I'm an independent consultant in my real life. I consult in many different areas; health care finance, leadership/diversity, social media... sometimes independent consultants are jacks of all trades. If you'd like to learn more about me and some of my consulting prowess, you can go to the bio page on my business site to check me out.

Me, the consultant

There are basically two types of consulting businesses. The first is the large consulting firm that employs not only a bunch of consultants, but people who do other things as well. The second is the independent consultant, an individual who decides he or she doesn't want to be a part of the corporate structure, wants to work on their own in some capacity, and is fairly flexible in the types of things that they'll work on.

There are a lot of pros for working with an independent consultant. Yet many companies still seem to believe that they have to go for what's known as the "Thud Factor" or "Big Bang" theory, the belief that a big name has to be ultimately multiple times better than an independent.

Of course that's a false assumption, and one I'd like to dismiss. To better illustrate this point about independent consultants, here are 5 reasons why an independent consultant might be better for you in the long run.

1. Independent consultants will cost you less.

This doesn't mean independent consultants are cheap, but they'll cost you a lot less than hiring a full fledged consulting company will cost you.

Locally, a few years ago a hospital that was in financial constraints needed some consulting help. They went out and hired a large consulting firm, spending almost $5 million. They totally ignored any local consultants, which included myself.

We might have ended up costing them a million or so, and we could have done the same job, if not better since we knew the community. They ended up canceling the contract after a year and were still in financial distress... and still wouldn't hire us because we were small and local; sigh.

2. With an independent consultant, you know who you're getting.

When someone contracts with large consulting companies, they rarely get the person they've been talking to as their consultant. Therefore, any rapport that's been built up is lost.

Every once in a while, the consultant you get is an independent consultant who's subcontracting with the large company, which means you're getting someone like me anyway. You could have eliminated the middle man altogether and saved a good bit of cash by hiring an independent consultant directly.

I know large consulting companies that will drain your resources by not only charging high fees but incur exorbitant costs that are all on the client. An independent consultant isn't going to stay at a $25 a night hotel but they're not going to stay at the Waldorf Astoria either. They're not going to hit you with unfair expense request because it's written in a badly worded contract. I know a hospital that ended up having to pay someone $250 for a pair of sunglasses; that's unconscionable!

3. Independent consultants have probably done the work you need help with.

by tammon from Pixabay

Many years ago I did a subcontracting gig with a large consulting firm in another state. Out of the team of 9 consultants, only myself and two other people had ever even worked in that particular field as an employee. Out of that group, only myself and one other person had ever done the work we were specifically consulting on during this project.

The questions I found out that were being asked of certain people weren't anywhere close to what I would have asked or looked for based on my background. This made it easier for me to offer suggestions on what people should do rather than just find problem issues and not been able to solve any of them.

Something else most businesses need to know about large consulting firms is that some of them aren't interested in helping you solve your problems. They're interested in their financial status; they want to find ways to keep billing you as long as they can instead of addressing your issues and going back home (if that's what's needed).

4. Independent consultants usually come with some years of experience behind them.

When I got into consulting, I'd been in the business nearly 20 years; I'll be hitting 19 years as a consultant in a month and a half. When I was at the assignment I previously mentioned in #3, 5 of the consultants were under 30, and none of them had ever worked in the business before becoming consultants with the consulting organization. One of them didn't even live in the country and had never been employed anywhere except the consulting company!

There's something to be said for new ideas, but there's also something to be said for someone who's had some day to day experience overcoming the types of problems that occur in business on a regular basis. They all worked off charts developed by their consulting company; I asked questions based on actual knowledge. That's what an independent consultant brings to the table.

5. Independent consultants are flexible and beholden only to you

Large consulting companies have to concern themselves with shareholders. Independent consultants have to concern themselves with their own income, and thus are loathe to cut corners most of the time. There are a few consultants who ruin it for everyone else, but that's rare among independents.

Most independent consultants have worked with large companies, but also have worked with small companies and every once in a while individuals. Some large companies won't even talk to you if your yearly revenues aren't in the multiple millions; independent consultants will work with anyone with the ability to pay them. Independent consultants know your success is their success; their business is built off reputation and recommendations.

Think about this the next time you're looking for any kind of help. Do you want to go to someone like Smith Barney, who won't even assign you an independent representative if your not investing at least $25,000, or an independent consultant who will at least talk to from time to time, who gets to know you and works with you and your money?