Selecting a professional service provider could be difficult. Whether it is an accountant, lawyer, web designer, or consultant, there is so much that can go wrong with your selection. By nature, the whole reason you’re retaining the professional is because he or she possesses skills that you or your business lacks. So how do we sort through the dozens of potential choices that you might have for any one profession?
Let’s start with the general assumption that the professional meets the educational and professional qualifications required by his or her industry. Meaning the accountant knows accounting, the lawyer knows law, and the web designer can design a website. You can double check this assumption with a simple Google search. Once your initial check is complete, pick up the phone! Call the potential professional and request a free consultation. Even if the consultation is only 15 minutes, that’s long enough for you to give the professional an elevator pitch and ask a very simple question; do you understand my business?
If the professional is unable or unwilling to take the time to understand your business, than you need to eliminate him or her from your search. Don’t be fooled! There are some professionals who will tell you that it doesn't matter because “accounting is accounting and I have been doing this 20 years and nobody can match my price.” The truth is, (especially when you’re paying by the hour), the “higher-priced” attorney or accountant might save you money if you don’t have to educate them about your business every time you meet.
Business plans, websites, accounting, legal services, and marketing all require a complete understanding of a client’s business. You need to feel comfortable that once you write the check, the work product received in return will reflect your company’s vision. In the end, you’re the client. You and your business deserve the service provider’s undivided attention. You don’t need to feel pressured to retain any professional. Remember everyone looks great on their website, so the real test is whether or not they took the time to visit your website to understand your business.