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With prospective business consultants, you’ve thus far talked about the importance of trust, of checking references, of honoring confidentiality and of understanding fee structures.

Now, you just wanna talk.

Hey, it’s a simple request, but the question remains: once the partnership is sealed, how easy will it be to get your new business consultant on the phone? Do you have his/her direct line, or will you have to hurdle a wall of secretaries and assistants before speaking to the professional you hired?

As a business owner who continually juggles the needs of your clients with the needs of your business, you never know when the need might arise for immediate feedback or advice from your consultant. So make sure this person is easily accessible.

Also, make sure the person you meet during your selection process is the person you’ll be working with once the contract is signed, not an assistant or designated associate with perhaps a lower level of expertise.

Go into the partnership knowing that you’re not just paying for expertise, but also attention. Ask how many clients they may be juggling at any given time, and consider if the workload may interfere with the timeline you’ve established for their services.

Talk with current and past clients and learn from their experiences.

Next Up: Put it in writing.