What Are Professional Services and How Should You Use Them?
And not only that, but you shouldn’t try to do everything yourself.
At some point in your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll realize you need help. That’s when it’s time to enlist a professional services provider, whether you’re filling a process or operational gap or you need someone with specific expertise to take some work off of your plate.
Let’s take a closer look at figuring out when you need professional services before answering the all-important question: how do you find them? But first, here’s a quick primer on professional services.
WHAT ARE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES?
Professional services help clients with specialized, knowledge-based services and span a number of industries. Common examples of professional services include:
- Financial adviser
- Marketing consultant or administrator
- Personal assistant
Both individuals and firms can be professional services providers. They can either provide you with service you desire or consult with you on finding a solution that will work for your business. The type of provider you choose will depend on the specific help you need, as well as your budget.
HOW TO DETERMINE WHEN YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Deciding when to use professional services is somewhat dependent on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey.
If you haven’t yet started your business, we can’t stress the importance of assessing your personal entrepreneurial strengths. (Note: If you’ve already started your business and haven’t yet done this, it’s not too late).
By figuring out the skills and responsibilities in which you excel, you’ll be able to more easily spot possible gaps or needs and decide when you need to fill them. For example, if you consider yourself a creative thinker but you’re hopeless with numbers, you’ll want to put “hire a tax accountant” at the top of your to-do list.
On the other hand, if you know you are not detail-oriented, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a virtual assistant. Just keep in mind, there are costs associated with those services, so make sure they fit into your budget.
If you’ve already started your business, take a few minutes to examine your workflow, your company structure and your earnings. Are there gaps you need to fill? Any important knowledge or expertise you’re missing? Or are there ways you can work smarter, not harder? Answering these questions will help you identify your professional services needs. Then, you can focus on filling those needs.
3 WAYS TO FIND PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PROVIDERS
If that option doesn’t yield optimal results or you want to broaden your search, try these three resources:
- Small Business Administration: The SBA is a veritable powerhouse of information and resources. A good starting point is the SBA’s free business counseling, available through several local partner organizations. Consider these groups a knowledgeable sounding board that you can use to explain what types of professional services you need, then get recommendations on next steps.
- Economic Development Councils: If you haven’t yet connected with your local economic development council, now’s an ideal time. With national entrepreneurship rates on the rise, many economic development councils have dedicated specific resources—or formed partnerships—to help entrepreneurs connect with the people and programs they need. Try a quick Google search for your city + economic development council to get started.
- 1 Million Cups: Since the Kauffman Foundation launched 1 Million Cups in 2012, the coffee-fueled meet-ups have spread to more than 180 communities in 40+ states and one U.S. territory. The informal, presentation-focused gatherings are a great time to hear from other entrepreneurs, but 1 Million Cups is also an insightful resource for tools including professional services. Head to the 1 Million Cups website to find a community near you.
Remember: you may be your company’s only employee, but you’re certainly not alone. There’s no shame in enlisting help from a professional services provider. In fact, you’ll likely find that filling some of those gaps helps reinvigorate your focus and helps your business become more successful. How’s that for motivation?