implementation of their strategy. They do some of the work; we do some of the work too because we're contracted for a certain number of hours. Sometimes, it makes sense for us to do some of the work on our side. The bulk of the work is to restructure both websites, reorganize them, and make them more logical for the search engines. We don’t want to impact the user experience, but we are much more presentable and well liked by Google and the other search engines.

What was your process for selecting Bruce Clay to work with?

Through the years, we hadn’t had good experiences working with other companies. Every time I tried to outsource pay-per-click or SEO, it never worked out. Most of the time, I felt like I knew more than they did, and that’s not a good thing. I should feel kind of dumb when I’m around them, and that was never really the case. Also, I never felt like anyone tried to understand our business and what was unique about it. Instead, we got a formula that they tried to force everybody into.

I ran into Bruce Clay about a decade or so ago. I had seen some of their writings. At the time, I wasn’t sure if they were looking for customers, but I contacted them directly. In the beginning, I heard from Bruce directly, which was nice. That was unusual, because you usually hear from a sales rep. I don’t deal with him now but, in the beginning, it's nice to have the frontline person be the person who hears about your business and comes up with the initial strategy, then turns it over from there.

Can you provide a ballpark dollar figure for the size of the work that they’ve done for you?

We spend about $5,000 a month. Right now, the work is open-ended and we don’t have any plans to stop. Like everything else, I need to measure it continually. I enjoy working with them. Like any business, I have to assess it and make sure that it makes sense and that I’m making money on the investment. We were under penalty from Google due to some things from 1998 that came back to haunt us. It's taken us some time to get off the penalty, and we had some setbacks along the way. It probably took longer than they expected. However, they got us off the penalty and we're all cleaned up.

Some of the initiatives that we thought we'd be on a few months ago were delayed. But, I see staying on with Bruce Clay for a while because we can get into the fun initiatives and make some more progress.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Do you have any stats or metrics to track improvement from the project?

It took a while because it can take up to six months to get some traction. We knew that, we were not impatient going into the project. I knew that they were already improving things logically, based on all the new content that we were putting on the new website. That has definitely improved. The organization of the website is definitely improved. Some of the cleanup work and getting fresh eyes has helped quite a bit and probably improved the user interface. It probably forced us to look at the site when we were in a bit of denial or ignoring it because we were so busy with everything else. That has been a measurable difference.

On the organic side, I would say that anywhere between 25 to 40 percent, now that we’ve gone off the penalty, is what I have seen kicked up on our organic search. There are quite a few terms that we used to rank for years ago that we dropped off, but now we're back in. Call it the top 20, top 30, and there are definitely some top 10s. We're making progress. Obviously, I need to see some of those go up to top 10 and top 15. They weren’t on the radar before, so I have seen some measurable improvement. A lot of that has come over the last few months. You have to be patient, but once you are, it pays off.

How is their general work performance?

I’m very satisfied with my team. They are extremely organized, which I appreciate. I never feel like I have to chase them down. We use Basecamp back and forth and get together for calls twice a month. They also spend as much time as we want to spend. We're probably rushing them more often than vice versa. With respect to action items that we come up with from each call, I feel very comfortable with the team. I appreciate how organized they are with the project. I know they’re busy with a lot of other clients, but I never feel like I’m an afterthought.

Is there anything unique about them that really makes them stand out, compared to other companies?

Forcing me to go to training stood out. I can’t say it was the most exciting three days I ever spent, but I get it. I thought that was very interesting, that they force you to take some personal responsibility and make you understand the strategy. Even though I learned a lot of things in the class that I may have forgotten since, it was valuable. That stood out to me. I’ve never been asked to do that, but I appreciated it. I also appreciate the fact that the founder gets involved up front with our strategy.

I haven’t worked with an SEO firm that’s been this structured and organized. That was always a downfall for the others, which were sometimes haphazard.

Looking back on the work so far, is there any area that you think they could improve upon or that you might do differently?

You always want quicker results. It's like having a house. Once you get into the walls, you find things that you didn’t know existed. We found some things that we didn’t know were there. It has taken a little bit longer in some cases, but I don’t put that on them. I think it's things that you don’t expect, you have to prepare for.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    It's not cheap.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would definitely recommend them to the right company. You have to have products and services that can make enough money to make SEO work. It's not for everybody. There are a lot of small businesses that wouldn’t be a good fit.

Business Mentor Greece

Υπηρεσίες & Εργαλεία Digital Marketing για Επιχειρήσεις που θέλουν να αναπτυχθούν

Mentoring & Εκπαίδευση για Επιχειρηματίες που θέλουν να προσαρμοστούν

 Founded
2014
 Employees: 
2 - 9
 Avg. hourly rate: 
$25 - $49 / hr
Business Mentor Greece
Magnisias 2
Thessaloniki, CM 55131
Greece
Key clients: 

Logicom.gr

Focus

1111111

Service lines

ASTROID

Our Marketing Strategy from Website Development To Social Media Marketing Help To Grow Your Business Online! ASTROID is a Digital Marketing Company Provide Service of Website Development and Social Media Marketing many more... To Grow Businesses of mid to large size companies worldwide. Our Web Development and Social Media Management Team Have Solutions of SEO, web design, e-commerce, Social Media Marketing, and Internet marketing Our Target is To Get the Best Results for our Clients!'

 Founded
2020
 Employees: 
10 - 49
 Avg. hourly rate: 
$100 - $149 / hr
ASTROID
69, Regal Building Connaught Place
New Delhi, DL 110001
India

Focus

11

Service lines

Industry focus

Client focus

Sphinix Marketing

Sphinix Marketing is a full-service digital marketing agency based in Bhavnagar.

In today's business world you need a partner, who can help you to take an advantage of marketing opportunities across a variety of channels in real-time. Sphinix Marketing combines a data-driven approach with knowledge gained from years in digital marketing to deliver outstanding results to our clients.

At Sphinix Marketing our mission is to help small businesses. many small businesses have minimal options when it comes to hiring reliable marketing talent.

When we created Sphinix Marketing in 2017, we wanted to create something beneficial but affordable for growing small businesses. we tried to implement proven strategies that have worked for thousands of other companies for our clients.

We are a full service agency that offers everything from branding & creative services to monthly marketing & consulting services for small businesses.

 Founded
2017
 Employees: 
2 - 9
 Avg. hourly rate: 
$25 - $49 / hr
Sphinix Marketing
Parimal chowk, Waghawadi Road
Bhavnagar, GJ 364001
India
Key clients: 

Weconnect Care, Weconnect Janseva kendra, CitizenCenter Pvt Ltd, SVMC Hospital, Match Solar, Pented Education App, Voice of MP, TechnoPlayers

Focus

5515511554155111511111112111

Service lines

Industry focus

Client focus

111111

Digitalshagun

Digitalshagun provides the best SEO and SMO Services in Delhi. Shagun Goswami is now as the best Digital Marketing Expert in Delhi. He has experience of about 5 years and works on big projects on like MSIL (Maruti Suzuki India Limited).

More Info: https://digitalshagun.com/

 

 

 Founded
2020
 Employees: 
2 - 9
 Avg. hourly rate: 
< $25 / hr
Digitalshagun
A-60 Anoop Nager
Uttam Nager, DL 110059
India

Focus

1211

Service lines

Industry focus